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

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

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UNION ORGANIZING

Bryant signs bills to limit union activities

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has signed three bills to limit labor union activities in Mississippi.

The signings came Wednesday at a Capitol ceremony attended by a U.S. Chamber of Commerce representative. Bryant says he hopes the restrictions strengthen Mississippi's reputation as a state where unions have little influence. They become law July 1.

Mississippi AFL-CIO president Robert Shaffer says the laws will hurt low-wage workers.

Senate Bill 2473 makes it illegal to coerce a business into staying neutral in a union drive.

Senate Bill 2653 says picketing is legal as long as it is nonviolent and doesn't block entrances.

Senate Bill 2797 says if any state or local government entity wants to use unionized labor on a project, it would have to get permission from the Legislature.

RAYTHEON EXPANSION

Raytheon breaks ground for expansion

FOREST, Miss. (AP) - Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems has broken ground on an expansion at its Forest, Miss., facility.

Company officials say the expansion will add about 150 jobs,

WTOK-TV in Meridian reports Gov. Phil Bryant, U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., joined company and local officials at Wednesday's groundbreaking.

Raytheon's Forest facility produces fighter jet radars and the sentinel air defense radar for the U.S. Army, among other things. The company says it anticipates growth in the airborne radar and electronic warfare markets, which is why it is expanding.

The Mississippi Development Authority gave the company $6 million to pay for renovation and infrastructure and construction of the 20,000-square-foot addition. The company hasn't said how much it is spending.

Headquartered in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs more than 63,000 worldwide.

NATCHEZ-TOURISM DIRECTOR

Expert: Outsider need for Natchez tourism job

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) - One tourism expert says Natchez needs an objective outsider to take the reins at the Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The city of Natchez is searching for a CVB director in light of Connie Taunton's retirement on April 1. Tourism consultant Berkeley Young tells The Natchez Democrat he believes an objective outsider would be best for Natchez.

Mayor Butch Brown, the CVB board, marketing advisory committee and other tourism stakeholders met with Young last week to offer advice as Natchez embarks on the hunt for a director.

Young and his team at Young Strategies conducted an extensive eight-month research study in Natchez last year and completed a strategic plan for the CVB.

JACKSON CO-ROBBERIES

Man gets 20 years for robberies in Jackson Co.

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi officials say an Alabama man will spend 20 years in prison for the December 2011 armed robberies of two checking cashing businesses, one in Moss Point and the other in Pascagoula.

Jackson County Assistant District Attorney Cherie Wade tells The Sun Herald 31-year-old Robert Lee Stone, of Mobile, Ala., pleaded guilty to two charges of armed robbery Wednesday. Senior Circuit Judge Kathy King Jackson also ordered him to pay a $2,000 fine, $100 to the Crime Victims Compensation Fund and restitution to the victims.

Wade says Stone entered the businesses with a firearm and demanded cash, then fled.

GOLDEN NUGGET CASINO

Construction ends at Biloxi's Golden Nugget

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Construction that transformed the Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi over the past 16 months is coming to an end and the party to celebrate its completion is about to begin.

The Sun Herald reports company officials announced Wednesday the official grand opening will be May 1-3.

Tilman Fertitta, owner and chairman of parent company Landry's, will cut the ribbon on the $100 million renovation and expansion at noon May 2 at the new H20 swimming pool.

Bradley Rhines, vice president of marketing for Golden Nugget Biloxi, said except for the finishing touches, the work is done, including remodeling of all 700 rooms and suites, the expanded casino, new restaurants and lounges, H20 Pool and Bar, new shops, entertainment venue and meeting and convention space.

GULF OIL SPILL-CLAIMS AUDITORS

Ex-US Attorney heads Gulf spill claims audit panel

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A former U.S. attorney in Baton Rouge heads up a new three-member audit panel appointed to review the settlement program arising from the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Raymond Lamonica, now a law professor at LSU, was appointed Wednesday by the federal judge overseeing litigation that followed the spill. Also named to the panel were accountant Lloyd Tate and LSU accounting professor Larry Crumbley.

The panel was appointed in response to a motion by claims administrator Patrick Juneau's office. The panel will review the work of a firm hired to do an audit of the claims process. It also will make recommendations for a quality control system aimed at preventing errors in paying claims from a property damage and economic loss settlement.

HATTIESBURG FIRE CHIEF

Hattiesburg's fire chief sworn-in

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Firefighters, police officers and other city officials gathered at the Sherrill Community Center in Hattiesburg for the swearing-in of the city's first African-American fire chief.

WDAM TV reports 48-year-old Paul Presley took the oath of office Wednesday from Mayor Johnny Dupree.

Presley, who joined the Hattiesburg Fire Dept. in 1993, had been serving as interim fire chief for nine months.

The city council last month unanimously approved his appointment.

Presley said one of his main goals is to encourage more young people to consider careers in the fire service.

ABERDEEN DEPOT

Aberdeen leaders make plans for old depot

ABERDEEN, Miss. (AP) - Aberdeen leaders want to increase the city's sustainability and livability.

They want to do this by teaching all people in Aberdeen about healthier eating and officials plan to use an old railroad depot to do that.

WTVA TV reports the initial plan for the depot is to turn it into a cannery so that people can learn about healthy eating.

Then it will be turned into a farmers market.

Aberdeen Main Street Manager Ann Tackett says they are still in the process of buying the depot.

Once they gain possession of the building, Tackett says they don't plan to waste any time getting it up and running.

She says the plan calls for starting renovation within the next year.

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

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