Friday, December 15, 2017

Public Picks Zoo Parking Lot Plan

Posted By on Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 11:18 AM

Concept Z (above) got the most votes in a recent public survey for a new Memphis Zoo parking lot. The design above shows the "ring road" that designers say will help traffic flow. - POWERS HILL DESIGN
  • Powers Hill Design
  • Concept Z (above) got the most votes in a recent public survey for a new Memphis Zoo parking lot. The design above shows the "ring road" that designers say will help traffic flow.

Among those surveyed, a clear winner emerged among the three concept plans for a new Memphis Zoo parking lot that is promised to end parking on the Overton Park Greensward.

In early November, local designers at Powers Hill Design submitted the three plans to the advisory group plotting the project and to the public, which had its say on them via an online survey.

All of the plans — Concept X, Concept Y, and Concept Z — added the minimum 415 parking spaces for the zoo mandated by the Memphis City Council. They all also expanded current zoo lots, included a “ring road” to help with traffic flow, and preserve the park’s trees.

None of the plans encroach past the current ridgeline that separates the zoo lot from the Greensward. They all, too, include a green buffer to further separate the 12-acre park field from the parking lot.

The main difference in the plans is the layout of the parking spaces. But they also differ in access points and amenities for pedestrians.

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Close to half — 42 percent — of the nearly 4,500 people that took the survey voted for Concept Z. Asked why, those surveyed said they just liked its overall design. That design expands current zoo lots with its southern-most “ring road” reaching almost to the park’s Formal Gardens.

The main difference between Concept Z and the others is that it reconfigures the main zoo lot into a sort of hand fan shape, or maybe the shape of half a wagon wheel. The spaces in the concept roughly face north and south. The other plans keep the familiar bookshelf design with spaces aligned generally east to west.

Concept Z also easily has more pedestrian walkways than the other plans. It has pedestrian entry points from McLean, along Prentiss Place, and an entrance from the Greensward.

Concept Z shown in an aerial view overlaid onto existing park and zoo assets. - POWERS HILL DESIGN
  • Powers Hill Design
  • Concept Z shown in an aerial view overlaid onto existing park and zoo assets.

The survey feedback will be consumed by the Powers Hill team and it will incorporate it into an updated concept proposal. That concept will be presented to the advisory group and to the public for another round of online feedback.

The survey yielded some other interesting facts.

Most who took it, said they mostly visit the zoo and, to a lesser degree, the park itself, and its anchors like the Levitt Shell and the Brooks Museum of Art. When they visit the zoo, most (95 percent) parked in the main lot, instead of on streets or in the park.

They don’t live around the park and they drive to it (versus walk or bike) when they go. They enter, mostly, at the signaled entrance at Poplar and Tucker.

Most of those surveyed said they want better traffic circulation and better access for cyclists and pedestrians.  They wanted to preserve existing trees and to improve landscaping. They want better lighting, bike racks, better signage, and more.

While most of the respondents were from ZIP codes around the park, voices were heard from all over Memphis, Fayette and Tipton Counties in Tennessee, Marshal, Tate, and DeSoto Counties in Mississippi, and Crittenden County in Arkansas.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Cooper-Young Nears Historical Landmark Status

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 12:15 PM

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Cooper-Young is a step closer to becoming a historic overlay district, as Thursday the joint Memphis and Shelby County Land Use Control Board (LUCB) voted in favor of the neighborhood’s historical designation.


The board voted unanimously, supporting the neighborhood’s landmark status, but historical status will ultimately be decided by the Memphis City Council early next year.

Before the board voted, residents from the neighborhood both for and against the designation spoke on the record.


Those in support said that historic protection would preserve the historical housing stock in Cooper-Young, increase property values, strengthen the neighborhood, and eliminate infill houses that don’t “match Cooper-Young.”


One speaker pointed out that compared to other Memphis historical districts’ guidelines, the ones proposed for Cooper-Young are “minimal in nature and therefore shouldn’t be a huge burden to the residents.”


However, a few residents spoke in opposition, saying that the neighborhood includes a lot of working-class people who “really can’t afford to make it through another whole layer of bureaucracy.”


“Not everyone can afford to maintain their properties to the standards set forth by a third party,” one speaker said.

But, chair of the board, Jon McCreery said the mission of the LUCB and Cooper-Young's application for landmark status "are in lockstep" from a land-use perspective. 


In October, the Memphis Landmark Commission voted six to one, approving the Cooper-Young Community Association’s (CYCA) application for historic protection.


Historical protection would put a set of guidelines in place that would regulate residential demolition, new construction, and add-ons in the neighborhood.


New construction guidelines touch on height, size, roof shape, and building material requirements.


Kristen Schebler, former executive director of CYCA, said all of the guidelines are meant to maintain the neighborhood’s historical characteristics, and avoid new houses built with features that “don’t “fit the feeling of Cooper-Young,” like garages that face the street.

Schebler said these take up much of the house's front facade and limit interaction among residents.


Roughly bounded by Central on the north, East Parkway on the east, Southern on the south, and Mclean on the west, the new historic overlay district would span 335 acres and include about 1,600 households.


The Memphis City Council will take three votes on the landmark designation, with the third taking placing in late February.


US Attorney: Memphis Arrests Fulfill Trump Priorities

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 10:24 AM

Federal agents conducted their own investigation of the matter. - HOMELAND SECURITY INVESTIGATIONS
  • Homeland Security Investigations
  • Federal agents conducted their own investigation of the matter.
Indictments were handed down Wednesday for 20 undocumented workers arrested late last month, a move that advances the priorities of the Trump Adminstration, a local leader said.

The workers were assigned to Expeditors International by Provide Staffing, a local employment agency. However, Transportation Security Adminstration inspectors found irregularities in their paperwork and then notified Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

An investigation determined that the men presented false documents between March 2016 and January 2017 to certify their identity and eligibility to work in the U.S.

The indictments remain only allegations and the men are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.

On Tuesday, Nov. 28, the Tennessee Highway Patrol arrested 20 men at the warehouse. Thirteen of the men were from Mexico, three were from Guatemala, and four were from Honduras.

They are:

Jamie Ramundo Martinez, a/k/a/ Angel Martinez, 36, Guatemala

Pedro Garcia-Guaneros, a/k/a/ Pedro Garcia, 34, Mexico

Oscar Tepole-Sanchez, a/k/a/ Oscar Tepole, 36, Mexico
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Hilda Hernandez-Garduno, a/k/a/ Hilda Hernandez, 37, Mexico

Angel Calmo-Aguilar, a/k/a/ Angel Calmo, 24, Guatemala

Edgar Lopez-Marin, a/k/a/ Edgar Lopez, 37, Mexico

Fernando Ramos-Jacobo, a/k/a/ Fernando Ramos, 27, Mexico

Willivaldo Arenales-Soriano, a/k/a/ Wilibaldo Arenales, 35, Mexico

Fernando Alexi Duran-Reyes, a/k/a/ Eduardo Duran, 43, Honduras

Ramon Paz-Peredes, a/k/a/ Ramon Paz, 47, Honduras

Josue Vaca-Alvarodo, a/k/a/Pedro Cordero, 41, Honduras

Arturo Robles-Larios, 36, Mexico

Sixto Landaverde-Rodriguez, a/k/a/ Sixto Rodruguez, 42, Mexico

Rodolfo Hernandez-Sanchez, a/k/a/ Leonel Sanchez, 37, Mexico

Henry Calmo-Aguilar, a/k/a/ Henry Calmo, 22, Guatemala

Eligio Lopez-Acevedo, 34, Mexico

Artemio Moreno-Gordillo, a/k/a/ Artemio Moreno, 44, Mexico

Jose Moreno-Martinez, 25, Mexico

Marlon Martinez-Martinez, a/k/a/ Marlon Martinez, 36, Honduras

Raquel Delin-Ramos, a/k/a/ Raquel Delin, 32, Mexico

Each man faces federal charges and a sentence of up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.
Dunavant
  • Dunavant

The news came Wednesday from the office of Michael Dunavant, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee. Dunavant was nominated by President Donald Trump in June and he was confirmed by the Senate in September.

Dunavant in a news release that the arrests were in line with new priorities from the Trump Adminstration, especially those of his boss, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“"In April, the Attorney General announced a renewed commitment by the Department of Justice to consistently and vigorously pursue criminal immigration enforcement, in order to disrupt organizations and deter unlawful conduct,” said Dunavant in a news release. “This priority includes the aggressive prosecution of aggravated identity theft, document fraud, and misuse of visas and permits in the immigration context.

“These indictments fulfill that priority, protect critical infrastructure sites, and promote lawfulness in our immigration system."
U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) conducted a parallel investigation of the matter.

"Individuals that utilize fraudulent identification to obtain restricted access to our nation’s transportation network, whether air, sea, or rail, create a vulnerability to our national supply chain," said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI’s efforts in Tennessee. "HSI will continue to partner with our federal and state law enforcement partners to protect our critical infrastructure from exploitation."

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Feedback Wanted on City Council's Proposal to Allow Open Alcohol on Main

Posted By on Wed, Dec 13, 2017 at 2:42 PM

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Open plastic containers of alcohol could soon be allowed on Main, but before that happens, the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC), along with the South Main Association (SMA) wants feedback on the city's proposal.


Sponsored by Memphis City Council member Martavius Jones, the amendment to the city’s current open container ordinance would make it legal to walk the length of Main from E.H. Crump to A.W. Willis with open beer, wine, or liquor in a plastic container.


Currently, open alcoholic beverages are only allowed on Beale Street and on Main inside restaurants, bars, and on certain patios.


Jones believes the change will spark economic development and increase the vibrancy of Downtown, while specifically increasing foot-traffic and activity during events on South Main, like Trolley Nights.


The council took the first of three votes on the amendment on Dec. 5.


Opinions on the proposal can be sent to either DMC president, Jennifer Oswalt or SMA president, Cathy Weaver, who will share the feedback with the council and city administration ahead of the final vote set for Jan. 9.


Just City Launches New Group

Posted By on Wed, Dec 13, 2017 at 2:21 PM

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Just City, the Memphis-based criminal justice reform advocacy group, has helped launch another standalone group…in Nashville.

On Wednesday, Just City announced the formal organization of the Nashville Community Bail Fund. The Memphis group helped to start the bail fund program in Nashville in June 2016. Since then, it has freed more than 100 people, 97 percent of whom have returned to court, according to Just City.

“Nearly all of the people we have freed were charged with low-level offenses and were being detained for one reason and one reason alone – they and their families lacked the resources to pay bail,” said Gicola Lane, who will continue in her role as Nashville bail reform advocate and manager of the fund. “Almost without exception, they have returned to court and answered to the charges against them. The current system is not fair to them or to the broader Nashville community, and it must change.”
The Nashville bail fund was one of the first community-based bail funds in the South “and exists to challenge the wealth-based system of pre-trial detention used by the vast majority of criminal justice systems.”

“We will continue to seek community-based solutions to the problems presented by the criminal justice system, and we have no doubt that the fund and its leadership will relentlessly pursue bail reform for the Nashville community,” said Daniel Kiel, Just City’s board chairman.

MLGW Chief Defends Rate Increases

Posted By on Wed, Dec 13, 2017 at 1:38 PM



Memphis Light, Gas, & Water (MLGW) CEO Jerry Collins took to YouTube Wednesday to defend the proposed utility rate increases now before the Memphis City Council and explained why he thinks they are necessary.

Last week, council members delayed a final vote on a proposal that would raise rates on water, gas, and electric rates beginning next year. The council was given a menu of choices that could increase the average utility bill by between $3-$11.

Collins said the reason for the increase is simple.

“Transformers, circuit breakers, the pipes that carry the natural gas and the water, office supplies — you name it, they have all gone up in prices,” Collins began, “But yet our rates have bene flat. That’s a mathematical equations that just won’t work.”
Collins said bond rating agencies on Wall Street say the rate increases MLGW is asking for isn’t high enough. Also, the average Memphis and Shelby County utility customers is now paying $34 dollar less per month than they were 10 years ago.

This was achieved, Collins said, as the utility has “watched its pennies” saving $225 million in a 2003 bond deal with the Tennessee Valley Authority, changing its pension plan to save $100 million, changing its healthcare plan to save $74 million, and saving millions each year with the implementation of its smart meter system,

Collins addressed the fact that the council delayed the final vote on the proposal after question from the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce. He noted that MLGW introduced the proposal to its large industrial and commercial customers before they took the change to the council.

“I got no comment, no questions,” Collins said. “No one expressed a concern.”

The rate increases will take effect on January 1, 2018. However, the council may choose an option to delay the electric rate increase until September.


Embezzlers Busted for Stealing Six-Figure Amounts from Employers

Posted By on Wed, Dec 13, 2017 at 1:11 PM


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A former data entry clerk at a medical office here was indicted  for stealing checks from the company, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Wwdnesday.


Gloria Harris, 55, the former clerk at Crescent Medical Corporation in Whitehaven allegedly stole $292,500 by depositing checks made out to the company into bank accounts she fraudulently opened in Crescent’s name.


Harris is also said to have used other people’s Social Security Numbers to open those accounts, as well as to update her apartment lease.


Each fraudulent use of a person’s SSN, carries the maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years supervised release. Harris faces up to 30 years’ imprisonment, a $1 million fine, and five years supervised release.


The case, investigated by the U.S. Secret Service Economic Crimes Task Force, is set to be prosecuted by assistant U.S. Attorney General for Western Tennessee, Carroll L. Andre III.


Meanwhile, about 25 miles north of Memphis in Atoka, Tennessee, a former employee at a bank there was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison Wednesday after she admitted in August to having had a connection to the embezzlement of over $800,000 from the bank.


The former branch administrator at the InSouth bank in Atoka, Lauren McDivitt, 41, pled guilty to embezzling $888,470 between 2006 and 2016.


In court, it was revealed that McDivitt created fraudulent withdrawal tickets to make it seem as if customers were withdrawing money from their accounts. To cover her tracks, McDivitt created fake email accounts for those customers to send monthly statements to. Finally, she mailed the customers fraudulent monthly statements that reflected interest accrued instead of the unauthorized withdrawals.


U.S. Attorney General for Western Tennessee, Michael Dunavant said the financial fraud and embezzlement is “disturbing and far-reaching.”


“The abuse of her position of trust and authority as a small town bank manager for her personal gain had a significant negative impact on the employees and customers of InSouth Bank, as well as the whole Atoka and Tipton County communities,” Dunavant said. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office places high priority on protecting the security, deposits, and assets of financial institutions, and this sentence demonstrates that commitment.”


McDivitt will be required to pay restitution of close to $950,000 to InSouth Bank, as well as serve three years of supervised release after her 33-month incarceration period.



Memphis Pets of the Week (Dec. 14-20)

Posted By on Wed, Dec 13, 2017 at 10:29 AM

Each week, the Flyer will feature adoptable dogs and cats from Memphis Animal Services. All photos are credited to Memphis Pets Alive. More pictures can be found on the Memphis Pets Alive Facebook page.
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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Fire damages Pete and Sam's restaurant

Posted By on Tue, Dec 12, 2017 at 5:27 PM

Michael Bomarito examines fire damage in the prep area of Pete and Sam's restaurant. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Michael Bomarito examines fire damage in the prep area of Pete and Sam's restaurant.
Pete and Sam's is closed after a fire around midnight Dec. 12. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Pete and Sam's is closed after a fire around midnight Dec. 12.
Fire didn't spread to the dining areas of Pete and Sam's. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Fire didn't spread to the dining areas of Pete and Sam's.

Pete and Sam’s Italian restaurant may be closed for one or two months due to a fire that broke out early Dec. 12.

“Merry Christmas,” said Michael Bomarito, one of the owners, as he stood in the dark, chilly building later that afternoon.

The fire broke out around midnight, but nobody was in the restaurant, he said. They had a slow night, so everybody was gone by 11 p.m., he said.

A worker who was across the street at a gas station noticed the fire and sent Bomarito a four-second video. Bomarito saw the blaze when he arrived.

The fire happened in the prep area around the range hood, Bomarito said, but they’ve had “no confirmation from the fire department.”

It appears to be the same thing that happened in 1998 when a fire left the legendary restaurant at 3886 Park closed for three months, he said.

This time, thought, there was no smoke damage in the dining rooms, which, like the kitchen, appeared normal.

The insurance adjuster hasn’t yet been to the restaurant, so Bomarito doesn’t know how much damage was done and how much it will cost to get the restaurant open.

He anticipates Pete and Sam’s could be closed one or two months.

"The ravioli machine was undamaged, so it will be rolling soon," Bomarito said.




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Report: Memphis 'Ground Zero for Government Waste'

Posted By on Tue, Dec 12, 2017 at 1:58 PM

FACEBOOK - BEACON CENTER
  • Facebook - Beacon Center
Memphis knows pork, the barbecue kind, and it knows pork, the government kind.

From water slides to restaurants, the Beacon Center, a Nashville-based free market think tank, found plenty of “corporate welfare,” “excessive handouts,” and more in its annual “Pork Report” issued Tuesday.

While the center’s “Pork of the Year” award went to the statewide Tennessee Department of Economic Development, the group found much to criticize in Memphis.

"This year's Pork Report shows that the city of Memphis sure knows how to squander taxpayers' hard-earned money," said Beacon CEO Justin Owen. "Whether it is the government getting in the restaurant business, and failing badly, or continuing to waste money on film incentives, which many cities have stopped because of their terrible return on investment, Bluff City continues to be ground zero for government waste."

In Memphis, the Beacon Center researchers hammered on the FedEx Forum, the Riverfront Bar & Grill, the Memphis Film & Tape Commission, and the UrbanArts Commission. 
FACEBOOK - BEACON CENTER
  • Facebook - Beacon Center

The report said the hike to hotel taxes here, which would give $4.2 million to the Memphis/Shelby County Sports Authority Board to pay for and maintain the Forum, could hinder tourism, instead of helping it.

“Ultimately, that’s going to drive tourism away and, at the end of the day, the local taxpayers will be the ones eventually on the hook for this,” said Beacon’s president and CEO Justin Owen.

The Riverfront Bar & Grill was the name of the restaurant and bar inside the $43 million Beale Street Landing. The building is still being paid for by Memphis taxpayers, but the original management of the restaurant was first hired and overseen by the Riverfront Development Corp.

Earlier this year, the restaurant was taken over by Deni and Patrick Reilly, owners of The Majestic Grill. The Reillys rebranded it as The Front Porch with a new menu, staff, and design. It was meant as a pop-up concept for the space. The Front Porch closed for the season in mid-November, according to its Facebook page.

As for the original Riverfront Bar & Grill, Owen said “running a restaurant and bar should not be the role of any government at any level.” For proof, the center said the original restaurant lost $90,000 in its first year in business and had to close temporarily last winter.

“Restaurants have a notoriously high failure rate, and it looks like government-run restaurants fare even worse,” the report said. “It wouldn’t be surprising if we report next year that the Riverfront Bar & Grill’s goose has been cooked.”
Beacon's criticism of the Film & Tape Commission was largely aimed at the state's film commission. A 2013  audit of the Tennessee Film, Entertainment, and Music Commission found "significant problems" with the oversight of its incentive program. A 2016 audit found that the group had improved but still needed a bit of work.

Still, Beacon noted that this year "Memphis taxpayers will be footing a $175,000 bill to incentivize filmmakers to bring their sets into the city."

UrbanArt was faulted for hiring a Los Angeles artist for the $700,000 “I Am A Man” project.

“Not only did the state outsource taxpayer dollars to an out-of-state artist, but such extravagant expenses will almost assuredly incentivize future artists interested in state-commissioned works to disregard any concerns for the costs,” the report said.

The report gave numerous other “excruciating” examples of what it called “government waste” from across the state. But it said, “nothing compares to the debacle of the TV show ‘Nashville.’”
After ABC cancelled the show last season, “it seemed there was finally light at the end of the money put tunnel,” the report said.

“But a cancellation, poor ratings, and the show’s relocation to a barely watched cable channel were still not enough to dam up the floodgates of taxpayer handouts,” it said. “Tennesseans ended up forking over nearly $11 million to float the fifth season of Nashville on CMT, with $8.5 million coming from the state’s film program, $1 million from a direct grant from the city of Nashville, and $1 million from the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the city’s Event and Marketing Fund.”

The state economic development agency won Beacon’s “Pork of the Year” award thanks to the Industrial Machinery Tax Credit.

“From 2011 to 2014, we have spent nearly $67 million per year for a whopping 55 jobs,” the report said. “Even if the program's main goal isn't to create jobs as some have said, it is not the role of government to buy equipment for private companies.”

Visit here to read the report in full.

Ground Breaks on 'I Am A Man' Plaza Near Clayborn Temple

Posted By on Tue, Dec 12, 2017 at 11:01 AM

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Ground broke Monday on the I Am A Man commemorative plaza downtown, set to open by April 2018 in time for the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s death.


The $1.5 million plaza will be located on the corner of Hernando and Pontotoc next to Clayborn Temple, a gathering place for sanitation workers and King before the 1968 march and now a Civil Rights Movement landmark.


The project, spearheaded by the city and UrbanArts Commission, will be led and designed by local landscape architect John Jackson of JPA, Inc, as well as Cliff Garten of Cliff Garten Studio in California.


The interactive plaza, featuring the “I Am A Man” slogan, will aim to “invite all people to a peaceful, interactive, and educational experience that supports the advancement of equity, justice and positive social change.”

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The goal of the space is to acknowledge the historical significance of Memphis, the sanitation workers' strike, and King in the Civil Rights Movement, while providing visitors with the ability to interact with art, creating an experience residents and tourists will want to revisit, and inspiring future generations to stand up for social justice and positive change.


When complete, the plaza will be a focal point of the city-wide commemoration in April.




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IMAX Set For Memphis Return

Posted By on Tue, Dec 12, 2017 at 10:56 AM

The Malco Paradiso theater in East Memphis
  • The Malco Paradiso theater in East Memphis
IMAX will soon return to Memphis with a new opening this week at the Paradiso Cinema Grill.

The “immersive” theater experience will open at the East Memphis movie house on Thursday at 7 p.m. with the release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” When it opens, Paradiso’s will be only IMAX theater in Memphis.

The Pink Palace Museum opened its Crew Training International IMAX in January 1995. The museum closed it in January 2014 and remodeled the space into the CTI 3D Giant Theater that’s now open.

“IMAX’s cutting-edge projection system, which delivers crystal-clear images, coupled with IMAX's customized theatre geometry and powerful digital sound system, create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie,” company officials described the experience in a news release. “IMAX grabs your senses. You don’t just hear the powerful sound system, you feel it all around you. Visually, there is no frame. IMAX’s custom theatre design creates a picture that is higher, wider and closer – filling your peripheral view.”

IMAX and Memphis-based Malco Theaters Inc. announced in September that they would team up on two IMAX theaters, one in Memphis and a second at the Malco Razorback Cinema Grill in Fayetteville, Ark. They are the first IMAX theaters for the 102-year-old Malco, which operates 350 movie screens across 34 locations.

"We looked at all of our options regarding a large format solution and came to the conclusion that no one has a better combination of quality, full immersion cinema, and brand awareness than IMAX,” said Stephen Lightman, Malco’s president and CEO.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Explore Bike Share Wants Memphians' Input on Sites for Future Stations

Posted By on Thu, Dec 7, 2017 at 3:31 PM

EXPLORE BIKE SHARE - FACEBOOK
  • Explore Bike Share - Facebook


Explore Bike Share, launching here in spring 2018, is asking Memphians to help decide where the first 60 bike stations should be located in the city.

Residents can visit the bike-share system’s interactive map and drop a pin on their choices for stations, as well as “like” locations suggested by others.

Of the 415 locations pinned on the map so far, more than half are in or around downtown,

concentrated between Riverside, Danny Thomas, Poplar, and G.E. Patterson. Pins also mark spots in Uptown, the Medical District, Mud Island, and South Memphis.

Further east, past Bellevue, about a quarter of the sites chosen are in the midtown area bordered by East Parkway, Poplar, and Central, including 31 requests for a station near Overton Park and the zoo.

Operated by the B-Cycle Dash System, the 60 stations will initially store 600 bikes, adding another 300 in 2019.

B-Cycle Dash System currently operates 1,250 bike share stations with more than 10,000 bikes in 50 communities. Their bikes are equipped with high-tech amenities, such as GPS systems with route recommendations and turn-by-turn directions.

Station preferences can be submitted here until Dec. 31, and in February, the final locations will be announced.

“This is an opportunity for everyone to contribute to the building of a transformational transportation and cultural asset,” Explore Bike Share board member Roshun Austin said. “We’ve said from day one that the most effective system would be built by Memphis for Memphis — so here’s your chance to share your vision for physical bike share station locations.”


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Reforms Proposed for 'Smart' State Juvenile Justice System

Posted By on Thu, Dec 7, 2017 at 3:12 PM

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Mark Norris
  • Mark Norris
A raft of reforms to the state’s juvenile justice system could shrink the number of offending youths placed out of their homes and save the state $36 million over five years, according to a report issued Thursday.

The Ad-hoc Tennessee Blue Ribbon Task Force on Juvenile Justice started meeting in June. The group was tasked with undertaking a “data-driven, research-based effort to develop policies to improve outcomes in the juvenile justice system.”

The group was co-chaired by Speaker of The House Beth Harrell and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris. It included other state lawmakers, judges, state commissioners, prosecutors, public defenders, and more.

The task force held numerous meetings and wrapped up its discussions last month. On Thursday, it issued a 25-page report with a number of recommendations. The group also asked the state to invest $4.5 million in the next fiscal year to implement the plan’s reforms.

In a phone conference last month, Norris said that some of the findings seemed “counter-intuitive”

“We want to be tough on crime but, really, what we need to be is smart about public safety,” Norris said. “In order to do a better job in public safety, we need to look at public data, as to whether or not the youths in this system, are properly handled.
“We’re not talking about being soft on crime, we need to be smart and effective in what we do.”

Some of the main findings of the task force, include that nearly half (44 percent) of youths in out-of-home placement (like foster care) are there on misdemeanors, unruly offenses, and technical violations. While the number of youths in out-of-home placement has shrunk over the last five years, those in the system are staying 10 percent longer.

To solve some of the problems, the task force suggested preventing deeper involvement in the juvenile justice system. For example, it would allow school to respond to student behavior without implicating the courts. It would improve communication between schools, parents, and students to address truancy wihtout court involvement where possible.
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To protect public safety, the task force suggested using detention only for youths who pose a risk to the community. The task force suggested removing a number of technical violations — like failure to appear in court, or the violation of a court order — as reasons that youths should be detained. Also, the group suggested that no youth under 12 should be detained except in special circumstances.

The state would use research to set the lengths youths would be supervised and held in state custody. An assessment tool would be used statewide to help inform supervision levels, referrals to programs and services, and in case planning.

Finally, all of the group’s recommendations would be be sustained with oversight and further investment.

More Than 20,000 GoFundMe Campaigns Started in Tennessee This Year

Posted By on Thu, Dec 7, 2017 at 12:00 PM

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Tennesseans started 24,000 GoFundMe campaigns this year and 282,000 residents made donations to at least one of them, the fundraising platform's officials announced today.


The campaign raising the most money in the state this year was Team Johnson, which raised over $400,000 for a widower and his newborn child in Nashville.


The second most-donated-to campaign was for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. It was started in Nashville and raised just under $400,000 for Red Cross’ disaster-relief efforts in Texas.


Meanwhile, more than $200,000 was raised for a campaign out of Chattanooga aiming to secure the right to private internet history.


Finally, the David Wesley Bangean campaign raised a little over $100,000 for a 20-year-old college student’s medical bills in East Tennessee.


Around the country, the state with the most donors this year was California. It had more than two million unique donors, giving to 138,443 campaigns.


Texas followed with about 1.5 million donations to 109,906 different campaign.

Overall, this year's top GoFundMe campaign by far was for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting in October, raising over $11 million.


Since launching in 2010, GoFundMe has become the largest social fundraising platform, raising over $5 billion to date.


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