Friday, September 30, 2011

Four Dogs Saved from Death Row at Memphis Animal Services

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 4:35 PM

Memphis Animal Services (MAS) held a "Yappy Hour" adoption event on Thursday night, at which some dogs were adopted out for a discounted price of $10. MAS usually charges $75 per dog.

The event drew record numbers, and 38 dogs were adopted. As a result, four dogs were pulled from the euthanasia list and moved into the adoption area. The dogs that were saved were on the list to be euthanized for space reasons. Such a move is very uncommon since MAS is typically always overcrowded, according to a city spokesperson.

John Weeden Resigns as Executive Director of the Urban Arts Commission

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 12:39 PM

John Weeden
John Weeden has resigned his post as Executive Director of the Urban Art Commission (UAC) to become a private consultant. During Weeden’s 3-years with UrbanArt he has overseen significant changes in Memphis’ Percent for Art Program, won three national awards, and relaunched the UAC’s website.

“Additionally, we developed the methods and secured the means to build sustainability within the organization itself,” Weeden wrote in his letter of resignation. “We completed 31 works of public art in three years, and there are another 15 that are on track to be completed before July 1, 2012. Your support has been greatly appreciated in accomplishing these endeavors, and I thank you profoundly.”

Weeden has created a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) to provide art consulting and design services.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Virtual Tour of the New Animal Shelter

Posted By on Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 1:56 PM

A cat socialization room, a state-of-the-art ventilation system, and special doors that allow shelter workers to move dogs out of their kennels as cages are being cleaned are just a few of the improvements at the new Memphis Animal Services center at 2350 Appling City Cove.

On Wednesday morning, reporters were taken on a sneak peek tour of the new facility, which will replace the dated, dingy Memphis Animal Services facility on Tchulahoma Road.

Before visitors enter the doors, they're greeted by mosaic tile artwork of dogs, cats, and horses by artist Deborah Brown. The mosaics are peppered along the outside of the structure.

Mosaics outside the building greet visitors
  • Mosaics outside the building greet visitors

Inside, a large mural of a bucolic landscape overlooks the welcome desk. On either side of the main lobby, windows offer glimpses into socialization rooms for adoptable dogs and cats. The cat room features a spiral staircase offering kitties various levels for sleeping and playing.

Janet Hooks in the cat socialization room
  • Janet Hooks in the cat socialization room

Unlike with the current shelter facility (which is only 10,000 square feet), the new 35,000 square foot building has separate holding spaces for dogs and cats. Cats will be housed in "cat condos," which look like kitchen cabinets with glass doors. The condos have multi-leveled tiers.

Cat condos
  • Cat condos

The stray dog area will remain closed to the public, except for to volunteers with rescue groups and people looking for lost pets. Kennels in both the stray and adoption areas have guillotine doors that allow shelter workers to move the dogs into holding areas while their cages are being cleaned. Each kennel has an automatic water bowl, and kennels for vicious animals have feeders that rotate on a lazy susan to prevent workers from interacting with them. Kennel bars are made from stainless steel, which architect Bill Ferguson says is easier to keep clean and longer-lasting than the material used in the current facility.

One of the biggest changes at the new facility is the state-of-the-art heating and air-conditioning system, which is designed to prevent the spread of disease.

Additionally, there's a grooming area with a large bathtub where shelter volunteers can prep pets for adoption, and unlike in the current facility, the animal control officers will have their own control room with desks and computers.

The facility features a large meeting room, where employees will undergo training, and the public will be offered classes in animal care and obedience.

The euthanasia room houses a giant walk-in freezer where dead pets will be kept until the city's animal pick-up crew can retrieve them. Animals scheduled for euthanasia will be kept in a separate holding area of 12 kennels, which means they won't be taken into the euthanasia room in groups. Public Services and Neighborhoods director Janet Hooks said this creates a "calmer environment for the animals that have to be put down."

The vet clinic features a state-of-the-art X-Ray machine and four surgical tables. Hooks said every animal that leaves the facility will be microchipped.

The vet clinic
  • The vet clinic

Outside of the facility is a dog run and a barn to house farm animals. Hooks said the barn area still needs some work before it is secure enough to hold horses. She expects Memphis Animal Services to move into the new building by mid-November. The open shelter director position will be posted on the city's website by next week, and a national search will begin.

The barn for farm animals
  • The barn for farm animals

"We're optimistic that this will be a fresh start," Hooks said. "The mechanics of this facility, with the guillotine cages and the HVAC system, overcome some of the challenges we had at the Tchulahoma facility."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

MCS Superintendent's Wife Dies

Posted By on Tue, Sep 27, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Kriner Cash
  • Kriner Cash

Lisa Cash, wife of Memphis City Schools superintendent Kriner Cash, passed away Tuesday morning following a battle with cancer.

The 56-year-old leaves behind her husband and sons Kofi, Jade, and Asil. Funeral arrangements are being finalized.

"We ask everyone to respect the privacy of the Cash family as they mourn their loss," reads a brief e-mail statement from MCS' marketing and communications department.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Update: Adam Guerrero's Garden

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 1:11 PM

The future is bright for Adam Guerrero's garden.

After a social media outcry to the tune of thousands of supporters, and even some national media attention, Guerrero's story moves toward a happy resolution: He will keep his front yard garden trimmed, install a bubbler and introduce mosquito-eating fish into his backyard pond, reduce the number of on-site worm bins, and install mesh covers on his rain barrels to keep mosquitoes out.

"I never said you could not have a garden," said Potter, clearly concerned about the negative attention his court has received of late. "That's inaccurate. I've always encouraged environmental activism, sustainability, going green, and blight reduction."

Guerrero's attorney — who was brought on board at what Adam calls "crunch time, which translates to "two days ago" — agrees with Potter's assessment.

"I think there was some misunderstanding and the truth is the court really wants to work with this," said Farris Deboard of Burch Porter & Johnson. "There were just a few things we needed to tidy up."

Judge Potter also advocated finding a piece of blighted property for Guerrero to devote to an educational garden. The City of Memphis is currently working to identify vacant land where Guerrero could grow a community garden.

Adam brought along the three young men who volunteer at the garden — Jovantae, Jarvis, and Shaquielle — to witness the proceedings (with the permission of their school and parents.) The three were pleased with the outcome. They say they're eager to get back into the garden, since Adam has been so busy with the case.

"We'll be back at it tomorrow," said Jovantae.

Guerrero (left) discusses the case with his attorney DeBoard (center) and code enforcement officer Byron Jamison (right)
  • Guerrero (left) discusses the case with his attorney DeBoard (center) and code enforcement officer Byron Jamison (right)
As late as Wednesday evening, Adam was unsure about how to proceed with cleaning up. Within a day, he hired an attorney and, with the advice of eminent horticulturalist Felder Rushing, he made significant progress toward coming into compliance with Judge Potter's orders from August 19.

Code enforcement officers were present to attest to this progress, and their word was enough to convince Potter that a resolution was near at hand.

Guerrero's neighbor, Levi Dowdy, was also present. After the judge decided on a course of action, Dowdy was allowed to voice his concerns — primarily that the changes the judge ordered would not staunch the smell of Guerrero's garden, nor would they solve the rat problem Dowdy attributes to Guerrero's yard.

"All the people on Facebook saying that it's okay, yeah it's okay to them because they probably live in Germantown or in Collierville, and they don't have to smell it everyday," said Dowdy.

Judge Potter replied he would work with Guerrero and his attorney, the health inspectors, and the Attorney General to try to resolve the issue.

A conference with attorneys from both sides will happen within the coming weeks to sort out any of the judge's remaining concerns. Adam's next official court date is set for October 21st.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bass Pro Shops Sued for Discrimination

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 11:38 AM

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Just as the outdoor retail giant began to move into its new home at the Pyramid, news broke of a federal lawsuit filed by the Employment Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Bass Pro Shops for allegedly discriminating against qualified African American and Hispanic job applicants since 2005.

The EEOC lawsuit alleges that minority job applicants were routinely denied positions at Bass Pro stores in Texas, Louisiana, Indiana and Alabama and that managers of stores made racist comments about the discriminatory hiring practices. The EEOC also alleged that the Bass Pro destroyed documents relating to discrimination complaints.

According to the lawsuit, the general manager of one Houston Bass Pro Shop allegedly told the human resources manager that "it was getting a little dark in here, you need to hire some white people."

Bass Pro denies the allegations: “The EEOC’s allegations are contrary to our profound respect for and commitment to our team of experienced and knowledgeable associates, and we are determined to prove them wrong. Respect for our associates and our customers is central to the mission of our company, and it has been a key contributor to our success," said Mike Rowland, Bass Pro Shop's vice president of human resources.

In a prepared statement, Bass Pro claimed that discrimination complaints are taken very seriously by the company and pledged commitment to compliance with laws against employment discrimination and retaliation.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Council Asks Carriage Drivers to Clean Up Pee

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2011 at 10:54 AM

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Horse carriage drivers in Memphis are already required to clean up manure, but the Memphis City Council's Public Safety Committee passed an ordinance this morning that would require drivers to clean up horse urine as well.

Councilwoman Janis Fullilove asked if drivers would be required to carry a bucket of water and physically scrub the urine off of streets. But she was told other cities use a deodorizing solution that can be sprayed onto puddles of urine.

It wasn't made clear if drivers would have to stop in the middle of a tour to clean or if they'd only be required to clean up urine when carriages are parked along Beale Street and in front of the Peabody Place Hotel. The ordinance must pass three readings before it becomes law.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Soulsville Open House

Posted By on Thu, Sep 15, 2011 at 4:41 PM

Last month, the inaugural class of high school seniors cut the ribbon on their new Soulsville Charter School facility on the campus of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

On Sunday, September 18th, the Soulsville Foundation is inviting the public to tour the new school building, as well as the Stax Music Academy, and the museum from 3 to 5 p.m. School and academy tours are free, and museum admission is reduced to two tickets for the price of one. Stax Music Academy ensembles will be performing throughout the afternoon in the outdoor amphitheater.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Memphis Wins Two Bike-Friendly Awards

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 3:29 PM

bikelane.jpg

Memphis received an honorable mention as a Bicycle Friendly Community in the League of American Bicyclists Fall awards.

Bicycle Friendly Community judges were impressed with the city's hiring of bicycle and pedestrian coordinator Kyle Wagenschutz, the construction of more than 120 miles of bike lanes and paths since 2003, and Mayor A C Wharton's plan to create more than 55 miles of new bike routes by July 2012, according to a statement released Wednesday.

"In both 2008 and 2010, Memphis was reported to be one of the worst cities for bicycling, but we can now prove on a national scale that the infrastructure projects, educational campaigns, and public awareness operations are making a difference and are transforming this city for the better,” Wharton said.

Additionally, City Hall was given a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Business award, also by the League of American Bicyclists. That award was given because the city encourages bicycling by offering its workers showers, lockers, and changing rooms, and two new bike racks were installed outside City Hall. City employees also have access to bicycle safety classes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rotary Club President Resigns

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Memphis Rotary Club president John Coats has resigned, but a representative with the club would not comment on why Coats has stepped down.

Last month, Coats was arrested for a DUI when police found him asleep in the driver's seat of his car in a Walgreens parking lot. When officers arrived, Coats was revving the car's accelerator at a high RPM, and it appeared he'd fallen asleep with his foot fully depressing the pedal.

According to the Rotary representative, the club is entering a transitional period and have yet to name Coats' replacement.

Planned Parenthood Denied Funding from County

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2011 at 1:41 PM

Planned Parenthood has been dealt another blow by the powers that be.

Last June, we reported on the Shelby County Health Department's decision to take on the full amount of Title X funding from the state, cutting Planned Parenthood out of a direct funding relationship with the state health department.

We also reported that the county would likely still subcontract to Planned Parenthood and other family-planning providers to take on some of the county's caseload. These non-governmental family planning organizations have experience handling large caseloads and can leverage private funds to support their services.

Last week, however, Planned Parenthood received a letter from the Shelby County Health Department notifying them that they would not receive the contract they applied for. The county health department did not say who had received the contracts, just that the information would be made public by the end of the month.

Monday, September 12, 2011

West Memphis 3 Author To Present Lecture

Posted By on Mon, Sep 12, 2011 at 1:36 PM

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Mara Leveritt, an Arkansas Times senior editor and author of The Devil's Knot, will offer her take on the criminal justice system in light of the recent release of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr. in the Memphis Law Student Bar Association's Speaker Series on September 23rd.

Leveritt's book, one of the most comprehensive looks at the West Memphis 3 case published to date, was released in 2002. It offers a strong argument for the West Memphis 3's innocence, instead pointing to the West Memphis Police Department as not having properly investigated the 1993 murders of three eight-year-old boys.

The talk will be held in the Wade Auditorium at noon. Refreshments will be provided.

Read more about The Devil's Knot in this 2002 Flyer cover feature.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Peabody Park Pavilion Gets a Facelift

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Last month, the Flyer ran a story about Preservation Memphis' first fixer-upper project — restoring the Peabody Park pavilion.

The nonprofit landmark restoration group was raising money to begin work on stabilizing and painting the pavilion, which had fallen into disrepair and was closed off by the city earlier this year. The funding goals have been met, and construction is nearly finished on the project. Preservation Memphis focuses on Memphis landmarks that can be restored for $15,000 or less. Click here to read the original Flyer story.

Preservation Memphis co-founder Kenny Jabbour sent over this picture to show how far the pavilion has come. He said the pavilion work should be complete next week after copper fenial is added to the roof.

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Here's the "before" picture:

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Charges Dropped for Woman Arrested in Officer Shooting

Posted By on Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 2:07 PM

Martha Mote
  • Martha Mote

Marta Mote, the woman arrested on Monday in connection with the weekend shooting of Memphis Police officer Norman Benjamin, was released from Jail East today after authorities determined the charges against her weren't substantiated. All pending charges against Mote are dropped.

"At this point in this investigation my office has determined that the charges against Ms. Mote weren't sufficiently substantiated," said Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich. "It is always the goal of this office and [the Memphis Police Department] to pursue the truth and to prosecute cases based on factual evidence."

On Saturday, Benjamin was transported to the Med after sustaining a gunshot would. He remains there in stable condition. Benjamin originally reported that he'd been shot by a Hispanic man, but it was later determined that he gave a false police report. Authorities then turned their suspicion to Mote, who was originally charged with attempted second-degree murder. Police have since said they believe Benjamin has some sort of relationship with Mote and/or her teenage niece. At press time, police are offering no other explanation on who shot Benjamin.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Designs Unveiled for Memphis Art Park

Posted By on Tue, Sep 6, 2011 at 3:47 PM

University of Memphis architecture students are continuing to breathe life into an ambitious plan to transform a stretch of Front Street into a public art park. The latest designs by the spring 2011 class have been added to Memphis Art Park's website.

The art park plan aims to transform the Cossitt Library into a community arts center, replace the library's neighboring parking garage with an underground garage and rooftop art park, and revamp the Front Street fire station into a visual arts center.

The new designs by Mario Walker show a revamped Cossitt Library structure with a more inviting entryway than the current one designed in the 1950s. Inside the library's modern wing, the second floor would house the art park's film center and welcome center, and the first floor would be home to an arts-focused public library and cafe. The historic wing would house a music, dance, and performing arts center.

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You can also view older designs from fall 2010 architecture student Roy Beauchamp of the art park plans for the Front Street fire station on the Memphis Art Park website.

Flyer reporter Andrew Caldwell wrote about the city's reception to the Memphis Art Park project in March, and here's an excerpt from that story:

"Because the fire station and library are currently in use, the city would have to agree to relocate those operations. Kirkscey said it's possible to incorporate the Cossitt Library into plans for the community arts center. Costs for the park are estimated at $20 million to $38 million, some of which would come from private funds.

In a letter written to Kirkscey on March 2nd, Wharton calls the art park idea "commendable," but he mentions budgetary concerns and reservations about selling the public-domain properties "without an extensive process to determine the highest and best use" for those sites."

To read the full story, go here.

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