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Beaumont police investigating three crashes tonight
HAPPENING NOW:  Beaumont police are investigating three accidents tonight that injured four people.

A truck rolled over just pass Washington Blvd. and Langham Road.

An SUV was involved in another crash at Washington and Langham.

And, there was a third crash at I-10 and Washington.

Authorities say there were no life-threatening injuries in the three crashes.

Photojournalist Chip Fields was at the scene.

Famed chef Paul Prudhomme dies at 75

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Paul Prudhomme, the Cajun who popularized spicy Louisiana cuisine and became one of the first American restaurant chefs to achieve worldwide fame, died Thursday. He was 75.

Tiffanie Roppolo, the CFO of Prudhomme's businesses, told The Associated Press that he died early Thursday after a brief illness.

Prudhomme became prominent in the early 1980s, soon after opening K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, a French Quarter diner that served the meals of his childhood. He had no formal training, but sparked a nationwide interest in Cajun food by serving dishes — gumbo, etouffee and jambalaya — that were virtually unknown outside Louisiana.

The distinctly American chef became a sensation at a time when the country's top restaurants served virtually nothing but European food.

"He was always on a mission and nothing was impossible for Paul. He did things his way and let the food speak for itself," said chef Frank Brigtsen, who worked for Prudhomme for seven years. "He changed the way we eat in New Orleans in a major way, by bringing Acadian or Cajun cuisine to the restaurants of the city."

Prudhomme was known for his innovations. His most famous dishes used the technique he called blackening: fish or meat covered with spices, then seared until black in a white-hot skillet. Blackened redfish became so popular that Prudhomme lamented over customers who stopped ordering the traditional Cajun dishes that he loved.

"We had all this wonderful food, we raised our own rabbit and duck, and all anyone wanted was blackened redfish," he said in a 1992 interview.

Prudhomme was raised by his sharecropper parents on a farm near Opelousas, in Louisiana's Acadiana region. The youngest of 13 children, he spent much of his time in the kitchen with his mother, whom he credited for developing his appreciation of rich flavors and the fresh vegetables, poultry and seafood that she cooked.

"With her I began to understand about seasoning, about blending taste, about cooking so things were worth eating," he said.

After high school Prudhomme traveled the country cooking in bars, diners, resorts and hotel restaurants.

He returned to New Orleans in the early 1970s and found a job as chef in a hotel restaurant. In 1975, he became the head chef at the esteemed Commander's Palace restaurant.

Prudhomme and his wife opened K-Paul's four years later.

K-Paul's was inexpensive and unassuming — formica tables, plywood walls and drinks served in jars — but it was soon the most popular restaurant in New Orleans.

Prudhomme's bearded face and oversized frame became familiar on television talk shows in the 1980s, where he encouraged Americans to spice up their meals. He expanded K-Paul's and turned it into an upscale operation. He published bestselling cookbooks and created a business that sold his spicy seasoning mixtures around the country.

After Hurricane Katrina he used the profits from his spice company to keep his restaurant afloat, bringing in trailers to the parking lot for his staff to live in and cooking thousands of meals for rescue workers, said Liz Williams, who heads the city's Southern Food and Beverage Museum.

Prudhomme's success brought regrets, as well. Prudhomme sparked the Cajun food craze, but he often said few Cajun restaurants outside Louisiana served the real thing. He worried over the common perception that all Cajun food is blistering hot.

"I'm at least partly to blame that so many people think all Cajun food is red-hot and spicy," he said. "I see people dumping red pepper on food and I feel like crying."

Prudhomme's weight, as much as his cooking skills, was a career trademark. Just over 5 feet tall, he had trouble squeezing into chairs. He had a bad knee, used a cane and usually moved in a scooter instead of walking. In the 1992 interview he said he was working on ways to take the fat out of recipes without losing the flavor.

But later in his career he significantly slimmed down. During a 2013 cooking demonstration in New Orleans — done from his motorized scooter — he told the crowd that at one time he was 580 pounds but now weighed in at 200 pounds.

Eating the right things and eating less had made the difference, Prudhomme said.

"I used to taste things this way," he said, filling his large cooking spoon. "Now I taste them this way." He poked a fork into a single piece of carrot and held it up.


Bicyclist killed in drive-by shooting in Houston

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston police say a bicyclist has died after someone fired at him from a vehicle.


Police tell the Houston Chronicle ( ) that the man was riding a bicycle along the roadway when he was shot late Wednesday night.


The man, whose name has not been released, was wounded and later died. The car sped away.


Investigators found several bullet casings on the street.


So far, police have no motive or suspects in the case.


Information from: Houston Chronicle,

New SE TX sales tax figures show slowing sales in cities, up in counties

SOUTHEAST TEXAS -- After a year that started with a healthy 4.4 percent growth in sales taxes for 29 local cities, October figures show almost no growth for the year.

October figures for October released by the Comptrollers office show that October was close to a dead heat with October of 2015 for Southeast Texas cities.

For the January to October time frame, 2015  was up less than 1 percent over 2014.  (0.8 percent)

For the current month, the 29 cities KFDM follows received back only a tenth of percent more money from the state this year in October vs. October 2014. (0.01 percent)

Rose City has the largest increase in sales taxes of the 29 cities, having collected back just shy of 29 percent more revenue this year.

Bridge City followed with a 26.6 percent increase, followed by Bevil Oaks with 24.8 percent higher revenues.

The large cities of Beaumont and Port Arthur have yet to catch back up with 2014 with Beaumont down 2.17 percent for 2015 vs last year.  Port Arthur is down a meager  .24 percent compared to last year.

The group of cities started the year out up 4.4% over the previous year in January.  That increase over the previous year slid to 2 percent by May.  With October's small year-over-year increase, the sliding trend continues.

However,  Jefferson and Hardin counties are seeing strong growth in sales taxes with Jefferson County up 9.1 percent over last year figures through October.  Orange County was up 10.2 percent in the first 10 months of 2015 vs 2014.

This sets up a scenario where most small cities in Southeast Texas are seeing growth from 3 to 10 percent (with the three standouts Bridge City, Rose City and Bevil Oaks noted above)  which are offset by the much larger markets of Beaumont and Port Arthur.

Hardin, Jasper, and Newton counties do not collect a sales tax.

The State Comptroller collects taxes of the cities and then returns the taxes to the city the following month. 

The cities followed by KFDM include Beaumont, Orange, Nederland, Lumberton, Groves, Bridge City, Silsbee, West Orange, Newton, Kountze, Rose City, Kirbyville, Pine Forest, Colmesneil, Bevil Oaks, Chester, Nome, China,  Jasper, Pinehurst, Vidor, Port Neches, Woodville, and Port Arthur.

Salvage company pulling plane from lake near Jasper

JASPER (From reports by -- A salvage company with offices in Jasper and Anacoco, Louisiana  and a Dallas-based company, began work Thursday morning to  recover an airplane that crashed into Steinhagen Lake early Tuesday.

Stayed tuned to KFDM at noon for more details. Tonight we will have full coverge and reactions.  You can get up-to-date details on throughout the day.

Randy Wilgus, of Dick and Sons Diving Service, said yesterday his company  will work with Lone Star Retrieval, of Lancaster, Texas, to recover the 1992 Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, which currently rests at the bottom of the lake in about 10 feet of water. 

The plane was located at 9:00 Tuesday morning by the Jasper County Emergency Corps, about 6 hours after it crashed.

Wilgus said that the recovery crews will use inflatable bags that will be attached to the body of the plane. The bags will then be inflated, which will raise the plane to the surface, and it will then be pulled to shore.

According to Wilgus, the wings will then be removed, and the aircraft will be carried to the Jasper County Bell Field Airport where federal investigators will begin their investigation.

Wilgus said that both companies will work to ensure that no further damage is done to the plane so that, hopefully, it can be salvaged and once again be deemed airworthy.

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