Flyer InteractiveCity Reporter

Costs Rise For Downtown School

Sometimes education comes with a price tag. A $14.9 million price tag.

The new downtown elementary school, an 85,000-square-foot facility being built on seven acres of land at the corner of Danny Thomas and Adams, is estimated to cost $14.9 million. Construction costs will exceed some $11 million.

By comparison, Shelby Oaks Elementary, a 74,069-square-foot school which opened at 6053 Summer Avenue in 1996, reportedly cost the city about $7 million. Another new elementary school at 1353 Kansas, which will consolidate students from Kansas and Florida elementary schools next year, has an estimated final cost of $8 million.

"The downtown school is running a little more than we anticipated," says David Sojourner, planning services administrator for Memphis City Schools. "And a little more than usual because of the restraints of building a school in an urban area."

Among those added costs, Sojourner says, the Center City Commission had to approve the facade of the building to make sure it fit in with the rest of the architecture in that area.

The new school, with its computer lab and 46 computer-equipped classrooms, will be the first one built downtown since Christine School closed in 1964. Christine School, renamed after its principal from 1882 to 1920, Christine Reudelhuber, opened on Market Street in 1872.

The new downtown school is scheduled to open in the year 2000. A name for the facility has not yet been announced. -- Mary Cashiola


Apocalypse Is Coming

If you have heard the spoTs on local radio stations advertising the coming of Apocalypse, don't fear -- the end is not quite nigh.

The Apocalypse in question is the name of a new nightclub to be located in the building that previously housed Club Six-1-Six. Owner Wilbur Hensley sold the club, located at 616 Marshall, last month to John Wall. The new owner plans to keep in place the basic formula that made Six-1-Six one of the city's most popular nightclubs from its founding in 1986. He plans to preserve both the dance and the live-band rooms at the club, though major renovations are under way for both.

"We're completely gutting and renovating it," he says. "We're putting a half-million dollars' worth of light and sound improvements in."

Wall is aiming for a July 9th opening.

As implied by its slogan, "as close to New York as it gets," Six-1-Six was the first club to bring cutting-edge, post-disco dance music to Memphis. The club saw its popularity drop in recent years as musical tastes changed and other venues opened around town. Recent episodes -- such as the 1996 arrest of several University of Memphis football players for fighting, and the 1997 car-wreck deaths of two Olive Branch teens who had been drinking illegally there -- also sullied the club's reputation. -- Mark Jordan


Sheriff Hires CA Editor's Relative

Judy A. McEachran
Here's a minor update to The Memphis Flyer's March 4th "All in the Family" story, which reported on favoritism and nepotism in the Shelby County Sheriff's Department

Judy A. McEachran was hired on February 16, 1999, as a radio dispatcher. She earns $2,296 a month, or $27,552 a year, according to records in the Shelby County Human Resources Department. From a pool of 34 applicants, McEachran was one of nine new dispatchers hired by the department.

McEachran is married to Inspector Michael McEachran. Michael is the brother of Angus McEachran, editor and president of The Commercial Appeal.

Judy McEachran joins the sheriff's department after a three-year hiatus from radio dispatching. She was previously employed by the Memphis Police Department, where she worked as a dispatcher from 1988 to 1996, according to records with the city's personnel division.

The city would not disclose why Judy McEachran left the police department. A new state law has government personnel divisions confused over what information can and cannot be released to the public.

Judy McEachran declined to comment. -- Phil Campbell


In Church-State Debate, Can Twain Ever Meet?

PHOTO BY JOHN LANDRIGAN
Ed McAteer
Two polemical warriors faced off last Thursday night at the University of Memphis Fogelman Executive Conference Center, under the auspices of the Public Issues Forum, a liberal-oriented local discussion group. They were Barry Lynn of Washington, D.C., executive director of Americans United for Church and State, and Memphis' Ed McAteer, president and founder of the Religious Roundtable.

At issue was the separation of church and state, and the division of the audience into two camps seemed to reflect the fact.

Introducing the participants, Gloria Kahn, chairman of the Forum's Committee to Challenge the Religious Right, paraphrased the old Kipling line which has it that east is east and west is west, and she wondered, "Can this twain ever meet?" That turned out to be an apt prelude for a debate of roughly 90 minutes in which the speakers -- and their respective audience claques in the auditorium -- found very little common ground.

Lynn and McAteer had worldviews which were virtually incompatible, despite points of agreement here and there. It is fair to say that Lynn represents the liberal side of the church-state debate, and McAteer the conservative one. On the other hand, both debaters professed to be active Christians -- Lynn has a theology degree and is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, and McAteer was introduced as a member of Bellevue Baptist.

And there were points of tactical agreement, with each evoking his friendship with conservative columnist Cal Thomas, for example, to make rhetorical (and quite different) points about the way church and state should interface. But each debater also implied that the ideology of the other would lead to the destruction of America or its ideals. McAteer cited legalized abortion, homosexuality, the teaching of evolution as fact, and the 1963 Supreme Court decision against compulsory school prayer as evidence of a moral crisis in America.

McAteer even suggested in his opening statement that literal destruction -- the prophesied "Tribulation" -- might be in store for America if it did not shape up. He made a distinction between the separation of church and state, which he said he favored, and the "separation of God and government," which he opposed.

By contrast, Lynn was prone to dismiss (or at least play down) the concept of a God active in human affairs. With the exception of a quotation from the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus seems to argue for private rather than public prayer, Lynn's arguments were almost entirely temporal, based on constitutional reasoning and the likely effect of the Religious Right's agenda on the American system of democracy.

Lynn argued that the Religious Right wished to "dynamite large chunks out of the wall of separation between church and state" through proposals such as the reintroduction of organized prayer in public schools, and that it sought to replace democracy with theocracy. He cited secular triumphs such as women's suffrage, advances in Social Security, and the end of segregation as evidence that America did not slip into a moral decline after 1963.

The debate would, of course, be scored differently depending on one's political persuasion -- as the alternation of cheers and applause with the occasional jeers and hoots would indicate. Lynn argued articulately and with caustic wit throughout, while McAteer supplied liberal (no pun intended) doses of Scripture, blandishments, and charm.

Given the liberal predisposition of the sponsoring group, Lynn's adherents probably had a numerical edge, and McAteer would acknowledge afterward that Lynn's hard-court press and fine-honed debating style often had him at a disadvantage.

It is fair to say there were no converts made, on either side of the issue. Let the record state, however, that, under the auspices of the Forum, the twain did meet in open and honest dialogue -- an unusual occurrence in a fragmented time. And that, said Public Issues Forum president Happy Jones, was the idea, after all. -- Daniel Connolly

Jackson Baker contributed to this report.


Rape Victim Speaks Out

"I'm not embarrassed about this. I'm not ashamed or humiliated. But rape [in this city] is still a four-letter word, and people don't want to hear about it."

So says Kimberly Talley, who, in her own Central Gardens home in the fall of 1996, was severely beaten and raped by a serial rapist. Today, she is able to stand by a radiator next to her backyard door and crack jokes while The Memphis Flyer takes her picture. Almost three years ago, a stranger named Jimmy Spratt pounded Talley's head repeatedly into that radiator, just before he raped her.

With few exceptions, media organizations do not print the names of rape victims, even though they have access to those names. Rape is a harrowing experience for its victims, and journalists have generally given victims as much privacy as possible.

But Kimberly Talley doesn't want to hide. Though she underwent six months of psychological counseling, and has had more than one panic attack since the assault, Talley feels that the best way to deal with her problem is to talk about it.

"It wasn't just about me, it was about the whole community," she says. Once neighbors learned that she had been attacked, they sent letters and called her on the phone to offer their support. "They acted as if it had happened to everybody, not just [Kimberly]," says her husband, Danny.

Some people weren't as comforting, though. "Lots of people didn't want anything to do with me [after the incident]," Talley says. "They were like, 'Well, he hasn't been caught yet. What if he's following her and is going to come back?' "

Talley was one of at least four women who were victimized by Spratt in late 1996. These women had several things in common, making it possible for police and prosecutors to track down Spratt, convict him, and ensure that he'll serve as many as 40 years in jail. The women were all Midtowners. They were all white. They were all attacked in the daylight, during work hours. The rapist approached all of them with a friendly ruse before attacking them.

Talley was out on her daily walk on Peabody Avenue with her 18-month-old son on August 26th when it happened. She saw a man staring at her, a block from her house. She was immediately suspicious, but she kept walking. When she got home, she failed to lock the front door to her house. He followed her inside. He left 15 minutes later, with Talley on the floor in a bloody heap.

"I stopped fighting because the most important thing was to stay conscious," she says. Talley had no idea if Spratt planned to hurt her son, too.

Almost three years later, Talley is the exact opposite of what one might expect. "A very, very negative event turned into a positive experience," she says. She is taking tae kwan do classes and is hoping that she will get her purple belt soon. "I have self-confidence now," she says. "And I try to be happy every day, because I'm so glad that I'm alive, and that my son wasn't butchered and killed."

There remains, however, a bleak side to this story. Though law-enforcement officials claim a moral victory in the fight against crime overall, the fight against rape isn't as successful. Only about 10 percent of local rapists are repeat offenders. A far larger problem that the criminal justice system has not been able to address is the issue of acquaintance rape. These cases are far less likely to result in a conviction.

"I would still be in fear of my life that he would come back after me," Talley says. "Part of my healing was that he was caught and put away." -- Phil Campbell


Harbor Town To Open Spanish-Only Day-care Center

Spanish will be the only language used at a day-care center scheduled to open in Harbor Town this fall. But the intended clientele won’t be the children of Memphis’ burgeoning Spanish-speaking community; instead, the center is designed for English-speaking Memphians who want their children to acquire a second language. The concept is the brainchild of former high-school Spanish teachers Dawn Shute and Veronica Miller, who formed a company called Foreign Language Immersion Childcare (FLICC). They have negotiated with downtown developer Henry Turley to have the 100-child-capacity day-care constructed downtown by September. Children from the ages of 6 weeks to 4 years old will be eligible.

Shute says that research suggests the existence of a “critical period” when children’s brains are primed to develop language skills. Dr. Bruce Bracken, a psychology professor at the University of Memphis, calls the FLICC concept “an exceptional idea for young children,” and says that in the first six years of life children can easily acquire additional languages. After a number of years, the ability to learn another language without special effort diminishes, says Dr. Teresa Dalle, associate professor of linguistics and English as a second language at the U of M. Dalle notes that the children of Memphians who speak a foreign language often become fluent in English after spending time in English-language day-care centers.

Although some amount of foreign-language instruction is relatively common in preschool, Angeline Vaulx, licensing supervisor in the Tennessee Department of Human Services childcare licensing unit, says that the FLICC concept will be a first for Memphis. -- Daniel Connolly

Fly on the Wall

Fly on the Wall

Could This Really Be THE End?

According to a new book, Elvis Presley's last meal consisted of ice cream and cookies. Last Suppers asks various celebrities, "If the world ended tomorrow, what would be your last meal?"It records their answers and includes the last meals of the already deceased, who didn't really have a choice in the matter.

On to the revelations: Dick Clark would like to have Cajun corn chowder before he checks out. Vanna White, meanwhile, plans to gorge herself with an indulgent cottage-cheese salad. Elvis guitarist Scotty Moore has a peanut-butter-and-pickle sandwich in mind, and Senator Fred Thompson wants to go out with some coconut cake.

For the record, the book's author, former Commercial Appeal reporter James L. Dickerson -- who has his own entry -- would like to end his days gnoshing on a baked potato with a dinner party that includes Stonewall Jackson, Howlin' Wolf, and the Dixie Chicks.

Barbecue-ology

"Ask a hundred people what they think constitutes great barbecue, and you'll likely get a hundred different answers. This is largely due to the fact that tastes in barbecue have been regional. Even the mobilization of society has done little to change people's attitudes about which version of barbecue is gospel; in their minds, the 'cue they grew up with is the real thing, and should be accepted by the poor deprived souls in the rest of the world." -- from a column in the May/June issue of our new favorite magazine, Fiery Foods & Barbecue Business, "the publication of the chile, barbecue, spice, and condiment industries."

Memphis Smokes

"One thing that I found interesting in Memphis, coming from New York, is the tolerance shown to smokers. The filthy habit is allowed in restaurants, and if you ask if there is a smoking table, the friendly waiter or waitress will give you a look like you're from another planet. And people puff like crazy here; it might as well be Cairo." -- from a column by Russ Smith, blow-hard publisher of NYPress. Smith, who was in Memphis recently for the annual meeting of the Association of Alternative Newsweek-lies, also relates that after lighting up in his non-smoking room at The Peabody, a maid left an ashtray and a pack of matches outside his door.

"It sure was better than using the soap dish," he observes, before going on to dub Memphis a "third-tier version of New Orleans" and the South a "filthy mess."

Animal Rights

"The drill team, composed entirely of adopted greyhound dogs, will dance to music in a choreographed fashion." -- To find out what this could possibly mean, you'll just have to catch an appearance by the Dancing Greyhound Drill Team, this Sunday at Belz Factory Outlet World in Lakeland.


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