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

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REALITY STAR-RAPE CHARGE

Gun company cuts ties with reality TV star

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A firearms company affiliated with reality TV star Will Hayden is distancing itself from him after his arrest on rape charges.

In a statement on its website, Red Jacket Firearms LLC says it has legally separated from Hayden.

The Baton Rouge-based company says it will remain in business.

The Discovery Channel canceled "Sons of Guns" after Hayden's arrest on Tuesday. Discovery says it killed the show due to "the serious and horrific nature of the charges" against Hayden. The show featured Hayden and his firearms business.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office says Hayden was arrested on aggravated rape charges involving a child. He already faced child molestation and aggravated crime against nature charges.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Hayden had an attorney.

TEACHER SEX

Teacher accused of having sex with 2 students

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Riverdale Christian Academy administrators have fired English teacher Ashley Dowden following her confession to deputies that she had sex with a 16-year-old student.

The Rev. Preston Thompson tells The Advocate Dowden originally was placed on administrative leave following her arrest Friday.

An affidavit of probable cause says Dowden was arrested after admitting that she had sex with a 16-year-old boy and had exchanged nude photos and explicit text messages.

Deputies also issued Dowden a misdemeanor summons for inappropriate conduct with a student following an 18-year-old's allegations that she went to his house and had sex with him.

She was booked with computer-aided solicitation of a juvenile, indecent behavior with a juvenile and carnal knowledge of a juvenile and released on bond.

It was unclear whether Dowden has an attorney.

TRIBAL RECOGNITION

Terrebonne council supports tribal recognition

HOUMA, La. (AP) - The Terrebonne Parish Council is supporting the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw and the Pointe-au-Chien tribes' efforts to achieve federal recognition.

The recognition comes after a similar measure was passed in July in support of the United Houma Nation.

Potential policy shifts regarding federal recognition in the U.S. Department of the Interior could give new life to tribal recognition efforts that have been denied in the past.

The Courier reports federal recognition would provide a social and economic boost to these tribes and their communities. It would also allow federal aid necessary to preserve tribal culture in the event of natural or man-made disasters.

BELL HELICOPTER

Lafayette plant to build helicopters by 2016

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - Company officials say Bell Helicopter is expected to begin assembly operations by 2016 at a new $26.3 million facility at the Lafayette Regional Airport.

The Advocate reports the company is set to start hiring next year for the estimated 115 new jobs at the assembly plant, which comes in addition to Bell's two existing repair and overhaul facilities located in the Lafayette area.

Bell Helicopter President and CEO John Garrison said Wednesday the 82,300-square-foot assembly plant is taking shape on 14.5 acres at the Lafayette Regional Airport.

The state is paying for construction of the plant, which will be owned by the airport and leased to Bell.

The plant will produce the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X.

RAPIDES REGIONAL EXPANSION

Rapides Regional Medical Center to expand

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) - Rapides Regional Medical Center is expected to begin construction next week on a $12.5 million expansion of its emergency department.

The Town Talk reports the expansion will nearly double the department beds, from 26 to 51, including four psych beds. It will add 16,370 square feet of space and renovate more than 6,000 of the department's current 20,000 square feet.

Rapides Regional Chief Executive Officer Jason Cobb says construction is scheduled to begin Tuesday and take about 18 months, with expected completion in early 2016.

Rapides Regional officials said construction will take place in three phases to minimize impact on patients.

PROPERTY DISPUTE

W. Feliciana to consider ferry landing settlement

ST. FRANCISVILLE, La. (AP) - The West Feliciana Parish Council has agreed to meet Sept. 15 to consider an ordinance addressing a possible settlement of the long-simmering dispute over the land bordering the former St. Francisville ferry landing.

The Advocate reports a proposed ordinance would authorize Parish President Kevin Couhig to enter into a settlement with Lambert Gravel Company.

The protracted dispute centers on a piece of property along the old Louisiana Highway 10.

The parish had built a concrete slab at the end of the road, which was meant to serve as a public boat launch.

When the Lamberts used concrete barriers to bar public access to the property, the parish removed them. In 2012, Lambert Gravel Company filed suit against the parish, claiming the parish trespassed when it removed the concrete barriers.

UL-LAFAYETTE GRANT

La.-Lafayette lands grant to boost math, science

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has been awarded a nearly $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant to recruit and develop math and science majors into highly-qualified middle and high school teachers.

Peter Sheppard, head of the department of curriculum and instruction, tells The Advocate the objective is to prepare undergraduate students proficient in math or the sciences for careers as teachers as a way to boost the number of high-quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers in middle and high schools.

The program, called "Strengthening Teacher Education through Mathematics & Science Teaching Scholars in Louisiana," targets college-level juniors and seniors majoring in math or one of the sciences and who might be interested in acquiring teacher certification while they earn their degree.

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