The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has released the TDOT SmartWay Mobile app to provide drivers with up-to-the-minute traffic information.
The app's home screen shows a map, which will locate your current position. Buttons on the left side of the map may be pressed to show traffic speeds, accidents, road construction areas, road conditions, and message signs. There's even a button that shows still shots from cameras set up along state highways, so drivers can get an idea of how congested traffic may be. Another feature lists all the construction areas in the app user's vicinity and shows when that construction began and when it is expected to be complete.
The app is free and available for download in the Apple App Store and the Android Play Store.
Those wishing for a white Christmas may have just missed getting their wish by about an hour, since snow began falling on Memphis just after midnight. But today, the ground is coated with a few inches of the white stuff.
Approximately 4,000 people lost power on Christmas Day, due to high winds. But MLGW crews have restored power to most customers. According to the MLGW outage map, only 249 customers were without power at press time with the majority of those customer near Shelby Farms Park. MLGW tweeted this morning that it will not cut off power to any customers today due to non-payment because of the wind chill factor. The main concern as to whether or not customers will continue to lose power today comes from the threat of icy tree limbs falling on power lines since winds are around 35 miles per hour.
Memphis fared far better than much of Arkansas, where an estimated 189,000 people lost power during the snowstorm.
Here are some safety tips from MLGW just in case you do lose power today.
This evening, a procession of police squad cars with flashing lights will honor Memphis Police officer Martoiya Lang, who was killed in the line of duty last Friday morning.
The staging will begin at 2641 North Hollywood behind Burger King at 5 p.m., and the procession will travel southbound on Hollywood to I-40 at 5:30 p.m. From there, the cars will travel along the Interstate to Hope Presbyterian Church on Walnut Grove, where a visitation for Lang will begin.
The Memphis Fire Department will station a ladder truck flying an American flag on the Interstate near 1062 Mendenhall Cove, where Lang was shot on Friday while serving a drug search warrant. The 21-year-old shooter has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder for shooting officer William Vrooman, who recovered and was released from the hospital on Friday.
Police are urging motorists to find alternate routes between 5:30 and 7 p.m. because the procession will cause significant delays.
A website with updates on the city's plan for revamping the airport area is now online. Memphisaeroplan.com provides an overview of the aerotropolis plan, which is now being billed as Memphis Airport City.
The plan is currently being developed with input from community leaders and business owners in the study area, and it's funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the city of Memphis Division of Planning and Development through grants. The plan will focus on market strategy, land use, and urban design, as well as opportunities for new housing and businesses in the area.
The public can get a better idea of the scope of the plan with graphics, maps, and aerial photographs of the site area, all available on the new website.
“We are still gathering public input,” said Chad Bowman, Aerotropolis Project Manager. “So if anyone is interested in learning more about the project or providing input through their group or organization, please feel free to contact me, and I will make myself available.”
Registry books have been set up at all three locations of Forest Hill Funeral Home and Memorial Park for those wishing to send thoughts and condolences to the families affected by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Connecticut on Friday.
The books will remain open until December 22nd, and then they'll be sent to Newtown. Locations for Forest Hill are 2440 Whitten Road, 2545 East Holmes Road, and 1661 S. Elvis Presley Blvd.
Twenty-seven people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday, including 20 children, six adults who worked at the school, and gunman 20-year-old Adam Lanza. His mother, Nancy Lanza, was shot at her home as well. The shooting was the second-deadliest school shooting in American history, following the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 people dead.
"Officers assigned to the Organized Crime Unit were executing a search warrant for narcotics at 1062 Mendenhall Cove," Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said at a press conference outside the MED this morning. "After forcing entry into the home, they encountered a suspect who fired numerous shots at officers, striking two of our officers. Officers did return fire, striking the suspect."
It was originally reported that the suspect was fifteen years old. A statement from the MPD reports the suspect is actually 21 years old and is in critical condition at the MED. Armstrong would not confirm the name of the suspect. No charges have been filed at this time.
Officer Lang has been with the city since June of 2003, and with the Organized Crime Unit since June of 2011. Vrooman has been with the city since July of 2007, and with Organized Crime since August of this year. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds but is being listed as in stable condition.
"We're asking that the city continue to keep her and her family in their prayers," Armstrong said. "This is a constant reminder of what police work is all about. So often we get side-tracked with other things that go on — when we have an officer go out and do something inappropriate — but at the end of the day you have officers like this one who leave their small kids at home and come and put it all on the line."
Mayor A C Wharton added that this incident underlines the need for the city's initiative to reduce gun violence.
"This is why we're going all over the country to find the best methods we can to get the guns out of the hands of the wrong people," Wharton said. "I dare anybody to come up and say this is a Second Amendment right. Nobody has a Second Amendment right to load up and kill a police officer. We're going to redouble our efforts on this."
Mayor Wharton has ordered that flags be flown at half mast today out of respect for the slain officer and the city's collective mourning.
UPDATE (4 p.m.): Officer Vrooman has been released from the MED. He was shot in the leg. Officer Lang was shot in the torso. The search warrant was being served on a 26-year-old man in the home, and he has been arrested. The 21-year-old shooter had no prior charges. The suspects names have not been released because no charges have been filed yet.
A lone dog was the only occupant at home when a fire broke out on Morgan Tree Lane this morning, but the Shelby County Fire Department managed to rescue the pet in the nick of time.
Around 11 a.m., a Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy reported a house fire after he spotted the blaze while on patrol. The Shelby County Fire Department sent multiple fire trucks to the location, and the Memphis and Germantown Fire Departments also sent aid.
A Shelby County firefighter spotted a dog inside the home and managed to pull the dog out. The family pet was given oxygen and is reported to be doing well now.
It took firefighters 26 minutes to put out the flames, but a cause has yet to be determined.
The Overton Park Conservancy has released an artist's rendering by DaKoda Davis of plans for the Rainbow Lake playground at Overton Park. Renovations to the playground will begin soon, and the playground is expected to reopen in spring 2013. The playground is being designed by Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects.
New equipment will include something called an "Up & Down & All Around" (an ADA-accessible climbing structure with multi-level ramps), a hollowed-out oak tree for kids to play inside, a National Ornamental Metal Museum-designed sculpture that allows kids to make music with pebbles, a spiderweb-like climbing structure made from cargo nets, and a mound with tunnels, slides, and a sand pit. They playground will also get new fencing and new walkways. The conservancy is taking up donations for the new equipment on its website.
Oh, hey there. Just busy celebrating the good news: Mother Jones has listed Tennessee's legislature as the worst out of 50 state legislatures. That means Tennessee has the worst legislature of all the states in the whole US of A. All right!
Political reporter Tim Murphy goes back through the annals of Tennessee's legislature — though he doesn't have to go back very far — to find some examples of lawmakin' buffoonery going on in the volunteer state. Here are just a few reasons we've been selected for this prestigious honor:
1) The Gateway Sex Bill.
2) GOP State Sen. Stacey Campfield, and more specifically, his back-assward views on homosexuality and his sponsorship of the “don’t say gay” bill.
3) GOP state Rep. Matthew Hill's bill that would disclose extensive information on doctors who perform abortions in Tennessee and the patients who receive them.
4) GOP Rep. Kelly Keisling's mass email to constituents about "a rumor circulating in conservative circles that President Barack Obama is planning to stage a fake assassination attempt in an effort to stop the 2012 election from happening."
Of course, there's more, but we'll cap it here for now. What's that saying? You should quit while your state is so, so far behind?
Shelby County is opening a Christmas tree recycling center beginning December 22nd (just in case you get sick of Christmas early) and running through January 11th in the south parking lot of the Shelby County Showplace Arena (105 Germantown Rd.).
Natural trees, wreaths, and other greenery must be free of lights and decorations. The greenery will be turned into mulch that citizens can pick up in the spring during county Earth Day events.
“We want citizens to take advantage of this free service. It will help prevent many of these trees and other items from being dumped along the roadsides,” said Tom Needham, Director of Shelby County Public Works.
This is the 14th year for the recycling program.