Although his office walls are still adorned with shelves containing volumes of text relating to biology, archaeology, geology, and history, Ron Brister no longer is Pink Palace's collections manager. Recently retired, the history buff plans to volunteer at the influential Mid-South museum on a bi-weekly basis. Meanwhile, names for his replacement are being tossed around before a decision arrives from the Memphis city administration. After 37 years under Brister's tenure, the collections manager positions became open.
Brister recalls his early days as collections manager, a position he says he created and the type of candidate he feels the museum should look for to replace him.
How was the beginning of you career as a collections manager and the simultaneous growth of the museum?
When I graduated from the University of Memphis, I wished I could have a job in history, geology, and biology. I did volunteer work on their (Pink Palace) Indian collections where I met the fellow who was the curator of education and became full-time in '71. My first office was a converted bathroom. Now weve got a wonderful facility.
I remember when all of the collections were in the attic and all of the birds would come in and there would be bird poop. But after a year, I was hired as curator and really didn't know what was expected of me. That was clearly uncomfortable, but it gave me a lot leeway to develop the museum.
You've been here 37 years. Why such loyal and long term service?
The people I work with. I had a fellow from one other major museum and he said 'youre not city employees' because everyone is self-driven. We try to give employees autonomy and a lot of respect. The pay is not all that good here, but you got people who are really passionate about their jobs.
Do you think the museum represents Mid-South history well?
We go to great lengths to try to be inclusive in our collection. It's not just about rich white people. It's about Anglo-Americans, Native Americans, and African Americans. One of our developments for the future is expanding the Hispanic and Asian culture.
What kind of characteristics and responsibilities does this job demand?
The first thing is management skills. The second is collections management. We have very stringent ethics in collections management. Plus, there are several federal, state, and local laws that we have to know because we have eco-center collections. Those are federal regulations about archaeology collections.
What are the qualification requirements?
Knowledge of history, archaeology, geology, and biology. You've got to have knowledge of those areas and specialize in at least two of them. This is because we have a small curator program.
Does this job prefer older more experienced adults or can it value self-starters looking to get into museum management and collections?
It's going to require an experienced mature person. Someone who can play a managerial role because you're going to have to know how to do budgets and personnel handling. You've got to be able to do some of the budget programming on the city computer. And it helps have a mature person. It took me 10 years to get used to the job. It was quite a learning curve for me.
Overall, how would you describe collections work?
We have proprietary information here just like a bank would. We keep the donor information anonymous and you've got be sensitive in the decision making because you're dealing with public collection trust.
What would you say to hopeful job candidates?
Good luck and have fun. It's great. I'm not fading from the scene though. I'm thinking about coming in a couple days a week. We've got some special projects and I'm hoping to stay and do things like that.
-- Yann Ranaivo
Anyone who saw this vehicle (pictured to the left) in the area of Frayser Boulevard and Steele on Sunday night is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 528-CASH.
Memphis Police discovered the body of Lieutenant Edward Vidulich inside his home at 3454 Shiloh around 1:30 a.m. Monday morning. Vidulich had suffered a gunshot wound.
Vidulich is best known for his role in trying to save a manatee found in the Mississippi River in 2006.
The city is offering $7,000 for information leading to an arrest.
Although Performa Entertainment Real Estate's proposed projects in other cities have stalled due to financing challenges, Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Executive Director Jack Fields said he is confident the Memphis firm will be able to break ground soon on its $40 million project adjacent to the BJCC.
Fields and other convention complex officials met with Performa chief John Elkington as part of the BJCC board's annual retreat in Memphis last weekend.
"John is so sure this district is going to happen that he presented all of the board members at the retreat with a clock counting down the 550 days from when this project started until when it opens sometime in 2009," Fields said.
Read the rest at the Birmingham News website.
Mayor Willie Herenton made his informal (no apparent notes) state-of-the-city speech to the Rotary Club of Memphis Tuesday. It was upbeat, and there were no bombshells.
He said the expanded convention center (where the Rotary meeting was held) has been a very good investment even if did run way over budget, but it might not be adequate in the current "arms race" with Nashville and other cities seeking conventions.
He said he will appoint a committee within 30 days to study whether the center should be upgraded again or replaced with a new facility and a hotel with 1,000 rooms on another site.
"We have located some great sites," he said, although he did not disclose them.
Herenton also said the area around Beale Street and FedExForum will get major attention along with the landscaping of the expressways in Memphis and the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium surroundings. The proposal the mayor made a year ago to consider replacing the stadium is defunct.
"I have listened to a large segment of the population of Memphis and to build a new stadium is not in the best interest of the Memphis community," he said, to applause from the audience.
On consolidation of city and county governments, Herenton said "I may be the wrong person to talk to suburban mayors" but he still feels "I am right on this issue." He said the "waste" in two governments and two school systems is "nonsense."
The mayor praised Shelby County Commissioner Mike Carpenter for offering a mild proposal to merge some functions of the police and sheriff's department. But commissioners led by Joyce Avery, Wyatt Bunker, and Joe Ford shot that down in a 6-5 vote Monday.
As Herenton spoke, a delegation of city and county elected officials was traveling to the headquarters of Bass Pro in Missouri. Herenton said he will consider rival proposals but Bass Pro is "the best" option.
Old Allen Station officers went to the house after responding to a burning vehicle call at the 1600 block of Winston. The vehicle in question was registered to Vidulich, a 28-year veteran of the department known as "Big Ed."
Officers were then dispatched to his home to check on his well-being. Vidulich was found lying on the floor and unresponsive.
Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin said the department is investigating Vidulich's death as a homicide, but police currently have no leads. A $5,000 reward, in addition to a reward offered by Crime Stoppers, will be issued by the City Council to anyone who provides information leading to an arrest in this case.
Vidulich was hired by the department in June 1979. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1998 and assigned to the Old Allen Station. Vidulich is perhaps best known to Memphians for his role in trying to save a manatee found in the Mississippi River in 2006.
Searchers plan to take to the skies in helicopters during a 10-day winter search, set to begin on Jan. 28, the day after Arkansas waterfowl season ends.
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker caused a stir in April of 2004 when a video was taken of the bird at the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe County. The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, considered extinct in the 1920s and estimated with a population of 20 in 1938, has ignited searches by bird enthusiasts throughout the region, all searching for the elusive black, white and red feathers.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will provide the helicopter set to take biologists through areas where sightings had been reported around the Cache and White rivers. Also involved in the coordination are the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, The Nature Conservancy, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the U.S. Forest Service.
Read the Flyer cover story on the discovery.
No trial date was set, however, for a separate case in which Ford and former MLGW CEO Joseph Lee are defendants.
The "Main Street Sweeper" case, in which lobbyist Joe Cooper will be a key witness for the government, is expected to last about five days, attorneys said. The MLGW case could last three weeks, according to attorneys.
Meanwhile, Ford's brother, former state senator John Ford, has a February 7th court date in Nashville on corruption charges stemming from his work for health-care contractors. It is not known when or if that case will go to trial because Ford was convicted last year in a separate case in Memphis and has been sentenced to 66 months in prison.
-- John Branston
Members of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex board will visit Beale Street tenants who have signed on to open venues in the BJCC district. Elkington says he will announce new Birmingham tenants at the retreat.
Elkington has been criticized for the slow pace of the $40 million project. In response, he told The Birmingham News: "We are spending money every day ... to prepare for this. This is a tough credit environment, but we are confident."
So far, Performa has enough tenants lined up to take up 78,000 of the district's planned 131,000 square feet.
More at the Birmingham News website.
From the press release: "According to city residents from all continents, a great mayor must possess these qualities: good administrative abilities, able to provide safety and security and protect the environment, as well as having the ability to foster good relations between communities from different cultural, racial and social backgrounds.
The World Mayor Project was first carried out in 2004. As in previous years, the 2008 contest again seeks out mayors who have the vision, passion and skills to make their cities amazing places in which to live and work - and visit. The World Mayor Project aims to show what outstanding mayors can achieve, and thus raise their profiles.
It honours those who have both served their communities well and contributed to the well being of cities nationally and internationally. The most outstanding mayor of 2008 will be presented with the World Mayor Award.
Based on the number of nominations and the persuasiveness of supporting statements, City Mayors, the organisers of the World Mayor project, has drawn up a list of 50 finalists. The list includes 11 mayors from Asia, 10 from North America and 11 from Latin America, 15 from Europe, as well as 3 from Africa.
Get the list of finalists here.
They've broken out the baseball poems and meditations on such pastimes as horseracing, cockfighting, stadium food, fly fishing, cheerleaders, relic hunting, chess, boxing, hunting dogs, underdogs, and show dogs.
Plus, there's a selection of James Perry Walker's 1970s Memphis portraits; fiction from M.O. Walsh, Mark Edmundson, and Mary Miller; and poems from Beth Ann Fennelly, Robert Parham, Brooks Haxton, and John Updike.
Pick one up at your favorite newsstand or check the OA website to subscribe.
Taking interstates out of the equation didn't change the totals much. There were 15 accidents at Kirby and Winchester, and 11 at Germantown Parkway and Giacosa, Elvis Presley and Shelby Drive, and Cordova and Germantown Parkway.
Be careful out there. You've been warned.
"Nevertheless, their passionate fans have ignited a debate.
North Carolina, Memphis or Kansas?" This article from the Kansas City Star examines two vital claims to fame of college basketball's leading teams: Hoops and barbecue.
But, if you don't register by January 19th, no haggis for you!
Burns suppers traditionally start with the "Selkirk Grace": "Some have meat and cannot eat/Some cannot eat that want it/But we have meat and we can eat/So let the Lord be thankit." This is followed by the piping and cutting of the haggis, set to the background of Burns' famous "Address To a Haggis."
The evening closes with a song even non-Scots will recognize: Burns' immortal tribute to friendship and tradition "Auld Lang Syne."
The Memphis Scottish Society's dinner will also feature gorgeous Celtic music from the band Celtic World. This is an incredible opportunity to embrace the Scottish culture and enjoy the career of one of the world's most talented poets.
Oh, and there will, of course, be a whiskey tasting.
The Burns Nicht supper is at 6 pm, Saturday, January 25th, at the Woodland Hills Ballroom (1111 Houston Levee Rd.) Tickets for non-members are $60 each and must be purchased by January 19th. $10 discount for seniors. For more info, call 757-4200.
Find out here.
The news is another sign of financial gloom in the Memphis economy, where thousands of First Horizon employees and local investors own stock in the company. A FHN portfolio worth $1 million a year ago is now worth $360,000.
We have acted in several key areas by increasing loan loss reserves, reducing our mortgage servicing assets and national lending businesses, implementing productivity enhancements, and selling or reducing low returning operations," said CEO Jerry Baker.
-- John Branston