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

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METRO ATLANTA UNEMPLOYMENT

Metro Atlanta jobless rate drops to 6.8 percent

ATLANTA (AP) - State labor officials say metro Atlanta's unemployment rate has dropped to 6.8 percent.

The Georgia Department of Labor Thursday morning announced the new March jobless rate.

It is down from 6.9 percent in February and 8 percent in March a year ago.

Authorities say the rate declined because Atlanta area employers created more jobs and laid off fewer workers.

Statewide, metro Athens had the lowest area jobless rate at 5.1 percent.

The Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest rate at 9.4 percent.

The local area unemployment data are not seasonally adjusted

Georgia's seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for March was 7.0 percent, down from 7.1 percent in February. The rate was 8.4 percent in March a year ago.

INFANT DEAD

Parents of infant found dead held on drug charges

SYLVESTER, Ga. (AP) - Officials say the parents of an infant who was found dead at their Mississippi home drove with their 2-year-old daughter to Georgia, where they are being held on felony drug warrants.

Police in Sylvester, about 170 miles south of Atlanta, say 2-year-old Maliah Harris was found unharmed at 12:09 a.m. Thursday in a traffic stop after an Amber Alert was issued. Police Chief Robert Jennings says 34-year-old Donald Boyd Harris and 31-year-old Allison Studdard are wanted on warrants for possession of methamphetamine in Mississippi. Jennings says drugs also were found in the car, with additional charges possible.

Maliah's 7-month-old sister, Alyssa, was found dead early Wednesday. County Coroner Greg Merchant says an autopsy didn't reveal a preliminary cause of death. A toxicology report is pending.

Sheriff Mike Arledge tells methamphetamine was found at the scene.

KIDNAP VICTIM RESCUED

Woman charged in NC kidnap to have bond hearing

ATLANTA (AP) - A woman facing charges in the kidnapping of a North Carolina prosecutor's father is set to have a bond hearing in federal court in Atlanta.

Patricia Kramer was one of nine people indicted Tuesday in the April 5 kidnapping of Frank Janssen. Authorities say the kidnapping was retaliation for Janssen's daughter's prosecution of a high-ranking member of the Bloods gang being held in a North Carolina prison.

Kramer was originally scheduled for a bond hearing Wednesday. But the hearing had to be postponed so a new lawyer could be appointed for her. Originally, a Federal Defender Program lawyer had been appointed for her. But the program is already representing another defendant in the case, so it can't represent Kramer as well.

The other eight people charged are in custody.

ATLANTA TRANSIT OFFICERS

MARTA looks to military bases for police officers

ATLANTA (AP) - Metro Atlanta's public transit system is looking to Detroit and military bases in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia as it attempts to recruit new police officers to its force.

Officials with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority -- known as MARTA in the Atlanta area -- went on recruiting trips last month to Fort Lee in Virginia and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Trips to Detroit in May and to west Georgia's Fort Benning Army base in June are also planned.

The transit system is also offering a $3,000 signing bonus for new officers.

WSB-TV reports that the system has a dozen vacancies on its police force, and the proposed new budget adds an additional 29 officers.

MARTA's police force includes more than 300 sworn positions.

TUSKEGEE-MOREHOUSE CLASSIC

Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic to stay in Columbus

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) - An agreement has been reached to keep the Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic, a football rivalry game held for nearly eight decades, in the west Georgia city of Columbus.

Last year, organizers said the annual game's future in Columbus was uncertain. Other cities, such as Phenix City and Montgomery in Alabama, had expressed interest in hosting the game.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported that the agreement reached after months of negotiations will keep the game at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium in Columbus for the 79th consecutive season.

The upcoming Oct. 11 game will mark the 79th consecutive season for the match between Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Ala. and Morehouse College in Atlanta.

The Columbus newspaper reports that it is the longest-running rivalry among historically black colleges and universities.

FORMER LAWMAKER'S HOME-FIRE

Fire destroys home of former state lawmaker

WATKINSVILLE, Ga. (AP) - A fire has destroyed the northeast Georgia home of former state Rep. Bob Smith.

A spokesman for the state fire marshal said someone called police to report smoke in the area shortly before 9 a.m. in Watkinsville. Police and fire officials were called and discovered the house on fire. No one was in the home at the time.

Authorities say it appears the fire started in the garage area, but the cause hasn't been determined.

The Athens Banner-Herald reports that Smith served 12 years in the Georgia House of Representatives in a district that included Oconee County and parts of Clarke, Oglethorpe and Morgan counties. He announced in 2010 that he would not seek re-election so he could focus on the real estate business he and his son operate.

TRANSIT POLICE-RECRUITMENT

Ga. transit police plan Detroit recruitment event

ATLANTA (AP) - The police department that oversees Atlanta's public transportation system is looking out of state to hire new officers.

Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Deputy Police Chief Mike Burrows tells WSB-TV the department is traveling to Detroit for a two-day recruiting campaign at military bases and colleges.

Burrows says the department has also traveled to Fort Lee, Va. and Camp Lejeune, N.C. and plans to visit Fort Benning as well.

The agency's trip to Detroit is scheduled for May 16.

Burrows says the department's high requirements rule out a lot of potential candidates and the agency is willing to travel to attract the best potential employees.

HEALTH-EDUCATION PARTNERSHIPS

Georgia Tech to host health care partnership forum

ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia Tech is hosting a conference focused on ways academic institutions and medical facilities can collaborate in the technology and engineering fields to solve medical problems.

The conference is being hosted at the Georgia Tech Research Institute Conference Center Tuesday. The conference is being led by Emory University and organizers say Georgia Tech and the Morehouse School of Medicine are partners.

Wilbur Lam, an Emory and Georgia Tech faculty member and a physician at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta will also discuss two health care devices that are being developed through a medical and academic partnership.

One is a smartphone attachment that would allow parents to diagnose ear infections in children. The other is a device similar to a blood glucose monitor that could be used to detect anemia.

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

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