Chuck Smith Red River Radio News Producer

Courtesy: La Prize Fest

LA  PRIZE FEST RETURNS-  The Louisiana Prize Fest is returning in-person, at a press conference at the Shreveport Arts Center downtown yesterday organizers shared the news that after an unprecedented year of Pandemic.  The return of this year’s festival is significant as it’s the 10-year anniversary of the event. Prize Fest was among the slew of events impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Instead of canceling the event, the organization pivoted to a virtual format.

Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News

SHREVEPORT SMOKING BAN?— Last year the Shreveport City Council passed an ordinance to  ban all smoking in all workplaces including restaurants, bars, and casinos;  the ordinance will go into effect August 1st.  But the casino industry wants an exemption, and says the smoking ban will hurt their business  and local economy as well.  So on Tuesday the Shreveport City Council will decide on whether  or not to allow  smoklng  in Shreveport  casinos,    Groups  like   Smoke  Free  Louisiana   and  health experts  have

Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News

 LA UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS— Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has agreed to turn off federal pandemic unemployment payments at the end of July in exchange for a long-term, modest boost to the state’s jobless benefits.   The governor's office announced Wednesday that Edwards signed the bill. Republican state lawmakers agreed to support a $28 increase in Louisiana’s maximum weekly unemployment benefits starting in January.   That would increase the payment to a maximum of $275 a week.

Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News

COVID CASES IN NW LA-  According to the latest data from the Louisiana Department of Health – there’s been an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in eight of ten Northwest Louisiana parishes over the past two weeks dating to Sunday May 23rd.  The most populated parishes – Caddo and Bossier showed Covid case increases of 12% and 35% respectively.  The only northwest Louisiana parish to show a decrease in COVID-19 cases for the 14-day period was DeSoto Parish with a 4% drop. 

Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News

 ARK ENDS UNEMPLOYMENT  SUPPLEMENT— Arkansas is ending its participation in the federal unemployment program that gives workers an additional $300 a week. Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday announced the decision citing a shortage of workers. He directed the Department of Workforce Services to end the state's participation in the program June 26. The Republican governor said businesses in retail, restaurant and other sectors are struggling to return to employment levels before the coronavirus pandemic.

Courtesy: Governor John Bel Edwards Facebook Page

  BIDEN VISITS LOUISIANA— With a badly aging bridge as his backdrop, President Joe Biden stood in reliably Republican Louisiana on Thursday continuing his “Getting America Back on Track” tour to promote his $2.3 trillion-dollar infrastructure plan.   Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards welcomed the President and also took a moment to underscore Louisiana’s infrastructure needs.

Courtesy: Arkansas Governors Office

ARKANSAS COVID VACCINE GOAL— Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has set a goal to have half of the state’s population at least partially vaccinated against the coronavirus within the next three months. Hutchinson on Tuesday announced the goal as the state continues to lag most of the country in vaccinations.

Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News

ARKANSAS CLEAN POWER-  Electric energy customers in Arkansas will be getting more solar or wind-generated power in the near future.  According to a press release Entergy Arkansas,  a utility of New Orleans-based Entergy Corporation, is seeking proposals to add 300 megawatts of solar and wind capacity to its electricity generating  portfolio  by 2026.

Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News

TX HEALTH OFFICIALS ON GOV MASK ORDER- A top Texas health official is defending Governor Greg Abbott's decision to lift the statewide mask mandate but underscores the importance of face coverings to reduce spreading COVID-19. Doctor John  Hellerstedt  heads the Department of State Health Services. He told state lawmakers during a hearing this week that he and Abbott are on the same page.         

ARK GOV SIGNS “STAND YOUR GROUND”—  Arkansas  Governor Asa Hutchinson has signed into law a measure that eases the state’s restrictions on the use of deadly force in self-defense. Despite his past concerns,  the Republican governor signed the so-called “Stand Your Ground” bill Wednesday that removes a person’s  duty to retreat from a threat before deadly force can be used,    Some lawmakers expressed concerns  that the bill will make racial minorities more vulnerable to acts of violence.