Community News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Voters Rally Targets Local Millennials

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 4:22 PM

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Research shows that “millennials,” typically categorized as people born in the 1980s up to the early 2000s, are the least likely to vote. But many of the decisions made by elected officials will impact them significantly now and in the future.

A group of local millennials are holding a rally Tuesday, July 29th to encourage their peers to register to vote and/or pledge to participate in upcoming local, state, and national elections.

The “Millennial Voters Rally” will take place in front of downtown’s Civic Center Plaza at 5:30 p.m. The event is a part of the WhyVote Initiative, a movement created to inform locals about the importance of voting and how refraining from doing so can adversely impact them.

Brent Hooks, one of the rally’s coordinators, said the goal is to attract at least 100 millennials to register to vote and/or agree to participate in upcoming elections as well as and spread the word about the significance of voting.

“This is going to be the most powerful thing that we can present … it’s power in unity," said Hooks, associate project manager for Allworld Project Management. "If we go out there and show them that we have a mass of people who are down for the cause, we can make a difference.”

WhyVote representatives will conduct a press conference in front of the Civic Center Plaza at 6 p.m. And at 6:15 p.m., the group will march to the Shelby County Election Commission and help participants register to vote or submit ballots for the upcoming county election.

According to WhyVote data, millennials make up nearly a quarter of Shelby County’s population (more than 196,000 people), but only around 460 had cast votes during the early voting period of the current county election as of last week.

“This is an opportunity to show unison amongst the millennials, to send the message that we’re interested in political decisions that are being made and really want to impact the change for the future,” said Ryan Carson, project manager for The Redwing Group and another coordinator of the Millennial Voters Rally.

To find out more information about the WhyVote Initiative, contact Brent Hooks at (901) 292-1873.

Check out this week's issue of The Memphis Flyer to read more about millennial voting.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Buyer Has Contract for Tennessee Brewery Building

Posted By on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 4:14 PM

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The historic Tennessee Brewery, which was threatened to be demolished in less than a week, will be around for at least another 90 days and possibly for years to come.

James Rasberry, the building's listing agent, says he has executed a contract with a "viable buyer." There's a 90-day due diligence period, where the potential buyer will be able to have various inspections done on the 100-plus-year-old structure. Rasberry said that means demolition, which was set for early August, will be postponed at least 90 days. Rasberry said he's not at liberty to say who the potential buyer is.

"I don't have a guarantee, but I think these guys are the genuine article," Rasberry said. "They are certainly capable and desirous of getting the building to closing. I would say this is as good a contract as I've had since the top of the real estate market when we were promoting it more of a residential development than a mixed use."

But Rasberry, who has previously said that he's "kissed a lot of frogs" looking for a buyer over the years, is cautiously optimistic. He said he's continuing to show the building to other potential buyers during the due diligence period.

"It's not like we're going to quit showing the property. I've got one other group that has submitted a letter of intent, and they're quite willing to do the deal themselves. I will continue to show it so that if for whatever reason it doesn't work out, maybe we'll have someone in the wings," he said.

The Tennessee Brewery building was once home to the now-defunct Goldcrest Beer. No beer has been brewed there since 1954, and the building, which was sold to A. Karchmer and Sons Scrap Metal in the mid-1950s, has been vacant since 1981. The building's owner, Kevin Norman, purchased the property in 1997 in the hope of salvaging the historic building. He's been trying to sell the building unsuccessfully for years.

From late April to early June, a group of investors — restaurateur Taylor Berger, attorney Michael Tauer, commercial real estate executive Andy Cates, and communications specialist Doug Carpenter — organized a pop-up beer garden inside the brewery to raise awareness about the need to save the building. To read more about "Untapped" and the brewery's history, check out this Flyer cover story.

U of M Project Aimed at Reducing Marijuana Use

Posted By on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 11:26 AM

A University of Memphis professor has received a $400,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to help reduce marijuana use among college students.

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  • Murphy
Dr. James Murphy, associate professor of psychology, will use the funds over two years to increase the awareness of the drug's risks by "correcting the misperception that most or all students use marijuana." Also, the project will try to get students involved in "constructive, academic, social, exercise, creative, and vocational alternatives."

"Although marijuana does not pose the same risk for overdose or severe dependence as many other drugs, it can be habit forming, difficult to quit, and associated with academic, legal and financial problems and difficulties with thinking, memory and learning," Murphy said in a statement.

Few interventions have been tested for excessive use of marijuana, Murphy said, while there are effective interventions to reduce drinking among college students.

The award is a also sponsored by the National Institue on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and goes along with an existing grant called “Reducing College Drinking With a Behavioral Economic Supplement.”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Scenes From the U.S. Marine Hospital

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 4:23 PM

Last weekend, developer Lauren Crews and architect Chooch Pickard of City South Ventures opened the long-vacant U.S. Marine Hospital for self-guided tours.

Crews purchased the property years ago, and now he's pushing a plan to transform the hospital into apartments before possibly persuing other major development projects in and around the historic French Fort neighborhood.

The hospital treated U.S. Marine mariners back in the late 1800s. The main hospital building, a nurses' building, and a maintenance structure have sat decaying on the property next to the Metal Museum for decades.

To read more about the project, read this Flyer story.

Slideshow
Scenes From the U.S. Marine Hospital
Scenes From the U.S. Marine Hospital Scenes From the U.S. Marine Hospital Scenes From the U.S. Marine Hospital Scenes From the U.S. Marine Hospital Scenes From the U.S. Marine Hospital Scenes From the U.S. Marine Hospital Scenes From the U.S. Marine Hospital Scenes From the U.S. Marine Hospital

Scenes From the U.S. Marine Hospital

Last weekend, developer Lauren Crews and architect Chooch Pickard of City South Ventures opened up the U.S. Marine Hospital for self-guided tours. Here are some shots from inside the long-vacant hospital on the bluff.

By Bianca Phillips

Click to View 13 slides

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Demolition Still Set For Tennessee Brewery

Posted By on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 3:52 PM

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The historic Tennessee Brewery building, which housed the "Untapped" beer garden for six weeks this past spring, may be demolished on August 1st. Or maybe it won't.

James Rasberry, the building's listing agent, said he is currently working on a couple of contracts with potential buyers for the building, but he does not have an executed contract. If either of those contracts moves forward with a viable candidate for a future owner, Rasberry said they'd be able to get a two- or three month extension on the demolition, which has long been planned for early August.

"The only goal is to try and save the building, but if we can't, we've given it a great shot. That's where we are right now," Rasberry said.

Rasberry said he should know more in about a week.

The Tennessee Brewery building was once home to the now-defunct Goldcrest Beer. No beer has been brewed there since 1954, and the building, which was sold to A. Karchmer and Sons Scrap Metal in the mid-1950s, has been vacant since 1981. The building's owner, Kevin Norman, purchased the property in 1997 in the hope of salvaging the historic building. He's been trying to sell the building unsuccessfully for years.

From late April to early June, a group of investors — restaurateur Taylor Berger, attorney Michael Tauer, commercial real estate executive Andy Cates, and communications specialist Doug Carpenter — organized a pop-up beer garden inside the brewery to raise awareness about the need to save the building. To read more about "Untapped" and the brewery's history, check out this Flyer cover story.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

GoFundMe Page Created For Slain Army Vet

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Justin Davis
  • Justin Davis

On Tuesday night, Justin Davis, a 24-year-old Army veteran, sat in his car in the parking lot of Germantown’s Cameron-Brown Park frustrated, depressed, and armed with a rifle.

Davis, who battled post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, had been reportedly having suicidal thoughts and was going through a divorce. To make matters worse, he had been unable to find employment upon his return from the military.

According to reports, the Germantown Police Department (GPD) Communications Center received a “Be On The Lookout” (BOLO) message stating Davis was “unstable, possibly suicidal, armed and dangerous” on Tuesday, July 15th, around 9 p.m. The GPD Communications Center was notified by the Fayette County Sheriff's Office around 9:45 p.m. that Davis was located at Cameron-Brown Park (8626 Farmington Boulevard).

GPD officers arrived on the scene shortly after and located Davis in a parking lot near a baseball field. After evacuating the area, officers communicated with Davis via phone and through a squad car public address system, according to reports.

What transpired during the conversation up until the seconds before bullets were fired remains unclear. According to reports, Davis “escalated” the situation during his communication with GPD officers. This resulted in three officers firing their weapons, striking Davis. He was pronounced deceased on the scene.

“As officers were continuing their effort to communicate, the situation was escalated by the subject, who was armed with a rifle, resulting in three Germantown police officers discharging their weapons,” stated a police news release regarding the incident.

Justin and his daughter
  • Facebook.com
  • Justin and his daughter

Names of the three officers involved in the shooting have yet to be released, but are on paid administrative leave, pending an investigation from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, according to reports. Where and how many times Davis was shot has yet to be announced. He leaves behind a young daughter.

Not only are Davis’ family and friends deeply saddened by the occurrence, members and veterans of various branches of the U.S. military have been touched by the situation. Local veteran Jerome Hardaway is among these people.

Hardaway has created a GoFundMe page to help raise money for Davis’ burial. He was motivated to start the fundraiser after receiving messages from friends and family of Davis’ who were hurt by the situation and concerned with how his burial would be financed.

After discovering the local Veterans Administration would not be able to cover the expenses, he organized a GoFundMe account in the hope that small donations would be made to help Davis' family put him to rest at the West Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery (4000 Forest Hill Irene). The fundraiser's goal is $2,500.

“Hopefully, the community will come together and help this family,” Hardaway said. “The fundraiser will go on until the family has the resources to put him properly to rest.”

Hardaway is an Air Force vet and fought in the Iraq War, also known as Operation Iraqi Freedom. He said he can relate to Davis’ battle with post-war issues and is disheartened by the fact he was unable to find employment after returning home from the military.

“As an OIF veteran, I do suffer from combat stress, and I've worked hard to learn how to manage it,” Hardaway said. “I’m personally saddened by the situation, because I know how he felt. [To] go to Iraq and manage to survive a war zone, only to come home and be told that you have no skills is demoralizing. The government spends hundreds of thousands of dollars turning young people into more than fighters; [they become] effective learners, thinkers, capable of working harder and being more mentally agile than their civilian counterparts in order to complete missions. It’s horrible that people tend to choose to only see veterans in a certain light, but we are working hard to change that.”

Hardaway is in the beginning stages of creating his company, FRAGO, an entity that will take a proactive approach to helping veterans receive the services they need before it’s too late.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mayor Wharton Launches "Inspiring Young Men of Color" Initiative

Posted By on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 1:36 PM

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Memphis Mayor A C Wharton stood at a podium in the FedExForum’s plaza Wednesday and introduced a new initiative that will help improve the success rates of young African-American men.

Entitled “Inspiring Young Men of Color,” the program aims to bridge the opportunity gap that young black males face by lessening the disparities they experience in education, employment, health, and justice.

The effort will be spearheaded by an executive steering committee that's composed of numerous business and community leaders, many of whom were on hand at the press conference. The collective will develop long-term strategies to combat the identified issues that hinder high success rates of young Memphis minorities.

"Generally, when you focus on young men of color, the first thing you look for is ‘Okay, where are the police officers? Where are the folks in charge of the prisons and jails?" Wharton said. "We’re flipping the script on this. We’re focusing on the opportunity side of it, the preparation side of it. We’re going to change the language. As opposed to saying 'What are we going to do to them,' it’s 'What are we going to do with them, to make them much more productive young men of color?'"

The program is aligned with Pres. Barack Obama’s recently launched “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, an approach that seeks to improve outcomes of young men of color in health, education, employment, and criminal justice nationally.

Wharton said improving the literacy rates of young black males in Memphis is one of the most important objectives of the initiative.

"One of the most starving issues facing our young men is low literacy," Wharton said. "Simply put, many of our young men and boys of color are not reading proficiently, and the lack of this fundamental skill prevents them from reaching their full potential."

For more information on the Inspiring Young Men of Color initiative, check out next week's issue of The Memphis Flyer.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Current Entrance to Shelby Farms Park Set to Close Permanently

Posted By on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 4:02 PM

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On Monday, July 21st, the Pine Lake Drive entrance to Shelby Farms Park will close forever as part of the park's master plan. Park users will instead enter Shelby Farms through a new entrance a quarter mile north of the old one, off Farm Road.

On the same day, construction of the expanded Patriot Lake will begin, so construction equipment will occasionally be crossing Farm Road. That may affect traffic for about six months, according to Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell's office. Although access from Farm Road will remain open throughout construction, drivers may expect delays.

For more on the Shelby Farms Park master plan, check out Chris Davis' Flyer cover story.

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Thunderstorms Leave Thousands of MLGW Customers Without Power

Posted By on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Several waves of thunderstorms and high winds traveled through Shelby County yesterday evening, leaving more than 40,000 homes and businesses without power.

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  • MLGW

The thunderstorms lasted from 4 to 10 p.m., Monday, July 14th. As of Tuesday, July 15th, around 11,000 residents remain powerless.

Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) president Jerry Collins said the bulk of power outages have been restored. But there are still some pockets of the county suffering outages and severe damage from downed power lines and tree limbs. Collins said 19 contractor crews are coming in town today to assist MLGW with its restoration process.

“More than 42,000 homes and businesses lost power as a result of these storms,” Collins said. “By 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, the number of homes and businesses without power had been reduced to about 9,000. These 9,000 include, however, some heavily damaged areas that will require a longer time to repair. We expect all power to be restored by midnight Thursday.”

Around 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, the power outage number increased to more than 11,000. Collins said this is attributed to MLGW crews having to turn circuits off so that they can make needed repairs. He said this causes the numbers to rise for periods of time while crews are working.

MLGW customers can contact (901) 544-6500 to report outages or check on restoration progress anytime of the day and night. Outage numbers can be tracked via MLGW's outage map here.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

MLGW Installing Free Air-Conditioning Units For Senior Citizens

Posted By on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 4:11 PM

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  • MLGW

The summer has finally approached, and citizens are burdened with the task of staying as cool as possible.

Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW) in collaboration with the Neighborhood Christian Center will make that task a little easier for some with their “Play It Cool” initiative.

The partnership is donating 50 window air-conditioning units to disadvantaged senior citizens through the initiative, which they implement each year. On Tuesday, July 8th, the application process and screening for the free units will be held at Neighborhood Christian Center (785 Jackson Avenue) from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

According to a MLGW press release, to qualify, applicants must be Shelby County residents aged 60 or older, receive a low-income, and reside in a home that lacks operable air conditioning.

Applicants will need their Tennessee state ID or drivers license and their most recent pay stub or Social Security Income statement to apply. If an applicant has a physical disability but doesn’t meet the age requirement, they must bring the proper certification information.

After an individual is screened and pre-qualified, MLGW will conduct field inspections at their residence to verify that it meets installation requirements. Subsequently, a window air-conditioning unit will be installed at their house by a MLGW employee free of charge.

For more information on necessary qualifications and credentials for eligibility, Play It Cool applicants can contact the Neighborhood Christian Center’s hotline at (901) 881-6013.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Study Shows Memphis Has State's Highest Car Insurance Rates

Posted By on Tue, Jul 1, 2014 at 1:41 PM

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A new study reveals that Memphis isn’t the best place to get car insurance if you’re trying to save a few dollars.

Consumer finance company ValuePenguin analyzed car insurance rates in 44 cities across Tennessee. Results of the study revealed that Memphis has the highest rates. In Memphis, a person spends $1,212 a year on average for car insurance.

The ValuePenguin study discovered that the top five cities with the highest insurance rates in Tennessee were all in the Memphis metro area. Aside from Memphis, these areas are Bartlett ($1,049), Germantown ($1,038), Collierville ($1,032), and Dyersburg ($979).

To get quotes from car insurance companies for the study, the company assumed the identity of a 30-year-old male driver who is single. He imaginatively drove a 2010 Toyota Camry that he bought and used to commute to and from his place of employment, according to the study. The driver had no at-fault accidents or violations in the last five years.

ValuePenguin looked at insurance quotes from the 10 top auto insurers that operate throughout Tennessee, averaging rates across the companies to come up with a final number for each city. Those companies included GEICO, State Farm, Nationwide, Allstate, Liberty Mutual, and several others.

The top five cities with the cheapest insurance rates are Bristol ($810), Kingsport ($813), Johnson City ($830), Brentwood ($857), and Gallatin ($871), according to the study.

Brian Quinn, co-founder of ValuePenguin, said the company publishes unique analysis and creates user-friendly tools that help individuals make more informed financial decisions. The company is currently in the process of conducting auto insurance studies for every state in the country.

“We hope that Tennesseeans understand how much average auto insurances prices can vary depending on where they live within the state,” Quinn said. “The majority of the work we do at ValuePenguin is digging into big data related to consumer finance issues. Once we did a handful of the state breakdowns and got great feedback, we realized we needed to do the analysis nationwide.”

According to ValuePenguin’s Tennessee study, cities with expensive auto insurance rates were typically close to high crime areas and/or high population density areas. Cities with cheaper with auto insurance rates normally had a lower population density and lower crime rates.

The five most expensive cities had an average annual rate of $1,062 while the five cheapest areas had yearly annual premiums around $836. The average cost of car insurance in Tennessee was $916 per year, according to the study.

Other cities analyzed in the study include Smyrna, Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, Cleveland, Athens, Knoxville, Columbia, Nashville, Jackson, Union City, and various others.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

More Than 7,000 MLGW Customers Remain Powerless

Posted By on Fri, Jun 6, 2014 at 3:27 PM

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  • MLGW

Nearly 43,000 Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) customers lost power after a cluster of thunderstorms traveled through the Memphis area yesterday.

Between 1:30 and 4 p.m. Thursday (June 5th), 42,797 homes and businesses throughout Shelby County experienced power outages after harsh winds associated with the thunderstorms damaged utility poles and power lines.

By Friday afternoon, MLGW crews had restored power for more than 34,000 customers. But there are still more than 7,000 customers without electricity.

MLGW President Jerry Collins said the area’s biggest circuits serving the highest number of customers were restored first. Circuits serving a smaller amount of customers are next in line.

“What we’re down to now are hundreds of small outages that affect one, two, three, four, five customers,” Collins said. “That’s going to take longer, because it’s a much slower process. We should have everybody back in business by Sunday midnight.”

Customers without power today and into the weekend are encouraged to stay hydrated and to seek shelter temporarily elsewhere, if necessary. MLGW recommends customers to keep survival kits ready for power outages and other service disruptions. These kits can include things such as bottled water, canned food, prescription medicines, flashlights, a radio, batteries, and a first-aid kit.

Considering that thunderstorms are in the weather forecast for Friday as well as scattered showers this weekend, restoration efforts could be slowed. Collins, however, assures that MLGW will do its best to fully restore power expeditiously.

“We have all crews working, and we have eight crews in from out of town to help us,” Collins said. “We’re going to go as fast as we can and try to get power restored just as quickly as possible for all the remaining customers.”

To report an power outage, customers should call (901) 544-6500.
Outage numbers can be tracked via MLGW's outage map at mlgw.com/outagemap.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

U of M Selects Provost David Rudd As New President

Posted By on Thu, May 1, 2014 at 4:52 PM

Dr. M. David Rudd
  • Dr. M. David Rudd

Beginning May 16th, the University of Memphis will be led by a new president.

After sifting through more than 70 applicants from across the nation, the Tennessee Board of Regents selected Dr. M. David Rudd as the U of M’s 12th president Thursday, May 1st. Rudd currently serves as the university’s provost, a position he's held since March 2013.

The decision came relatively shy of a year since Brad Martin took on the role as interim president for the school in July 2013. The school’s past president was Shirley Raines. She served in the position for more than a decade and retired June 2013.

According to a U of M press release, Rudd holds administrative and teaching experience that spans nearly 30 years. Over that time, he held such titles as dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Science at the University of Utah; professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at Texas Tech; professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at Baylor University; and professor and director of Baylor’s doctoral program in Clinical Psychology.

Rudd earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in psychology and holds a master’s degree in psychology from there as well. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University.

His wife, Dr. Loretta Rudd, also works at the U of M as an associate professor.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

U of M Receives $10,000 NCAA Grant For Student-Athlete Program

Posted By on Tue, Apr 29, 2014 at 1:31 PM

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It's no guarantee that student-athletes will go to the pros after graduating from college.

For athletes at the University of Memphis who don't make it to the big leagues upon graduation, chances of securing a decent job may now be greater thanks to a $10,000 NCAA grant recently awarded to the school. The grant will be used to develop a career readiness program.

The U of M was one of six universities selected out of a pool of nearly 140 applicants to create a program that helps more of its student-athletes obtain employment once their college career is over. The grant is a part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) 2014 Innovations in Research and Practice Grant Program.

Due to demanding schedules, student-athletes may be at a disadvantage in developing experiential learning opportunities, according to a U of M press release. Students are required to attend numerous practice and conditioning sessions, team meetings, and travel regularly to away games; all of these factors cause them to miss classes, limits their study time, and reduces their chances for securing internships.

With the grant, a U of M research team has created a four-stage program for student-athletes that includes entrepreneurship training, project-based learning, workplace readiness training, and a practicum with a community partner, according to the press release. The research team plans to develop and pilot the program this summer.

The $10,000 grant was awarded to a U of M collective comprised of Dr. Tim Ryan, associate professor of sport and leisure management in the Department of Health and Sport Sciences; Bob Baker, director of the Center for Athletic Academic Services; Kelly Penwell, director of the Experiential Learning Lab; and Dr. Richard Irwin, associate dean of the University College and overseer of the Experiential Learning Lab.

To measure effectiveness of the U of M’s program, participants’ career readiness will be measured before and after program participation, according to a U of M press release.

Aside from the U of M, researchers at The University of Michigan, Stanford University, Springfield College, Utah State, and Purdue University. Each entity will conduct a different form of research with their grants. Other aspects include the study of parental involvement in athletes’ collegiate careers, improving student-athlete mental health, athlete imagery, and support groups for injured athletes.

Grant recipients will present their research at the NCAA convention in Washington, D.C., in January 2015.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

MPD Collecting Unwanted Prescription Drugs At Kroger

Posted By on Thu, Apr 24, 2014 at 12:59 PM

Before locals enter their community Kroger to shop this Saturday, they'll have the opportunity to dispose of expired or unwanted prescription drugs from their medicine cabinets in bins outside the establishment.

As part of the 8th annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, Memphis Police Department and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials will be present at four different Kroger locations with bins for people to safely and anonymously dispose unwanted, unused prescription drugs this Saturday (April 26th).

The take-back, which heightens the prevention of possible pill abuse and inappropriate distribution, will last from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The four Kroger branches that MPD and DEA officials will be on site at are 3444 Plaza Ave, 3860 Austin Peay Highway, 676 Germantown Parkway, and 7942 Winchester Road. People can also dispose prescription drugs at Emmanuel United Methodist (2404 Kirby Road).

“This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue,” a MPD press release stated. “Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.”

Last October, Americans turned in 324 tons (over 647,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at over 4,114 sites operated by the DEA and its thousands of state and local law enforcement partners, according to the MPD. When those results are combined with what was collected in its seven previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 3.4 million pounds—more than 1,700 tons—of pills.

MPD spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said illegal prescription drug distribution is prevalent locally. She said the prescription drugs collected Saturday will be weighed and transported to a burn facility out of state and destroyed.

Earlier this month, more than three dozen people involved in a prescription drug-ring were indicted during “Operation Whitehaven Dilaudid Family.” The ring was responsible for illegally distributing large amounts of Dilaudid and other prescription pills throughout the area.

More than 20 of the individuals indicted are facing state drug charges. Another 15 defendants are facing federal drug charges. Charges carry penalties of up to 25 years in prison without parole.

“Many of the 23 defendants indicted on state drug charges are family members whose drug-trafficking operation has been in business for more than 15 years,” Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich said in a press release.

Law enforcement seized 10 vehicles, $53,807 in cash, 111 Dilaudid pills and 154 grams of powder cocaine during the undercover operation.

The MPD’s Organized Crime Unit, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Marshal’s Service executed “Operation Whitehaven Dilaudid Family” collectively.

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