University of Memphis students and visitors might notice that John S. Wilder Tower is boasting a new glow.
A neon sign of the school's logo was recently installed at the top of the east and west sides of Wilder Tower, the tallest building on the U of M's campus.
The logos were illuminated for the first time on Dec. 17th, the same day of the university's 100th fall graduation.
“The new signage provides identity and visibility and serves as an identifier for the University District,” said Phillip Poteet, assistant vice president for the U of M's campus planning and development.
The signs will be back-lit with low-voltage, white LED lights and activated by photo cell from dusk until dawn.
The installation is a part of a larger project to make the U of M campus more navigable through updated signage. Wilder Tower is located near the intersection of Patterson and Walker.
By Andrew Caldwell
Got an innovative new business idea? Launch Memphis might be able to help you get started.
Launch Memphis’ Seed Hatchery business incubator has sent out the call for business ideas. The six pitches with the most game-changing potential will receive plenty of help to get their ideas up and running.
Now in its second year, Seed Hatchery is an investment program for aspiring entrepreneurs that’s driven by a group of mentors who help sapling businesses reach success. In their upcoming accelerator program, three to six entrepreneurs will be selected to receive $15,000 in start-up capital, an intensive 90-day business boot camp, and the guidance of the program’s mentors.
While they’re open to selecting any idea that shows economic viability and innovation, the program is geared towards technological innovation.
Last year’s winners included Choomogo, a company that provides self-service mobile phone charging stations, and Krikle, a free mobile social media app that allows users to leave virtual graffiti wherever they go.
The submission deadline for the Seed Hatchery program is January 7th. Submissions can be made on their website.
This spring, University of Memphis students will have the chance to sit back, relax, and enjoy a ride to class from one of six shuttle buses to begin operating next semester.
Angela Floyd, director of parking services at the U of M, said shuttle buses are being added due to increased enrollment.
“The University of Memphis is growing, which is a wonderful thing. The shuttle will assist with the movement of people around campus in a safe and efficient manner,” she said.
The buses also come as a part of the implementation of the school’s Campus Master Plan.
Floyd said that in preliminary discussions, plans were made to have three different routes for the six shuttle buses. The buses are still in the design phase, but Floyd said they will be wrapped with a University of Memphis logo.
The buses will be free to ride and open for public use, but procedures for campus visitors are still being determined. The estimated cost to fund the buses is also yet to be determined.
At its Sunday general assembly, Occupy Memphis passed a "Notice to Redress" urging the city of Memphis and Shelby County to expand their lawsuit against Wells Fargo to include "Hispanic and poor white constituencies."
Currently the lawsuit, filed in conjunction with the city of Baltimore, alleges that Wells Fargo engaged in predatory lending among African American residents. But Occupy Memphis members want to lawsuit to cover other communities they believe were also affected by reverse redlining practices.
"As this lawsuit is currently in discovery, we petition our governments to expand their complaint against Wells Fargo to include our entire community," reads the notice, which Occupy members are delivering to Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.
The notice also states that, if any criminal actions by Wells Fargo are revealed, that "no fines or plea bargains should be entertained as a substitute for conviction."
Remember Moziah Bridges? That precocious young man we reported on earlier this year who makes and sells his own line of bow ties?
Tom Shelton, owner of Shelton Clothiers, says he got in touch with Moziah and his mother, Tramica Morris, after reading an article on Mo's Bows in the Memphis Flyer (Hear that, Pulitzer board?).
"In my business, we do quite a few trunk shows with custom suits and shirts," says Shelton. "I just thought it would be cool to have him down here to do a little trunk show."
Moziah's business has taken off in the past few months. He makes his signature ties for Shelton Clothiers and his Etsy shop online and handles custom orders, such as glow-in-the-dark and special occasion ties.
"We thought with Christmas coming around, folks are doing last minute shopping, and the bow ties would make really good stocking-stuffers," says Morris. "So we figured, let's go ahead and unload some of these fun, satin, red and blue, and Christmas bow ties for the holidays."
While he's certainly making strides towards becoming a famous fashion designer, Moziah still has his ten-year-old moments.
"He's pretty excited about the show," says Morris, "but at the same time he's still 10, so he's like 'Am I getting my Nintendo DS and my cowboy boots?'"
Shelton Clothiers, 147 South Main, 522-9995, www.sheltonclothiers.com
The pit bull whose June disappearance led to animal cruelty charges for a Memphis Animal Services control officer has been located at a home in Senatobia, Mississippi.
An $8,000 reward was offered for tips on how to find Kapone, the 11-year-old pit bull belonging to Cordova resident Brooke Shoup. The tip leading to Kapone's whereabouts came from CrimeStoppers, but the anonymous tipster actually refused the reward money.
Kapone was picked up on June 24th, along with another dog of Shoup's, after escaping her backyard. Animal control officer Demetria Hogan logged both dogs in, but only one made it back to the animal shelter. Hogan was later fired and charged with animal cruelty. A citywide campaign was launched in search of Kapone, and reward money was offered by the Shoup family, the No-Kill Advocacy Center, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Dogs at the new Memphis Animal Services facility don't have the comfort of the hammock-like cots that were used in the old facility. Instead, raised, slotted kennel decks serve as the only place dogs can lie down that's guaranteed to be free of urine.
The raised PVC-coated grill floors are already showing signs of wear and tear, and the new building on Appling Cove has only been open for a few weeks. This picture, first featured on the "Yes Biscuit" blog, shows blue PVC paint chipping away from the new decks. The photo was submitted to "Yes Biscuit" by an anonymous blog reader.
A spokesperson for Mayor A C Wharton's office confirmed that 21 of the kennel decks are showing signs of chipping paint. Shor-line, the company that installed the beds, is replacing the damaged ones. Damage was caused by dogs chewing and gnawing on the beds. Some animal advocates worry that chipped paint could be toxic to dogs, but Shor-line's website claims the PVC coating is non-toxic.
Some commenters on "Yes, Biscuit" have complained that dogs need softer beds.
"It's not a bed. They still need soft bedding, whether they give them blankets or the Kuranda beds they had at the old shelter. But for physical and emotional comfort, it's essential that they have the soft bedding," said Shirley Thistlewaite, the South Carolina-based animal advocate who runs the "Yes, Biscuit" blog.
Kuranda beds, a type of durable, washable cot, were used inside kennels at the former shelter on Tchulahoma. But the mayor's spokesperson said the Shor-line product was chosen over the Kuranda beds because it doesn't absorb bodily fluids, which may reduce the possibility of disease. Also, the Kuranda beds are more expensive and costlier to replace.
In other shelter news, the shelter has remained at or near capacity since its grand opening earlier this month. But MAS is working with pet placement partners to transfer out as many animals as possible.
On January 14th, they're hosting an animal behavior training course to assist new pet owners, in the hopes that they can reduce the number of owner pet surrenders by teaching people how to prevent dogs from chewing on furniture, jumping on people, and using the bathroom indoors.
More than 40 protesters stood outside of the Mason YMCA Wednesday morning, yelling “Save our Y!” and “Don’t Kill our Y!”
The protesters were members of the Mason facility and opposed to the impending closure of that branch. The Metro Board of the YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South recently decided to close the Mason YMCA on Dec. 31st.
Many of the patrons held signs that read, “Metro Board is the Grinch,” “Save our Mason YMCA,” and “Don’t Leave the Heart of Memphis.”
Lucy Loveless said she’s been coming to the Mason Y for 50 years. She currently attends water exercise classes at the facility, which she says helps with her back pains.
“I feel the board did not represent us, and I think what they’re telling us is a bunch of malarkey,” Loveless said. “We can’t move to more suburban areas. We’re all on fixed incomes.”
The Mason YMCA is the only branch in the inner city. After it closes, the nearest facilities will be in East Memphis and downtown.
This is frustrating to some Mason YMCA members, many whom are of older age or have disabilities.
Loveless said she doesn’t know if she’ll travel to another YMCA once the Mason facility closes.
“I can’t drive anymore, so I have to depend on somebody to bring me and this is the closest one. I would have to pay somebody to drive me there. I’m between a rock and a hard place,” Loveless said.
The decision to close the Mason facility was disclosed in October.
Keith Johnson wasn’t available to comment on the protest, but a month prior he said the decision to close the Mason YMCA was strictly economical.
Johnson said the board made the decision to close the facility after conducting a study on the building that revealed a need for $2.6 million in repairs, and an additional $2 to $3 million to bring it up to YMCA standards.
Prior to the protest, YMCA board members refused to speak with protesters about keeping the facility open.
William Higgins, who has been coming to the Mason YMCA since he was a kid, said he’s offended that they wouldn’t meet with members.
“They’re not going to talk to us, but they don’t forget to take the money out of [our] bank accounts every month,” Higgins said.
Ultimately, protesters emphasized that they felt betrayed by the sudden closing of the Mason YMCA. Many doubted they would continue their memberships.
“I think the YMCA has violated a mutual trust, not just in closing it, but in the way in which it’s been done,” said James Duke, a member of the Mason YMCA for four years. “Should I transfer allegiance somewhere else in the YMCA? I don’t think so. I think they’ve violated my trust enough.”
"If you wouldn't eat your dog, why eat a pig?"
That's the question addressed to kids on a billboard that went up over the weekend along eastbound Interstate 40 in West Memphis. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) purchased the billboard space, which is situated near mile marker 268 and can be seen by travelers heading into Memphis. The billboard will remain in place for four weeks.
From PETA's news release on billboard's installation: "Pigs and dogs have a great deal in common: They are both are sensitive and intelligent animals who, in their natural surroundings, are social and playful. And pigs have been shown to enjoy listening to music, playing with soccer balls, and even playing video games.
"But on factory farms, workers cut off piglets' tails and castrate male pigs without using painkillers. Eventually, they are crammed into transport trucks for a terrifying journey to the slaughterhouse. Sows used for breeding are confined for their entire lives to metal crates so small that they can't turn around."
The Memphis City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve an ordinance requiring the use of helmets during skateboarding, biking, or inline skating at the city skate park.
Violators will face a $50 fine, but the court system will have the option of throwing out the first charge as a warning.
The skate park on Avery opened in November before any city law was in place requiring helmets, but there have been rules posted since opening day encouraging skaters to don helmets. Twelve-year-old William Faulhaber was charged with criminal trespassing last month when a Memphis police officer singled him out for not wearing a helmet. See our last News Blog post for details and a video.
At the council meeting, councilwoman Wanda Halbert asked city attorney Herman Morris if the city is liable for injuries incurred at the park. Morris said the city is liable, but research has shown that the city's responsibility at the skate park "shouldn't be any more significant than with any other playgrounds."
When skateboarder William Faulhaber was dropped off by his father at the new city skate park on Friday, November 18th, he assumed he'd be leaving a couple of hours later when his dad came back to pick him up. Instead, the 12-year-old left in handcuffs. His offense? Not wearing a helmet.
Just a few minutes after William's father Hans dropped his son off, Memphis Police officer Otto Kiehl arrived at the park and handcuffed William for not wearing a helmet. In a video of the arrest, taken by an unknown bystander, Kiehl is shown walking William to his squad car in cuffs, as he says, "I will be arresting every time I come by. I will be arresting somebody, whoever is not wearing a helmet."
Several onlookers protest the arrest, yelling "There's n*** getting raped and stabbed, and you want to arrest little kids" and "You need to be fired!"
Although the officer said he'd be "arresting," William was not taken to jail. The officer put him in a squad car and drove him home, but he was given a juvenile summons and must appear in court for criminal trespassing.
According to the summons, Kiehl says he made an announcement on his PA system advising "that it is illegal to use this facility without a helmet." It doesn't say what time that announcement was made, but Kiehl does state that he came back fifteen minutes later and made another announcement, and nearly all skaters not wearing helmets had stopped skating, except for William.
However, William's father said his son never heard an announcement. He believes William may have been dropped off after the first warning was made.
"It didn't occur to me until later that William couldn't have been there for the warning," Hans said. "He didn't know anything about that."
There are several rules posted outside the skate park, and one of those does suggest skaters wear helmets, but currently there is no law against not wearing a helmet. The Memphis City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on a proposed city ordinance mandating that skaters and cyclists wear helmets, but once passed, violators will face a $50 fine. The ordinance language does not state anything about arresting violators.
Kiehl drove William to his father's house and explained to Hans why his son was taken out of the park in cuffs. Because there's no law against not wearing a helmet, William was charged with criminal trespassing.
"I wasn't really that upset about it until the officer said he was going to write a summons. That means I have to appear in juvenile court. It also means I have to engage the services of an attorney, which I've already done," Hans said.
"The cop keeps telling me it's not going to matter. It's not going on his record. He said he was more or less being arrested to be made an example of. But it is a big deal, and it became a bigger deal when I saw the video," Hans said. "When my son showed up on my doorstep, he was standing beside the cop. But [on the video], when my son was put into the squad car, he was handcuffed."
William didn't have a helmet with him because he'd forgotten it at home, Hans said. And although his father agrees with the park's helmet rule, he thinks the officer went too far.
"I don't disagree that helmets should be worn. Helmets are a good thing. They protect you from skull fractures. But I disagree with the way this went down," Hans said. "I'm sure the cop carries a cell phone. Why didn't he just call me and have me come to the park?"
Cindy Buchanan, director of Parks Services, couldn't comment on this situation without input from the Memphis Police Department, and they were unavailable at press time. But Buchanan did confirm that the Memphis Police are charged with enforcing the rules in city parks, and she said the helmet rule is among the most important at the park.
"We're very excited to have a skate park, but we also know that you have to take safety precautions because skateboarding is not a risk-free sport. People are always trying new things and taking risks," Buchanan said. "We just want [skaters] to have fun and be as safe as they possibly can."
Read more on this story in next week's print edition of the Memphis Flyer.