LRN AM Newscall January 25 ###Updated Sunshine Bridge to reopen Monday morning not Monday night###

The Sunshine Bridge in St. James Parish will be shut down for the weekend. Matt Doyle has more.

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A fifth grade math and science teacher from Bains Elementary in St. Francisville wins a 25,000 dollar national award for her exceptional work in the classroom…

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An 8 month old child is dead and his mother is behind bars, charged with negligent homicide.  Kevin Barnhart has more.

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The Sunshine Bridge in St. James Parish will be shut down from Saturday 6 AM until early Monday morning for major repair work on the structure hit by a crane barge back in October. The bridge has been partially open since December. Department of Transportation Spokesperson Rodney Mallet says it’s impressive work.

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Mallet estimates this will be the last time the bridge is shut off to traffic through the end of scheduled repairs.

Repair efforts and repainting has continued while the bridge has been partially open, but Mallet says this particular bit of restoration is delicate enough that they can’t risk have motorists passing on the bridge while crews lift 50 foot beams below it.

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Repairs are expected to conclude in late January, early February. Mallet says they were planning on getting it done earlier, but a series of freak weather incidents have kept crews off the bridge.

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St. Francisville fifth grade teacher Stephanie Whetstone got one heck of a surprise yesterday, as she received the 25,000 dollar Milken Award for her work in the classroom at Bains Elementary. Whetstone was recognized for her commitment to making sure students understand not just the STEM curriculum, but why they need those vital math skills.

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The 25,000 is a no strings attached cash prize.

Whetstone says Bains is one of the top five performing schools in the state, and credits their emphasis on building a sense of responsibility in their older students.

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Milken Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley released a statement praising the educator’s work, saying “Stephanie’s students will know how to meet the demands of today’s global economy.”

It’s a generous award for one of Louisiana hard-working educators, and comes at a time where there’s a pay raise push statewide for teachers. Whetstone says she was shocked to receive the award, and hopes other Louisiana teachers will be financially rewarded by lawmakers for their efforts as well.

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Governor Edwards is proposing a 1,000 dollar teacher pay raise, and a 500 dollar support staff pay raise.


A Calcasieu Parish mother is in jail, charged with negligent homicide in the death of her eight-month-old child.  Deputies responded to a home in Sulphur in reference to a baby boy that was not breathing.  Sheriff Tony Mancuso says upon arrival, the first deputy on the scene began performing CPR on the child.

Cut 10 (07) “actual baby’s room.”

26-year-old Lacey Blount was booked into the Calcasieu Correctional Center and the infant died at a local hospital. Mancuso says authorities discovered marijuana, meth, and paraphernalia at the home at the time of the incident.

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Mancuso says while the case is still under investigation, it appears the baby was sleeping on a bed at the time.

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Mancuso says the father of the child was at work when deputies arrived at the home.


Two competing Senate bills to re-open the government both failed to obtain the 60 votes needed to pass, and now we’re into day 35 of the historically long shutdown. Federal workers are nearing a full month without pay, and with rent coming due, many of their lives are getting precarious. Senator Bill Cassidy says the only way forward is a compromise between the two party leaders.

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One measure, would have temporarily re-opened the government through February 8th, the other was a long term fix that, was the President’s offer of legal protections for “Dreamers” in return for 5.7 billion to fund additional border wall. Cassidy voted against the first, and for the second bill.

But, Cassidy is optimistic that a deal is coming in the near future. He says there’s signs that democratic anti-wall resolve is beginning to crack, and some lawmakers from across the aisle are looking to make a deal…

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Senator John Kennedy is pursing legislation to get unpaid Coast Guard members a check before the 1st, and Cassidy says if the deadlock continues, pursuing piecemeal legislative efforts to get federal workers paid may be necessary.

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