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MISSISSIPPI RIVER-BARGE CRASH

3 missing after barge crash on Mississippi River

LULING, La. (AP) — Three people are missing after two barges collided on the Mississippi River. The Coast Guard said in a news release that crews are searching for three people after two towing vessels crashed near the Luling Bridge in Louisiana. The Coast Guard said one of the vessels sank in the river. A section of the river as closed to boats because of a possible chemical release. Officials say there are no immediate health concerns. The waterworks and industries along the river were told to close water intakes from the river as a precaution.

RURAL BUILDING CODES

Rural property owners want metro-area property code changes

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Angry property owners from a rural area of north Louisiana are urging public officials to consider making changes in a local building and property code. Residents showed up at a recent meeting of the Caddo Parish Commission to complain that the parish Unified Development code infringes on their rights. Concerns include regulations on fencing, RV parking, maximum driveway sizes and other issues. They said the regulations are more fitting for city dwellers. The executive director of the Shreveport/Bossier Metropolitan Planning Commission later told The Times of Shreveport there will be a study made to address rural residents' concerns.

OBIT-SUSAN FINCH

Longtime New Orleans reporter Susan Finch dies

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Susan Finch,  an award-winning reporter who developed a tough but fair reputation during nearly 40 years in New Orleans journalism, died Saturday, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported. She was 74. Finch’s career included 37 years at The States-Item and The Times-Picayune, where she won multiple local and national awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes given to The Times-Picayune staff for coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

FRENCH QUARTER SHOOTOUT

Man points gun in French Quarter, wounded in police shootout

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A man who had been pointing a gun at people in New Orleans' historic French Quarter was critically wounded Saturday in a shootout with police. New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said officers responded to reports of an armed man near St. Louis and Bourbon streets around 7:30 a.m. Saturday. When they arrived, an “exchange of gunfire” began and the armed man was hit in the chest. He's being treated at University Medical Center, Ferguson said. No officers were injured.

ELECTION-VOTING STICKERS

Louisiana's 2019 "I Voted" sticker honored for creativity

MONROE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's 2019 “I Voted” sticker has won a national award for originality and creativity from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The sticker was created by Cajun artist Tony Bernard of Lafayette. It featured a pelican wearing a crown centered in a rendition of the state seal. Voters received the sticker when they cast ballots in the Oct. 12 primary and Nov. 16 runoff elections. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin says his agency spent $18,000 for the more than 3 million stickers distributed at polling places. Ardoin says his agency is considering Louisiana artists to produce a new sticker for this year's presidential election.

LOUISIANA-BOY FATALLY SHOT

Authorities: Boy, 3, dies in apparent accidental shooting

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Authorities say a 3-year-old boy has died in what appears to be an accidental shooting in East Baton Rouge. Police said Amir Antoine was shot just before noon Saturday in a home near Memorial Stadium in East Baton Rouge Parish. East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said the initial information he received indicated it was an accidental shooting though he said an investigation is ongoing. Authorities did not immediately release further details about the shooting. A coroner's report is awaited to determine the official cause and manner of death, according to officials.

NEW ORLEANS SCHOOLS

Audits reveal record-keeping issues at New Orleans schools

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A New Orleans school district's audit of several public high schools' record-keeping has revealed  problems that could impede graduation for some students if left unresolved. The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reports that district documents show that several charter high schools were struggling last fall with issues related to tracking student grades and other records. Some schools said last week that they had resolved the issues. Others said they were still working to do so.  The district is working to provide oversight in a city school system involving 38 independent, largely autonomous charter organizations.

MEDICAID CONTRACTS

Appeals challenge scrapping of Louisiana Medicaid contracts

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's health department and four insurance companies chosen for $21 billion in Medicaid deals are challenging a decision to rescind the contract awards. The Department of Health and the private companies filed their appeals late Friday. They're arguing Louisiana's state procurement officer Paula Tregre didn't follow the law when she decided to throw out the three-year contract awards. Lawyers for the health department say Tregre made “multiple factual and legal errors” in her decision, and they argue that she took too long to decide. At issue are multibillion-dollar Medicaid contracts awarded by Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration to companies that will oversee care for about 90% of Louisiana's Medicaid enrollees, about 1.5 million people.