Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Veazey Takes New Role in Mayor's Office

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2018 at 3:18 PM

Kyle Veazy moderates a political debate. - JACKSON BAKER
  • Jackson Baker
  • Kyle Veazy moderates a political debate.
A shake-up at Memphis City Hall finds a familiar name moving up the ranks in Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland's adminstration.

Kyle Veazey joined Strickland's office in 2016. It was a high-profile move from The Commercial Appeal where he'd covered candidate Strickland during the election. Veazey left The CA in 2015 and later joined as the deputy director of communications, working under former WMC anchor Ursula Madden.

Veazey will now serve Strickland as one of two Deputy Chief Operating Officers. A Wednesday statement says Veazey will work with Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen "to deliver longer-term priority projects, coordinate the city’s role in economic development initiatives, and oversee performance improvement opportunities, among other duties." Veazey is a 2004 graduate of the University of Mississippi.

City-government veteran Chandell Carr will work with McGowen "for day-to-day service delivery, resource allocation, budgeting, and policy development for all of the city’s divisions, among other duties." Carr has a law degree from the University of Memphis and has most recently served as the city's Equity, Diversion & Inclusivity Officer for the Division of Human Resources.

"Chandell and Kyle have been a big part of our work these two-and-a-half years," Strickland said in a statement. "We recognize and reward talent at the city of Memphis, and I'm proud to watch these two leaders grow as they play even greater roles in continuing our progress."

Carr and Veazey will transition into their new roles next week.

The jobs became available as current Deputy COO Patrice Thomas left to become the new Chief Administrative Officer of Shelby County government. Thanks to this and an already vacant position in the COO's office, the moves will not increase the city budget, Strickland said.

Renovated Pink Palace Mansion to Open in December

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2018 at 12:53 PM

Rending of proposed exhibits - PINK PALACE
  • Pink Palace
  • Rending of proposed exhibits

After close to two years of construction, the Pink Palace Mansion is set to re-open December 8th, the museum's officials announced Wednesday.

Relocated and refurbished exhibits in the mansion will include a Piggly Wiggly store replica, a rural early 20th century country store, and a restored Clyde Parke Miniature Circus, which will be displayed on the second floor of the mansion — a section that has been closed to the public for 40 years.

Bill Walsh, marketing manager for the Pink Palace said opening up the second story of the mansion will “will be a great opportunity for many visitors to see a side of the mansion they’ve never seen.”

Rending of proposed Clyde Parke Miniature Circus exhibit. - PINK PALACE
  • Pink Palace
  • Rending of proposed Clyde Parke Miniature Circus exhibit.

The revamped Piggly Wiggly exhibit will be recreated based on patent drawings and photographs of the original store. There will also be space dedicated to Clarence Saunders, the founder of Piggly Wiggly, who first began building the mansion in the 1920s, but had to turn the house over to the city for a museum after declaring bankruptcy. 

The renovated mansion will also house new exhibits like the Cossitt Gallery, featuring more than 600 artifacts from the city’s first culture and history museum. The museum was set up in a room in the Cossitt Library in the early 19th century. The new gallery will aim to recreate the look of that first museum.

Other new exhibits will include a Memphis streetscape meant to depict the symbolic intersection of black and white culture and history from 1900 to 1925.

The mansion will also have “plush new event rental facilities, state-of-the art lighting and a refurbished grand staircase,” Walsh said.

Walsh said construction is slated to wrap up soon and then the process of installing the exhibits will begin. “The exhibits are going to be spectacular. We’re excited that it’s re-opening during the holidays too. It’s sort of a holiday gift for Memphians,” Walsh said.

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Cool Thing: Viewfinders for the Color Blind

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2018 at 11:49 AM

Color blind visitors to 13 Tennessee state parks will be able to see the changing fall foliage in a whole new way this year.

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development installed 13 special viewfinders with EnChroma lenses designed to alleviate red-green color blindness.

“One of the main pillars we promote in Tennessee is our scenic beauty,” said Kevin Triplett, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “The reds, oranges and yellows in the fall and the incredible colors in the spring are a staple of what comes to mind when people think about Tennessee or visit here.

A still from a state video shows a color blind man seeing fall colors for the first time through a special viewfinder. - TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF TOURIST DEVELOPMENT
  • Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
  • A still from a state video shows a color blind man seeing fall colors for the first time through a special viewfinder.

"But to realize, through red/green deficiencies and other forms of color blindness, there potentially are more than 13 million people in our country alone who cannot fully appreciate the beauty our state has to offer, we wanted to do something about that. We wanted to provide opportunities for more people to see what those of us who can may take for granted.”

But, as with many things to do with state government, West Tennessee got shorted.

Two of the 13 special viewfinders have been installed here. East Tennessee got seven. Middle Tennessee got three. Yes, mountains and all that...but still.

The closest viewfinder to Memphis is at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park's Poplar Lake, near the the nature center. The other in West Tennessee is at Chickasaw State Park, near Henderson. 

For more information, check here

City Council Brings Back Beale Street Entrance Fee

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2018 at 9:47 AM

Beale Street
  • Beale Street

The Memphis City Council voted Tuesday to reinstate the fee to enter Beale Street based on “needs-based determination.”

Bringing back the entrance fee was one of the 24 recommendations made by the group, Event Risk Management Solutions (ERMS), which was hired by the Beale Street Task Force earlier this year to assess crowd control and safety on Beale.

After a long debate between the council Tuesday evening, they approved the fee 7-4, but on a temporary, needs-based basis that is to be determined by the Downtown Memphis Commission and the Memphis Police Department.

The original resolution, sponsored by Councilman Kemp Conrad, called for implementing an attendance-based entrance fee when the crowd is expected to exceed 10,000.

But, Council Chairman Berlin Boyd, who chaired the Beale Street Task Force said even an attendance-based charge could “look discriminatory.”

“Hypothetically, what if we have 10,000 African-American male and females on the street and you put Beale Street Bucks in place, what does that look like?” Boyd asked. “ What if we have 10,000 African Americans on Saturday and 10,000 African Americans on Sunday night and we put Beale Street Bucks in place? If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck.”

Boyd said public safety is important, but “we cannot have something that looks sketchy. I’m not voting for anything that’s going to looks like it’s discriminatory toward any person in the city of Memphis or any tourist.”

Councilman Worth Morgan told Boyd and colleagues that public safety shouldn’t be compromised for optics. Morgan also emphasized the importance of taking action, after an early morning shooting at the Purple Haze night club Monday.

To that, Boyd, joined by Councilman Martavius Jones, said an entrance fee would not have prevented that situation, as the night club is outside of the Beale Street Entertainment district. 

Continuing, Boyd reiterated that the program “has to be fair and equitable” for those who patronize and visit Beale Street. He said he wants to make sure that the city isn’t putting itself in the position to get sued.

Council attorney Allan Wade agreed, saying that there may be some risks with setting the number at 10,000, as the study found there was no correlation between crowd size and incidents on Beale. In the case of ligation, he said the court could see the number as “arbitrary.” He suggests adopting some “further objective criteria” for determining the number.

“I do believe that a court would look at MPD’s determination as being needs-based on safety and could be more defensible in court,” Wade said. “That’s just my humble opinion.”

So, Councilman Bill Morrison proposed the idea of allowing MPD and the DMC decide what elements call for implementing a fee or other security measures like wanding patrons.

“Let’s let the experts have this conversation,” Morrison said. “Let’s let the folks that get paid to protect and manage decide.”

The council concurred that the Beale Street Merchants Association should have an input on determining safety precautions as well.

The $5 fee to enter the street on Saturday nights during peak seasons was eliminated by the council last November. Looking for an alternative to the fee, the Beale Street Task Force hired the crowd control consultant, ERMS earlier this year to study ways to keep the crowds on Beale orderly.

The group produced 24 recommendations in all. Some of which include setting the maximum capacity on the street to 20,000 people, restricting Beale Street to pedestrian traffic only, and redesigning the street’s entry points.

The study also concluded that there wasn’t enough regulation and monitoring of those entering the street.

Two weeks ago, the council made the first move toward new safety precautions, voting to spend a little under $800,000 for bollards — barriers keeping cars from driving onto the street. The bollards will be placed alongside Second protecting people lining up to enter the street, as well as at the ends of the entertainment portion of the street at Beale and Second and at Beale and Fourth.

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