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

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ALABAMA UNEMPLOYMENT

Ala jobless rate jumps to 6.7 percent

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama's unemployment rate is rising.

The state Department of Labor says Alabama's March unemployment rate is 6.7 percent, which is three-tenths of a percent higher than the February rate. It's also above the March 2013 rate of 6.6 percent.

The job rate represents 144,628 unemployed people. But the number of people in the labor force also grew by more than 14,000 people, and the number of working Alabamians increased by 7,000.

The state labor commissioner, Tom Surtees, says the unemployment rate is up because of the growth in the labor force.

Surtees says employers reported more than 12,000 additional jobs, and construction showed a gain for the first time in months.

Wilcox County has Alabama's highest jobless rate at 16.4 percent, and Shelby County is lowest at 4.8 percent.

JAIL-HANGING DEATH

Bessemer jail inmate found dead inside cell

BESSEMER, Ala. (AP) - Bessemer police say an inmate accused of stabbing another man and kidnapping his wife has been found dead in the Bessemer City Jail.

Bessemer Deputy Police Chief Mike Roper says the 26-year-old inmate was found dead in his cell early Thursday morning after hanging himself.

Police say after the stabbing on Wednesday, investigators found the inmate choking the man's wife inside a Dumpster. The inmate's identity hasn't been released. The man was charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and resisting arrest. Details on the circumstances that led to the stabbing and kidnapping weren't immediately available.

Authorities say the stabbing victim is at UAB Hospital and is expected to recover.

The inmate's death is under investigation.

GAMBLING MACHINES SEIZED

Greene Co. bingo centers resuming operations

EUTAW, Ala. (AP) - Some of Greene County's bingo parlors are reopening following a raid by state authorities.

The Tuscaloosa News reports that Sheriff Joe Benison says the businesses can resume operations, so that's what they're doing.

Attorney General Luther Strange didn't have any immediate comment.

State police and Strange's office seized more than 1,300 gaming machines and nearly $117,000 from three bingo parlors in Greene County two weeks ago.

The state contends the machines are illegal gambling devices. The county and the bingo operators claim the machines are legal.

Workers at River's Edge Casino in Knoxville were unloading machines on Thursday. Green Charity Bingo in Eutaw has resumed operations.

Greenetrack president Nat Winn says a rally is planned in Tuscaloosa on April 26 to bring attention to the dispute.

SCHOOL SYSTEM-IMMIGRANT TEEN

Ala school admits immigrant student

FORT PAYNE, Ala. (AP) - A north Alabama school system has enrolled an immigrant student who was initially denied admission.

The Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center says Fort Payne schools allowed the Mexican-born 17-year-old to begin attending classes after he was turned away twice from Fort Payne High School.

The law center says the system also has changed policies to make it clear that students can enroll without a Social Security number.

And it says the district has removed information from a website about Alabama's law cracking down on illegal immigration. Major parts of the law were overturned by courts.

The school system has said it doesn't use national origin in enrollment decisions.

The youth's family moved to Alabama from Colorado in January. The law center says he finally enrolled in school on April 10.

BODY DISCOVERED-MONTGOMERY

Tree crew discovered body in Montgomery

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Montgomery police are investigating after a tree crew discovered a body.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports that the body was found Thursday afternoon near the corner of Well Road and West Boulevard.

Montgomery Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Martha Earnhardt said police are awaiting results of medical tests by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences.

No further information was immediately available.

COURTHOUSE-SHOOTER DRILL

Ala courthouse shutting down for shooter drill

GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) - Law enforcement is shutting down an Alabama courthouse to train officers how to respond to a mass shooting threat.

Officials say the Etowah County Judicial Building in Gadsden will be closed for 90 minutes Friday morning during the drill.

Officials will simulate having an armed person shooting inside the building to teach officers how to react. Law enforcement will respond as though the event is real.

Sheriff Todd Entrekin's office says the drill is part of a continuing response training program that's been going on over the last year.

WETLANDS FILLED-SENTENCING

Man faces 9 months in prison for filling wetlands

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - A real estate developer convicted of illegally filling wetlands will serve nine months in prison and six months of home confinement.

William R. "Rusty" Miller, a real estate developer from Fairhope, Ala., was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. in Gulfport, Miss. He pleaded guilty in December to one count of unpermitted filling of wetlands, after being indicted in November 2012 on 11 counts.

Miller must also pay a $15,000 fine, $19,246 in victim restitution, and serve one-year of supervised release after completing his sentence.

The developer admitted to having caused the ditching, draining and filling of wetlands in 2007 at 10 locations on a 1,710-acre parcel of undeveloped property without getting permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

PARENTS SLAIN

Ala. man sentenced to 25 years in mother's death

BESSEMER, Ala. (AP) - A Talladega County man has pleaded guilty in his mother's 2011 shooting death.

Drew Thacker of Oak Grove was charged with fatally shooting his parents, but pleaded guilty in only his mother's death as part of a deal negotiated with prosecutors. Thacker was initially charged with capital murder but instead pleaded guilty to murder.

In court, 19-year-old Thacker said he was suffering withdrawal symptoms from heroin before the shootings and was angry that his parents recently kicked his brother out of the house over his drug habit.

Thacker said he shot his parents execution style, stole money from his father's wallet and got high with his brother.

In court, one of Thacker's aunts told him she wishes he'd never been born.

Thacker was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

OBIT-MCDOWELL LEE

Former secretary of Ala. state senate dies at 89

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - Former longtime secretary of the Alabama state Senate, McDowell Lee, has died at the age of 89.

His daughter Margaret Cunningham says Lee died Thursday afternoon after a brief illness at his home in Auburn.

Lee served as a secretary of the state senate for 47 years before retiring in 2010. Lee was the nation's longest serving legislative secretary at the time of his retirement.

Lee was renowned for his knowledge of Alabama's legislative procedures and Cunningham says he was a third generation civil servant for the state of Alabama.

Cunningham says a visitation for Lee will be held at the Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday. A graveside funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Pea River Presbyterian Church in Clio.

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

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