NEW ORLEANS — A New Orleans based U.S. Coast Guard anti-terrorism team is scheduled to return home today from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba after a six-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
During the deployment, the members of “Maritime Safety and Security Team New Orleans” were responsible for securing the port and waterways around the base. The team conducted more than 4,400 hours of continuous patrols.
The unit also provided shore-side security, which included courtroom security for the legal complex where military commissions for so-called “high value” detainees are held. It also participated in 10 search and rescue missions.
A homecoming ceremony at Naval Station Belle Chasse was set for 6:15 p.m.
Former Ouachita sheriff gets home confinement
MONROE — Former Ouachita Parish Sheriff Royce Edward Toney has been sentenced to six months of home confinement as part of a federal plea deal involving unauthorized access of a protected computer.
Prosecutors dropped felony charges against Toney, 64, of Monroe, in exchange for his Aug. 2 guilty plea to nine misdemeanor counts of fraud and related activity in connection with computers. In addition, Toney cannot work for any law enforcement agency again in any capacity.
U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley says Toney also was sentenced Tuesday to four years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $15,000 fine.
An investigation revealed that Toney and a sheriff’s employee engaged in a conspiracy to track a third-party’s email communications from April 2010 to October 2010.
FEMA individual aid nears $116 million after Isaac
BATON ROUGE — The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved nearly $116 million in individual aid for Louisiana homeowners and renters who experienced damage from Hurricane Isaac.
Nearly 32,000 people have received housing assistance, which totals $95 million. Another $21 million has been provided for other types of individual assistance, according to FEMA.
Isaac made landfall Aug. 28 and caused significant flooding in southeast Louisiana.
N.O. auditorium gets millions
for Katrina repairs
NEW ORLEANS — The Federal Emergency Management Agency says New Orleans’ Municipal Auditorium will get more than $3.5 million in aid to help repair damage from Hurricane Katrina.
The auditorium, a component of the New Orleans Cultural Center, had a 6,000-seat capacity before the 2005 storm.
FEMA says it reevaluated the auditorium’s damage and determined that more funding was needed for roof repairs, asbestos abatement and remediation of lead-based paint.
Chinese drywall settlement urged
NEW ORLEANS — Attorneys for thousands of Gulf Coast property owners have urged a federal judge to give his final approval to a proposed class-action settlement that calls for a Chinese drywall manufacturer to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to repair homes damaged by their product.
U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in New Orleans held a hearing Tuesday to help him judge the fairness of five separate but related settlement agreements between plaintiffs’ lawyers and companies that made, supplied or installed Chinese drywall.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Arnold Levin said the settlements are worth an estimated $1.1 billion. Most of that would be paid by Chinese drywall manufacturer Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co.
Knauf agreed to create an uncapped fund to pay for repairing roughly 5,200 properties, mostly in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Port may end sand company’s lease
BATON ROUGE — The Port of Greater Baton Rouge is considering whether to terminate the lease of a start-up company that was going to dry and sort sand at the port’s Inland Rivers Marine Terminal in Port Allen.
The $10 million facility, which was going to prepare sand to barge out for use by oil and gas companies drilling in domestic markets, will not be built after Alabama-based GNS Frac LLC told the port it lost its primary investor.
Port Director Jay Hardman said plummeting natural gas prices dimmed the facility’s prospects. He said letting GNS Frac out of the lease will allow the port to market the 24-acre property.
The Advocate reports the port’s governing commission meets on Thursday.
College wants to take appeal to Baptist churches
WEST MONROE — Louisiana College asked approval Monday from the Louisiana Baptist Convention to ask for $12 million from the organization’s member churches.
Louisiana College President Joe Aguillard told the group about 12 percent of the Pineville college’s funding comes from the convention.
He said the college has grown by 50 percent since 2006.
The Town Talk reports the $12 million is part of the college’s $50 million capital campaign for improvements across the campus, he said.
The private Baptist college can approach the 1,500 Louisiana Baptist Convention churches for the donations over the next five years upon full approval from the convention.
The money would be used to improve student housing.
Aguillard said every housing unit on campus is to be renovated. Restrooms and technology in student housing also will be updated. He said about 80 percent of the student body at Louisiana College is in inadequate housing.
The $50 million total campaign is to be collected over 10 to 15 years. The remaining $38 million will go for academics, athletics and infrastructure, Aguillard said.
He said the capital campaign likely will start in 2013.
Tolls will stay after final votes counted
NEW ORLEANS — Tolls on the Crescent City Connection will continue for another 20 years after elections officials counted and certified final results Tuesday from the highly contested Nov. 6 referendum.
The Times-Picayune reports approval of the extension hung on an eight-vote margin until Tuesday, when the final difference rose to 16 votes after officials counted 32 military and overseas ballots.
More than 308,000 ballots were cast by voters in New Orleans and in Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes.
The two spans of the Crescent City Connection tie New Orleans’ downtown area to the Algiers neighborhood on the west bank of the Mississippi River.
But the final results are likely to draw a challenge from grassroots groups opposed to the tolls, who questioned the veracity of the count in Orleans, where more than 25,000 early votes and thousands of ballots counted by hand were tallied last.
The count in New Orleans pushed through election night last week and into the next morning.
From The Associated Press.