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

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7 days of marches planned around Alabama Capitol

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - More than 20 people, including civil rights leaders and ministers, have marched around the state Capitol and Statehouse in the first day of a seven-day protest that stretches across the Southeast.

Democratic state Sen. Hank Sanders of Selma says the marchers in Alabama are joining those in North Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and Virginia to protest attacks on civil and human rights.

The Alabama group marched around the Capitol and Statehouse in hot, humid weather Friday afternoon. It plans to repeat the march for six more days. Sanders says they are inspired by the biblical story of Joshua marching around the walls of Jericho until they fell on the seventh day. He says many rights gained in the 1960s are under attack within the walls of both buildings.


Former Ala. band director arrested on sex charges

BREWTON, Ala. (AP) - A former high school band director charged with having sex with students in Alabama says "there's always more than one side to the story."

Jeffrey Lance Gainous says that, and nothing else, to reporters gathered Friday as he was led in a jailhouse jumpsuit into the courthouse in Brewton, Georgia. WKRG-TV reports a judge set Gainous' bond at $350,000.

Authorities say Gainous has sexual encounters with at least eight girls attending T.R. Miller High school. He's been charged with counts of sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment and six counts involving a teacher having sex with students.

He was arrested Wednesday in Georgia, where Gainous had just started a new job as band director at Thomas County Central High School in Thomasville. He resigned following his arrest.


Second man arrested in slaying of ex-'Bama player

GREENVILLE, Ala. (AP) - Authorities say a second man is in custody is the shooting death of former University of Alabama football player Ozell Powell.

Police in Powell's hometown of Greenville say Samarjay Demontes Peterson surrendered on Friday morning.

Peterson is now charged with murder. He's jailed without bond.

Authorities previously charged 22-year-old Eric Simmons in the killing.

Powell was shot twice in the chest at an apartment complex on Wednesday night and died later at a hospital.

Police haven't disclosed a possible motive.

Powell played at Alabama from 1993 through 1996, starting 25 games on the defensive line. He'd been living in Greenville a few years.


Ala. officer charged for putting puppy in freezer

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) - An Alabama animal control officer has been charged after police say he left a puppy inside a storage freezer.

The Dothan Eagle reports the mixed-breed pup died not long after it was discovered by another employee. Dothan police say animal control officer William Henry Roberson knowingly put the puppy in the freezer, where it stayed for 20 minutes or longer.

Dothan police Sgt. Mac Eggleston says 57-year-old Roberson of Webb was charged Friday with misdemeanor animal cruelty and jailed on $500 bond.

It was not immediately known if Roberson had an attorney. He was placed on administrative leave from his job pending a hearing.


Alabama governor names drone task force

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Gov. Robert Bentley has created a task force to look at the potential uses of drones in agriculture, conservation and law enforcement.

Bentley says the new Alabama Drone Task Force will review the Federal Aviation Administration requirements for the use of drones in Alabama and establish the necessary guidelines.

State Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan is chairman of the task force. McMillan says it's time for Alabama to be proactive with ideas that enable the rapidly developing drone technology to be a positive innovation for the long term.

Other task force members are state Transportation Director John Cooper, state Conservation Commissioner Gunter Guy, state Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier and Montgomery Airport Authority board member Jimmy Reynolds.

The task force is supposed to develop a drone management plan before Jan. 15.


FBI honors negotiator in Ala. bunker standoff

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) - The sheriff's captain who served as the primary negotiator during a bunker standoff last year in Alabama is being honored for his role in the safe rescue of a young boy held hostage for nearly a week.

The Dothan Eagle reports FBI Director James B. Comey recently presented the FBI Medal for Meritorious Achievement to Houston County Sheriff's Capt. Bill Rafferty.

In January 2013, a gunman boarded a school bus demanding children, and then shot and killed the bus driver after he refused. One boy was kidnapped and kept for six days until FBI agents stormed the underground bunker and killed the suspect, 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes.

Officials say Rafferty established a rapport with Dykes, talking to him 12 hours a day while the FBI crafted a rescue plan.


Athens City Schools to restart drug testing

ATHENS, Ala. (AP) - The Athens City Schools system is set to resume random student drug testing in October, after funding prompted officials to suspend the program in 2006.

The Decatur Daily reports the school board recently approved spending nearly $19,000 as part of its fiscal 2015 budget for the program, which will test students in grades 7-12 who participate in extracurricular activities.

Superintendent Trey Holladay says he hopes to expand testing to students who drive to and from school. Decatur and Lawrence County are the only school systems in the area that test student drivers.

The Athens district suspended drug testing after a grant funding the program expired. Of the funds, about $10,000 is set aside for counseling, which will be required for any student who tests positive.


Business leery of Ala ruling on drug warnings

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Business groups aren't buying into the Alabama Supreme Court's attempt to limit the fallout from a decision involving drug warning labels.

Critics say the all-Republican court has set the stage for what could be a flood of innovative lawsuits trying to hold companies responsible for actions taken by others.

The court released the decision on Aug. 15. It says brand-name drugmakers can be held liable for warnings on generic medication produced by other companies.

A majority six justices signed off on an opinion that went to lengths to say the ruling shouldn't be felt outside of the pharmaceutical industry.

Lawyers for the south Alabama couple who sued over a generic medication agree the decision will have a limited impact.

Opponents say the ruling is a "radical" change in state law.

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