Wednesday, November 27, 2013

MATA Changes Routes to Better Reflect Traffic Conditions

Posted By on Wed, Nov 27, 2013 at 12:30 PM

The Memphis Area Transit Authority is making some tweaks to the major route overhaul that happened in September.

Beginning December 1st, 11 fixed routes will be adjusted based on traffic conditions and rider concerns and suggestions.

“The major route adjustments made in September have been generally well received as our riders better understand the flow and begin to experience some of the time savings that are possible,” said Tom Fox, Deputy General Manager for MATA. “In the time since the changes in September, we have listened to many customers and are making these adjustments to reflect their concerns and suggestions. Covering ever-changing customer needs requires us to be flexible to change and improvement to meet those needs, and these changes are an example of that.”

The changes will cost MATA an additional $100,000 per year, but that is expected to be made up through adjusting MATA budget by cutting costs in other areas.

Two new routes that were added in September, the 42 and the 46, will have schedule adjustments, frequency increases, and stop additions. Other routes, such as the 57 Park and the 13 Lauderdale, will add stops that have been requested by riders.

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Here are the rest of the changes:

7 Air Park — Add one outbound trip in the am peak beginning approximately 5:00 a.m. The trip will begin at Lamar and Bellevue.

11 Thomas — Route change for Weekday Nights and Sunday. Outbound from the North End Terminal (NET): right on A.W. Willis, left on Thomas, left on Pear, right on North Second/Whitney, left on Dellwood, left on Steele to end of the line at Steele and Corning. Inbound: right on Corning, right on Watkins, right on Frayser, left on Steele, right on Dellwood, right on Whitney/N. Second, left on Pear, right on Thomas, right on A.W. Willis, left on Second, right on Shadyac into NET.

13 Lauderdale — Route change for Weekday and Saturday. Inbound: regular route from Alice & Laramie to Central Station and then right on Front, and right A.W. Willis to the NET. Outbound: left on Shadyac, right on Third, right on Jackson, left on Front to Central Station; leaving Central Station, right on Front, right on G.E. Patterson and continue regular route to the end of the line.

20 Bellevue — Add one inbound trip to downtown in the am peak period beginning approximately 5:00 a.m.

36 Hacks Cross — Route change for Weekday and Saturday. Outbound: Regular route from NET to Union & Pauline, right on Pauline, left on Crump/Lamar and continue regular route to the end of the line at Hack Cross. Inbound: regular route from Hacks Cross to Lamar, right on Somerville/Linden, right on Pauline, and continue regular route to the NET.

39 South Third — Adjust schedule times at timepoints on Western Park branch on Weekday and Saturday.

42 Crosstown — Adjust schedule times to add four minutes to run time of each trip. Slight increase in frequency. Eliminate am and pm peak period trips serving Job Corps Center. See route 46-Whitehaven for replacement service.

46 Whitehaven — Name changed from 46-Whitehaven Flyer. Route change for Weekday. Serve all stops along the route instead of only selected stops and serve the Jobs Corps Center in Whitehaven. Inbound: Job Corps Center at McAlister, left on Millbranch, right on Winfield, right on Elvis Presley/Bellevue and continue regular route to NET. Outbound: regular route to Millbranch & Winfield, straight on Millbranch, and right on McAlister to Job Corps Center.

52 Jackson - Route change for Weekday, Saturday and Sunday. Outbound: regular route from NET to Austin Peay, right on Covington Pike to end of the line at Wal-Mart. Inbound: from Covington Pike, right on Yale, left on Austin Peay, and continue regular route to the NET.

53 Summer — Route change for Weekday and Saturday. On trips that serve Binghampton, the loop will operate the same as Night and Sunday loop. Outbound: regular route from NET to Tillman, right on Tillman, left on Johnson, left on Holmes, right on Summer, and continue regular route to the end of the line. Inbound: regular route from the end of the line to Summer & Holmes, left on Holmes, right on Johnson, right on Tillman, left on Summer and continue regular route to the NET.

57 Park — Route change for Weekday, Saturday and Sunday. Inbound: from the end of the line (St. Francis or Kirby Road), regular route to Lamar, right on Lamar, left on Harbert, right on Bellevue, right on McLemore, regular route to the end of the line. Outbound: regular route from Benford & Davant to McLemore & Bellevue, left on Bellevue, right on Lamar, and continue regular route to the end of the line (Saint Francis or Kirby Road).

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Memphis Public Library Launches Free Music Download Service

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2013 at 1:26 PM

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Forget iTunes. Memphis Public Library customers now have access to more than seven million songs from major labels, many of them top 10 Billboard hits, for free.

The Freegal Music Service is available to anyone with a library card. Library patrons may download up to three songs per week (If music videos are downloaded, they count for two music downloads).

Previously, patrons could check out music in whatever format was most popular at the time. With music moving to a digital format, patrons can download music. But now they don't have to worry about returning it, as they would a CD.

To use the service, one must create an account through the library's website and type in the library card number. Freegal may be accessed from any location; one does have to be at the library to use it.

“This is a service we think our customers will really appreciate,” said Library Collections Development
Manager Alan Stewart. “Memphis Public Libraries have always provided music in whatever the current
format was at the time, and the public has moved to digital formats for music. Thanks to more money in
the budget from the City of Memphis, we can do more in the digital realm.”

Memphis International Airport Now Has Free Wi-Fi

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2013 at 10:36 AM

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Memphis International Airport launched free wi-fi access today. The service is offered through Boingo Wireless. Previously, the airport only offered paid wireless access.

The free, ad-supported wi-fi can be used for basic internet needs, such as checking email, searching the web, or using social media, but those with more data-intensive internet needs, such as streaming video and uploading large files, can purchase premium wi-fi.

"Our customers asked for free Wi-Fi services, and we listened,” said Scott Brockman, Chief Operating Officer for the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority.

The wi-fi is available at all gates, ticketing, and baggage claim areas. In late December, the rental car area of the airport will also have free wi-fi.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mid-South Fair Looking to Come Back to Memphis, Shelby County

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 3:04 PM

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Leaders of the Mid-South Fair said Tuesday that they want the fair to come back home to Memphis or Shelby County and believed that the public was misled on what prompted their move to Southaven.

Fair president Michael Doyle told members of the Memphis City Council Tuesday that attendance numbers for the Fair have been up over the past few years at its new home at the Landers Center in Southaven, but “we would love to come home to Memphis, our home for 157 years.”

Doyle said the Fair board is now actively looking for 100 acres in Memphis or Shelby County and that the site should have plenty of asphalt and grass and access to electricity and water. The board would need to build an office complex and exhibit halls on the site. The board will soon start a capital campaign to move the fair but a final fund-raising goal is not yet known.

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Doyle said he didn’t go the council Tuesday to ask for anything. But he wanted it made clear the fair wanted to come back to Shelby County and to let people know that the fair was forced out. Many council members said Tuesday they didn’t know why the fair left and did not know it was forced out of its location at the fairgrounds.

“So, if (the city council) doesn’t know, then imagine what the public thinks,” Doyle said. “They think we got mad and packed up our ferris wheel and left. But we fought and scraped and lost.”

Doyle said "no one truly knows why" the fair was asked to leave but that "we were told to leave our home during the previous administration."

Council member Jim Strickland said the move “didn’t make any sense to me” but said hosting an event that would bring hundreds of thousands would have any city “chomping at the bit.”

Doyle said the fair’s peak attendance in Memphis was about 550,000 and that attendance had dwindled to about 350,000 in its last year here. Attendance was up nearly 19 percent last year over the previous year at the fair in Southaven, with a total attendance of nearly 85,000.

Elvis Presley Enterprises Sold

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. has been sold to New York-based Authentic Brands Group LLC for an undisclosed amount. Previously, Elvis Presley Enterprises had been majority owned by CORE Media Group since 2004 and the remaining interest owned by Elvis' daughter, Lisa Marie Presley.

Lisa Marie Presley
  • Lisa Marie Presley

Authentic Brands Group will own and manage Presley's name and likeness, video and TV segments, artwork including album covers, movie posters, and photos as well as music and major events such as Elvis Week every August.

But fans need not worry about the state of the house and property of Graceland, according to Presley's daughter. "While I will continue to own Graceland and the original artifacts, we are looking forward to working with our new partners to continue the growth and expansion we have been working toward," Lisa Marie said in a statement. "The licensing and merchandising aspect of this business is not to be confused with the fact that the property will always remain with me and my family. However, this is a great partnership for our family and Elvis fans worldwide."

Memphis City Council Won't Yet Bow Out of Schools Litigation

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 11:51 AM

A deal that would have ended the city of Memphis’ involvement in the ongoing litigation concerning Shelby County and suburban municipal schools was tabled by a Memphis City Council committee Tuesday until January.


Council members wanted to wait until after the December deadline for the suburban cities and the county to reach a final agreement ordered by U.S. Judge Samuel Mays.


Lee Harris
  • Lee Harris
Council member Lee Harris brought the committee the resolution that would have immediately ended the city’s involvement in the ongoing litigation. He said legal fees in associated with the case have been mounting. He cited media reports on the matter noting he was not privy to the day-to-day bills involved in the case.


“Months ago we were close on an agreement and now we’re close but not much has changed,” Harris said. “These things seem to never wind down and won’t unless action is taken on the council.”
Allan Wade is the city council’s attorney has been handling the case for the city. He said the city’s spending on the case compared to the county’s was like a “gnat to an elephant.”


“Contrary to what Mr. Harris believes, we’re not here to drag (cases) out,” Wade said. “We win them or we lose them and then we go on. I’m not here to run up a bill.”
Council members Shea Flinn and Harold Collins agreed that the city needs to remain involved in the process as negotiations continue on the ownership of three schools between Shelby County Schools and the city of Germantown.


“I think our interest in those buildings are critical and if we don’t have an agreement with Germantown, we need to wait until that part of the deal hashes out,” Collins said.


Flinn explained that the schools were built primarily with the financial support of Memphis taxpayers and giving them up may have tax liabilities for the city’s taxpayers in the future.


Germantown officials have said they want the schools even if many of the students that would go there would live outside the municipal boundaries of the city. But Flinn worried that Germantown taxpayers would want to limit the schools to only Germantown students in the future if they had to pay higher taxes to educate those students who lived outside the city.


If that were the case, SCS could have to build new schools for those displaced students, a project that could cost taxpayers in Memphians and Shelby County millions, Flinn said.


“That’s the sticky wicket at the heart of this,” Flinn said. The present need and the future need are very different and there are huge associated with it.”

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"Know Your Rights" Workshop This Saturday

Posted By on Thu, Nov 14, 2013 at 2:59 PM

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This Saturday, Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality (H.O.P.E.) will host their sixth "Know Your Rights" workshop at the Memphis Center for Independent Living. A program of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, H.O.P.E. is made up of people that have either formally been homeless or are currently homeless.

For the past four months, members of H.O.P.E. have been working with the Shelby County Public Defenders office and other lawyers to host a series of "Know Your Rights" workshops, in part as a response to the harassment and arrests citizens have endured for filming Memphis Police officers with their phones. H.O.P.E.’s Street Watch Initiative will have complaint forms available to document instances of police harassment and abuse, and members of the initiative will walk those in attendance through the process of filing a formal complaint against an officer.

According to a press release issued by the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, the H.O.P.E organization, The Bridge: Memphis Street Newspaper, and the Manna House have also had preliminary meetings with Colonel Russell Houston from the Memphis Police Department's Crump Station. Those meetings have mainly focused on changing the negative relationship that exists between the homeless of Memphis and the MPD.

H.O.P.E.'s “Know Your Rights" workshop is Saturday, November 16th at the Memphis Center for Independent Living (1633 Madison Avenue) from 2:30- 4:30 p.m. For more information, call 901-300-0006.

Crosstown Redevelopment Project Gets Funds To Improve Area Surrounding Building

Posted By on Thu, Nov 14, 2013 at 11:01 AM

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Although developers are still awaiting a $15 million commitment from the city toward the $175 million project cost for revitalizing the abandoned Sears Crosstown building into a medical, arts, and residential hub, $300,000 has recently been awarded to improve the surrounding Crosstown neighborhood and parts of the building.

The Crosstown Development Project was awarded a $50,000 regional planning award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to extend the V&E Greenline across North Parkway and through the Crosstown site.

A $250,000 grant from the Delta Regional Authority will be used to implement a plan to equip and program a "theater stair" in the main atrium of the Crosstown building. The theater stair is a wide staircase that will be equipped with audio-video equipment for public lectures and performances. It will be wide enough to both serve as a functional staircase between the first and third floors and seating for performances and spillover seating for the building's planned cafe.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gun Found In a Student's Backpack at Overton High

Posted By on Tue, Nov 12, 2013 at 11:51 AM

A gun was detected in the backpack of an Overton High School student this morning as the 15-year-old boy passed through the school's metal detectors.

A .25-caliber RG26 handgun was retrieved from the backpack. It was not loaded, but the backpack also contained a magazine with five live rounds.

Shelby County Sheriff's officers were called to the scene. They arrested the student and charged him with possession of a weapon on school property. He was transported to Shelby County Juvenile Court.

A .25-caliber RG25 handgun
  • A .25-caliber RG25 handgun

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Midtown Nursery To Fight Food Truck Plan

Posted By on Sun, Nov 10, 2013 at 3:06 PM

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The owners of Midtown Nursery say they will fight the recently announced plans to turn their corner of Cooper and Central into a permanent location for food trucks.


Weekend posts to the Midtown Nursery Facebook group say people think the nursery is leaving the location voluntarily to make way for a food truck destination there called "The Truck Stop." But, they say, this is not the case.


"Loeb Properties wants to re-zone the corner of Central and Cooper to house food trucks," said Whitney Taylor, daughter of Midtown Nursery owner Michael Earnest. "This means that we would be forced to re-locate or possibly go out of business."


Michael Earnest said Sunday his lease agreement with Loeb Properties expires in February. But he had a verbal agreement with the company to extend the lease.


Nursery owners are asking supporters to sign a petition at the store to stop the action. The proposed rezoning plan will soon be reviewed by government officials, the Facebook post said.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sierra Club Holds 12th Annual Environmental Conference

Posted By on Fri, Nov 8, 2013 at 1:16 PM

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The Sierra Club will hold its 12th annual Grassroots Environmental Conference this Saturday at Lindenwood Christian Church. The conference will cover a wide variety of subjects, with a focus on health, safety, and quality of life. Government regulations, air pollution standards, ways to save polluted rivers, and ways to generate more green jobs will also be discussed.

The keynote speaker is Rev. Lennox Yearwood, president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus. Yearwood served many years as a chaplain in the military and now leads efforts to bring awareness to environmental justice and social justice activism. Also speaking at the conference is Jeananne Gettle of the Environmental Protection Agency and acting director of the Office of Air, Pesticides and Toxic Management. Gettle will speak on the EPA's new regulations to curb carbon emissions from coal plants and other sources.

The 12th Annual Grassroots Environmental Conference will be this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The conference is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. To register, click here or call 901-497-5798.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mid-South Peace and Justice Center Holds Training For Community Organizers

Posted By on Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 1:09 PM

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The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center is hosting an organizer training seminar this Friday, November 8th. Core Organizer Training will begin at 6 p.m. and teach participants the foundational skills to be effective community organizers on a number of important issues specific to the attendee.

The event takes place at Mid South Peace and Justice Center's office (3573 Southern Avenue) and will cover the step by step actions needed to make a change in one's community through non-violent, direct action.

A maximum of 20 people will be able to receive training at Friday's session. Admission to the Core Organizer Training will be determined on a sliding scale based on annual income. The fee includes 15 hours of training and lunch on Saturday.

To register for the event or for more information go here.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Memphis City Council Members Vow to Fund Southbrook Mall Project

Posted By on Tue, Nov 5, 2013 at 2:37 PM

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City money will be found to fund a $1.5 million project to revitalize Whitehaven’s Southbrook Mall, Memphis City Council members said Tuesday, after a legal opinion last week stopped the original funding stream.

Council members voted last month to approve $1.5 million in city capital funds, some of which were to be used to for the revitalization of the Elvis Presley Boulevard corridor, for the project. But city council attorney Allan Wade issued an opinion that said the funding mechanism was illegal.

Some council members said Tuesday the opinion came as a way to stop the project. Councilwoman Janis Fullilove said the project “was doomed from the onset” and that while Memphis Mayor A C Wharton said he was in favor of the project, his administration was silent even though they likely knew the funding mechanism was illegal. She said the mayor’s office has a bias on what projects get funded.

“I get the feeling you don’t want to do this little black project for $1.5 million,” Fullilove said. “But we’ll probably be asked soon to support the $15 million for Crosstown and then the Raleigh Springs Mall and other projects with money we don’t have.”

The issue came before the council’s economic development and tourism committee Tuesday. Committee chairwoman Wanda Halbert said the Southbrook Mall project was orchestrated by some council members and administration staffers away from Memphis City Hall. She reminded officials that the only two places to get city business done is around the council’s committee room conference table or in the city council chambers.

“The council’s role is to put the issues on the table, and it’s the administration’s job to bring forth recommendations,” she said.

Council member Harold Collins said Southbrook Mall is in his district and wanted to help get the project started. He said he met with Wharton and others to discuss funding sources for the project and that everyone in the meetings thought using city capital funds was appropriate. Wade’s opinion on the matter, Collins said, was out of their hands.

But council members vowed to find the funds to at least get the Southbrook renovation project started. Fullilove suggested finding the money to get a new roof on the building before the winter and then find the rest of the money later.

“I’m sure there’s $400,000 here or $400,000 there or $300,000 over here [in the city’s budget], and we can get our finance director [Brian Collins] to find it for us,” Collins said.

Halbert also wanted to know how the administration picks the private projects it selects to invest in each year. Chief administrative officer George Little said determinations are made based on job creation and overall economic impact to the city.

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Memphis Actors Warned About Possible Talent Scam

Posted By on Tue, Nov 5, 2013 at 1:30 PM

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Some Memphis actors have expressed concerns online about Local 24 News' decision to report on the "Showcase of the Rising South," an event in Olive Branch later this month that claims to connect young performers to talent scouts from Los Angeles and New York. According to that article, actors must pay $650 to audition.

Lisa Lax, the CEO of the Lisa Lax Agency, said she has heard of similar setups, but it’s not all legitimate.

“These kinds of things are out there,” Lax said. “They’re always scams. Talent should be auditioning and going out for jobs. The last thing they should be doing is paying [for auditions].”

Nora Childers, a Memphis actress, took to the comments section of the Local 24 News story to voice her concerns.

“You should never pay a talent scout and most certainly should never pay for an audition,” she wrote.

The comment she left appeared to be deleted from the Local 24 News website, but was apparently restored.

“I find it odd that the ‘big name’ producers had no names [in the article],” Childers said. “I believe the matter should be investigated to be sure.”

Angie Grant, the founder of the event, said she's charging because she's bringing scouts to the Memphis area. According to her, the local actors unhappy with her event should do more research before writing
it off.

"'If you have to pay money, it's a scam.' That's just not fair," she said. "I understand where they're coming from, because there's a lot of scams that go through this country. If my daughter didn't go to an event like mine, she'd still be in Tupelo. Let's see where they are ten years from now."

According to both Lax and Childers, a typical auditioning process usually begins by submitting headshots to a reputable agency and then going through interviews and booking a gig, which the agency will take a
commission from.

“In this business, it's easy to tempt others for possible fame,” Childers said. “Yes, these individuals might have some connections, but asking people to pay $650 for a gamble to fame — only saying names
of people they've represented and not giving their own names — sounds pretty shady.”

The story was published online and ran during the evening segments of the broadcast Monday night.

Bass Pro Exterior Sign Work Could Begin Soon

Posted By on Tue, Nov 5, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Bass Pro Shops pulled a $16.5 million building permit Monday for signage, which signals that the beginning of some of the first exterior branding work done to the Pyramid could begin soon.

Robert Lipscomb, director of Memphis Housing and Community Development, said that having the permit will enable Bass Pro to begin choosing contractors to install all of the signs that will be on and around the Pyramid. Once the contractor is chosen, work could begin immediately, he said, calling the permit “a big deal.”

Interior construction of the building began in September after the Springfield, Missouri, outdoor retailer pulled a permit for about $40 million. The construction came after the city prepared the property and the building doing electrical, seismic, and HVAC work.

Bass Pro officials have projected the store will be complete by late 2014.

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