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July Fourth Weekend Gas Prices Hold Steady & Nightly Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Gasoline prices for the Fourth of July weekend are holding steady. The latest Triple-A-Texas Weekend Gas Watch shows a statewide average of $2.61, unchanged from last week.

The cheapest gasoline is in Houston, at $2.57 a gallon. El Paso has the most expensive.

The price at the pump has gone up a penny over the past week in Dallas and Fort Worth, hovering near the $2.61 state average.

Dan Ronan, with Triple-A-Texas says the number of Texans traveling this Independence Day weekend is more than 14 percent higher than last year.

Ronan: We've seen an improving economy. Oil prices, hotel prices, car rental prices have all been very stable. And another thing, people in 2008 and 2009 postponed taking a trip.

Nearly two-and-a-half million Texans will travel this holiday weekend.

School principals lose appeal in candy cane case

A federal appeals court has ruled that two Plano elementary school principals can be held personally liable in a lawsuit over a student's distribution of religious Christmas candy canes.

Principals Lynn Swanson and Jackie Bomchill wanted to be dismissed from the suit, claiming qualified immunity, but a lower court denied their request. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans affirmed that ruling on Thursday.

The principal's attorney, Tom Brandt, says his clients will appeal. He says the principals didn't practice religious-viewpoint discrimination against any students as is alleged.

Four families with students in Plano schools sued, alleging their children had been banned from handing out pencils saying "Jesus is the reason for the season," candy canes with cards describing their Christian origin, and other religious materials.

Perry: Conversation with Napolitano tense

Gov. Rick Perry says U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano turned "testy" when he steered a phone call about hurricane preparedness toward border security. The Texas Republican says Napolitano called to ask if Texas was prepared for Hurricane Alex.

"I said, 'Yes, I have all the help I need, but I don't have all the help I need along the border of Texas,"' Perry said, recounting their Wednesday conversation before Hurricane Alex made landfall. "I said, 'The idea that you would send 250 National Guard troops to a 1,200-mile border and think that is anything but an affront is beyond me."'

How did Napolitano respond? "She was a little testy," Perry said.

He was referring to an Obama administration plan to send 250 troops to the Texas-Mexico border.

Texas executes killer of Houston-area nurse

Convicted killer Michael James Perry has been executed for gunning down a nurse nine years ago at her suburban Houston home and stealing her red convertible.

The 28-year-old Perry was put to death by lethal injection Thursday. He became the 14th prisoner executed this year in Texas, the nation's most active death penalty state.

His execution comes about 90 minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-day appeal. Perry's lawyers have argued they had new evidence showing Perry was already in jail when 50-year-old Sandra Stotler was murdered in 2001 at her home near Conroe, Texas.

They have also contended a friend of Perry's killed Stotler.

Prosecutors have said they had voluminous evidence tying him to the crime.