Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Women To Be Honored At Emissaries of Memphis Music Celebration

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 12:20 PM

As part of Women’s History Month, eight women will be honored for their musical achievements and contributions at the Memphis & Shelby County Music Commission’s fourth annual Emissaries of Memphis Music Celebration.

The celebration will take place Thursday, March 29th at 7 p.m. at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn.

The 2012 Emissaries of Memphis Music include chart-topping artists Ann Peeples, Anita Ward, and Wendy Moten. American Idol finalist Alexis Grace, Christian/pop vocalist and worship leader Bethany Paige, radio personality Bev Johnson, Levitt Shell executive director Anne Pitts, and owner of The Stage Stop nightclub, Nita Makris, will all also be honored.

Johnnie Walker, executive director of the Memphis & Shelby County Music Commission, said she hopes attendees are inspired by the work that the honorees have provided throughout the years.

“I hope they’re encouraged to continue to support more women in their quest for successful careers in music,” Walker said. “I hope it encourages young women who are looking to be as successful as these women are…that they see they can achieve that same success. I hope a lot of inspiration and encouragement and motivation comes from this event.”

Proceeds from the event will go to the Memphis Musicians Healthcare Plan. The plan allows musicians to receive healthcare at no cost, as long as they meet the criteria of the Church Health Center. The Memphis & Shelby County Music Commission sponsors the plan.

There will be a musical tribute provided at the celebration by veteran performer Vicki Loveland. King Ellis and The Soul Village will also be in attendance, providing live musical entertainment throughout the night in tribute of all of the honorees.

With the celebration, Walker said people could expect "a night of music, food, and fun.” There will also be a cash bar available for donations.

Chaka Khan’s 1978 hit, “I’m Every Woman,” will be the theme song for the night.

Individual seats for the event are $50. Reserved tables are available.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Bill Could Take Laser Treatments Out of Spas

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 2:43 PM

Thinking about popping over to the spa for some laser hair removal?

Not if the Tennessee legislature passes a new bill regulating cosmetic and aesthetic procedures.

House Bill 2558 would require that "all cosmetic or aesthetic procedures be performed by a physician or delegated by the physician to a person under the supervision of the physician."

In other words, licensed aestheticians and registered nurses would no longer be allowed to perform certain cosmetic procedures without the direct supervision of a physician. Currently, spas and aesthetic centers are only required to maintain an affiliation with a licensed physician, but the new bill would require that a physician either perform the procedures him or herself, or be on site for direct supervision.

"I would have to file bankruptcy," says Mona Sappenfield, owner of Mona Spa and Laser Center. "There's no way I could afford to have those people work for me. Everything I've worked for for 40 years is going to be in the toilet."

Two witnesses testified before a House Health and Human Resources subcommittee about physical damage they sustained in botched laser procedures.

But Sappenfield disagrees that the bill would somehow make laser procedures safer for patients.

"[The bill's supporters] are talking about this being for the public welfare, but there's nothing in the bill that talks about training. Doctors get the same training we do for these procedures. The bill doesn't fix what they say they want to fix."

She views the bill as an attack on small businesses, for which procedures like laser treatments, Botox, facial fillers, and chemical peels have become a prime source of income over the past decade.

"Tennessee Medical Association is lobbying big for this bill," she says. "There's an ongoing campaign by the TMA to pick on the low hanging fruit in an industry they'd like to be in. And Mona Spa can't afford a lobbyist."

Once the bill leaves the subcommittee, it will be put to a vote by the full Health and Human Resources Committee. Sappenfield is hoping to stop the bill before then, and focus attention on legislating safe procedural methods instead.

"We're asking for a task force over the summer to bring stakeholders to the table to write acts and laws into legislation that makes sense," she says.

Networking Event for Small Business Owners

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 10:43 AM

As part of National Start-a-Business Month, Memphians will have the chance to learn the importance of networking at the event, “Networking in Memphis,” on March 28th.

The gathering will bring together professionals, entrepreneurs, and business owners at Jack Robinson Gallery on 44 Huling Ave. The event runs from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Kelly Price, CEO of Networking in Memphis, said he spearheaded the event after noticing the lack of venues that brought together aspiring and professional entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and small business owners.

“What we try to do is provide the venue for young entrepreneurs who want to come out and learn from experienced business owners so they can become business owners,” Price said. “Being able to work with another entrepreneur who’s been successful will always create a better environment. A lot of people may not know an entrepreneur to be mentored by. We match all those things together.”

With the event, establishments “that are not high on the chain of businesses” are being targeted, Price said.

Vendors will be on hand at the event to provide information on how to successfully start a business. A bank representative will share tips on acquiring loans, and members from the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce are also expected to be in attendance.

Price encourages young professionals to learn how to exchange ideas and interact in a networking environment.

“Networking is so important. It’s almost as important as gaining finances,” Price said. “It gets you an opportunity to talk with entrepreneurs about mistakes they’ve made, successes they’ve had, and the heartache part of it. That’s what networking is about, to be able to exchange ideas with others for a greater good.”

There will be complimentary refreshments, wine, and door prizes at the event. Admission is $10.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Trayvon Martin Prayer Vigil

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 6:08 PM

Hundreds of people gathered outside the National Civil Rights Museum Monday afternoon to pray for justice and honor the memory of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen who was shot and killed on February 26th by neighborhood watch caption George Zimmerman. Zimmerman, who has not been arrested for the shooting, claimed he shot Martin in self-defense. Martin, who was unarmed, was walking back to his dad's house after a trip to a gas station for Skittles and iced tea.

The situation sparked national attention, and vigils, rallies, and marches have been held across the country to honor Martin's memory and call for Zimmerman's arrest. The Memphis vigil featured local spoken word poets, a prayer, gospel hymns, and a speech by Mayor A C Wharton. Here are a few scenes from the rally.

Hundreds crowded together outside the Civil Rights Museum.
  • Hundreds crowded together outside the Civil Rights Museum.

An overflow crowd gathered on the hill that overlooks the museum.
  • An overflow crowd gathered on the hill that overlooks the museum.

There were Justice for Trayvon signs everywhere.
  • There were Justice for Trayvon signs everywhere.

More Justice for Trayvon signs
  • More "Justice for Trayvon" signs

Local TV news crews made the scene.
  • Local TV news crews made the scene.

People in I Am Trayvon Martin tees peppered the crowd.
  • People in "I Am Trayvon Martin" tees peppered the crowd.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Memphis Animal Services Employees to Undergo Training

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Memphis Animal Services employees have been recorded misusing catchpoles.
  • Memphis Animal Services employees have been recorded misusing catchpoles.

Memphis Animal Services employees will be trained in animal handling and the law on Thursday afternoon. Since three employees were arrested in early March for animal cruelty, interim shelter director James Rogers has made a commitment to retraining animal care technicians and animal control officers.

Whitney Jones, animal care manager at the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County, will train technicians on the proper use of catchpoles. Earlier this month, videos of workers misusing the poles by lifting animals off of the ground with them were posted on the Yes Biscuit blog. Those recorded incidents were the subject of many of the complaints against the shelter in last week's Memphis Animal Services advisory board meeting.

Jones will also teach employees alternative techniques for catching feral animals, such as scooping the animal up inside of a towel.

Also on Thursday afternoon, Judge Tarik Sugarmon will talk to animal control officers about the law and the officers' role in the justice system.

The training sessions are a result of a new partnership between Memphis Animal Services and the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County.

At last week's advisory board meeting, Rogers told attendees that he was committed to retraining employees. But some shelter critics scoffed when Rogers said he believed employees could be taught to show compassion.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

City Encourages Whistleblowing

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 3:23 PM


A new Fraud, Waste, Abuse, and Ethics Hotline will give city of Memphis employees and citizens a place to report the wrongdoings of other city employees, Mayor A C Wharton announced on Wednesday.

Reports to the 800 number will be confidential, and the line will be open to city employees, vendors, business partners, and citizens. Those who would rather file fraud reports online can do so on a sister web-based application. Tips will be investigated by the city's internal auditors.

Callers may use the hotline to report anything from discrimination and harassment to on-the-job drug and alcohol abuse or financial irregularities.

“Even in an environment of plentiful resources, we would want to make sure that each dollar is spent wisely and only used for that which it was intended,” said Wharton. “We, of course, hope that our employees are not aware of any wrongdoing, but if they are, we hope they will speak up and report it.”

Reports can be made to (877) 918-2055 or online.

Event Provides History Lesson On the Bluff City

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Memphians will be able to receive a history lesson on the past, present, and future of the Bluff City on Thursday, March 22nd at the Benjamin Hooks Library.

The Leadership Academy will host “Memphis 101” from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in meeting room C of the library.

Attendees of the history lesson, facilitated by president of Memphis Athletic Ministries James Armfield, will learn how the first black southern millionaire, Robert Church, purchased a $1,000 bond to help restore the city’s charter, how yellow fever almost wiped out the city’s population, and about the area’s significance in the civil rights movement.

They’ll also learn the history of the city’s music and politics.

“It looks at how music brought us together, even during racially tense times,” said Rashana Lincoln, director of community engagement for the Leadership Academy. “There was that crossing over of the soulful music into what became rock ’n’ roll. It [also] looks at our city from a political stance, the impacts of civil rights and voting, and our first African-American mayor of the city and county.”

Other topics include FedEx, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the advances being made in biotechnology and bioagriculture with the Memphis Bioworks Foundation.

Memphis 101 is one of the tools that the academy offers to participants of its “Leadership Fellows” program, employees at area companies, and local organizations. It’s also one of the academy’s tools to recruit, engage, and retain top talent.

Lincoln said the presentation is periodically offered to the public to help instill pride and appreciation in the city.

“Memphis is a great place to live. We’ve got a bright future ahead, and we have a rich past,” Lincoln said. “We need to feel better about our city and hold it in a better light. Everywhere has its problems and its greatness, and Memphis is no different. We might have challenges, but we have a lot to celebrate as well. The goal is that people leave [the presentation] feeling better about the city than they did before they walked in.”

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Get Paid For Being a Grizzlies Fan

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 at 2:01 PM


Comcast/Xfinity is looking for die hard Memphis Grizzlies fans to be featured in a commercial, and they're offering $500 to any fans who appear in the ad spot.

Dan Bell Casting out of Los Angeles will be interviewing fans from Thursday, March 22nd through Sunday, March 25th. Fans who are chosen will be given prime seats to an upcoming game, where they will be filmed for the commercial.

Anyone interested in being interviewed by the casting agency should send the following information to

2. AGE
3. CONTACT INFO (phone/email)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mississippi River Manatee Book Signing at CMOM

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 5:13 PM


Saturday, Memphian Erin Thorpe, will be reading and signing copies of her book, Murphy the Manatee Visits Memphis at The Children's Museum.

The fictional children’s book is based off an actual encounter in 2006 involving James Jackson, who along with a friend, discovered a manatee while fishing on the Mississippi River banks.

Jackson commissioned Thorpe, a local teacher, to write about the unusual encounter.

The manatee, dubbed “Manny,” was more than 700 miles upriver from his original home in the Gulf of Mexico.

Both Jackson and Thorpe will be present at the event. It will last from 2 to 4 p.m.

Check out next week’s Memphis Flyer to learn more about Murphy the Manatee.

Bus Riders Union, Inc. Files Civil Rights Complaint Against MATA

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 4:22 PM

As rain trickled down this morning, members of the Memphis Bus Riders Union, Inc. held a press conference in front of City Hall to announce legal action against the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA).

At the press conference, union members announced that they’ve filed a 25-page federal civil rights complaint against the city’s bus and trolley operator, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Regional Transit Authority, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and the City of Memphis.

The complaint has been filed with the Federal Transit Administration, a division of the United States Department of Transportation.

The complaint was filed under the provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination by any agency that receives federal funding. If the agency does so, a citizen or a group can file a complaint and have the agency investigated.

The union’s complaint claims that MATA, a recipient of federal funds, is in violation of the act.

"The discrimination deals not just with the idea that there’s racial discrimination in terms of segregation on the bus system here. That’s not what we’re saying," said Lorenzo Ervin, one of the bus riders union organizers. "The segregation comes from a form of transit inequity where they’re giving money to white areas, like in the system of the trolleys, especially the Madison Avenue trolley. They put all that money into it, and it doesn’t do anything for the black community. Primarily, all the riders from the community being served on it are white. Black areas have no trolley service whatsoever."

The union is demanding lower bus rider fares, a reversal of all 2011 bus schedule changes and route reductions unless MATA can justify them, cleaner buses, the creation of all-night bus lines for night workers and students, and better customer service of its drivers.

The complaint also protests racial and socio-economic discrimination in the operations, planning, and funding of mass transit in the state of Tennessee and the Memphis and Mid-South region.

“If it turns out that they are engaging in discrimination, they will have to give back their federal funds and be suspended from receiving further federal funds until they stop discriminating,” Ervin said.

The union is having a meeting on March 31st at the Whitehaven Community Center, in which members will discuss their intentions and show attendees how to file their own complaints. It will last from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We want the public to know that they don’t have to put up with these conditions,” Ervin said. “They can file civil rights complaints just like we’re doing. If they don’t know, and most people don’t know, we will teach them how.”

A representative from the Transportation Task Force stated that the Memphis Bus Riders Union and the Memphis Bus Riders Union, Inc. are two different groups. The Memphis Bus Riders Union representative said the group is not at all connected with this filed complaint against MATA.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Euthanasia Rate, Adoption Rate Down at Memphis Animal Services

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 11:27 AM

There was good news and bad news at Wednesday night's Memphis Animal Services (MAS) advisory board meeting. Interim shelter director James Rogers reported the euthanasia rate had dropped to 52 percent in the year to date versus 76 percent at this time last year.

But the adoption rate is also down — only 354 animals have been adopted out from January to February of this year versus 505 for the same two-month period last year. (UPDATE: For another take on the euthanasia rate and animal intake, read this post on Yes, Biscuit, which claims the numbers given at the advisory board meeting are inaccurate. The blog's author is basing this on shelter numbers she obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request).

Rogers reported that employees are currently being retrained. He said they'll be learning other methods of control besides the controversial "catch poles," which employees were seen mis-using on animals in videos posted on Yes Biscuit a few weeks ago. But Rogers did say he wouldn't do away with catch poles altogether despite an attempt by board member Don Siemer to have those poles banned. Siemer's motion died for lack of a second.

Rogers announced that plans are in the works to build an agility course for dogs, so the animals can be trained and made more adoptable. He said he planned to partner with a local Weight Watchers program to pair people looking to shed a few pounds with dogs to walk.

Rogers admitted that supervision in the shelter isn't as tight as he'd like it to be: "I'm looking to make sure our supervisors are trained. I want them to communicate up and down the corporate ladder."

Director of Public Services and Neighborhoods Janet Hooks said she'll be asking the Memphis City Council for $320,000 to hire additional animal care technicians, animal control officers, and a volunteer coordinator when the council considers the budget in April. Hooks also said the city has ordered 18 GPS devices to be installed in the animal control officers' vehicles. The devices will allow shelter administration to track officers' whereabouts.

During the meeting's public comment period, a suggestion was made to either require a vet or supervisor to oversee euthanasia procedures or to install a camera in the euthanasia room to monitor the practice. The suggestion was brought about by the recent news that three animal care technicians were witnessed (and later arrested for) abusing animals in the euthanasia room. The board eventually passed a motion requiring the city to install a closed-circuit camera in the euthanasia room.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Segway Tours Coming to Memphis

Posted By on Wed, Mar 14, 2012 at 3:42 PM


Segway, Inc. will begin offering tours of the city on their two-wheeled electric vehicles (dubbed motorized personal transporters by the Segway folks) beginning next Thursday, March 22nd. Segway Inc.'s Memphis tour operation will be headquartered at the Peabody Hotel downtown.

“Segway PT tours will be a great addition and a fun way to introduce our hotel guests to our downtown area and show them what makes Memphis so special,” said Douglas Browne, general manager at The Peabody.

The two-hour tour will begin with a safety video and then guests will depart from the hotel riding Segways. They'll pass by Beale Street, the Mississippi River, Cotton Row, the Orpheum, and the National Civil Rights Museum among other landmarks.

Tickets are $59 per person and excursions will be offered daily. Riders must be at least 14 years old and weigh between 100 and 260 pounds. For more information, go to the Memphis Segway Tours Facebook page.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Harahan Bridge Greenway Meeting Tonight

Posted By on Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 12:28 PM

From 1917 to 1949, the Harahan Bridge was open to car traffic, but today the old bridge only carries rail traffic.

But that may change with a plan to convert the old 1917 motorway into a bicycle and pedestrian path across the river. Union Pacific owns the rail bridge, but in February of last year, they agreed to allow the walkway conversion. The city of Memphis and the city of West Memphis, Arkansas support the project.

On Monday night (March 12th), the Downtown Memphis Commission is sponsoring a public meeting on the project at the Memphis College of Art's downtown campus (477 S. Main) at 5:30 p.m. They'll be discussing a timeline for the project and gathering public input.

To see an animation of what the pedestrian path might look like, check out the Harahan Bridge Project website.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Animal Shelter Employees Indicted on Cruelty Charges

Posted By on Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Three Memphis Animal Services employees were arrested Thursday morning on six counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.

Frank Lightfoot Jr. and Billy D. Stewart are each charged with four counts of aggravated animal cruelty, and Archie Elliott III is charged with two counts of aggravated animal cruelty. These felony charges carry sentences of one to six years.

At a press conference this morning, authorities were vague on the details of what happened to the animals, but prosecutor Paul Hagerman with the Shelby County District Attorney's Office confirmed that the abuses occurred right before the animals were scheduled to be euthanized. Six animals were victimized, but Hagerman would not reveal whether they were dogs, cats, or a combination of both.

"These acts are not up to interpretation as to whether or not they constitute animal cruelty," said Mayor A C Wharton at this morning's press conference. "It's easy enough for a second grader to know someone needs to get in trouble for what they did."

The abuses were witnessed by an undercover Memphis Police officer, who has been employed by Memphis Animal Services since November 2011.

"This is an extraordinary step to have to use undercover officers," Wharton said. "Puppies, kittens, and dogs can't call their lawyer. They can't file a report about what's happening to them. We can only find out by using undercover officers."

Wharton's request to send an undercover officer to investigate the shelter stemmed from concerns about dog fighting, animal cruelty, and missing and unaccounted for animals. However, Wharton said the aggravated animal cruelty charges filed against the three employees were not related to dog fighting.

Wharton said that nearly one-third of Memphis Animal Services employees have been dismissed over the past two years as a result on wrongdoing.

"Some have said, 'Why don't you just fire everybody?'" Wharton said. "I refuse to do that. There are some great shelter employees."

Shelter employees are currently undergoing re-training at the request of interim shelter director James Rogers.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

ArtSpace Public Input Meeting

Posted By on Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 11:17 AM

This South Main warehouse will be converted into living/working space for artists.
  • This South Main warehouse will be converted into living/working space for artists.

The old United Warehouse building at 138 S. Paul in the South Main Arts District will soon house local artists, thanks to a collaboration between Minneapolis-based ArtSpace and the city of Memphis.

ArtSpace plans to convert the warehouse into 70 units of affordable living/working space for local artists, but they're open to ideas from the artists who may actually apply to live there. ArtSpace is hosting a public meeting tonight at the MCA Nesin Graduate Center on South Main from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., and they're looking for input on what potential residents and arts supporters would like to see inside the apartments and what they'd like to have as shared space, such as performance and exhibition spaces, offices, or studios.

Construction for the project is expected to begin in 2014. For more information on ArtSpace's plans for Memphis, check out Hannah Sayle's Q&A with ArtSpace's vice-president of consulting and resource development Wendy Holmes.

For more details on tonight's meeting, check out this Facebook page.


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