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This Hour: Latest Louisiana news, sports, business and entertainment

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FedEx building new distribution center

COVINGTON, La. (AP) - Land is being cleared in St. Tammany Parish for a 175,000 square-foot distribution center for Federal Express.

Parish Economic Development Director Don Shea tells NOLA.comThe Times-Picayune construction is expected to begin this fall and take about 15 months.

Shea says the distribution center will bring 800 new jobs.

The site is on 15 acres at a business park west of Covington. Shea says road improvements are planned.

Jesse Bull, a FedEx spokesman in Pennsylvania, said Friday he could not provide information about the project.

Business park owner Chris Lopez says he can't discuss the project due to confidentiality agreements. He says the park sold land to Jones Development Co. The Kansas City, Missouri, company does development work across the country for FedEx.

FedEx is headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee.


Company seeks chief for proposed gas plant

MONKEY ISLAND, La. (AP) - Southern California Telephone & Energy executives say they are seeking a president to operate the company's proposed liquid natural gas facility at Monkey Island in Cameron Parish.

Company CEO Greg Michaels tells The American Press that SCT&E is seeking someone experienced in the permitting process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the federal Department of Energy to oversee the proposed $9 billion plant.

The company also wants someone who has experience in meeting compliance regulations under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Michaels says the selection process should take 30-to-60 days.

SCT&E plans to build the liquid natural gas plant on a 230-acre site on Monkey Island.


La. issues $3 million in toll refunds

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - More than $3 million in Crescent City Connection toll money has been refunded to account holders, state Treasurer John Kennedy says.

Nola.comThe Times-Picayune reports the money was left behind by drivers who failed to claim the balances after voters rejected a 20-year extension of the tolls in 2013.

Kennedy says $3.1 million was returned to 127,359 toll account holders through the program, which ended June 30.

The Department of Transportation and Development initially handled the reimbursements, but residents complained about the process and accompanying paperwork. Legislation shifted the responsibility to Kennedy's department, which handled the disbursements through its unclaimed property division.

The bridge crosses the Mississippi River at New Orleans and is a major commuter route from Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes and New Orleans' Algiers neighborhood.


Man killed when tree falls on truck

ST. FRANCISVILLE, La. (AP) - A St. Francisville man was killed after a pecan tree fell on his truck as he was pulling out of his driveway.

West Feliciana Parish Sheriff Austin Daniel tells the Advocate the incident occurred about 11:30 a.m. during a storm Saturday.

Daniel says 64-year-old Danny Daniel - who is a distant relative of the sheriff - was driving his Ford pickup truck away from his barn in St. Francisville when the tree fell and a limb crushed him inside his truck.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

A passenger in the trick was unhurt.


College embarks on expansion plan

SCHRIEVER, La. (AP) - The open field behind Fletcher Technical Community College's Schriever campus could be filled with buildings in the coming years.

School officials say Fletcher plans to build a $5.1 million student services center using state money authorized by the Legislature in 2013 and also with private donations. The state funding is contingent upon a 20 percent private match. Fletcher will receive $4.5 million for the student services center.

Fletcher spokeswoman Jessica Thornton tells The Courier that the Terrebonne Parish college hasn't found a private match yet, but will begin fundraising this fall. Construction is expected to begin in 2016.

Thornton says the center would serve as a "one-stop shop" for students. It would include advising offices, study labs, a bookstore, testing and other student-related services.


Northwestern implementing emergency alert system

NATCHITOCHES, La. (AP) - Northwestern State University is implementing a new emergency notification system for students, faculty and staff.

The system will be called Purple Alert and is designed to provide timely information about emergency situations, campus closures, power outages and other major events.

It goes into operation on Monday.

Users will receive emergency messages on phones and email accounts registered in the system.


Slidell cuts auditorium rent rates

SLIDELL, La. (AP) - The City Council has cut rental rates for the Slidell Municipal Auditorium, a move aimed at bringing more business to the facility.

NOLA.comThe Times-Picayune reports the new pricing structure sets the lowest base rental rate at $600 for up to four hours.

Rates rise based on the duration of the event, staffing and services required and the type of organization renting the facility. Non-profits pay the lowest rate.

The new structure replaces one that required a 12-hour rental with prices starting at $2,000.

Slidell's auditorium is across from City Hall and opened in April 2012. The 22,000-square-foot facility cost $8 million. Most of the funding came through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The original auditorium was flooded by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.


Sentencing pending for Lafayette lawyer

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - Lafayette attorney Daniel James Stanford has been convicted of conspiring to distribute synthetic drugs, conspiring to introduce misbranded drugs into interstate commerce and money laundering charges.

Sanford was on trial for his alleged role in running a string of Curious Goods stores, which prosecutors have said sold illegal synthetic marijuana branded as Mr. Miyagi.

The 56-year-old Stanford was convicted Friday in U.S. District Court.

A sentencing date for Stanford has not been set.

Stanford was indicted with eight others in 2012 in a multistate federal investigation. The Curious Goods business itself also was named as a defendant.

Stanford's co-conspirators are set to be sentenced on Sept. 19.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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