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News in Brief- April 24, 2019

News in Brief- April 24, 2019

Artificial reef to protect historic Native American mounds

MONTEGUT, La. (AP) — An artificial reef has been created near the Louisiana coast to protect several historic Native American mounds from erosion and rising sea levels.

NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune reports the Montegut reef was built this month by the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and volunteers. About 200 tons of oyster shells were collected from New Orleans-area restaurants and repurposed to build the partially submerged reef.

This is the second such reef built in Louisiana by the coalition, which started its oyster shell recycling program in 2014. In 2016, the coalition used about 4,000 tons of recycled shells to build a half-mile-long reef in St. Bernard Parish.

Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com

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Louisiana starts medical marijuana-related research

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana State University's first medical marijuana-related research dollars are paying for work aimed at treating epilepsy.

GB Sciences, the contractor hired by the LSU AgCenter to grow therapeutic cannabis, provides $500,000 annually for marijuana-related studies, on top of its other payments to the university agricultural facility.

The first research dollars from the contract will help finance ongoing studies done by AgCenter researcher Chris Green. He's using zebrafish to help develop treatments for people who have epileptic seizures.

The AgCenter says Green will expand that work to study the possibility of using parts of the cannabis plant to treat epilepsy. He'll use compounds extracted from the plant flowers and buds that don't produce the marijuana "high" caused by THC.

Medical marijuana is under production in Louisiana and hasn't yet reached patients.

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Louisiana man gets jail time for threatening President Trump

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana man has been sentenced to three years and 10 months in federal prison for making threats against President Donald Trump.

The U.S. attorney's office in Baton Rouge says 63-year-old Henry Rayborn, of Baton Rouge, was sentenced Wednesday.

A federal complaint filed in March 2018 says Rayborn made threats against the president while hospitalized in Baton Rouge. Rayborn had been taken there after police found him lying down in a public street.

Court records say Rayborn told an investigating U.S. Secret Service agent that he "heard voices in his head saying kill Trump." Rayborn was later found mentally competent to face the charges. He pleaded guilty in October to making a threat against the president.

After serving his prison sentence he will serve three years of supervised release.

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Drive for 3 burned African American churches tops $1.8M goal

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A crowdfunding drive to help rebuild three African American churches gutted by arson fires in Louisiana has surpassed its original $1.8 million goal.

A spokeswoman for GoFundMe says in a Thursday email that people in all 50 states and around the world have made more than 35,000 donations. Donations totaled more than $1.97 million as of Thursday afternoon.

The money is to be distributed equally among the three century-old St. Landry Parish churches: St. Mary Baptist Church, Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.

Fundraising surged after Monday's Notre Dame Cathedral fire in Paris, as social media commenters urged people not to forget the plight of the black churches.

A 21-year-old white man, Holden Matthews, was arrested in connection with the fires.

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$23M of Louisiana's double-paid tax refunds recovered

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — More than $23 million of the tax refund overpayments Louisiana made in March have been recovered.

State revenue department spokesman Byron Henderson said Monday that the state has collected $23.4 million of the $26 million incorrectly sent to taxpayers last month.

Work continues to collect the remaining dollars.

Henderson says letters were sent to taxpayers who still owed money on April 15, telling them they have 30 days to pay the balance before they face interest and penalties.

More than 66,700 taxpayers were double-paid their state tax refunds in mid-March, in what state officials described as a computer processing error.

In most instances, officials say the double payment was made through bank account direct deposits and debit card allocations that were quickly reversed.