Local

Cyber-attack Concerns Leads TVA to Boost Security Efforts

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is investing heavily in monitoring systems and equipment for its recently opened Cybersecurity Operations Center in Chattanooga, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The TVA sees tens of thousands of attempts daily to hack into the company’s networks, the report says. With recent concerns of attacks using these means, including new evidence of attempted Russian cyber-attacks against American power utilities, the TVA is employing a staff of 38 TVA employees and another 20 to 30 contract workers devoted solely to cyber-security. The TVA is the nation's largest government-owned power utility, with 29 power-generating dams, seven nuclear reactors and multiple connections to the Oak Ridge nuclear weapons production arsenal.

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Cameras Catch Airbnb Guests Illegally Entering Neighbor's Home

Four men illegally entered a woman's South Nashville home last Friday while she was cooking dinner for her young daughter, WKRN News reports. The men were staying at an Airbnb on 9th Circle South in Edgehill, where they hopped over a barrier separating the third-floor balconies of the properties, breaking into the house of Amy Allen. Allen was notified of the intrusion by her security system, which also filmed the ‘bnb’ burglars in action. Allen said she called the police and began looking through her surveillance video when she discovered that the guests from next door had been in her home previously and had stolen a bottle of alcohol.
 
Airbnb rentals remain a contentious topic in Nashville, leading the city to establish a designated hotline to field complaints about short-term rental properties. Since September 2017, Metro Codes has received 1,581 calls on the complaint hotline.

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Former Nashville Councilman Loniel Greene Jr. Dies at 37

Loniel Greene Jr., an Iraq War veteran and former Metro Nashville councilman, died Wednesday after being hospitalized last week, the Tennessean reports. Greene was elected District 1 councilman in 2015 and served less than five months before resigning in January 2016 amid legal issues. His family said he suffered a cardiac arrest on July 8. Additional details of his death have not been released. Greene was 37.

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TVA Invites Public Input on Proposed Updates to Natural Resource Plan

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is soliciting public opinions regarding updating its 2011 Natural Resource Plan, according to a press release on its website. The 2011 plan organized TVA’s work into six resource areas but did not include all of TVA’s Natural Resource efforts. In the 2020 Natural Resource Plan, TVA proposes 10 focus areas that encompass all the Natural Resource functions.
 
TVA is hosting four open house meetings to obtain input, answer questions and receive comments. The sessions will be from 5–7:30 p.m. local time at the following locations:
 
  • July 25 at Pellissippi State Community College in the College Center Room, 10915 Hardin Valley Rd., Knoxville
  • July 26 at Chattanooga State Community College in Rooms 124-126, 4501 Amnicola Highway, Chattanooga
  • August 1 in the TVA Multi-Purpose Building, Room MPB 01202, 101 Reservation Road, Muscle Shoals, Alabama
  • August 2 at Paris Landing State Park in Conference Room A, 400 Lodge Road, Buchanan
  • August 6 – Webinar. Please register in advance of the webinar at www.tva.gov/nrp.
Written comments can be sent to Matthew Higdon, NEPA Compliance, Tennessee Valley Authority, 400 West Summit Hill Drive, WT 11D, Knoxville, TN 37902-1499. Comments also may be submitted on the project website at www.tva.gov/nrp or by email at NRP@tva.gov.
 
NOTE: Those with special needs who wish to attend any open house should contact TVA at least a week in advance at (865) 632-6113.
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TVA Proposes Additional Grid Access Fee for Local Power Companies

The Tennessee Valley Authority is proposing a grid access fee in addition to what it currently charges local power companies that distribute its power, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. TVA cut its original grid access charge in half and agreed to consider allowing local power companies new flexibility in generating their own renewable power, to keep or recruit the growing number of businesses wanting to buy green energy.

TVA plans to add a half-cent-per-kilowatt-hour access charge for its sales to local power companies, expected to generate about $600 million for the organization. TVA contends that the rate structure will better align its charges with actual costs, however, detractors argue that TVA is shifting more of the fixed costs from its power generation in a manner that could hit poor people and low energy users the hardest. If approved by TVA directors, the change will go into effect on Oct. 1.

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House Pulls $250,000 of Funding from Memphis Due to Confederate Statue Removal

House lawmakers on Tuesday approved a last-minute amendment to remove $250,000 allocated to the city of Memphis as punishment for the removal of Confederate monuments by a 56-31 vote, The Commercial Appeal reports.
 
The amendment was introduced because of Memphis officials’ decision to remove two controversial statues from city parks last year. After being denied a waiver by the state Historical Commission to remove the statues, Memphis sold two public parks in December 2017 to Greenspace Memphis, a nonprofit, which then removed statues of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
 
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Steve McDaniel, R-Parkers Crossroads, who has been an advocate for the preservation of historical monuments.
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Store Owners Caught in 'Operation Candy Crush' Contemplate Legal Action

Store owners involved in the recent “Operation Candy Crush,” where Rutherford County law enforcement agencies raided and shuttered 23 businesses selling cannabidiol (CBD) candies, are contemplating legal action reports The Murfreesboro Post. Law enforcement action culminated on Feb. 12, when the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department and the Smyrna Police Department seized all merchandise containing CBD and padlocked the almost two dozen businesses, citing them as a public nuisance.
 
Proprietors argue that they broke no laws since CBD contains only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive element in illegal marijuana. Legal CBD products must be derived from industrial hemp and contain less than 0.3 percent THC. When isolated from the plant, CBD can be distilled into an oil and added to food and beverages to be sold. If derived from an industrial plant with a clear chain of command, the oil is not inherently illegal.
 
Defense attorney Tommy Santel, who is representing several store owners, argued that CBD and industrial hemp are not identified as controlled substances. "The state has failed to even plead a sufficient case," Santel said, when asking for the dismissal of all civil injunctions and the removal of the padlocks. "The state needed to go further, the state needed to say 'derivative of marijuana' or 'derivative of industrial hemp.”
 
All criminal and civil charges against the store owners in Rutherford County part of Operation Candy Crush will be dismissed and their records wiped clean.
 
Attorneys representing those business owners are discussing how to structure any legal action, which could involve “an overarching” state injunction by stores that took their items off of shelves because they feared prosecution, as well as the Rutherford County business owners who were arrested and lost days of business, according to Joe Kirkpatrick, president of the Tennessee Hemp Industries Association. 
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