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Top News Links: Friday, May 15

Gambling, lottery bill clears Senate panel

A lottery and casino bill has cleared its first hurdle in the Alabama Legislature. The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee approved the bill Thursday on a 5-3 vote. The bill seeks to authorize a state lottery and Las Vegas-style casinos at four existing state dog tracks in Birmingham, Mobile and Macon and Greene counties. – WVTM-13

Alfa gives state’s top teacher a new car

Alabama's Teacher of the Year, Jennifer Brown, will be cruising the state in style after being awarded a new car by Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation. Brown, a science teacher at Vestavia Hills High School, was named Alabama's Teacher of the Year on Wednesday night after being selected from four finalists. For the next year, she will serve as the official spokesperson and representative for teachers in Alabama. – AL.com

Blue Bell will now inform states on listeria

Blue Bell Creameries has signed agreements with health officials in Texas and Oklahoma requiring the company to inform the states whenever there is a positive test result for listeria in its products or ingredients. The requirement comes after the Texas-based company failed to tell federal or state health officials of repeated findings of listeria at its Oklahoma plant that date back to 2013. The company says it's working on a similar agreement with health officials in Alabama, where it also has a plant. – AP/NPR

Selma workers protest at Lear in Detroit

Hundreds of UAW members joined some workers from Lear's plant in Selma Thursday morning outside the supplier's Southfield headquarters to protest low wages and working conditions at the southern plant. The protest was timed to coincide with Lear's annual meeting and allow workers to directly pressure the company's CEO and its board of directors. – Detroit Free Press

National Security Group business up

The National Security Group Inc. reported today that for the quarter ended March 31, 2015, gross written premium was up 2.3 percent compared to the same period in 2014. Total assets were $147,016,000 compared to $144,865,000 at December 31, 2014. The increase in invested assets and cash during the first quarter of 2015 were the primary contributors to the increase in total assets. Total debt at March 31, 2015 was $19,072,000 compared to $19,572,000 at December 31, 2014. BusinessWire

MPT declares quarterly cash dividend

Birmingham-based Medical Properties Trust, Inc. announced Thursday that its Board of Directors declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.22 per share of common stock to be paid on July 9, 2015, to stockholders of record on June 11, 2015. MPT has approximately $4.0 billion in assets, with healthcare facilities throughout the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. – BusinessWire

UM Marketing takes grand prize

The University of Mobile Marketing and Public Relations Office received seven national awards, including the grand prize award for feature writing, during the 51st annual Baptist Communicators Association meeting in April. The University of Mobile Marketing and Public Relations Office received seven national awards, including the grand prize award for feature writing, during the 51st annual Baptist Communicators Association meeting in April. – UMobile.edu

‘Wonderful Wednesdays’ coming in June

Bellingrath Gardens has announced a lineup of speakers and topics for “Wonderful Wednesdays,” workshops that cover a special feature of the Gardens or Home and include tips for making your garden more spectacular. Look for “Great Plants that Nobody’s Growing” with Steve Bender, Garden Editor of Southern Living Magazine; “Protecting Pollinators” with Harvey Cotton, Horticultural Consultant; and “The Moonlit Garden” with Scott Ogden, author, horticulturist and garden designer. – News release

Doster wins Aspire Bellevue project

Doster Construction Company was recently awarded the Aspire Bellevue Apartments project in Nashville, Tennessee. This project adds to the list of other Doster projects in the Nashville area – HealthSouth Franklin Rehab, Fountains at Germantown Apartments, and Tapestry at Brentwood Town Center. Construction begins immediately on this 322-unit garden style apartment development. – News release

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