Friday, June 15, 2007

SSg. Timothy Cole - A Man to Remember

The story of Staff Sergent Timothy Bruce Cole was first blogged about here.

And since then the painful experience of bringing his body home is what the friends and family members have had to go through.

Today his mother Connie reached out to us and I wanted to take a moment to share her email.

In case you wonder why you have not seen the family interviewed in television it is a commitment of ours only to interview the families of the dead (whether it is from a crime, natural causes or in this case war) if they come to us. Do we get beaten by fellow journalists? All of the time. It is possible to take this approach in a more competitive environment? Probably not, but we put ourselves in the families place and waiting for them to come to us is the right thing to do. It's just that simple.

Here is the email with the author identifying herself as Connie Cole in her own words...

"I'm Timothy's mother. I wanted to let you know that I thought the coverage you did on Timothy was great. Since you were the first to run an article, I thought you would want to be the last. We've been informed that the small town of Elizabeth will be lining the streets today for his ride through town to his last resting place. The town of Oakdale did the same thing when we brought Timothy home on Wednesday. It touched my heart and brought me to tears to see so many people honoring my son for giving the ultimate price for his country, family, and friends. People crowded the boulevards and sidewalks holding flags, candles, pictures of him, and posters welcoming him home. Enlarged pictures of Timothy were posted down the boulevard. The fire department was blowing their sirens. Ten police cars with blue lights were at the head of us along with four motorcycle police ahead of them. People would stop their cars and exit to salute or hold their hands across their hearts when my son passed by. The patriotism shown still brings me to tears. It was wonderful to know that he wasn't forgotten. I and the rest of the family will miss his wit and laughter tremendously. We've received so many cards and notes from people expressing their condolences. Everyone has been so nice and the military has done so much to ensure that his last few days on earth are with honor. They posted two soldiers on either side of his casket since he arrived. They change every 15 minutes. Congressman Rodney Alexander has assisted us and sent someone to our house to express his deepest regrets. He is in Washington this week. I can never say enough to the people of Oakdale and surrounding towns for their support. The town of Forest Hill placed flags along Hwy 165 and the flag flew at half mast at the post office. Today, there are supposed to be four motorcycle clubs escorting Timothy to his services. One is the Leathernecks and the other the Patriot Ride rs. The other two I don't know. The cousin of my daughter-! in-law who is a Marine was flown to Delaware to escort my son home along with a soldier from the Army. A close friend of Timothy's said that if Timothy had to go, he would have wanted to go this way. He would have wanted a 24 karat casket with pearl handles and Mardi Gras beads hanging out. I know if Timothy is looking down, he would be so very pleased by everything that has been done in his honor. People ask what they can do for us, but the fact is that just asking and sharing our grief is more than enough. Again, thanks for your coverage."

And the response...

"Good Morning Mrs. Cole,I know this day could be the hardest of your life and my heart aces for you and your family. We appreciate you reaching out to us so much. We have assigned Diana Iles and excellent reporter to cover Timothy's funeral today and thank you for this information.I have been emailed by a member of your family looking for copies of the coverage and want to let you know personally I will make dubs for you. This is the least we can do for you and your family. I had planned to attend Timothy's funeral today but may not be able to. Please know I will bow my head and say a prayer for your beloved son and thank him for the incredible sacrifice he has given to keep my children safe from harm. God bless you all."

Please join me right now after you read this and take a moment of silence to send strength to the Cole Family.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Lowes to Locate in Kings Country - Anatomy of a Story

The CenlaMedia site is, in part, created to reveal how we approach reporting on stories at KALB-TV. It allows you to see the rationale and then the careful steps taken to be accurate.

A good recent case to examine is the story of Lowes possibly locating in Pineville. This could be one of the worst kept secrets in local real estate history (the Walmart on Hwy 28 West is another example) but it allows us to show you how the decisions are made to report on non-confirmed business news.

Several months ago Joel Massey a reporter with KALB-TV began tracking down a story about Lowes locating in the old Walmart in Pineville handled by Stirling Properties. We called the Pineville city administration and were told they could not confirm nor deny the deal. We approached members of a local church said to be involved in the deal and continued to pursue the people involved from Lowes to the property owner. Everything came up empty. We passed on reporting on the story and then woke up to read a Town Talk article attributed to sources on the development.

KALB-TV does not report from the paper and was unable to independently confirm the story.

Now skip to this week several months later. While reporting on the IP story we obtained an interesting comment from the Mayor of Pineville. He said a big retailer was in town to discuss the development but could not confirm who it was. This time we went with it after being able to independently confirm through two other sources that Lowes was in town talking about details.

The next day we get this email:
"You ran a story last night and also on your website saying that speculation is that there will be an announcement from Lowes this week. You also say that the supposed site would be Kings Country. I can confirm that it is that location, as they have already signed deals to purchase the Northside Baptist Church property, as well as the 5 lots/homes northeast of the church. The store will go in at the old WalMart end of the shopping center."

The email continues with personal information not proper for this forum but it ends with...

"They have known about this since January, so you guys are a little behind the curve."

After a response and an email request for an interview we received the following email...

"I doubt very seriously that they would be willing to go on camera. Their agreement doesn't preclude them from saying they have a deal, but it does preclude them from saying what the deal is. If the "rumor" is King'sCountry, then a little legwork (other than talking to the mayor) would have let you break the news (as there are a lot of church members at Northside that know about it, etc.). It will be big for the area, but unfortunately will hurt a church that has been there for decades as well as households/families who have been there for decades. The biggest thing though is traffic. Military Highway is already turning into a very busy area, especially there in Kingsville. This will only compound the problem. One of your questions for the Mayor should be when is the city going to annex that area (it's currently not annexed) and how are traffic concerns going to be addressed. Those issues are HUGE! Glad to see the area being revitalized after the Wal-Mart move and other closed stores becoming an eyesore in King's Country."

Now we wait for the the news to come "officially" from either Lowes or Northside.
Here is the online listing.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

City Council vs. Mayor - Fights Erupt Over Attorney

KALB-TV Video Blog is active and up with the city council video.

Tuesday's special council meeting erupted in argments over the CLECO mediation and who can attend closed door sessions.
In the KALB-TV Video Blog we have posted three parts of the confrontations.
In this link - part one the Mayor of Alexandria Jacques Roy and City Attorney Chuck Johnson are engaged in a heated conversation with City Councilman Myron Lawson. At issue is what power the city attorney has and if he has the right to take a legal position for the council without its approval.
In this link - part two central Louisiana attorney Bridgett Brown argues with the Mayor of Alexandria over who should be allowed to decide on her attending a closed door session on the CLECO mediation.
Brown asks a series of questions to the Council President Everett Hobbs and can be seen angry at the process of deciding what rights the city council has over her attending CLECO mediation meetings.
In this link - part three Trey Gist who has worked on behalf of the City Of Alexandra's interest for over 25 years explains why Ms. Brown should not be allowed to sit in on a closed door session over the CLECO mediation.
Mr. Gist says "she can't sue the city and enroll as a lawyer (for the city) at the same time"
You may recall the council was to meet in executive session to hear an update on the CLECO mediation. The meeting ended and the council met with the mayor in open session to hash out the issue of what lawyers can or can not be present for the executive session. Most of the arguments stem from the idea that councilman feel they are not being told the details about the CLECO mediation and some want to allow attorney Bridgett Brown to attend closed door meetings.

IP Stays Open - "Among the Most Efficient"

Courtesy IP...

International Paper Pineville, La., Mill to Remain Operational

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – June 12, 2007—International Paper (NYSE:IP) today announced that its Pineville, La., containerboard mill will remain operational. The decision is the outcome of an extensive two-year study of options to strengthen the company’s North American containerboard business.

The company had explored alternatives, including possible closure, for the Pineville, La., containerboard mill as part of its transformation plan, announced in 2005. However, the mill has achieved dramatic cost improvement in the past two years, and is now among the most globally cost efficient mills in the system. With global box demand expected to grow at a healthy rate, keeping Pineville as part of the containerboard system will allow the company to further integrate its box businesses in Europe and Asia.

“This announcement is excellent news for the employees of the Pineville mill, their families, and the Central Louisiana community that supports us. It took an incredible amount of hard work and determination on the part of the Pineville Team to make the difficult changes required to make this mill competitive and thus allow the company to continue operations in Pineville. I want to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has helped us get to this point. I have no doubt that this team will do what is required to keep Pineville competitive,” said Scott Moorhead, site manager of the Pineville Mill.

The Pineville mill was acquired by International Paper in 1979. The mill today employs approximately 226 people. The mill produces containerboard for corrugated packaging to supply produce, agricultural, poultry and industrial customers.

International Paper (NYSE:IP), founded in 1898, is a global uncoated paper and packaging company with primary markets and manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Russia, Latin America, Asia and North Africa. Its uncoated papers and packaging businesses are complemented by xpedx, North America's largest distributor of printing papers and graphics supplies and equipment. Headquartered in the United States, International Paper employs approximately 54,000 people in more than 20 countries, and serves customers worldwide. Annual sales are about $22 billion. International Paper partners with customers and environmental, academic, civic and governmental organizations, as well as landowners and harvesting professionals, to encourage responsible forest stewardship, improve the health and productivity of forestlands and increase recovery of our recyclable products. The company has a long-standing policy of using no wood from endangered forests. To learn more about International Paper, its products and commitment to economic, social and environmental sustainability, visit

Monday, June 11, 2007

UPDATE: England Airpark Award

If you are interested in more information regarding the England Airpark FAA award stay tuned tonight at 6pm on KALB-TV.

Authority Chariman William Barron will be on live to discuss the honor and tell us how this will help the Airpark promote its services.

England Airpark Honored

From the Associated Press...
England Airpark to receive national award from FAA
ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) - Credited for its support of women- and minority-owned businesses, the England Economic and Industrial Development District has been awarded the 2007 Federal Aviation Administration Disadvantaged Business Enterprise award.

England officials say the prestigious award, which will be presented Wednesday in Las Vegas, recognizes only one airport in the United States for success in promoting women- and
minority-owned businesses.

Jon Grafton, the Airpark executive director, said he was pleased about the award, which comes at a time when several programs and construction projects continue to shape the three-housand-acre community known as England Airpark.
England Airpark grew out of the shuttered England Air Force Base, which closed in the 1990s and left many buildings little used but with great potential.

The Airpark has a hotel, a restaurant, an 18-hole golf course, a day care facility, apartments and about 50 industrial tenants, many of which are minority-owned enterprises.
In some of its latest developments, the Airpark is weeks from the start of several other projects, including additional rental car parking, the renovation of the Learning Center for Rapides
Parish and the review of its master plan.