CHATTANOOGA (AP) — Volkswagen is jumping into the U.S. auto market with a new Passat that is bigger, cheaper and built domestically in hopes of breaking into the competitive midsize sedan market.
During a grand opening for its new plant in Chattanooga on Tuesday, the German automaker presented the 2012 Passat as the key to building U.S. sales to 1 million units by 2018. The factory has been producing cars since April and Volkswagen officials took the opportunity to show off both their German-designed sedan and the plant.
The new Passat will go on sale in the third quarter for $20,000, about $7,000 cheaper than current models built in Germany, and close to competitors' prices like the Ford Fusion, the Toyota Camry, the Honda Accord and the Hyundai Sonata.
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FRANKLIN (AP) — Williamson County has the lowest percentage of smokers in Tennessee, with 15 percent of adults choosing to light up.
That figure puts the county directly on the national smoking benchmark of 15 percent.
The National Center for Health Statistics, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, reports that across Tennessee, 24 percent of adults smoke.
The counties with the highest number of smokers were Jefferson, Lauderdale and Monroe. In all three counties, 38 percent of the population age 18 and older smoke tobacco products.
In Warren County, 26 percent of adults are smokers.
Williamson Medical Center pulmonologist Aaron Milstone says for every pack of cigarettes smoked by a person, it trims roughly three hours off their life.
Even while watching their health decline, smokers often find it hard to quit. Their addiction to nicotine is a powerful hurdle to overcome, Milstone says. Most smokers go through seven to nine attempts to quit before they are able to stop completely, the pulmonologist said.
The good news is ex-smokers who finally put down the lighter still receive health benefits of quitting – no matter how old they are.
“It’s never too late to quit,” Milstone said. “Even at age 75, the data clearly shows you can regain some lung function.”
The Tennessee Tobacco Quit Line is 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
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CHATTANOOGA (AP) — The Tennessee Valley Authority says last month's storms are expected to cost the utility up to $200 million to replace lost power generation and to repair damaged transmission lines.
According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, TVA restarted its oldest nuclear reactor at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant in north Alabama over the weekend. But the federal utility is still getting only limited power output from the plant more than three weeks after tornadoes cut power to it.
TVA’s nuclear communications director Ray Golden says the Unit 1 reactor at Browns Ferry was operating at about 19 percent of its capacity. The two other reactors at Browns Ferry are still idle, although TVA is working to resume power generation at those units, Golden said.
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ELIZABETHTON (AP) — Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander had been charged in Johnson City with patronizing prostitution.
According to the Johnson City Press, police said he paid a prostitute $80 for sex Friday at a Johnson City motel.
Stacy Street, Alexander’s attorney, told the paper, “We are trying to gather the evidence right now and we will not have a comment until we go to court in June.”
Police said an Internet search prompted an undercover investigation. Officers said information there disclosed the woman would be at the motel and they went to the business and cited Alexander and two others who showed up.
Alexander was elected mayor by the city council in 2006 and has been in the post since then.