WVAS Local News
Alabama's unemployment rate dropped to 6.5 percent in June, which is lowest rate in more than four years. The state Department of Labor said the June rate was down from 6.8 percent in May. The rate is below the national figure of 7.6 percent. Counties in the Black Belt region have the state's highest unemployment rates including Wilcox at 15.8 percent, Perry at 14 percent and Dallas County at 13.4 percent. Shelby County's 4.5 percent was the lowest jobless rate among the 67 counties.
July 31st is National Heatstroke Prevention Day and in keeping with that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is holding what it is describing as a "day of social media conversation." The agency will be posting precautions on Twitter and Facebook pertaining to children being left alone in hot cars. Alabama Department of Public Health spokesman Dr. Jim McVay says heatstroke victims should be treated immediately. National figures show that 21 children have died in hot cars this year.
Tax Free Weekend
Alabama retailers are getting ready for the annual tax free weekend for back to school merchandise. The state will waive its 4 percent sales tax from Friday, August 2nd through Sunday, August 4th. The Alabama Retail Association reports that a record 274 Alabama cities and counties are waiving their local sales taxes that weekend.
Macon County has received an economic boost with the announcement of a $10 million dollar expansion and 50 new jobs at the Halla Visteon Climate Control Plant in Shorter. Mayor Willie Mae Powell joined company executives Thursday for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the plant which manufactures front-end assemblies for Hyundai and Kia vehicles. The Halla Plant already employs 500 employees and is the largest employer in Macon County.
State Senator Vivian Davis Figures said she will not apologize for her remarks about Republican candidates. The Democrat from Mobile said Thursday that she stands by her statements and there is nothing that warrants an apology. GOP Party Chair Bill Armistead has asked her to apologize for saying she thought racism played a part in the recent dominance of Republicans in recent Alabama elections. Figures made the comments Tuesday in a speech to Democrats in Jefferson County.
Vigils and Rallies
Vigils and rallies are planned this weekend in Montgomery and dozens of other cities across the U.S. to press for federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman. His acquittal last weekend in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin touched off a series of protests.