Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Management at GM gives workers hope.

You, the American taxpayers own 60 percent of General Motors after the government bailed out the automaker.

Now new leadership is determined to turn GM around. CEO Fritz Henderson stepped down and Ed Whitacre, the former ATT CEO, is taking charge.

Workers at GM Shreveport say and hope this new direction could save their jobs. Nbc 6 reporter Karen Hopkins toured the plant and discovered how it’s changing to become more competitive.

Jimmy Patterson knows trucks. He's worked on the line at Shreveport GM for nearly 29 years. “I helped set up this plant when it first came here.” Since then, the company has struggled with sinking auto sales followed by bankruptcy. “We have to change with them and be competitive with other manufacturers.”

That's the plan of new GM CEO Ed Whitacre “Ed Whitacre has demonstrated a lot of transparency,” and that means paying more attention to workers like Wanda Grahm. “I am the quality control person.”

Now she'll give more feedback to managers, all to improve the product. “The factor we play in becoming more profitable is building the world’s best small pickup trucks,” Michael Dulaney says.

Another focus is becoming more efficient. Starting January the plant will cut its energy bill 20 percent by moving employees from a 5 day work week, to 4 days with longer hours. “I love the idea of switching to four days a week because it gives you extra time to spend with your family.”

Plant manager Michael Delaney says one of Whitacre’s first moves as CEO, was reversing the decision to sell the Opel brand. That gives him hope, Shreveport’s scheduled date to close, June 2012, could change. “If we can pick up sales, if the economy turns around if our quality improves we get more demand who knows what gm may look at between now and 2012.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday drinks can turn deadly...

Local law enforcement is targeting two crimes tonight that often rise during the holidays.

Shreveport police and City Marshal deputies rounded up people wanted for stealing and drunk driving. The officers handcuffed and went after repeat offenders. "We concentrate on the DWIs because it makes the streets safer. When you're driving around with your family and somebody next to you is drunk they may cause an accident," Deputy Dennis Buckingham says more people steal around Christmas, trying to provide gifts, and some people end up drinking and driving after holiday parties.

But police say think before you get behind the wheel this Christmas season. Nbc 6 news reporter Karen Hopkins spoke with people who made the choice to drink and drive and it changed their lives forever.

“I was at the age of 19," and Bridget Rutherford had everything going for her. She was a good student, with lots of friends. “Well they're doing it and nothing is happening to them, they're under age and not getting in trouble."

So Rutherford made a choice to have a drink. “I said well as long as I don't drive nothing can happen to me I can't get a ticket or DWI. That's what she thought, until the night she got into a car with a friend who was too drunk to drive. “We hit the median and flipped eight times. At the age of 19, I learned firsthand the damaging effects of a lifetime one night can have.”
Her scars remind her every day. “You can reach your finger over my arm and feel two metal plates and 13 screws.”
She broke 17 bones. After 19 days in a coma, she had to learn how to walk, talk and even how to swallow food again. But she lost her sense of taste and smell forever. “So when I walk by the roses and take a big whiff I’m just pretending. I enjoy food because of the visual appearance, not because of the taste or flavor because I don't have that.”

“When I woke up there was a whole new life for me."
Ron Fletcher woke up paralyzed one night after he drank and got behind the wheel. “The stupid decision I made took away so many things in my life that I enjoy doing.”

Fletcher says he is grateful his mistake did not involve any other people on the road. In the US, every 45 minutes someone dies from an alcohol related crash, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

It’s all about making good decisions. If you are going to drink, give your keys to a friend. Make a plan before the party starts to have a designated driver.

If you do decide to drink at your holiday party, here are some tips to stay safe.
Sometimes it's hard to tell how much alcohol is in your cup. So, drink water in between cocktails. Or choose drinks with ice. Never go to a party on an empty stomach. Food helps slow down the absorption of alcohol. Also, snack throughout the evening. Stick to one kind of alcohol. Say no to drinks made with dark liquors that contain more toxic chemicals. Bar tenders say the clearer your drink, the fewer problems you'll have the next morning.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Family of man killed in domestic argument speaks

The family of a man stabbed to death during a fight with his ex-girlfriend is speaking out tonight.

Early this morning, Shreveport police rushed to the 2900 block of Hattie Street. Officers found 38-year-old Johnny Washington inside his ex-girlfriend's house, suffering from a stab wound. He later died at LSU-Health Sciences Center.

Washington's family says the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship were there. Tonight, they shared their story only with Nbc 6 news reporter Karen Hopkins.

“Now I lost my baby brother. That's a hurting feeling and can't nobody bring him back,” Sherry Elie says.

Her brother, 38- year-old Johnny Washington is gone, after a relationship with an ex-girlfriend turned sour. "The whole thing is that he left her." And then, a major warning sign. “You told me yesterday you were going to stab my brother. I got back and said stop telling me what you're going to do to my brother,” Brenda Austin Washington says.

Shreveport police say Washington and his ex girlfriend got into an argument inside her house, that's when she stabbed him. “I feel miserable right now, Lord forgive me in Jesus’ name."
Police interviewed the woman who stabbed Washington. Detectives released her after finding no criminal wrong doing. The district attorney will review the case and decide whether to file charges.

“I didn't know it would get serious until she took it to the next level,” Crystal Sanders says. Before that, Washington’s fiancĂ© says the relationship involved stalking, and name calling; 74 percent of Americans know someone struggling with domestic abuse.

"Don't take nothing lightly," Elie says. Because about 4 people are killed each day by an intimate partner nationwide.

"He wasn't a bad man, we didn't get along, be we were there for each other no matter what," Washington’s daughter says. “He always put a smile on everybody's face,” Willie Washington says. But tonight, its tears.

Washington's story isn't the only domestic dispute that turned deadly this weekend. Friday an argument led to a fight in the 4000 block of Golf Links Blvd. Shreveport police say 35-year-old Jarvis Taylor died from a stab wound. Detectives interviewed the woman but filed no criminal charges.

During the holiday season, domestic violence tends to escalate. Experts say it’s a time with stress runs high in most families. If you see any warning signs, report it to police or seek counseling.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The More you Give, the more you Get.

Always have faith no matter what tragedy comes your way. Learn firsthand from this Haughton family:

New center to help homeless veterans

An Arklatex city is reaching out to veterans who
put their lives on the line for our freedoms but ended up homeless.

This afternoon in Shreveport’s Volunteers of America opened the doors to the new Veterans Transitional living home. It has 56 beds and vets can stay for up to a year. "I got sidetracked. There's a lot of homeless vets out there now. Many don't have anywhere to go. Many got on drugs and alcohol," homeless vet Leonard Townsend says.

While there, vets are eligible for mental health treatments, job placement and substance abuse courses. Veterans will start moving in this January.

Louisiana has the second highest rate of homeless veterans in the nation. Nbc 6 reporter Karen Hopkins spoke with two veterans who say after serving in the military they were left without a home.

“I took a lot of pride in my job" Leonard Townsend joined the military right out of high school. “i joined the army December 1, 1981.” But years later, when he left the army, he says he couldn't adjust. “Being in the military you pretty much have one way of doing things and it's totally different than being in society. Once you step foot in society, you have to readjust and if you can’t readjust you're left out.”

And Townsend was left out. He's one of 260,000 homeless vets nationwide. “It all happened after I got out of the military. It was hard to find a job, things just didn't work.”

Uncle Sam drafted Joe, who doesn’t want to show his face on TV. The Vietnam war was raging. Joe was just 18. “My being so young, I didn't get a chance to see my daughter being born. The Red Cross had to locate me. I flew home for 30 days, and that was it. I had to go back to panama.
It destroyed my marriage totally. I'm divorced. I never got a chance to be a father, a husband. I was upset.”

Joe says his anger disabled him; 45 percent of homeless vets suffer from mental illness. And one out of three people you see living on the streets, served our country.
“We all deserve to be recognized for putting our life on the line for our country.”

As for Townsend, things are looking up. He went through a veterans affairs program and Monday will move into his own apartment. “I know I’m going straight ahead, just look forward to the future.”

Townsend just sent this email:
Hi Karen ! I was very pleased with our interview. It has recieved alot of good feedback. Thanks, you did a really great job and you really made things easy for me . I am proud to have had this chance to do this and the subject is one that should be addressed, because there are so many without and the program is really a suscess for all of us that participate, and it provides us with structure to adjust in time, and society awaits. Don't stop here, keep up the good work you have the perfect demeaner, and resorces for such a touchy subject. I also commend the cameraman he was aswell. Thanks so much.
Leonard Townsend

US Army Veteran

Friday, December 4, 2009

Mechanical problem shuts down GM

A major breakdown at Shreveport General Motors will shut the plant next week.

The plant manager says the machine that makes truck body parts broke. It will take a week to repair.

The plant will reopen a week earlier this January to make up for the loss of production.

Beware of Holiday Scams!

While you're looking for the perfect gift this holiday season, thieves are looking for the perfect target, which could be you.

Police say Christmas crooks are trying to take advantage of your hard earned money and holiday cheer. One Arklatex woman just got caught up in a scam that started with an email.
As NBC 6 reporter Karen Hopkins explains, this lady has a serious warning, asking people to be on the lookout.

"Be careful on common websites." Sarah from Bossier City wants to remain anonymous. Wednesday she got a suspicious email. "It was actually requesting money to be sent to myself in a different country."

She says a thief hacked into her email, and sent this message to all her friends: saying, “I made a trip to the UK and misplaced my passport. I'm out of cash can you loan me some funds?

"It actually included an address where the money was to be sent." But no money was sent. The crook accidentally forwarded the email to Sarah herself. "He didn't know he was sending it to me."
“During the holiday season it's unfortunate there is a certain segment of the criminal population looking to prey on good folks out there who have money to spend,” Cpl. Bill Goodin says.

If you're shopping online, don't do it on a public computer, it’s easier for crooks to steal your personal information.
Police say some criminals advertise discount luxury gifts, you pay, but nothing comes in the mail. Or, holiday e-cards, after you click, spyware loads into your computer to steal your identity.

Other crooks pose as a charity, taking advantage of holiday generosity. “If you're going to give to a charity, that's great, but make sure you know it’s 115 percent legitimate,” Goodin says.

Because falling for a scam will cost you. "When I went home and logged into my email account, every email I had ever saved had been wiped out." Sarah says now she has a stronger password to break.

Police say if you suspect a scam, call and report it.
If someone steals your personal information, close any accounts you believe the crooks accessed. You should also call to place a fraud alert on your credit report.

File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
It’s a federal agency that alerts law enforcement nationwide of the scam.

Family of boy injured by shotgun speaks

A family is in tears tonight after their teenage boy had a hunting accident with a 12 gage shotgun.

Wednesday, the Bossier sheriff's office rushed to the 300 block of Country Forest in Haughton to save 15-year-old Christopher White.

Nbc 6 news reporter Karen Hopkins spoke with the injured boy's father who is grateful his son is alive tonight.

“I didn't want him to go. I wanted to go before he did. I was scared.” Randell White was scared his 15-year-old son Christopher, wouldn't make it, after a hunting accident with a 12 gage shotgun.

“I heard a gun shot and saw Chris on his knees.” Friend Jason Macon says they were hunting in the yard, when Christopher walked up, the boy with the shotgun was startled and accidentally shot his friend.

“One of the kids ran into the house and said call 911 my son has been shot."

“I know I’m mean to my brother sometimes. When he got shot, I felt I was going to lose him,” sister Shaiyena White says.

Thankfully Christopher survived, but the shotgun shell hit his groin. Dad says he might not be able to have children and will spend the next few weeks in the hospital. “He kept saying this was an accident.”

An accident, White says children and parents can learn from. “Kids need to be supervised at all times with firearms."

The boys say the shotgun came from another child's home.
"Don't think the safety is on, like many people do. He still got shot,” friend Matthew Miles says. “Be cautious, don't play around. Be serious when guns are around,” Macon says playing around, almost took Christopher’s life.

The boys were hunting without adult supervision. Louisiana law requires children under 16 to hunt with someone over 18. All people under 60-years-old are required to have a basic hunting license.

When the accident happened, the boys say they were hunting squirrel.
Squirrel season started October 3 and ends February 28th.

Visit this link for Hunter Education course information:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Budget cuts could hurt animals

Bossier city budget cuts could affect hundreds of helpless animals.

Bossier animal control holds pet adoptions for dogs and cats every Saturday. But next year, the center says it will not have the money to pay one employee to run the event.

The Saturday adoptions, give about 60 animals a home each month.

"Finding homes for these animals is important. Nobody likes putting animals down,” Mark Natale says.

Shelter workers say you can save any of these animals lives.
The center is open for adoption Monday through Friday from 10am to 4pm.

Next year, the city will look at its finances to determine if it can hold some Saturday adoptions again.

Shreveport GM to increase production

We want to tell you about some good news for local General Motors workers.

The Shreveport GM manager says the economy is picking up and that means more work for our plant. Nbc 6 news reporter Karen Hopkins has how the positive news will affect families this holiday season.

“Positive news is always good news." GM worker Gary Pilhorn knows all about the bad times. After a New York plant sold, Pilhorn moved to Shreveport. "Next GM is filing bankruptcy," and as the automaker struggled, Pilhorn was laid off for ten months. He just got back in august. “It's real tough, I’m still struggling to get back, getting so far in debt, trying to catch up."

Now he'll get that chance. Shreveport GM is calling all workers back a week early after Christmas break. Plant manager Michael Dulaney says more people are buying cars, and that means more hours of pay for Pilhorn. “Always good to have your money coming in."

So far the automaker says our plant will close by June 2012.
“It’s scheduled to close by June 2012, if the economy picks up maybe we'll keep building trucks," Pilhorn says.

Because building these trucks, Pilhorn says supports his family and daughter Elizabeth. But it’s not just his household, Shreveport GM means a lot to our local economy.

The GM holiday shutdown starts December 24th. Dulaney says workers will return a week early on January 11th. The next scheduled close is the first two weeks of February. But Dulaney says if demand is up, the plant could stay open.

Bossier to lay off 60 people

In an on-going debate between Bossier City and its workers, a decision was finally made today, about the city's budget. Just this evening, the Bossier City council voted to pass the 2010 budget, putting 60 employees out of work.

City to lay off 60 of 80 positions cut (20 vacant)

The city council approved its budget to lay off workers from nearly every department, including police and fire. Leaders made that difficult decision because of a $6. 5 million budget shortfall. Many of the employees laid off, have families and aren't sure how' they'll pay the bills this holiday season.

“I’m not sure how I am going to find another job in this competitive economy. I’ve tried, but I have not had any luck yet,” Doris Sanders says.
“The biggest struggle is explaining this to my children. They don’t understand what getting laid off means. They ask why mommy isn’t going back to work,” Tabitha Michaelson says.

Those employees work in city offices. They say the layoffs will affect the quality of services we all depend on including public safety. Their last day of work is December 31st.

Here’s a breakdown of the job cuts: 6 police, 20 fire and 34 city department jobs.

Airman reacts to Obama's speech

Thousands of military families live right here in the Arklatex. Many watched the President’s speech tonight, knowing his decision could mean they are heading overseas.

Nbc 6, reporter Karen Hopkins, spoke with a local woman who's preparing to ship out when duty calls.

“There’s always a chance I could deploy." Rachel Roldan is a senior airman at Barksdale air force base. Tonight she listened to President Obama's call for 30,000 more troops in Afghanistan. She could be one of them. "I have a little bit of fear, but we have the training to be safe and meet our objectives."

Roldan knows all about accomplishing missions. During a deployment in Qatar, she supplied aircrafts to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting the war on terror. “He referenced 911, how we were one nation."

After September 11th, Roldan joined operation noble eagle. She helped do surveilance over our skies, making sure no one could attack our nation by air.
“Many people get wrapped up in politics." Politics aside,
Roldan says Obama's speech is about protecting our freedoms. “He has some great points. He talks about meeting our objectives.”

In the meantime, Roldan says we all should support our troops anyway we can. “People put in long hours, leave their families. This is the holiday season, with people at home with their wives and husbands gone."
It’s a sacrifice Roldan says she's proud to make.