A team of local cyclists set out in mid-March to map a bicycle-friendly trail from the Kentucky-Tennessee border to Memphis as part of the Mississippi River Corridor. Their route — known as K2M for Kentucky to Memphis — was unveiled this morning at the Tipton County Museum & Nature Center in Covington.
The 155-mile route takes riders along winding roads, many of them positioned alongside the Mississippi River, that have less traffic than the major streets leading from Kentucky to Memphis. The trail begins on Highway 157 near the Kentucky-Tennessee border, runs along the Great River Road (Highway 181), through the Chickasaw Wildlife Refuge and Meeman-Shelby Forest, and end in Harbor Town's Greenbelt Park.
On March 17th, 11 cyclists set out to map the trail by driving a van loaded with their bikes to the border. From there, the cyclists took to the streets, at times battling 12 to 15 mile per hour headwinds, to document the safest route for cyclists. The trip, which was organized by Ward Archer, took the cyclists two days to complete with stops at diners and general stores along the way.
Archer created a video of their journey, which can be viewed on the K2M website. The site also contains maps and GPS files that cyclists may download for free.
“The purpose of developing this route is to inform the growing numbers of bicyclists about how beautiful the biking country is in West Tennessee and to show them how to make the trip themselves," said Diana Threadgill, president of the Mississippi River Corridor-TN. "The film clearly demonstrates you don’t have to be Lance Armstrong to do it”.
The K2M route will eventually link up to the proposed Harahan Bridge Project, which will create a bicycle and pedestrian trail over the Mississippi River into Arkansas.
“This route is for those bicyclists who have a bit of adventure in them and want to get out in the open country for a few days”, said Archer. “I won’t say it’s easy, but it’s very doable, especially if you can get enough friends together to arrange for a support vehicle to tag along behind.”
The stretch of Madison Avenue closed off last March after the partial collapse of a historic building at 118 Madison is set to re-open to two-way traffic by early fall, Mayor A C Wharton announced today.
A city contractor was issued a notice to proceed today to stabilize the shared wall between 118 Madison and 119 S. Court. Wall repairs are expected to be complete by the end of July, and demolition of the Madison structure should occur soon after. Earlier demolition efforts were halted because of the possibility of damaging the shared wall.
“This situation began with the laws of gravity and has continued under the laws of men,” said Mayor A C Wharton. “We are happy today to say that we have a timeline in place for shoring up the wall, and it’s one that we hope will satisfy the property owners, the affected business interests, tourists, and local residents and motorists. We are ready for Madison Avenue to be an avenue again.”
BET Network is stopping in Memphis on Sunday, May 27th on their five-city BET Awards Next Big Music Star Mobile Tour, in which they're searching for homegrown talent to feature on the BET Awards show and the 106 & Park pre-awards show on July 1st.
The fully equipped mobile music studio will be parked at Mud Island River Park from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aspiring contestants are asked to register on the tour's Facebook page . Contestants will be asked to sing a capella in front of a judge. If selected, the contestant will move on to record a track in the mobile studio. Winners will be selected from the recordings made at each tour stop.
Other cities on the tour include Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Houston.
One hundred percent of the first high school graduating class of Soulsville Charter School have been accepted to college, and more than $3.2 million in scholarship funds have been donated to help them pay for higher education. Those students are graduating on Thursday, May 24th.
Founded in 2005, Soulsville Charter School is a tuition-free public charter school with a mission of preparing students for college success in a music-rich environment. It began with a sixth grade class of 60 students, and those students have now completed their high school careers.
Although the graduation ceremony is closed to the public, there is a Soulsville Charter School fund-raiser being held on Wednesday, May 23rd from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music featuring former Notre Dame basketball coach and ESPN host Digger Phelps and Grammy winner Kirk Whalum. Tickets are $250 per person or $400 per couple.
"Mr. Phelps was so impressed by the school, its students, and the model of education that he has become an unofficial spokesperson for us on the national level, often mentioning the school on news talk shows, particularly MSNBC's Morning Joe," said Tim Sampson, communications director for Stax and former Memphis Flyer editor.
Phelps will also hold a live remote broadcast about the graduation event on MSNBC's Morning Joe. That broadcast will air on MSNBC at 6:45 CST on Thursday, May 24th.
To purchase tickets to the fund-raiser, call Soulsville Foundation chief operating officer Mark Wender at 901-261-6345 or email him.
Five Memphis Flyer employees took to the streets (and bike lanes) Friday morning for the annual Bike-to-Work Day sponsored by the Downtown Memphis Commission.
Here we are! Left to right: Chip Googe, Matt Writt, John Branston, Mark Plumlee, and Bianca Phillips.
As a result, the Memphis Flyer/Contemporary Media took home the third place trophy for having one of the highest numbers of cyclists representing the company. St. Jude Children's Hospital won first place, and Archer > Malmo came in second place.
The annual Bike-to-Work Day, sponsored by the Downtown Memphis Commission, is Friday. Register to ride here so as not to miss out on your free bike messenger bag filled schwag.
Schwag bags may be picked up at one of the following energizer stations:
* Central Station Pavilion at Front at GE Patterson (7 - 9am)
* Trolley Barn at 547 North Main Street (7 - 9am)
* Church Health Center Wellness Center at 1115 Union (7 - 9am; accessible from Eastmoreland)
* New Olivet Baptist Church at 3084 Southern Ave (6:30 - 9am)
* Downtown Bicycle Expo at Court Square (11am - 1pm)
There's a Downtown Bicycle Expo from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Court Square with live music by Deering & Down, electric bicycle tours, giveaways, and the presentation for the Bike-to-Work Championship Awards.
For information on organized Bike-to-Work day meet-up rides, route planning, or other tips, go here.
To read about Flyer writer Bianca Phillips' first Bike-to-Work experience last year, go here.
The Overton Park Conservancy was awarded a $500,000 grant from the Assisi Foundation. The money will be used to fund cultural and educational programs, family-friendly activities, and for support of Overton Park's operations and capital improvements.
The Assisi Foundation awards grants to Mid-South nonprofits that focus on health, education, literacy, community enhancement, and civic and cultural programs.
The Overton Park Conservancy, a nonprofit charged with managing Midtown's largest park, is still about $1.1 million shy of its budget goal to fund park improvements over the first five years of its management contract.
Park capital improvements to be completed by this summer include Overton Bark (an off-leash dog park), restrooms, and playground improvements.
For more information on the Overton Park Conservancy, read this Memphis Flyer cover story.
This summer, some of the city’s sixth, seventh and eighth graders will have a chance to share their views on Memphis history, culture, and local issues through photography, thanks to the Memphis Tourism Foundation’s “Memphis: Through the Lens of a New Generation Photo Competition.”
Each participant will receive a disposable camera with 27 color shots.
“Although students are young and may not have any significant experience in taking photos, they still will have the chance to display what’s important to them,” said Erica Horton of the Memphis Tourism Foundation. “One of the cool things about the competition is that we’re getting the perspective of people who are really, really young. There are some things that young people see that older people don’t know about, and there are some things that older people see that young people might not understand. We’re just looking for their honest perspective of what they think represents the city of Memphis.”
Before students can participate in the competition, they will have to apply on Memphislens.weebly.com.
As part of the application process, each student must write a three-paragraph essay about themselves and why they want to participate in the competition. Those who have seen the documentary I Am A Man, a short film on the 1968 sanitation strike in Memphis and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s involvement, can write about what they learned from the film instead of why they want to participate in the competition. The application deadline is May 18th.
Up to 50 kids will be chosen for the competition by the end of May. Those who are chosen will meet with foundation representatives and receive tips from skilled photographers.
Participants will have to return their cameras by June 23rd, so their film can be developed. The top three contestants will be chosen and notified on June 30th.
On July 14th, participants will be recognized at an award ceremony.
All three winners will receive a digital camera and certificate. The first place winner will also receive a gift of $100. The second place winner will receive $50, and the third place winner will receive $25.
Deanie Parker with the Memphis Tourism Foundation said the primary purpose of the competition is to acquaint people with some of the city’s art, history, culture and music. She said it would provide kids with the opportunity to engage in something positive at the end of their school year.
“We’re going to encourage them to think broadly and deeply about the city in which they live,” Parker said. [We want them to] examine it in terms of what’s great and wonderful about it and what they’d like to improve about it. And [we] certainly [want them] to learn more about the city’s contribution to so many different things that a lot of us take for granted.”
For additional information, contact Erica Horton at 901-273-3227.
More than $3,000 is being donated Thursday toward developing an urban garden this fall in one of the city’s food-insecure communities.
The money will be donated at a ceremony hosted by Brister Street Productions, a concert booking and video production company, on May 10th at 2 p.m. at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park.
The funds were raised during the second annual Brister Street Music Festival, which took place on the last weekend in April. The fest featured a diverse lineup of bands that included jam, bluegrass, reggae, and Latin.
“We decided to make it a little more formal than, ‘Hey, here’s your money,’” said Jack Simon, founder of Brister Street Productions. “It actually coincides with the one-year anniversary of the first Brister Fest. I thought that it was appropriate to donate the money, say a few words, and give thanks to everyone involved.”
GrowMemphis — a nonprofit dedicated to building gardens in urban communities to increase access to fresh and healthy local food — will be the recipient of the donation.
“We’re helping give people access to food [and] creating a more sustainable city,” Simon said. “There’s so many health benefits to urban gardening.”
Chris Peterson, executive director of Grow Memphis, said it normally costs the organization $2,500 to $3,000 to fund a new garden.
“The amount that they’ve given us is perfect,” Peterson said. “It’s really great that the funding for the community garden is coming straight from the community rather than from a grant or something like that.”
Peterson said the funding would go toward purchasing things such as raised garden beds, soil, composts, watering systems, and other tools and infrastructure necessary for the garden to be sustainable in the long-term.
There will be brief speeches and music provided by Agori Tribe at the ceremony as well.
At 2 p.m. today, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is expected to announce that 35-year-old Adam Mayes, wanted on first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Hardeman County woman Jo Ann Bain and her 14-year-old daughter Adrian, has been added to their list of top ten "most wanted" fugitives.
The bodies of the two women were discovered last week buried in Mayes' mother's backyard in Guntown, Mississippi. Jo Ann Bain and her three daughters were reported missing on April 27th, and her two youngest daughters have not been located.
Mayes was a friend of Bain's husband, and he'd spent the night at their house on April 26th to help the family pack for a planned move to Arizona. Mayes' wife and mother were arrested yesterday in connection with the murders. His wife, Teresa, has been charged with two counts of first degree murder and two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping. His mother, Mary, has been charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit especially aggravated kidnapping.
The FBI and the U.S. Marshal's Service are offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Mayes and to the missing girls. Mayes is a white man with blue eyes and brown hair that has recently been cropped short. He's 6-foot-3 and weighs 175 pounds.
Cyclists can now plan their routes online through a a new website that includes maps of all the city's bike lanes and paths.
The site — bikepedmemphis.wordpress.com — shows maps of current and future bike facilities, including lanes, shared sign roadways, shared use paths (such as the Shelby Farms Greenline), and even dirt trails and walking paths.
Additionally, the site contains tips on cycling safety and commuting, and it will serve as a clearinghouse for bike and pedestrian-related public meeting dates.
More than 30 homeless and formerly homeless people held a press conference at the corner of Washington and Third downtown this afternoon to voice opposition to a new law that makes it a crime to sleep on state property.
The law, which passed earlier this year, makes it a Class A misdemeanor to use tents, tarps, and other temporary shelters for sleeping, making fires, or using portable cooking equipment on Tennessee-owned property. This includes, but is not limited to, state parks, recreation areas, historic buildings, educational institutions, and natural green spaces. The law carries a penalty of up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.
At the press conference, members of Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality (H.O.P.E.), a new organization composed fully of people that have or are currently experiencing homelessness, stood in front of the Shelby County Correctional Center at 201 Poplar as they expressed their dissatisfaction with the law.
The group discussed the details of a meeting they had earlier today with Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich, urging her to refuse to prosecute homeless people for violating the new law.
“This office is tasked with enforcing the laws that the General Assembly enacts. We do not pick and choose which laws we enforce,” Weirich said in a statement. “We do, however, have the discretion to review cases and decide the proper resolution based on the facts, circumstances, and the reasonable probability of conviction. This new law will not change how we prosecute cases in Shelby County. Nor will it change the way we work with outside agencies to do what we can to prevent issues that lead to crime.”
Marquella Scott, one of the H.O.P.E. members in attendance, said although the bill was formulated to deal with Occupy Nashville and their unwillingness to leave Legislative Plaza, it will affect everyone experiencing homelessness in the state.
“The 11/29 [jail penalty] to a homeless person equals a death sentence, because that’s time that they don’t have to get a job,” Scott said. “That’s time that they don’t have to get back in school. That’s time that they don’t have to take care of medical issues.”
Besides the bill, the group also discussed their support of Veterans Court. More than 30 percent of the city’s homeless are veterans.
The program, lead by General Sessions Criminal Court Judge Bill Anderson and others, provides veterans who have been arrested for crimes with the chance to receive help from the Veterans Administration Medical Center. If the veteran follows through on a treatment plan, criminal charges might be dismissed or penalties reduced.
The group also announced that they have a homeless liaison to work as a go-between with the Memphis Police Department and H.O.P.E. members regarding harassment and increasing homeless sensitivity training for officers.
Marian Bacon with the Memphis Center for Independent Living is also a member H.O.P.E. and was in attendance at the press conference. She says she’s concerned about the consequences of police fining or jailing homeless people under the new law.
“If you don’t have $6 to [pay for a night at] the shelter, how are you going to come up with $2,500?” Bacon said. “That means a homeless person will be criminalized and stuck in jail until they can come up with the money. With a Class A misdemeanor, if you get too many of them, that can be a felony. That’s a worse offense then getting a domestic assault charge.”
H.O.P.E. meets at Manna House at 1268 N. Jefferson on Thursdays at 7 p.m.