The Mason YMCA on Walker near the University of Memphis will close at the end of the year, according to an email sent to YMCA members this morning.
The organization's board of directors made the decision to close the facility based on a cost estimate of $2.6 million for needed repairs, plus an additional $2 to $3 million to bring the facility up to current YMCA standards.
"Because the Mason Y has been a Memphis institution for more than five decades, this is a particularly tough decision, yet it is one that is prudent for maintaining the financial health of the overall YMCA of Memphis and Mid-South," said YMCA president Keith Johnson in an email to members this morning.
Planning a trip to Atlanta or Birmingham? You might want to hold off until after November 16th. That's when discount express bus service Megabus will begin offering travel from Memphis to those Southern cities for as low as $1 per rider.
Megabus.com will be offering three daily departures to Atlanta and Birmingham from the Memphis Area Transit Authority's North End Terminal on North Second Street. Booking has already begun at Megabus.com, and customers are encouraged to sign up early to secure the $1 fare price. Fares rise as the departure date gets closer.
Megabus is also expanding service in 11 other cities, and to celebrate, they're offering 10,000 free seats to and from some of those cities, including the Memphis to Atlanta route. To get that deal, use the promo code ATL10K when booking tickets.
Tomorrow's "Yappy Hour" adoption event at Memphis Animal Services won't be very yappy. Only cats will be adopted out at the discounted $10 price between 4 and 7 p.m.
The weekly event typically features dogs adoptions for $10 as well. But the dog population is at risk for developing pneumovirus, a contagious acute respiratory disease. Seventeen shelter dogs have already been euthanized after being diagnosed with the disease. Symptoms have not yet manifested in the rest of the shelter's dog population, but Public Services and Neighborhoods director Janet Hooks said the shelter vet is monitoring and observing them to contain any more outbreaks. Symptoms include coughing and a runny nose.
Dogs that have not shown symptoms will still be available for adoption, but Hooks said adopters will be required to speak with the shelter's vet to ensure they're making a decision based on all the information they have about the disease. Shelter staff is also working to remove dogs from the shelter through its Pet Placement Partners.
"We've sent an email to all registered Pet Placement Partners soliciting them to rescue as many dogs as they can," Hooks said.
Though the origin of the disease is unknown, Hooks said such an outbreak would be far less likely in the new shelter facility on Appling Cove. That shelter, which should be ready to occupy by mid-November, has isolation areas for sick animals and a better ventilation system to prevent the spread of disease. Hooks said all 17 dogs that contracted the disease so far were vaccinated.
"It appears that the vaccine doesn't prevent the animal from contracting this," Hooks said.
The city's website hasn't had a makeover in years, but change is coming within the next five months. On Friday, Mayor A C Wharton's administration announced the city had selected a team led by Linx Consulting to design and develop a new city website.
The local, minority-owned consulting firm has a budget of $252,000 in city funds to design the site, which will be built using Drupal, an open source content management system that has been used by the White House and numerous other government and corporate clients.
The public will soon by invited to make suggestions on what website changes they'd like to see through a microsite, BuildItMemphis.org. Also, on Saturday, Oct. 22nd, Linx will hold .GovCamp, a community brainstorming session on possible uses for publicly owned municipal data.
A series of more traditional public meetings has been scheduled for Memphis libraries: Oct. 27th at the Whitehaven branch, Nov. 3rd at the Raleigh branch, and Nov. 15th at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library.
“My intent for a new MemphisTN.gov is to have the most helpful and dynamic website possible for the people of Memphis. Linx Consulting and their partners have proven that they have the capability to deliver that on time and on budget,” Wharton said. “Citizens want intuitive design, accessible information, and a way to make their voices heard. I want this to be a convenient and continually evolving online resource where people can communicate more easily and productively with their local government.”
A state grand jury has charged Millington Mayor Richard Hodges with two counts of bribery. He is accused of soliciting money in exchange for political favors.
Hodges was arrested at his office at 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday. The charges stem from a months-long investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Shelby County District Attorney's Office. The TBI investigation into Millington government corruption began in December, but it wasn't made public until July. The investigation is ongoing.
As stated in a press release issued today, Mayor A C Wharton gave orders to the city's Engineering Division to proceed with dedicated bike lanes on both sides of Madison Avenue between Cooper and McNeil.
The news comes after months of debate between cycling advocates and concerned stakeholders on Madison. Bike lane advocates have feared the relegation of bike lanes to low-traffic, and potentially less practical, thoroughfares. Stakeholders, including business owners along Madison, have voiced concerns about decreased traffic flow on the street, which they fear would contribute to a loss of business.
Wharton addressed this concern in his statement, pointing to a study done by engineering consultants Kimley-Horn and Associates. According to the study, vehicular traffic between major intersections on Madison would only be slowed by a few seconds under the proposed "road diet" plan, which includes the designated bike lanes.
Wharton hinted that this is only the beginning of developments on Madison Avenue — developments he hopes will make the area a destination for Memphians and tourists alike.
"We will be looking at possible future enhancements along Madison Avenue," he said, "including other streetscape and infrastructure improvements.”
The repaving and restriping necessary to create the bike lanes will be paid for with federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. No funds from the city’s general fund are required for the Madison bike lanes.
For years, Memphis Animal Services has hovered just under an 80 percent euthanasia rate. In August, the rate was at 77 percent. But according to Mayor A C Wharton's office, the rate dropped to 67 percent in September, thanks to the work of volunteers helping to place more animals into homes.
The euthanasia rate is the number of animals euthanized divided by the number of animals that were brought into the shelter.
That lowered rate may also have something to do with less animals being taken in to the shelter in September. Last month, there were 1,270 animals taken in compared with 1,599 animals in August. Of the 1,270 animals taken in during September, 850 were killed. In August, 1,245 were killed. The numbers of animals adopted out or taken in by rescue groups in September (374) is also higher than the 287 placed in August. More animals were placed in September than in any other month this year.
Memphis Animal Services has placed an increased focus on adopting out animals in preparation for their upcoming move into a new facility on Appling Cove.
Perhaps you’re one of the many Memphians left scratching your head at the thought of his Excellency Monsieur François Delattre visiting Memphis. You’re asking yourself what could possibly connect Memphis and France, or perhaps you’re wondering why we didn’t offer to meet him in the French Riviera instead…
I had the opportunity to sit down with Monsieur Delattre at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens to talk about his weekend visit to our fair city. The end of the Dixon's Jean-Louis Forain exhibition provided the perfect occasion to discuss the cultural exchange between Memphis and France, but I also found a number of economic connections between Memphis and France that many Memphians might not be aware of.
Memphis Flyer: Thank you for meeting with me. I know you’ve already had a very busy visit. What are your main goals in coming to Memphis?
M. Delattre: You know, I came here with one core objective, which was really to discover this [Forain] exhibition, which I strongly believe is a world-class exhibition of one of our very best and brightest French Impressionists. And what the Dixon Gallery was able, and Florence [Valdes-Forain] was able to achieve through this exhibition was just incredible. It’s a source of inspiration and admiration, not only for me, but for many people. The second objective was to meet some of the key players of Memphis and Tennessee.
MF: Who are some of the key leaders you have met with so far?
M. Delattre: Governor Haslam, whom I met yesterday and discussed the different ways we can promote French investment in Tennessee in specific sectors. Then this morning with Mayor Wharton, on the ways to promote exchanges between Memphis and various cities in France, having expertise in urban innovation, attracting foreign investment, this kind of thing.
M. Delattre: What struck me is the vision of the mayor. He has a clear, long-term vision of the economic development of this city. The second thing I would say is what the mayor told me that really struck me is that he wants to have Memphis on the cultural map, and he also wants to put Memphis more on the economic map. When a French investor wants to invest in the United States, traditionally he thinks New York. Mayor Wharton completely understands that and gave us very good arguments and reasons for a French investor willing to penetrate the American market to begin with Memphis. I think we will be able to deliver on that and give the mayor a new range of potential French investors.
MF: So your visit has been not only cultural, but economic as well?
M. Delattre: Yes, always the two tracks: the cultural one, how to build on the tremendous success of the Jean-Louis Forain exhibition to develop cultural ties in the future, and the economic track, how to strengthen ties with France as a whole and French cities in particular and Memphis.
MF: What particular sectors of Memphis’ economy are potentially attractive to French investors?
M. Delattre: Two examples among others. Biotech. The mayor was very convincing in the way he described the biotech sector as one of the assets of the city and it is of course one of the priorities in France. And in a sector related to biotech, medical research, and the fight against cancer in particular. Here there is huge potential of cooperation with French institutions like Institut Curie and others.
MF: You also met with Fred Smith.
M. Delattre: Yes, you know that FedEx is one of the top American investors in my country and in particular the Charles de Gaulle airport facilities. So we visited last night the site of FedEx and it was very impressive and this morning we had a meeting with Fred Smith — a very concrete meeting — to see together how we can help promote FedEx investment in France. It’s important to remember that the FedEx facilities in Charles de Gaulle airport are the largest FedEx hub outside the United States. It’s a tremendous testimony to the attractiveness and competitiveness of France as a whole. Those were among the key meetings I had. It could not have been more productive.
MF: How could we improve upon the relations between Memphis and Paris via FedEx?
M. Delattre: Based on FedEx, the French Minister for Urban Affairs, Maurice Leroy, went to Memphis in April and signed an agreement to develop cross-investments in Memphis and Paris based on the FedEx component, and to make FedEx platforms in Charles de Gaulle a hub for further investment.
On Wednesday, September 28th 2011, hundreds of Memphians joined the Flyer atop the Sears Crosstown parking deck to celebrate the winners of our 2011 Best of Memphis readers' poll.
Eats were eaten. Drinks were drunk. Songs were sung.
Photographers Don Perry and Kandi Cook were there to capture the proof.
Check out the slideshow above for a few select shots or go here to browse the entire galleries and purchase photos.
Just a quick announcement. There will be a transition planning meeting on how to move forward with unifying Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools on Thursday, Oct. 6th at 4:30 p.m. It'll be held at the Construction Code Enforcement office at 6465 Mullins Station Road. The meeting is open to the public.