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Tennessee Valley News Week In Review 12-22-2023

Catch up on the biggest news about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley
Catch up on the biggest news about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley

Catch up on the week's biggest stories about people, places, events and activities happening in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley.

On Christmas Eve last year, high winds and single-digit temperatures forced the Tennessee Valley Authority to order rolling blackouts for the first time in its history. TVA said the blackouts lasted for two hours on Dec. 23 and for six hours on Dec. 24. Since then, the TVA invested $8 million on insulation and heated cables at its facilities. In the last three months, it has invested $123 million in the reliability of its coal, gas and hydro facilities. TVA spokesperson Clarissa McClain tells 256 today TVA’s winter readiness overhaul has included updated cold-weather response plans, training and drills, and a more rigorous approach to regular maintenance.

Starting Jan. 1 of next year, a new hands-free ordinance will prohibit drivers in Huntsville from holding any wireless telecommunications device while operating a vehicle. The ordinance was voted into law by City Council on Oct. 12. The legislation will enable law enforcement to treat a handheld wireless communication device violation as a primary instead of a secondary offense. Under the City’s existing no-text ordinance, officers need another reason, such as failing to signal or wear a seatbelt, to stop a driver and issue a citation for distracted driving. A news release from the city notes that not only will the new ordinance strengthen Huntsville’s existing texting-while-driving law, but it will also be easier for HPD to enforce.

With peak holiday travel season underway, the Alabama Department of Transportation is anticipating higher than average traffic volumes on Alabama roadways. To ensure the safety of the traveling public and construction workers, ALDOT will have no temporary lane closures from this Friday at 6 p.m. until Monday, Jan. 1 at midnight. Drivers taking to Alabama roads for the Christmas and New Year holidays should allow extra time to reach their destination. AAA predicts 115 million Americans to travel over Christmas and New Year’s, an increase of 2.2% from last year.

ALDOT has launched a new and updated version of its ALGO traffic app and website. This update provides an enhanced user experience by offering personalized information to help travelers avoid roadway congestion. It features the “Know Before You Go” trip planner, enhanced traffic event information and personalized traveler alerts. Download the ALGO Traffic app or visit ALGOTraffic.com to learn more about the updates and to subscribe to those personalized alerts.

The holidays be difficult for those experiencing mental health crises. The Alabama Department of Mental Health Commissioner Kimberly Boswell tells WHNT TV that one way to get connected to mental health resources is by dialing 988. The national suicide and crisis lifeline is for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis, substance use or thoughts of suicide. You can call or text at any time to talk with a trained crisis counselor confidentially. Boswell says the hotline can also refer you to local resources, like one of the state’s five crisis centers.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced more than $2.4 million in grants to help crime victims in Alabama this week. WAFF TV reports the grants aim to ensure that victims of domestic violence and other abusive crimes can find safe housing and other essential elements to help them rebuild their lives. The grants will go to 11 nonprofit agencies. Services provided by the agencies range from providing shelter for victims, offering counseling and emotional support to legal assistance and victim compensation. North Alabama agencies receiving funds include Family Services Center, Asha Kiran, and the AIDS Action Coalition of Huntsville.