Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, October 27, 2023

Briefs: IMAX 3D Theater closed during upgrades

The Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater will be closed from through Nov. 2 for the installation of vinyl seats with taller headrests, larger cup holders, rocking backs and a 20% wider bottom.

The new seats will replace the cloth-covered cushions installed in 2010.

The new seats will lower the theater’s capacity from 384 to 337. IMAX ticket prices will not increase due to these improvements, but remain at $9.95 for adults and children.

When the theater reopens Friday, Nov. 3, it will host an all-new film, “Deep Sky,” which focuses on the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope and the first images the device returned.

Chattanooga Choo Choo set for improvements

The revitalization of The Chattanooga Choo Choo will include new tenants and a $1 million common-area renovation, Northpond Partners has announced.

The historic site is a 45,000-square-foot mixed-use development in Downtown Chattanooga encompassing The Hotel Chalet, The Signal live music venue, the 114-year-old Terminal Dome building, The Gardens and a variety of shops, restaurants and entertainment.

Common area improvements will be completed by early November, including the addition of 10,000 square feet of lawn, a stage, and a new landscaping plan in The Gardens – 2 acres in the center of the campus.

The Hotel Chalet at The Choo Choo is accepting reservations for the end of this month and beyond. The Hotel Chalet at The Choo Choo is nearly finished with a $19 million preservation and renovation effort, including restored 1920s and 1960s-era Pullman train carriages and newly renovated rooms in a boutique hotel adjacent to the gardens.

The Hotel Chalet at The Choo Choo is home to Elsie’s Daughter, an Appalachian Bistro.

Northpond is partnering with Preserve Chattanooga to retain ownership of the Terminal Dome building through a long-term historic easement that will ensure it is maintained in perpetuity. Northpond plans to activate the dome as a community gathering space.

EPB receives $32.3M Department of Energy grant

EPB will use a $32.3 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to strengthen local power services and create job opportunities.

As part of its existing infrastructure development plan, EPB will match the new Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships Area 1 (GRIP) funding dollar-for-dollar to add energy storage, transition overhead power lines to underground service and replace aging power poles.

EPB will utilize GRIP funding to address the areas that most frequently experience power disruptions from storm damage and other causes. The electric power distribution and telecommunications company will add 15 megawatts of storage through six 2.5-megawatt battery installations (primarily in rural and underserved areas), transition 101 miles of overhead power lines to underground lines and replace 1,338 power poles to minimize outages during severe weather.

EPB will also utilize the funding to increase local job opportunities through training and other programs.

EPB board approves funds for growth, reliability

The EPB board of directors has approved a $125 million bond issuance. The company will use the funds to enhance the reliability of the local electric system for customers while accommodating the cost of building out new infrastructure to support rapid growth in the Chattanooga area.

“Issuing bonds will help EPB spread out the cost of needed capital investments that will serve customers over the next several decades,” says Greg Eaves EPB executive vice president and chief financial officer. “This is a standard practice for many utilities across the country because it allows current customers to pay only for the cost of the power infrastructure in place today and to not bear the costs of improvements that don’t benefit them directly.”

New residential premises served by EPB are projected to more than double in 2024 compared to 2014, with significant increases in the cost of material and equipment required to serve them. Additional capital investments in power infrastructure are needed to respond to this growth in EPB’s service territory, the company says.

In addition, EPB will deploy new resources to increase reliability in neighborhoods on the edge of its service area.

EPB will present the bond issue to the Chattanooga City Council at an upcoming meeting. The council will have final approval before the city issues the bond.

Although the city is responsible for issuing bonds on EPB’s behalf, EPB’s revenues secure the debt, which remains separate from the city’s finances.

EPB maintains strong bond ratings from previous issuances, including AA+ from Fitch Ratings and an Aa1 rating from Moody’s Investor Service at the time of EPB’s last bond issue in 2021.

Neighborhood Services opens applications for grants

The City of Chattanooga’s Department of Neighborhood Services and Development has opened applications for the Neighborhood Action Grant 2023-2024.

Neighborhood Associations, HOAs and other registered neighborhood-based organizations within Chattanooga city limits can apply for grants of up to $2,500 to fund projects that strengthen community bonds. The grant application period will close Jan. 15 at 4 p.m.

To be eligible, applicants must be a registered Neighborhood Association, Homeowners Association or other neighborhood-based group that demonstrates a commitment to community improvement and engagement. Organizations can register for free on the Neighborhood Services website at www.chattanooga.gov/neighborhoods.

Example project types include creating media documenting neighborhood history, hosting neighborhood organizing and recruiting events, and installing sign toppers or other aesthetic improvements.

The Neighborhood Services Division will host several grant writing workshops throughout the application period to guide interested organizations and will be on call to assist citizens as they write their grants.

For full grant guidelines, upcoming workshop dates, and to access the online application, go to www.chattanooga.gov/neighborhoods and then click on “Department Programs.”

USDA offering disaster assistance for producers

The USDA has declared Hamilton, Rhea, Roane and Sequatchie counties a contiguous disaster county due to physical damage and losses caused by high winds.

Under the Administrator’s Physical Loss Notification designation, producers with operations in any primary or contiguous county are eligible to apply for low interest emergency loans.

Producers have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance. The Farm Service Agency will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

Producers can borrow up to 100% of actual production or physical losses, to a maximum amount of $500,000. Applications for assistance in the disaster-stricken counties will be accepted by the Farm Service Agency through May 27, 2024.

For more information about emergency loans, contact farm loan officer Rachel Niceley at the Knox County USDA Service Center at 865 291-9518.