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Sunday, December 23, 2012

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News,Science and Technology

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Several companies in Middle Tennessee are arguing that a lawsuit against the federal government seeking damages for historic flooding in 2010 should be allowed to proceed.

The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/T7Wy2z) reports motions were filed this month, and a federal judge has set a Jan 13 hearing on the issue.

The case involves two lawsuits filed by companies that include Gibson Guitar, Nissan North America and Ryman Hospitality Properties that accuse the National Weather Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of negligence. The companies contend that they suffered $353.5 million in property damage that could have been averted or minimized.

The flooding left 26 people dead, including 11 in Nashville, and caused an estimated $2 billion worth of damage when it rained 13.5 inches over two days.

The suits argue that the Corps of Engineers should have opened up a spillway sooner to relieve a swollen reservoir and that the National Weather Service should have provided more accurate river-stage forecasts.

The government has asked that the lawsuits be dismissed because it has sovereign immunity.

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Lego blocks are becoming more popular with teachers as a way to educate students about engineering concepts.

Although Lego building competitions have been around for years, the tiny snap-together pieces are now being used to create high-tech objects like computerized robots that can roll around, pick things up and kick balls.

The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/VQq5w1) reports the popularity of making Lego creations in the classrooms and taking them to competitions seems to be growing.

The newspaper reports the Tennessee Valley Fair Lego Competition had 100 entries this year, compared to just 25 last year. And the website of FIRST Lego League says Tennessee had 89 competition teams this fall compared to 51 last year. Teams work from a Lego kit series called Mindstorms and use gears, levers, pulleys and computerized building bricks to construct robots.

"It's Legos on steroids," said fourth-grade teacher Lisa Buckner, who mentors a Lego team called the Ningineers at Robertsville Middle School in Oak Ridge. The team recently won a state competition and will go in April to the world festival.

"It's not like the bag of Legos I had leftover in my garage from my childhood," said Buckner. "These can be used to teach engineering concepts to children."

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ERWIN, Tenn. (AP) — A sheriff and a police chief in East Tennessee say they are working together to ensure all county schools will have a trained officer when classes resume in January.

The Johnson City Press reports (http://bit.ly/TL9onshttp://bit.ly/TL9ons ) that Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley and Erwin Police Chief Regan Tilson made the announcement Friday, saying they wanted to assure student safety after the massacre on Dec. 14 at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

The initiative expands the number of officers assigned to schools — there was already one each at the middle and high schools.

Tilson's office will provide officers to schools in the city; Hensley's office will provide them at others.

Both said the extra officers would be present at least through the end of the school year, and longer if funding allows.

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A search warrant says officers found few drugs during a Memphis raid in which an officer was fatally shot.

The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/TLkh8I) cited the warrant in reporting that the raid yielded less than 2 pounds of marijuana, 14 ounces of a sleep aid that contains codeine, a gun, ammunition and $4,865 in cash.

Officer Martoiya Lang was fatally shot and Officer William Vrooman received a leg wound when they executed the warrant on Dec. 14.

Police say 21-year-old Treveno Campbell fired at the officers as they pursued 26-year-old Willie Braddock into a back bedroom. Campbell is still hospitalized with wounds he suffered when officers returned fire. He is charged with murder and attempted murder and has a Jan. 3 court date.

Braddock is facing a drug charge.

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