Daily World from Opelousas, Louisiana on February 14, 1997 · Page 1
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Daily World from Opelousas, Louisiana · Page 1

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Opelousas, Louisiana
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Friday, February 14, 1997
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I VOL. 57 NO. 51 OPELOUSAS, LA. FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1997 50t VENDING 30 HOME DELIVERY Budget plan cuts Medicaid, raises teacher pay BEAU CKEX HIGH byLbLiE zganJAr Associated Press Writer ' BATON ROUGE, La. Gov. Mike Foster said he believes he can get the votes to renew one penny of the state sales tax if he first prepares a budget that details his spending plans and satisfies the Legislature. On Thursday, Foster broadly outlined his budget plan, which calls for $70 million in cuts to Medicaid and dedicates most of the penny sales tax to teacher pay raises. : . He also confirmed earlier reports that he was delaying a special session in which lawmakers were to consider the sales tax renewal. The three-week session was to have started Feb. 23. Foster said the special session and consideration of the tax will now be held after the regular session, set to begin March 31. Lawmakers must act on the budget in the regular session. ( The governor said he decided to delay the special session because too many legislators could not agree on what to do with the money if the penny sales tax on food and utilities was revived. And, the governor said, other lawmakers wanted to see the administration's budget before they voted on a tax. In addition, since the special session was first planned, Congress has apparently decided not to give Louisiana extra Medicaid funds. "The worst kind of football coach is the kind that when the game changes he doesn't react," Foster said, "I won't be that kind of coach," The governor said he sent his staff back to the drawing board and asked them to fix Medicaid without cutting other agencies. His oew plan is similar to the original one, except that the Medicaid program will be reduced and the tax vote will come at the end of the regular session after a budget has been approved. . Included in the budget on an "if and when available" basis will be money for a pay raise ' for teachers. Foster has targeted $75 million from the penny tax for teacher pay raises and the rest to help shore up Medicaid. He said once legislators digest the program, they can end the regular session early and go into a special session to do one thing renew the tax before it expires on June 30. Law prohibits the Legislature from dealing with tax issues in a regular session of an odd-numbered year. Louisiana's health care program for the poor, now well above the southern average, will be stabilized without having to depend on any federal bailout "now or in the future," Foster said. The current $3.2 billion program will be trimmed by $70 million, said Commissioner See Plan Page 12A . : Local Reps. back session delay By KATHY BRISTER StaffWriter " Gov. Mike Foster's postponement of the special session will make legislators better prepared . to ' address education and health care in regular session, said area law-- makers. "I think we just didn't have it all together for the date" of the special session, said state Rep. Clara Baudoin, D-Carencro. The session tentatively had been scheduled to begin Feb. 23, but Foster said Thursday he will put off a special session until after the regular session ends this summer. Alack of information on the governor's specific plans for education and health care had many legislators anxious, Baudoin said. "We were to be dealing with See Session Page 5A prrr A 4 U ft .. ' i "be r It. J n r Heart Health Month tour of grocery Photo by Fraddlt Herpln As part of Heart Health Month the Pink Ladies Auxiliary and dietary staff at Columbia Doctors' Hospital of Opelousas conducted a heart health tour of local supermarkets. The group compares produce at Delchamps supermarket. Conducting the tour were Rachelle Lanclos, left, and Kim Lynn, far right, CDHO dietitians. Also pictured, from left, are Dot Siegel, Vera Vige, Dotsy Edwards, Martha Thisthlewaite and Waldene Franchebois. Firefighters win sick leave appeals By WAYLAND GRIFFITH StaffWriter Three Opelousas firefighters cited for using sick leave incorrectly won their appeals on the penalties. '. At an Opelousas Police Fire and Civil Service Board meeting Thursday, the three firefighters said they received letters from the fire chief informing them they need a doctor's excuse when calling in sick, while other firefighters are not required to provide documentation for absences. The board heard the appeals by Firefighter Charles Mason, and Captains David Billeaudeau and Mike Soileau and decided to have the letters removed from their files. The roots of the case go back to December when Fire Chief Lee Cahanin, who assumed the position in October, asked the Fire and Police Civil Service Board for a change in the sick leave policy. , At that time, Cahanin said he felt there were some firefighters in his department abusing the sick leave policy and wanted the board to make sick leave use available to firefighters only with a written doctor's excuse. The board told Cahanin the policy allowing See Sick Page 5A . Sunset may incorporate half of Shady Meadows By JACQUES BILLEAUD T-" Staff Writer SUNSET - One half of Shady Meadows subdivision may become part of the town if aldermen approve a proposed incorporation next month. The Board of Aldermen introduced a measure Thursday to incorporate a 36-acre section of the subdivision. The other half of Shady Meadows is already incorporated. Residents of the unincorporated part of the subdivision asked to , become part of the town primarily because they want their homes to be connected to Sunset's water system, said town engineer Gerald Dubroc. . Currently, those residents have water wells, Dubroc said. If the incorporation is approved, the residents will buy the estimated $10,000 of materials to connect to Sunset's water system, while town workers will perform the installation, Dubroc said. An estimate on what the installation would cost the town was unavailable Thursday. A survey necessary for the proposed incorporation cost about $1,000, Dubroc said. This area of the subdivision includes nine houses, Dubroc said. A public hearing over the proposed incorporation will be held March 13. The proposal would then be subject to U.S. Department of Justice approval because 27 to 35 residents would be added to an alderman's district, Dubroc said. The planned increase in residents puts that alderman's district in line with others in town, Dubroc said. See Sunset Page 5A 12 : yy jjl Sg Cross-country walk Opelousas among AIDS activist's stops fey WAYLAND GRIFFITH StaffWriter It started with a mid-life crisis and the movie "Forest Gump," and now a man is walking across the country to combat AIDS. Louie Rochon of California is leaving Opelousas after a brief stop-over on his walk across America. He said he is walking for two reasons, to raise money for children affected by the disease and to raise the public consciousness about, what he said, is a growing problem in this country. "There are between 60,000 and 60,000 children who have been affected by this disease," Rochon said. "The American Medical Association is estimating there will be at least 80,000 by the year 2000." : He was talking about children born with the virus and "AIDS - orphans." The orphans are chil- dren who have been abandoned because they have the disease and those whose parents have died from it. : Rochon's stroll is being sponsored by Children With AIDS, a national, ' non-profit organization specializing in finding homes for the children and providing . education '...I had no idea it was such a big issue with children' about the problem. Rochon is collecting pledges for every mile he walks, and Opelousas marks 1,060 miles. By the time the trek ends, sometime in 1998 in Seattle, Wash., he expects to have covered 5,200 miles, all of it on back roads. "I can't, legally, walk on the interstates," he said. The idea for the walk came to him, he said, because he wanted to fight a growing sense of apathy he found in himself. "I wanted to prtve one man could make a difference," he said. "I knew I wanted to do something and I had a little money saved up, and the idea of "Forest Gump" came up. I knew I wanted to do something special." Knowing he wanted to make a cross-country walk, Rochon decided to collect pledges for a charity. At first, he said, the idea of making his charity anything to do with AIDS worried him. "There is a stigma associated with the disease," Rochon said. "And I had no idea it was such a big issue with children. But after I did some research, and once I met the kids I figured 'so what' i was just going to do it." Along his walk Rochon tries to stop in schools and talk to students about AIDS. "I'll touch a kid or give a kid a hug and ask them if they can get AIDS that way," he said. "It Bur-prises me but the kid know about the disease. It's the parents who usually don't know." The walk across America is being made easier with the help of a donated recreational vehicle that Rochon sleeps in. When he started in September in Miami he had planned to back pack the whole way and sleep in motels but an anonymous donor saw a news story about the walk and donated the motor home. His father, Andre Rochon, has "Oft. 1 'IV.:, To- - f, A 7 ,); J Submitted Photo Louie Rochon of California is making his way across America to raise awareness of AIDS problems among children. piloted the home this far but he will be returning to his home in Canada in a couple of weeks. Rochon said one of his uncles will take over driving the support vehi cle. The younger Rochon said aside from the stigma he had about the See Walker Page 12A " Students to contact shuttle crew Students from Beau Chene High School will try to contact astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia on mission STS-83 scheduled for launch on April 3. vv The students will attempt contact through the use of amateur radio on the eleventh day of the mission with the assistance of "ham" radio operators with the Opelousas Area Amateur Radio Club. During the 16-day mission, the shuttle astronauts will conduct experiments inside an onboard laboratory called the Microgravity Science Laboratory (MbL-1). The student activity is part of the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX), an educational program sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), and the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT). Using amateur radio equipment provided by the Opelousas Area Amateur Radio Club (OAARC), Beau Chene students will attempt a direct radio link with the shuttle. If the link-up is successful, selected students will be able to ask questions of the astronauts as the shuttle makes a pass over the area. - Beau Chene is the only high school in Louisiana chosen for the SAREX mission. Several other U.S. high schools along with schools in Beijing, China, and Okinawa, Japan, are also scheduled to attempt a radio link-up. NASA's intent in making astronauts available for SAREX operations is to involve students in technology and the U.S. space program with the help of ama teur radio. The nature of these See Beau Chene Page 12A Weather: Sunny, cool Mostly fair tonight with lows in the lower 30s and northwest winds at 5 mph. Sunny Saturday with highs in the mid 50s and north winds from 5 to 10 mph. INDEX Acadiana... 7A Ann Landers.... 10A Classified ..3B Comics ....10A Crossword 10A Editorial 8A Horoscope 10A Obituaries 12A Sports 1B Stocks.........4A Missing your paper or wanting to subscribe? Call 942-88S2 until 6 p.m. weekdays. II

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