Thursday, February 5, 2009

News Conference Scheduled for Arkansas Doctor Car-Bombing

Posted By on Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 4:00 AM

A news conference has been scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday on the bombing in West Memphis that seriously injured Dr. Trent Pierce.

West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert said agents of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms advised him of the press conference and told him to be there.

Paudert said he and ATF agents are "comfortable we will solve this."

Pierce was burned and maimed by shrapnel when an explosive device went off Wednesday morning in his yard while he was near his car. The precise location and nature of the device have not been disclosed.

"I think we will uncover some information rather quickly that will lead us in the direction we need to go," Paudert said.

The Flyer will update this story following the news conference.

MCA's Rust Hall Turns 50

Posted By on Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Award-winning architect Roy Harrover was honored Monday at a reception for the 50th anniversary of Memphis College of Art's Rust Hall.

During the reception, Harrover, who designed the building in 1956 as part of a local architecture competition, also donated an original model of Rust Hall to the school.

"I put the Fine Arts Center and the Art School together in one building, instead of putting it in several separate buildings," Harrover says. "That’s probably why I won."

One of the first examples of modern architecture in Memphis, the building includes exterior screens that shade the building but still allow lots of natural light to stream in.

Once called the "Taj Mahal of Memphis," Rust Hall opened its doors in 1959 and won the national Progressive Architecture award the following year. It was also named the "Building of the Decade" for the 1950s by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

"The first part of the building was the north end," Harrover said. "Several years later, the art school had grown, and with more students, they needed more space. Than the south block of the building was built."

The building was a result of a public-private partnership between the City of Memphis and the college’s Board of Trustees.

"[The partnership was] an alliance that envisioned a great and growing city as the home of a unique institution focused on developing creativity at the highest level," MCA president Jeffrey Nesin said in a released statement.

Harrover, an AIA fellow, has designed other local buildings, such as the Memphis International Airport and the Mississippi River Museum on Mud Island.

He and his wife, Stephanie, live across the street from Rust Hall, but she says that’s just a coincidence. — by Kimberly Kim

Arkansas Car-Bombing Investigators Seek Leads

Posted By on Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms interviewed members of the Arkansas State Medical Board Thursday but still don't know why someone bombed West Memphis physician Trent Pierce.

"None of them reported anything personally suggesting that any of them are at risk," ATF agent Stuart Lowery told reporters at a news conference in West Memphis Thursday afternoon.

Pierce is chairman of the board that has the power to revoke licenses of physicians and health-care professionals. More than 40 investigators from state and federal agencies are exploring leads, including the possibility that the bomber was someone with a grudge against the board.

Lowery and West Memphis police chief Bob Paudert appealed to the public for help in solving the bombing Wednesday morning outside Pierce's home in West Memphis. They would neither confirm nor deny reports that the bomb was under Pierce's car and was triggered when he moved a spare tire placed in front of the Lexus SUV.

"I don’t want to comment on the complexity or placement of the device," Lowery said, adding that homemade bombs are limited "only by the imagination" of the builder, but all of them are designed to kill someone. The ATF says there are some 3,000 bombings each year in the United States.

Pierce lost an eye in the explosion and has numerous other wounds. Paudert said he is sedated but able to respond to his wife's voice when she whispers in his ear. He is in the critical care unit at The Med.

Authorities have put extra security around The Med and Crittenden Regional Hospital in case other doctors are at risk. Pierce is a family physician who worked at an office that is not part of the hospital.

--John Branston

PBS Show to Feature Shelby County Officials, Frayser Foreclosures

Posted By on Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 4:00 AM

The PBS weekly newsmagazine NOW on PBS will document the catastrophic impact home foreclosures are having on Memphis and Shelby County communities.

The program will profile the joint Shelby County Board of Commissioners and Memphis City Council resolution authorizing litigation targeted at mortgage lending institutions who have participated in unlawful, deceptive and discriminatory practices. Shelby County mayor AC Wharton discusses the necessity and implications of such a lawsuit during a one-on-one interview with journalist David Brancaccio.

NOW on PBS will also feature what's billed as an "eye-opening tour" of the Frayser community, the Shelby County neighborhood most impacted by foreclosures in 2008. County and city officials will discuss the resulting blight and devastation inflicted on the area.

Locally, the segment will air Friday at 7:30 p.m. on WKNO2 and again on Sunday, Feb. 8 at 8:30 a.m. on WKNO/Channel 10.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Physician's Car Bombed in West Memphis

Posted By on Wed, Feb 4, 2009 at 4:00 AM

A bomb exploded on or near a West Memphis doctor's car in his driveway Wednesday morning and seriously injured him.

Trent Pierce, a family practice doctor whose patients include some of his neighbors and the local police chief, was airlifted to The Med and was listed in critical condition. He is the chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board.

West Memphis Police Chief Robert Paudert told reporters the explosion was definitely a bomb and not a battery or something that is part of the doctor's white Lexus hybrid vehicle. Paudert said that determination was made by investigators from the Bureau of Alchohol Tobacco and Firearms who responded to the scene.

Someone did put some kind of explosive device in his car," Paudert said. He later qualified that to "on or near the car." He said the explosion was heard as far as a mile away, and added that Pierce may have been inside or next to the car. No one else was injured.

The specifics of the bomb were not described, but a photo of the car showed the front bumper still partially attached and the front headlights intact.

A neighbor, Hollis Gibbs, described the explosion at around 8 a.m. as sounding like a transformer blowing out. He lives about 200 yards from Pierce's house.

Paudert said authorities do not know why someone would bomb Pierce or his car. He said the doctor, who is his personal physician, is well liked and is not involved as a witness in any controversial legal cases or abortion issues.

We don't know if this is random or if he was specifically targeted," Paudert said.

Pierce's house is in an affluent street in West Memphis across from the home of former mayor Keith Ingram.

--John Branston

Monday, February 2, 2009

Vance Fondly Remembers (maybe a bit too fondly) the WHBQties

Posted on Mon, Feb 2, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Where, oh where, is Debbie Haggard today, I wonder? Years ago, when I was weary of wandering the lonely halls of the Lauderdale Mansion, I cheered myself up by fiddling with the broken aerial on our only working television, and tuning in to the coolest show in town, namely Talent Party ...

Read Vance Lauderdale's latest blog entry.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What Bad Economy?

Posted By on Sun, Feb 1, 2009 at 4:00 AM

In the midst of bad times it's worth noting a remarkable achievement for Memphis and FedExForum.

In slightly less than 24 hours, from Friday night to Saturday night, the arena attracted more than 53,000 people to three events: The AC/DC concert, the University of Memphis-Houston basketball game, and the Grizzlies-Lakers basketball game.

That's a pretty good stimulus, a pretty good boost for downtown, and pretty good indication that there is still plenty of purchasing power in the Memphis economy, and as magician David Copperfield used to say, a good trick.

--John Branston

Amy LaVere on Conan O'Brien

Posted By on Sun, Feb 1, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Memphis chanteuse and bass player extraordinaire Amy LaVere will perform on Late Night With Conan O'Brien Monday. LaVere is expected to play a number from her Archer Records album, "Anchors and Anvils." Late Night airs at 11:35 p.m. on WMC Channel 5 in Memphis.
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