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TVA-ASBESTOS

Tennessee Valley Authority removing asbestos near plant

KINGSTON, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Valley Authority has begun removing asbestos-contaminated material that was unearthed during construction near its Kingston Fossil Plant. TVA spokesman Scott Brooks says the material is in what could be an old burn pit. It also contains wood, metal and other debris. The Knoxville News Sentinel first reported the asbestos, which requires a special permit for disposal. Brooks says the utility got the permit on Dec. 3 and began removal last week. The permit says up to 22,000 cubic yards of material will be removed including up to 40 cubic yards of asbestos-containing material, although TVA thinks it will be much less.

AP-US-BLACK-LUNG-TRUST-FUND

Report: black lung funding cut will cost taxpayers billions

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A report from a national watchdog group says a cut to the tax that coal companies pay to fund a trust for sick miners will cost taxpayers billions of dollars. The Washington-based group Taxpayers for Common Sense released a report that says the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund's debt could be at least $15 billion by 2050. The excise tax on mined coal expired at the beginning of 2019 due to inaction by Congress. That led to a reduction in the amount coal companies pay into the fund. The fund pays benefits and medical bills for miners diagnosed with black lung disease.

TEEN ESCAPE-TENNESSEE

Employees fired after Tennessee juvenile detention escape

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee court official says the private contractor that runs a juvenile detention center is firing four employees who enabled four teenagers to escape. Nashville Juvenile Court Administrator Kathryn Sinback says the court is performing an exhaustive review of the Nov. 30 escape and reviewing its contract with Youth Opportunity. That's the private contractor managing the facility. A company report outlines a series of policy violations that led to the escape. Sinback says she doesn't know the date of the workers' terminations. As of Tuesday, one of the four teenagers was still at large.

AP-US-ONLINE-PRIVACY-CHILDREN

24 states asking for better online protections for children

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Two dozen state attorneys general are asking the Federal Trade Commission to implement better online protections for children. The bipartisan group submitted a letter to the FTC on Monday. It calls for stronger rules especially for personal information from children under 13. The attorneys general want the agency to “clamp down” on collecting information on children for behavioral advertising, and to examine how federal rules apply to school-issued laptops that are free as long as companies can collect information. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III says the resulting profiles will be used to target children for many years to come.

SCHOOL CROSSING HELPER HIT

Woman charged for hitting woman helping crossing guard

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Police say a Tennessee woman who used her car to hit another woman helping direct traffic near a school has been arrested. WZTV-TV cited an affidavit in reporting that 41-year-old Matasha Hodges is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The affidavit says Hodges was passing a Nashville school on her way to work Friday when she was stopped by a woman helping a crossing guard, became angry and struck the woman with her car. The victim received minor injuries. It wasn't immediately clear whether Hodges has an attorney.

WINTER WEATHER-ROAD CLOSURES

Winter weather impacts travel across western North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Authorities have closed down parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway in advance of winter weather expected to impact western North Carolina. The Charlotte Observer reports officials have also closed U.S. Highway 441 ahead of the weather, which is expected to bring ice, freezing rain and snow to the region. The National Weather Service forecast a “brief period of wintry weather, mainly freezing rain” for the western region beginning Tuesday.