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Texas Jobless Rate Holds Steady At 8.2% & Midday Roundup

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By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – The Texas Workforce Commission says the state's unemployment rate held steady at 8.2 percent in January, matching the revised figure from December.

The commission said Thursday the Texas labor force reached its highest total at 12.1 million workers. The agency said recent bad weather on the East Coast has delayed the release of job figures in each industry.

The jobless rate in Texas remained well below the national figure of 9.7 percent.

DHA nixes church's service at public housing units

The Dallas Housing Authority has told a church to stop a Sunday worship service at a public housing apartment complex for the elderly.

DHA President MaryAnn Russ says the service violates its contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as part of church-state separation. Lake Highlands United Methodist Church, for 14 years, has done the service at Audelia Manor.

HUD spokesman Jerry Brown says the Fair Housing Act allows religious activity in common areas of public housing as long as it does not result in unequal treatment of residents. Brown says HUD would like to chat with DHA.

Russ, who became housing chief a year ago, recently learned that Lake Highlands UMC was holding the service.

The Rev. Pamela Clark hopes to work out an agreement with Russ to allow the service to continue.

Baylor announces donation worth $200 million

Baylor University officials say the Waco school has received the largest donation in its history: an anonymous gift worth $200 million.

The estate provision, announced Thursday, will be used for medical research at the world's largest Baptist university. The school just says the money comes from a Baylor graduate whose family has a history of providing financial support.

Baylor officials say it's the second-largest gift to a Texas college or university and ranks among the top 20 private gifts to higher education institutions in the country. They cite the most recent data reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Baylor made news last month with the hiring of Kenneth Starr as its new president.

Starr is the former independent prosecutor whose investigation of land deals and the Monica Lewinsky scandal led to President Clinton's impeachment.

DPS: spring breakers avoid Mexican border cities

The Department of Public Safety is advising Texans on spring break to avoid Mexican border cities because of drug cartel violence. DPS Director Steven McCraw on Thursday, in a statement, cited an increase in Mexican drug cartel-related violence in northern border cities.

McCraw ways "parents should not allow their children to visit these Mexican cities because their safety cannot be guaranteed."

A U.S. State Department Web site also lists travel alerts related to violence in Mexico.