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EPB prepares to build solar array in Bakewell

EPB plans to build the first of two new community solar projects this summer in Bakewell in northern Hamilton County and has begun seeking proposals from qualified contractors for labor and materials.

"We encourage qualified solar contractors to submit their proposals, and we look forward to working together to provide our customers with a reliable, environmentally-friendly energy source," EPB President David Wade said in announcing the contractor solicitation Friday.. "Community solar power generation is a next step toward further enhancing the value of high-quality, reliable electric power delivered by the community's smart grid."

EPB, in partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority, also plans to build a solar array at 4.5-acre site on one of its lots off of Holtzclaw Avenue. When both of the solar installations become operational, the project is expected to have a combined 1.35 megawatt generation capacity, which is enough power to meet the needs of approximately 200 houses.

Community solar projects allow residents to share in the power generated by solar panels installed where they can best capture the energy of the sun.

EPB will own and operate the solar farm, which may be better sited and operate more easily than for individual homeowners to try to place as many solar panels on their own rooftops or yards. About a fourth of all homes in the Tennessee Valley aren't suited for solar generation because they are shaded are facing in the wrong direction to capture the sun's rays and energy on photo-voltaic panels.

EPB spokesman John Pless said if the project draws enough community participation, the initial deployment could be the first of many community-based solar deployments. Those who are interested in learning more are invited to call EPB at (423) 648-1372 to be added to the contact list for future updates.

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Patrons exit the Crazy River at SoakYa water park at Lake Winnepesaukah.
Lake Winnie hires 80 summer lifeguards

The Georgia Department of Labor will help Lake Winnepesaukah recruit more than 80 certified lifeguards for its Soakya Water Park in Rossville, Ga. The recruitment will be held Tuesday, April 26, from 2-6 p.m. at the park located at 1730 Lakeview Dr.

All applicants must be at least 16 years old and pass a swimming test. The Red Cross will conduct a lifeguard-training program for potential applicants who are not certified.

The water park is set to open on Saturday, May 28, and will remain open through Monday, Sept. 5.

For more information about the jobs, or to apply online, visit www.employgeorgia.com to create an account and upload or create a resume. Having an Employ Georgia account expedites the interview process.

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First Tennessee profits return in first quarter

First Horizon National Corp., the parent company of First Tennessee Bank, on Friday reported first-quarter net income of $49.4 million, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier.

The Memphis, Tennessee-based bank said it had earnings of 20 cents per share, which was in line with analysts expectations for the bank.

First Tennessee said loans grew by 13 percent and deposits were up 8 percent from a year ago. The bank said it repurchased $75 million of its own shares during the first quarter and increased its common dividend by 17 percent.

"Our focus on giving our customers a differentiated experience through our team of outstanding bankers and advisors is paying off with strong revenue and loan growth," said Bryan Jordan, First Horizon's chairman and CEO.

First Tennessee is the biggest bank in Chattanooga with more than $2 billion of local deposits.

Tennessee leads nation in jobless rate drop

Tennessee had the argest decline in the unemployment rate in March of any state, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday.

The 4.5 percent jobless rate in Tennessee last month was down from 4.9 percent the previous month.

Nationwide, the jobless rate rose from 4.9 percent to 5.0 percent last month.

Factory output falls again, but future signs are brighter

U.S. factory output dropped in March for the second straight month as manufacturers churned out fewer cars, metal parts and machinery. Yet other recent data suggests that the sector's long-running malaise could brighten in the coming months.

Factory production fell 0.3 percent last month, following a 0.1 percent drop in February, the Federal Reserve said Friday.

Those figures suggest that American manufacturers are still struggling with the triple whammy of weak overseas growth, the strong dollar and sluggish consumer and business spending at home. Automakers cut back sharply, as sales slowed last month after a record 2015.

While the dollar has slipped in recent weeks, it has risen in value in the past year compared with foreign currencies. That makes U.S. products more expensive overseas and imports cheaper. Meanwhile, Americans have been reluctant to spend freely this year despite steady job gains and lower prices at the gas pump.

Factory output rose just 0.6 percent at an annual rate in the first three months of this year. That's below the sluggish 0.8 percent rise in all of 2015, which was the smallest boost in output since the recession ended in 2009.

But Greg Daco, an economist at Oxford Economics, pointed out that only about a third of manufacturing is contracting, far below the one-half that typically shrinks in recessions.

Another factory report released Friday suggested that goods production in the U.S. could be stabilizing. The New York Federal Reserve's Empire State index, based on a survey of manufacturers in the state, rose in April to its highest level in more than a year.And earlier this month, the Institute for Supply Management, a nationwide trade group of purchasing managers, said that its survey showed manufacturers expanded in March.

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