Residents of Foote Homes, the city's last remaining public housing project, were chosen for a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pilot program aimed at helping them find and train for jobs.
The Jobs Plus pilot program was announced at a press conference at Foote Homes on Thursday afternoon. HUD's General Deputy Assistant Secretary of Public Housing Jemine Bryon said HUD will give the Memphis Housing Authority $3 million to implement the program
Memphis is one of nine U.S. cities chosen to receive the funding for its public housing residents. Bryon said 57 cities applied. The funds will be invested into opportunities for public housing residents to increase their income through employment-related services, financial incentives, and community support for work.
There are more than 1,000 people living in 414 households at Foote Homes. Bryon said the program has a goal of enrolling 291 of those residents into the Jobs Plus program and placing 60 of them into jobs.
"Just because public housing residents are of modest means doesn't mean they have modest dreams," Bryon told those gathered at the conference, many of whom were residents of Foote Homes.
City officials plan to submit an application in September to HUD to raze Foote Homes' 57 buildings. HUD denied the city the $30 million grant for the project last year. But city Director of Housing and Community Development Robert Lipscomb will try again this year. Lipscomb is overseeing a plan to tear down the aging complex and replace it with a mixed-income housing development like Legends Park, Cleaborne Pointe, University Place, and others.
Residents of Foote Homes, backed by the Vance Avenue Collaborative, have been fighting the city's plan to tear down their apartment complex for years. They've released alternative plans, calling on the city to spruce up the complex with bigger porches, rain gardens, better lighting, walkways, and more trees.
When news broke Wednesday night that white New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo would not be indicted in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old black man who was allegedly selling loose cigarettes, Memphians Naomi Van Tol and Tami Sawyer took to Twitter with their frustration.
The news about Pantaleo came just a little over a week after a Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury decided not to indict officer Darren Wilson, who is white, in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. It was too much for Van Tol and Sawyer to deal with. The pair didn't know one another before the incidents, but they befriended on Twitter over their frustration. Sawyer suggested staging a solidarity "die-in" demonstration similar to those being held all over the country.
Sawyer said they chose the National Civil Rights Museum as the location and quickly organized the demonstration on social media.
"What better way to let America know that black lives matter than holding a demonstration in front of the Civil Rights Museum," Sawyer said.
About 50 people showed up Thursday afternoon to play dead on the grounds of the Civil Rights Museum.
Peter Gathje from the Manna House was there.
And the Adam and Kristie Jeffrey, owners of Imagine Vegan Cafe in Cooper-Young, showed up with their family.
Once assembled, the group gathered in a circle and held hands, chanting "Black Lives Matter."
Then, one by one, the protesters laid down on their backs, continuing their chants of "Black Lives Matter" and "We Can't Breathe" (in honor of Garner, who told Pantaleo that he couldn't breathe as he was being choked). They laid on the ground for 10 minutes.
Sawyer and Van Tol lay next to one another.
After the ten minutes were up, the protesters departed. A couple Memphis Police cars parked a few feet away from the protest, and officers watched from their vehicles but didn't approach the protesters.
Tomorrow, registered voters will have the chance to cast their ballots for the nation’s general election.
And to make sure everything goes smoothly, representatives of the Department of Justice (DOJ) will be monitoring polling locations in Shelby County.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee, DOJ personnel will monitor polling place activities to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting rights statutes. And a Civil Rights Division attorney will coordinate federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.
The Voting Rights Act prohibits racial discrimination during elections.
Voters can contact the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division to file complaints about discriminatory voting practices, including harassment or intimidation. The Voting Section can be reached at 1-800-253-3931.
Alright, Memphis, here’s what we know so far going into Friday’s Halloween holiday. We’ll update this post as any new information rolls in.
• The cops say have fun but watch out for sex offenders and, also, don’t drink and drive.
• An online list factory says Memphis is among the worst cities for Halloween (because, of course).
• A local group says you can bring them your old jack-o-lantern and they’ll compost it for you.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is warning parents to be extra cautious of sex offenders this Halloween and the office is telling them where those offenders live.
Users can type in any address and the map will show them the addresses of the registered sex offenders as close as a two-mile radius. The site shows the offender's picture and tells why and when they were arrested.
Sex offenders are under strict restrictions during Halloween. Here’s what the SCSO says:
“Sex offenders on state-supervised parole or probation must abide by strict guidelines regarding Halloween and seasonal events. Offenders may not:
• Place any Halloween or fall season decorations inside or outside their homes
• Answer the door or have anyone else answer the door for trick-or-treaters
• Pass out candy, have a party at their home, or accompany any child who is trick-or-treating
• Dress in a costume with the intent to attract a minor or be in the presence of a minor
• Attend any Halloween or fall festival events including hayrides, haunted houses or functions where children are gathered
However, offenders who are parents or legal guardians of children may attend Halloween parties and fall festivals at schools provided their children and school officials are present.
Also, deputies will be taking extra precautions on Halloween night “to help prevent pranks and vandalism.” They’ll be paying close attention to the activities of trick-or-treaters and watching for drunk or impaired drivers.
The Sheriff’s Office Crime Prevention Unit offers these reminders to the parents of trick-or-treaters:
• All candy needs to be inspected by parents before it is eaten.
• Children should always have adults with them while visiting homes to collect candy.
• Parents need to carry flashlights while out with their children.
• Children need to wear light-colored costumes that do not drag the ground.
• Reflecting tape is also recommended to help make the costumes more visible.
• Face masks may impair the vision of children. Parents need to consider face paint or other costumes.
• Choose costumes that are flame resistant. Keep children away from pets. Pets might be frightened by the Halloween costumes and might possibly attack the children.
WalletHub ranked the top 100 metros for celebrating Halloween.
Memphis ranked 81st on the list. Yep, the bottom 20 and sandwiched in between Corpus Christi and Cleveland. Now that is scary.
How seriously should we take this? Well, WalletHub’s intro to the whole list reads like this:
“It’s that time of year again when everyone gets to play dress-up and devour sweet treats. No, we’re not talking about your company’s annual meeting.”
Oh, boy. WalletHub’s a real cut up, a real card.
So, how did the company rank cities anyway? Cities got points in three categories:
1. Entertainment environment and safety (Memphis ranked 95th)
2. Parties and activities (Memphis ranked 52nd)
3. Weather forecast (Memphis ranked 24th)
WalletHub looked at crime, age of population, prices of Halloween party tickets, number of costume stores and candy stores per capita, and weather, of course.
WalletHub’s best city for Halloween? St. Paul, Minn. The worst Halloween city? Winston-Salem, N.C.
Finally, GrowMemphis is inviting all the frumpy, rotting jack-o-lanterns to its office.
“After Halloween is over and your pumpkin looks sad and not scary, it is time to take it to GrowMemphis for composting.”
The non-profit says anyone can just drop off their old pumpkin at its office at 3573 Southern during business hours (8 a.m. To 5 p.m.) from next Monday to next Friday (Nov. 3 through Nov. 7).
They only ask you to remove any candles from the pumpkin and “please be tidy!”
If you have any big-time Halloween news Memphis needs to know, send it over to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On October 23rd, Harper will present his "Educating Young Men of Color in an Urban Context" speech at Bridges USA. The event will last from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Harper’s lecture is part of a speaker series being presented by SchoolSeed, a nonprofit working to drive educational excellence and innovation in Memphis.
Sam O'Bryant, deputy director of community engagement and strategic partnerships for SchoolSeed, said attendees will learn about obstacles that prevent young men of color from succeeding in school and thereafter.
“Although personal responsibility is a factor to consider, it is not the ‘end all’ that determines if a person of color is successful,” O’Bryant said. “Even when a child does the right things (good grades, graduate high school, enroll in post-secondary schools, etc.), there exist barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Dr. Harper's speech will speak to how communities can identify these systemic barriers and put new systems in place to make sure every child can reach their full potential.”
The main objective of the event is to provide awareness and spark discussion about race and equity in public education. And SchoolSeed hopes attendees will be motivated to develop a local movement that addresses and combats educational obstacles encountered by minorities.
"Our goal in continuing this speaker series is to facilitate community discussion about timely, relevant education-related topics," said Vince McCaskill, executive director of SchoolSeed, in a statement. “Dr. Harper is a dynamic, intellectually gifted thinker and speaker, and it's truly an honor to have him in Memphis to participate in this series."
Harper is the second lecturer to be featured in SchoolSeed’s speaker series. The series launched earlier this year with Dr. Ivory Toldson. The deputy director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Toldson talked to LeMoyne-Owen College in April about the important role HBCUs play in advancing the educational success of African-American males.
With the flu season approaching, it’s important for Memphians to get their vaccinations, which significantly reduces chances of contracting the respiratory illness.
In light of this, students at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) will be providing free flu vaccinations to the city's low-income and homeless this Thursday. The students are a part of the Operation Immunization Committee of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists chapter at UTHSC.
Last year, the chapter was awarded a $3,000 grant to vaccinate Memphis’ low-income population. And the group will use the grant to provide flu vaccinations to 150 impoverished locals. All people have to do to receive the vaccinations is attend Idlewild Presbyterian Church’s “More Than a Meal” gathering.
The event, which will take place Thursday, October 23rd from 5:30 to 7 p.m., will give the city's homeless and low-income a chance to enjoy a free meal and fellowship with church members. During the dinner, UTHSC College of Pharmacy students who are certified to give immunizations will administer vaccinations.
Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimated flu-associated deaths in the United States ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older.
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, along with several public health officials, held a media briefing Tuesday to discuss response methods that would be utilized if Ebola spread to Memphis.
During the briefing, which was held at the Vasco Smith Administration Building, Yvonne Madlock, director of the Shelby County Health Department, assured the public that the department is prepared to control and prevent the spread of Ebola.
Madlock said this would be done through identification and isolation of patients who have Ebola, tracing of individuals who have come in direct contact with a sick Ebola patient, and the use of personal protective equipment.
“We’ve been conducting tabletop exercises and drills,” Madlock said. “We’ve been training our agency and staff, and training partner [agencies]. We’ve been in direct communication with the Tennessee Department of Health, [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], and other national leaders and health departments across the nation that are experts in this kind of event. We’ve been working with our hospitals and our EMS providers, [and] communicating with physicians and hospitals and urgent care centers.”
Ebola, a severe, and often fatal, illness has claimed more than 4,000 lives since it’s outbreak in West Africa. The three countries hit the hardest in the continent are Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
To date, there have been no confirmed cases in Memphis or Tennessee. And the only Ebola cases diagnosed in the U.S. have been in Dallas. On September 30th, Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man visiting family in Dallas, was diagnosed with Ebola at the city's Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
Duncan succumbed to the virus on October 8th. Two nurses who treated him, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, were later diagnosed with the virus.
Since Ebola’s most recent outbreak in March, nearly 9,000 people have been confirmed to have the virus. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the amount of people infected is possibly 2.5 times higher than the number reported.
The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals like fruit bats and primates, which are hunted in Africa for food. The virus is then spread through the human population via direct contact with blood or bodily fluids, such as urine, saliva, semen, or vomit, from an infected person. Virus symptoms include fevers, headaches, muscle aches, vomiting, and diarrhea.
According to WHO, the current fatality rate for the disease is 50 percent. However, since the illness first emerged in 1976, case fatality rates have varied from 25 to 90 percent in past outbreaks.
Presently, there is no cure for Ebola. However, experimental drugs ZMapp, Favipiravir, Brincidofovir, and TKM-Ebola have been used to treat individuals who have been diagnosed with the virus.
“Ebola disease is not as easily spread as other viruses,” Madlock said. “Very few people in the United States are actually at risk. And we can contain Ebola disease, just as it’s been contained in other parts of the world, through rapid identification and isolation of cases, [and] identifying and monitoring our contacts. But it does take cooperation, coordination, training and preparedness, and that’s the kind of work that we’ve been involved in.”
This Saturday, Latreal “La” Mitchell, personal trainer for Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan, will provide Memphians with fitness and nutrition advice.
On behalf of Meta, a new line of wellness products created by the makers of fiber supplement brand Metamucil, Mitchell will be hosting “MEMfix: Edge Event." The one-day community event will be held in the Edge District — an area within a quarter-mile radius of the Marshall/Monroe Avenues intersection.
Attendees will be able to enjoy a number of healthy activities, including cycling classes, health screenings, and a wellness lounge. People will also get the chance to meet one-on-one with Mitchell for health and wellness advice and motivation.
“La will help motivate the people of Memphis, and show them how easy it can be to start making small, healthy changes,” said a spokesperson for Meta. “As a personal trainer and health coach, La will be talking to people about their overall health. She will be offering tips and inspiration to [help Memphians] start making small, healthy changes that may have greater effects on their overall health.”
Mayor A C Wharton and representatives from Common Table Health Alliance and other community agencies will join Mitchell for the event. It takes place Saturday, October 18th from noon to 3 p.m. at the intersection of Marshall and Monroe.
MEMfix: Edge Event is among a series of health-centered events occurring this year as a result of a new partnership between Meta, Common Table Health Alliance, and the City of Memphis.
“Meta’s goal is to help provide the community with the resources it needs to get healthy,” Meta's spokesperson said. “We know there are great local organizations already doing this, and our hope is that by partnering with them we can reach more Memphians and have a greater impact on the community’s health and wellness.”
The partnership between Meta, Common Table Health Alliance, and the city is also part of the multi-health wellness line's national initiative and sweepstakes, “Meta Effect,” which encourages people nationwide to make small, healthy changes that can impact them significantly. People can visit here for more information on the initiative.
“[We want] all Americans to experience what we like to call the 'Meta Effect,' which is the simple idea that one small change can lead to good things,” the spokesperson said.
Out of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, Memphis is the unhealthiest, according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s 2014 American Fitness Index. Contributing factors to Memphis earning the top slot were the city's high obesity rate (35 percent of adults in Shelby County are obese), low fruit and vegetable consumption by many residents, and high cardiovascular disease and diabetes death rates.
Three University of Memphis professors have been awarded a six-figure grant to establish an initiative for training social work students on violence prevention, behavioral health, and primary care.
Associate professor Dr. Susan Neely-Barnes and assistant professors Dr. Elena Delavega and Dr. Susan Elswick, all part of the U of M’s department of Social Work, collectively received an “Administration Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training for Professionals” grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The award is $473,892 during the first year, with a possible $1.4 million over a three-year period.
The grant will be used to establish the "Mid-South Social Work Professional Development" initiative. Through the plan, 102 advanced Master of Social Work (MSW) students will be trained over a three- to four-year period on six areas of social work: violence prevention; integration of behavioral health and primary care; working with transition-age youth; inter-professional education; engagement with families; and cultural and linguistic competency.
“The grant provides us with things like speaker fees and travel funds, so we would like to bring some national experts into this area to talk to the students,” Neely-Barnes said. “We’re also hoping to link [the grant] to continuing education for social workers and other mental health professionals in the area and other related professionals. We [want to] bring in some people who have national modules around some of these important topics, and also bring more evidence-based practices to the area. We hope that we can raise the caliber of the services that are provided in this region."
The Mid-South has been identified as a region boasting a shortage of mental health professionals. This is a contributing factor to HRSA’s decision to fund the U of M initiative.
For example, the Shelby County region’s Department of Children’s Services (DCS) is the largest public child welfare office in Tennessee with 286 case managers. However, DCS records indicate that only one of the nearly 300 case managers holds a MSW degree.
Considering that statistic, the Mid-South Social Work Professional Development Initiative will help increase the amount of master’s level trained social workers who are able to provide child welfare, as well as mental health work, school social work, and violence prevention in Memphis.
“It’s a critical need in this region for more trained mental health professionals, and by giving this grant to the University of Memphis, the hope is a lot of these folks will stay here and continue to work with transition-age youth and others who have a critical need for services,” Neely-Barnes said.
Students who are interested in accessing the initiative must be advanced year MSW students. They can click here and apply to the MSW program.
Selected program participants will receive a $10,000 stipend. And they will be given experiential training while providing direct services to children, adolescents, or transition-age adults (16 to 25 year olds).
Fourteen community agencies are collaborating with the U of M's Social Work department for the initiative. Amid them are the Church Health Center, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, Shelby County Schools, Youth Villages, and the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
The Mid-South Social Work Professional Development program is part of the “Now Is the Time” initiative. President Barack Obama launched the initiative in 2013 after several events of gun violence in the nation, including the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting that left 12 dead and 58 wounded, and the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting, which claimed the lives of 20 first grade students and six staff members.
The “Now Is the Time” initiative’s goal is to reduce gun violence by encouraging executive and legislative action that would abate the chances of illegal firearm ownership, ban assault weapons, limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, and increase school safety and access to mental health services for youth and young adults.
The U of M's Social Work department is holding an open house about MSW admissions Saturday, October 18th from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Prospective students can sign up to attend the event here.
The stepson of slain Ridgeway High School assistant basketball coach Jimmy McClain has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for McClain's murder.
Dwayne Moore, 21, the son of McClain’s estranged wife, reportedly shot his 49-year-old stepfather multiple times with a .40 caliber pistol. On February 22nd, 2013, McClain’s body was discovered by Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies in his home at 7667 Cordova Club.
Moore was convicted in June of murdering McClain. This week, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison without parole for the murder, according to the Shelby County District Attorney General's office.
Prior to being discovered by law enforcement, McClain had been reportedly missing for two days. Aside from being a coach, he was a pastor and former University of Central Arkansas basketball star.
A former Memphis police officer has been sentenced to 11 years in prison without parole for raping a Rhodes College student.
In January 2013, Aaron Reinsberg, 32, reportedly met the 21-year-old woman at a Beale Street nightspot, which she worked for part-time. The entertainment district in downtown Memphis was Reinsberg's patrolling beat at the time.
The two exchanged phone numbers, and the victim went home. Reinsberg subsequently used his personal cellphone to access county law enforcement databases to find her home address, according to the Shelby County District Attorney General's office.
The same night, Reinsberg traveled to the victim’s home and was allowed inside by her roommate. He was left alone with the woman in her bedroom.
The woman, who was inebriated, fell asleep while Reinsberg was in her room, according to reports. When she woke up, she was undressed and he was on top of her, raping her. Due to her intoxication, she was unable to resist Reinsberg during the incident.
Reinsberg, who joined the Memphis Police Department in 2011, has been convicted of raping the woman. This week, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison with no parole. The former officer was also sentenced to one year for official misconduct. The sentences will be served concurrently.
One in 13 women consume alcoholic beverages during pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By doing so, they increase the likelihood of having a miscarriage, stillbirth, or giving birth to a baby with defects or developmental disabilities.
Babies who experience physical, behavioral, and cognitive abnormalities, due to their mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy, are classified to have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).
Anna Bukiya, an associate professor in the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s (UTHSC) Department of Pharmacology, will explore the effects of FASDs through a new project titled "Fetal Cerebrovascular eCB System as a Target of Maternal Alcohol Consumption."
Bukiya will use a $393,750 grant she was awarded from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to study how alcohol consumption during pregnancy alters development of the fetal brain.
Along with other representatives from UTHSC’s departments of Pharmacology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Comparative Medicine, Bukiya hopes to determine the effects of alcohol fetal cerebral circulation and function of fetal cerebral arteries.
“We hypothesize that maternal alcohol consumption alters cerebral artery function in the fetus,” said Bukiya in a statement. “Moreover, we will determine the mechanism of this alcohol effect. We know that our body produces special lipids — endocannabinoids. We think that alcohol may change the amount of endocannabinoids and may also change the way by which endocannabinoids communicate with membrane proteins called ion channels. These are unknown waters. Our exploratory work may open new horizons in understanding the pathophysiology of FASD. Ultimately, we hope to find a cure for this condition.”
According to a UTHSC press release for the grant, "the mechanisms of FASD are poorly understood," and "many studies focus on the consequences of maternal drinking on fetal neuronal cells in the brain."
However, the "Fetal Cerebrovascular eCB System as a Target of Maternal Alcohol Consumption" project will explore arterial function. This is crucial because arteries supply oxygen and nutrients to the developing brain.
The challenge comes in the form of the 2nd annual “Commitment to Fitness Million Calorie Burn 5K." Registration for the 5K will begin at 7:30 a.m. at Highpoint Church (6000 Briarcrest). The race starts at 9 a.m.
Participants will hit the ground running at Highpoint Church and travel through the East Memphis Ridgeway Loop and Shady Grove community.
In addition to the race, the event will feature a one-mile "Family Fun Run," live music, food, yoga and Zumba demonstrations, blood pressure screenings, and a post-race awards ceremony.
“Memphis and Shelby County continue to be challenged by social and economic factors that drive many regional health indicators to the bottom third of most national and state health rankings, and our childhood obesity rates are some of the highest in the country, a key indicator of early diagnosis of juvenile diabetes,” said Renée Frazier, CEO of Common Table Health Alliance, in a statement. “While these statistics are startling, adopting a healthy, active lifestyle is a simple solution to this growing problem.”
According to the Tennessee County Health Rankings, adult obesity in Shelby County is 35 percent — the highest it’s been in the last four years.
Obesity rates in Shelby County Schools, however, appear to be declining. According to data from the Tennessee Department of Education, 35.7 percent of Shelby County public school students were considered overweight or obese, during the 2012-13 school year. The average for all Tennessee public school students that year was 38.5 percent.
Obesity isn’t an issue that only impacts Memphis but Tennessee as a whole. In 2013, the state was ranked as the 10th most obese place — tying with Michigan — in the nation, according to the health report “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future.” Furthermore, Tennessee is one of 13 states that have an adult obesity rate above 30 percent.
Wharton and the Common Table Health Alliance hope the Million Calorie Burn 5K helps bring more awareness to the city and state’s obesity epidemic, and also encourages people to live healthier by eating better and being more active.
The first 200 participants who register for the race will receive a free Nike goody bag. All participants will receive a Million Calorie Burn 5K t-shirt.
To register or learn more about the Million Calorie Burn 5K, contact Common Table Health Alliance at (901) 684-6011 or click here.
A Memphis woman who drove her SUV into a crowd of people, killing her cousin and injuring others, has been indicted on first-degree murder charges.
On January 18th, outside a nightclub at 1818 Winchester, 29-year-old Shenetta Moore became upset after a woman made a comment about the dress she was wearing. In response, she threatened to run over the woman and the group she was with.
Around 2:30 a.m., Moore got into her 1997 Chevrolet Blazer and drove into the crowd. She struck four people, one of whom was her cousin, 30-year-old Tiffany Jenkins. Jenkins died from her injuries. The three other people struck were hospitalized in non-critical condition.
Moore fled the scene, but she was stopped a short distance away from the nightclub because her headlights were out, according to the Shelby County District Attorney General’s office. She was detained for being intoxicated and later linked to the hit-and-run.
Moore has been indicted on first-degree murder charges and three counts of attempted first-degree murder. She’s also been charged with driving under the influence and driving while her license was suspended, revoked or canceled.
She is being held in the Shelby County Jail on $1.5 million bond.