Monday, April 30, 2012

First Lease Signed in Overton Square

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 4:33 PM

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Local Gastopub has signed a lease for the old Yosemite Sam's property at the corner of Madison and Cooper in Overton Square. The property will house a second location for the downtown gourmet pub grub eatery.

This marks the first lease signed in the Loeb Properties plan to redevelop historic Overton Square and the second restaurant this month to announce plans for the area. Hot dog and Mexican restaurant Chiwawa recently announced plans to open in the old Chicago Pizza Factory building on Madison.

The 100-year-old building at 2126 Madison housed Yosemite Sam's for 39 years. Said Loeb Properties vice-president of leasing Aaron Petree: “It’s always been one of the gateways to Overton Square, and that will continue with Local."

After Yosemite Sam's closed last August, the property underwent renovations for what Loeb's Tom Hayes called "major structural problems."

"My working concept has been a ‘rebirth’ because the building was at the end of its functional life, but it
had good bones, and given its history, it was worth saving,” said Hayes, vice-president of construction for Loeb Properties.

Loeb Properties plans to invest about $20 million to redevelop Overton Square into a thriving arts & entertainment district.

Friday, April 27, 2012

CrimeStoppers Offers $1,000 for Dogfighting Tips

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 11:44 AM

This flier is being distributed to raise awareness of the CrimeStoppers dogfighting reward money.
  • This flier is being distributed to raise awareness of the CrimeStoppers dogfighting reward money.

Last summer, CrimeStoppers was given $10,000 by a group of anonymous donors to be used specifically as a reward for tips on local dogfighting rings. No conviction is required for a tipster to get the reward. Only an arrest or issuance of an arrest warrant is required.

But despite the lack of a need for conviction, no tips have yet come in that have resulted in an arrest. Since then, another $2,000 has been added to the coffer. CrimeStoppers director Buddy Chapman is afraid people may have forgotten the money is available, and he's now trying to spread the word once again.

"The whole problem is that we've had dogfighting taking place in the shadows. It's not something the community has seen as important," Chapman said. "But I don't want Memphis to be known as a place where dogfighting is tolerated."

Chapman said it's possible that recent attention to the violent blood sport may have pushed some dogfighting activity into the rural Tennessee and Arkansas counties surrounding Memphis, but he believes local dogfighting will pick back up again in the summer.

"It tends to be seasonal," Chapman said, while explaining that most dogfighting pits are located outdoors.

Many dogfighters have also taken their operation on wheels with trunking (fighting dogs in the closed trunk of a car) or fighting dogs in vans as they're driven along the interstate.

Anyone with tips on local dogfighting operations is encouraged to call 528-CASH. If the tip results in an arrest or arrest warrant, the tipster may receive $1,000. All calls to CrimeStoppers are anonymous.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book Drive Gives Back to Elementary Students, Homeless

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 12:18 PM

All of Cherokee Elementary’s 455 students will be taking home at least one book to read over the summer.

That’s thanks to a book drive spearheaded by SoGiv, a nonprofit that sells footwear and apparel and donates a portion of the proceeds to different worthy causes each month.

“SoGiv a Book: Book Drive and Concert” will take place during the South Main Art Trolley Tour this Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. at K’PreSha Boutique (323 South Main).

“We’re looking out for the kids,” said Edward Bogard, founder of SoGiv. “We noticed that they get into a lot of trouble over the summer [because of idle time], and that was basically the motivation behind the drive. If we could put a book in every child’s hand for the summer, that would be a successful goal for us to achieve.”

People are encouraged to drop off new and used children’s book donations at K’Presha Boutique, Grawmeyer’s Restaurant, Sachë, Klein Fitness, and Cherokee Elementary.

Nikita Reed, principal of Cherokee Elementary, said literacy is one of the school’s deficiencies, and she hopes the book drive will help tackle that problem.

“We’re working to embrace literacy and let it be our focus,” Reed said. “The book drive will give our boys and girls something to read in the summertime and help improve their reading skills.”

The book drive will not only benefit the students at Cherokee, but also clients of the Union Missions homeless shelter.

“A lot of people are trying to get back on their feet,” said Dior Bailey, director of marketing and operations for SoGiv. “They’re homeless, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want something to read. They can still educate themselves while they’re trying to get back on their feet.”

A free concert will follow the book drive featuring a diverse lineup of local artist in genres ranging from alternative rock to neo-soul to hip-hop. Original artwork inspired by the book drive will be on display during the event as well.

“We want people to understand the significance behind giving back to the youth because they’re the future,” Bogard said. “Cherokee is only one school, but we’ve got to start somewhere. Hopefully by next year, we’ll have even more schools under our belt that we can do more things for.”

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Grant to Help Low-Income Citizens and Seniors Spay and Neuter Their Pets

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 3:25 PM

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Low-income residents and seniors can now have their pets spayed or neutered at Mid-South Spay & Neuter Services for as low as $5 for cats and between $10 and $25 for dogs.

The new low prices are thanks to a $10,000 grant the organization received from the Margarette J. Sather Animal Welfare Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis.

Co-pay prices for those who qualify will be as follows:
$5 for cats
$10 for small dogs, 25 lbs. and under
$15 for medium dogs, 26-40 lbs.
$20 for large dogs, 41-75 lbs.
$25 for extra large dogs, 76 lbs. and over

Mid-South Spay & Neuter Services performed 5,200 surgeries in 2011, and they're hoping this grant will significantly increase those numbers for 2012.

“We believe that all responsible pet owners deserve the right to care for their companion animal, despite inability to pay the typical prohibitive high costs of sterilization, " said MSNS president Patrick Wyatt. "Mid-South Spay and Neuter is proud to offer our already affordable services at a reduced rate so that everyone in the Mid-South can afford to help us end pet overpopulation.”

To make an appointment, call 901-324-3202. At time of surgery, vaccinations and microchipping can be added for an additional fee. The clinic at 854 Goodman is open Tuesday through Friday.

Friday, April 20, 2012

People Gather At Overton Park For 4/20

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 at 5:11 PM

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About a hundred people gathered at Overton Park for the annual unofficial 4/20 celebration on what’s become known as the national day to celebrate marijuana and support its legalization.

One of those people is Jeff Williams, who said he’s been celebrating 4/20 at Overton Park for 15 years.

“For some people, 4/20 is about marijuana, but for me, it’s just a day to celebrate,” said Williams. “We’re hanging out with people, pulling the blankets out, kids are dancing. I personally don’t smoke. A lot of people out here don’t do it.”

The gathering began at noon and was slated to last until 7 p.m.

Unlike year’s prior, the park didn’t boast clouds of smoke and there were no arrests as of 3 p.m. Just frisbees flying through the air, dogs running freely, and people relaxing on blankets while enjoying live music.

In 2010, police made about 30 arrests, including one felony drug charge, on 4/20 Day at the park.

Members of the University of Memphis chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) — which seeks to promote the legalization of marijuana — were present at the park this year.

Dindie Donelson, president of NORML’s U of M chapter, said legalizing marijuana would not only benefit those who smoke it recreationally, but those with cancer and other health problems.

“Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy is a very painful and a very stressful situation,” Donelson said. “A person will not only not want to eat, but they’re extremely sick and they vomit profusely. It’s been proven that the chemicals in marijuana eases vomiting and brings forth an appetite.”

Donelson said legalizing marijuana and placing a tax on it would also help strengthen the economy.

According to the book, “Concepts of Chemical Dependency,” by Harold E. Doweiko, marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit substance on this planet. Globally, an estimated 166 million people over the age of 15 use it on a regular basis.

The book also stated that each day, approximately 6,000 people in the U.S. use marijuana for the first time.

Quenel Williams said he’s smoked marijuana since he was in middle school. Now a college student, he said 4/20 has become a day that he takes time out to celebrate his appreciation for cannabis sativa.

“I’ll get together with a couple of friends and smoke, have fun, and chill,” Williams said. “I feel that marijuana is good as long as you don’t abuse it, just like anything. I think it should be legalized. Basically, everybody smokes. It’s so easy to get now, so it should be legal.”

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Memphis Animal Services to Select Search and Rescue Dogs

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Buster got his second chance as a search and rescue dog from the Tennessee Task Force.
  • Buster got his second chance as a search and rescue dog from the Tennessee Task Force.

More shelter dogs will be given a second chance at life, thanks to a new partnership between Memphis Animal Services and the Tennessee Task Force, one of 28 national Urban Search and Rescue task forces.

The partnership was announced on Thursday afternoon at a press conference at the new Memphis Animal Services facility on Appling City Cove. Memphis Animal Services personnel will be trained to identify dogs that could make effective search and rescue dogs.

Dogs that are accepted will enter the task force's training program. Trained dogs could eventually become part of a state and federal task force and be dispatched to find victims in disaster relief operations.

Currently, the Tennessee Task Force has 22 trained dogs. Deborah Burnett oversees the task force's canine training program, and she said some dogs from the local shelter may even be trained to work with other task forces across the country.

"We'll take as many dogs as we find that are viable candidates," Burnett said.

Burnett brought search and rescue dog Buster to press conference. Buster was rescued from a Texas animal shelter one day before he was scheduled to be euthanized.

Memphis Animal Services interim director James Rogers said the partnership would not only place eligible dogs into the search and rescue training program, but it may also help with training other shelter dogs that may not be candidates for search and rescue.

"Even if they're not accepted into the program, they'll be more adoptable," Rogers said.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Update: City Council Okays Mulch Yard on Knight-Arnold

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 11:03 AM

In a narrow 7 to 6 vote, the Memphis City Council decided yesterday to allow a heavy industrial wood chipping operation on Knight-Arnold near Getwell, despite the opposition of dozens of community members in attendance.

Opponents wore t-shirts that read No Mulch Yard In Our Backyard
  • Opponents wore t-shirts that read "No Mulch Yard In Our Backyard"
The mulching company in question, MTL Environmental, LLC, was granted the right to use a heavy industrial wood chipping machine on a property zoned light industrial.

Residents argue that the zoning "light industrial" is a holdover from the 1970's and no longer accurately represents the make up of the neighborhood — which consists of American Way Middle School, Getwell Elementary School, churches, day cares, an apartment complex, and an assisted living facility.

Teachers and students from American Way Middle School, Martavius Jones from the Unified Shelby County School Board, Pastor James Henderson of Abundant Life Church, Sierra Club representatives, and a representative from Delta Medical Center were all present. Among other concerns, residents cited mulching dust harmful to students and nearby residents, the possibility of mulch fires, increased truck traffic the operation would create, and the precedent set for future heavy industrial operations.

A toxicologist hired by MTL Environmental vouched that mulching operations were safe, noting that mulch is a ubiquitous substance in playgrounds and parks.

"We're not talking about a little mulch on a playground," countered Rita Harris of the Sierra Club. "We're talking about five acres of mulch."

Still, Councilman Jim Strickland, who visited the mulch yard and saw firsthand the heavy industrial wood chipper in operation, expressed doubts about dust from the yard traveling far enough to reach the surrounding businesses and homes. He also walked around the vicinity of the mulch yard and said he could not discern a noticeable change in noise levels when the machine was running.

He voted in support of MTL Environmental's wood chipping operation, along with Reid Hedgepeth, Bill Boyd, Shea Flinn, Edmund Ford Jr., Kemp Conrad, and Bill Morrison. Voting in opposition were Janis Fullilove, Joe Brown, Harold Collins, Myron Lowery, Lee Harris, and Wanda Halbert, the councilwoman for that district.

For further reading, check out our initial coverage of the Mulch Madness.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Former Memphis Animal Control Officer Indicted

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Demtria Hogan
  • Demtria Hogan

Demetria Hogan, the Memphis Animal Services control officer who was arrested last year after a pit bull dog went missing from her care, has been indicted on four counts of official misconduct, one count of forgery, one count of theft of property, and one count of animal cruelty.

Hogan picked up two pit bulls in Cordova that had escaped from their backyard on June 24th. She wrote in her log that she picked up both dogs and checked them into the shelter's holding area. But only one dog actually made it back to the animal shelter. Video surveillance showed that Hogan never checked the dogs into the holding area. One dog, Jersey, was handled by another employee. A police investigation revealed that Hogan stole the older pit bull, Kapone.

After a massive media campaign boasting an $8,000 reward for Kapone's return, the dog was finally discovered living in a home in Senatobia, Mississippi. The details as to how Kapone got there are not clear.

Hogan's cruelty charge stems from a separate incident, when a stray she picked up on July 12th died from the heat while in her care.

The charges for official misconduct, forgery, and theft of property are Class E felonies. If convicted, Hogan will face a sentence of one to six years. The cruelty to animals charge is a Class A misdemeanor and carries a sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Baby Store to Combat Infant Mortality

Posted By on Fri, Apr 13, 2012 at 2:13 PM

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Memphis boasts one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country, but a new nonprofit shop is aiming to reduce the grim statistic.

Opening on Monday, April 16th in Frayser, the Baby Store will connect pregnant women and new mothers with community resources, such as social service agencies and home visitation or prenatal care programs.
They'll also offer a voucher program to help low-income moms get the baby supplies they need.

Mothers who attend prenatal care visits, complete referrals for services, and take care of their child's immunizations will receive vouchers that may be cashed in for clothing, bedding, and educational or nutritional items for their baby.

The Baby Store, sponsored by the Shelby County Health Department, Healthy Start Initiative, and the Impact Northwest Shelby County Community Development Corporation, is located at 3740 N. Watkins. Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell is expected to attend the grand opening event on Monday.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cyclists and Pedestrians Needed for Complete Streets Video

Posted By on Tue, Apr 10, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Madison Avenue is now a complete street, thanks to the addition of bike lanes last fall.
  • Madison Avenue is now a complete street, thanks to the addition of bike lanes last fall.

More and more Memphis streets can be considered "complete streets" as Mayor A C Wharton's office makes good on its promise to add bike lanes wherever possible.

The urban planning term "complete street" is used to classify streets that cater to all users: motor vehicle drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and public transportation.

The Memphis/Shelby County Complete Streets Coalition is currently working on developing a complete streets policy for the city, which it will eventually propose to local legislatures.

To make its case for complete streets, the coalition is putting together a video to show how the complete streets approach can enhance street design and connect to recreation opportunities, like parks and greenlines.

They'll be interviewing experts in engineering and design for the video, but they also need ordinary users of city streets (i.e. pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users, bus riders, etc.). To schedule an interview, contact Nicki Newburger.

The video is also being made with input from Memphis Community Development, Livable Memphis, and the Memphis Regional Design Center.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Teen Brawl Stemmed from Facebook Post

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2012 at 2:11 PM

On Wednesday afternoon around 2:30 p.m., Shelby County sheriff's deputies responded to a fight call near Shelby Drive and Hacks Cross involving about 20 to 30 teenagers.

Witnesses told police shots had been fired by an unknown male who fled in a vehicle, and 19-year-old Valencia Parker was transported to the Regional Medical Center of Memphis in stable condition after she was punctured with an object on her upper right arm. The Shelby County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) has determined Parker's wound was not related to the gunshot.

The SCSO investigation into the fight revealed that a group of girls from Whitehaven High School had traveled to the neighborhood near Southwind High School in search of a female student who had posted comments they didn't like on Facebook. When they were unable to find that girl, the group started a fight with two other girls walking along Ridge Walk Lane.

The crowd eventually escalated to include between 20 and 30 juveniles, both male and female, and multiple fights broke out. Seven people were arrested and detained, and two females, ages 15 and 16, were charged with disorderly conduct.

Medicare and Social Security Listening Tour

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2012 at 10:17 AM

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) will be in Memphis today (Thursday, April 5th) to hear from locals on ideas to protect Medicare and Social Security.

Bring your big ideas to The Aging Commission of the Mid-South (2670 Union Extd., Suite 1000) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Local Rabbi Named One of Nation's Best

Posted By on Mon, Apr 2, 2012 at 4:05 PM

Rabbi Micah Greenstein, senior rabbi at Temple Israel, made the list of “America’s Top 50 Rabbis for 2012," according to Newsweek/The Daily Beast.

According to this article in The Daily Beast:


“The only rabbi we’ve included from the American South, Greenstein is a star in Memphis, the senior rabbi of Reform Temple Israel, which has become a Jewish hub that draws also from Mississippi, Arkansas, and the Missouri bootheel. Greenstein is extolled for his magnetic energy and warmth, though even his diehard fans wish he would sometimes streamline his spirited-but-meandering sermons. He has taken a public stand for gay rights, works on behalf of women’s empowerment in Cambodia, and is popular in the Christian community, where he has done substantial interfaith work. According to Memphis’s largest newspaper, The Commercial Appeal, the telegenic Greenstein ‘sparks crushes.’”

Rabbi Micah Greenstein
  • Rabbi Micah Greenstein

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