Friday, January 18, 2019

Haslam Grants Clemency to 23 on Last Day

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2019 at 12:18 PM

GOVERNOR BILL HASLAM
  • Governor Bill Haslam
On Friday — his last, full day on the job — Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam issued clemency grants to 23 Tennesseeans, including three convicted in Shelby County.

“These individuals receiving pardons have made positive contributions to their communities and are worthy of the forgiveness that may help them restore their rights or obtain employment,” Haslam said in a statement. “Clemency requires attempting to balance mercy and justice, and my legal team and I have taken this responsibility seriously during a thorough review of many cases.”

Haslam pardoned these three convicted in Shelby County:

• Leah Margaret Foy for her 2003 theft conviction.

“She has been recognized for her significant involvement with military-related and children’s charities and received a unanimous, positive recommendation from the Tennessee Board of Parole,” Haslam said.

• Shea Langs for his 1992 drug-related conviction.

“He has obtained higher education degrees and works as a veterans justice outreach coordinator,” Haslam said.

• Michael Lee Ridley for his 1972 drug-related conviction.

“He is a decorated Vietnam veteran and received a unanimous, positive recommendation from the Tennessee Board of Parole,” Haslam said.

While in office, Haslam has granted a total of 9 commutations, 35 pardons, and one exoneration.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Memphians Vie to be Best Pinball Player in State

Posted By on Thu, Jan 17, 2019 at 12:25 PM

FACEBOOK- BLUFF CITY PINBALL
  • Facebook- Bluff City Pinball

Five Memphians will put their flipper skills and endurance to the test, as they travel to Nashville this weekend to compete in the second Tennessee State Pinball Championship.



Will Krusa, the tournament director, said Memphis and Nashville have developed a friendly rivalry so “there’s a lot of pride on who takes home the top prize for their city.”


Although Krusa said “it’s really hard to take a game of pinball too seriously,” the cash prizes offered in some of the tournaments “certainly add to the seriousness and intensity of it.”


“Competitive pinball has gained popularity over the years and has been instrumental in the growing resurgence of pinball in general,” Krusa said. “Tournaments are always a friendly atmosphere and traveling all over the country is a good way to reconnect with old pinball friends you haven't seen in a while.”


Richard Rickman, Scott Woods, Keith Richter, Jordan Clark, and Kevin Hale will represent Memphis in Saturday’s competition of the state’s 16 best pinball players.

This is the second year that Tennessee will participate in the International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA) State Champion Series. In last year’s inaugural state tournament, held in Millington, Woods snagged fifth place, Clark took home eighth, Rickman finished 11th, and Hale came in at 14th. Last year, Memphian Benjamin Liggett took home first place.


The winner of this year’s state competition will go on to compete in the national tournament held in March in Las Vegas.


Across the country, a total of 832 competitors in 44 states and Washington, D.C., will also vie for their respective state title and the chance to complete on the big stage.


FACEBOOK- KEVIN HALE
  • Facebook- Kevin Hale

Richter, a competitor from the Memphis area in this year’s state championship, said he competed in 27 pinball tournaments during 2018 and played on two leagues.


A retired Senior Chief in the Navy now working on Millington’s Navy Base, Richter is currently a part of the Bluff City Winter League, which plays Thursday nights at Memphis Made Brewery.


“One of the greatest things about pinball to me is that people of almost any age and from all walks of life can play,” Richter said. “In our current league in Midtown, we have business professionals, tradespeople, homemakers, a high school teacher, a college professor, a bartender, and several students. Ages range from pre-teens to senior citizens.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

EXTENDED Q&A: City’s Bikeway and Pedestrian Program Manager Nick Oyler

Posted By on Wed, Jan 16, 2019 at 10:50 AM

Nick Oyler, Memphis' Bikeway and Pedestrian Program Manager
  • Nick Oyler, Memphis' Bikeway and Pedestrian Program Manager

There are a slew of bike and pedestrian projects on deck for Memphis in 2019. Nick Oyler, Bikeway and Pedestrian Program Manager for the city, said the projects are designed with the goals of improving connectivity and pedestrian safety in mind. Overall, Oyler said he sees this year as a time for the city to position itself for additional projects and “greater action down the line.” — Maya Smith


Memphis Flyer: What kinds of projects are on tap for 2019?

Nick Oyler: For 2019, there are five projects that I’m most looking forward to. They’re going to be built and on the ground by the end of the year. Most of them have been a long time coming.


MF: Tell me about them.

NO: One is the completion of the Hampline. It’ll be an approximate two-mile long bike and pedestrian project that connects the Greenline to Overton Park going through the neighbor and down Broad Avenue. And because it’s the Greenline, what it is also doing, looking at the bigger picture, is connecting Overton Park with Shelby Farms. So our two most popular parks will be connected with this safe space for people running, walking, and biking.


MF: So, does this mean people will be able to safely cross Sam Cooper now?

NO: Yes. This is why the project is significant. At Sam Cooper the project will involve the first bicycle-only traffic signal in the city of Memphis. We’re going to be installing them at Sam Cooper and another intersection along the route at Yale.


Hampline on Broad rendering - ALTA PLANNING + DESIGN
  • Alta Planning + Design
  • Hampline on Broad rendering

MF: How will they work?


NO: It will actually initiate a protected phase in the traffic signal sequence. So while all traffic has a red light, bikes will have the green light to safely cross the street.


MF: What are the other big projects planned?


NO: Another one that is not as big in size, but is huge from a safety perspective is the Central Library Pedestrian Access project. This will be the first pedestrian-specific capital project, undertaken just for the sake of pedestrian safety. So we’ll be installing what’s called a pedestrian refuge island in the middle of Poplar right in front of the library. It’ll include beacons that can be activated by pedestrians. So now, when you want to cross the street, you don’t have to dash across seven lanes of traffic.


MF: Why there?


NO: The reason for this location is the high demand with a lot of people crossing the street right here in front of the library. It’s also the location of two MATA bus stops, which are both among the top-five most used stops in the MATA system. The safety record alone justifies this improvement.


MF: How bad is the safety record?


NO: Sadly, as recently as last March, a gentleman died trying to cross the street there. So unfortunately for him and for others, it couldn’t be built quick enough. But, we’re finally getting to it and construction should start in February or March.


MF: Is anything planned for Downtown?


NO: We’re extending the Riverline to connect to MLK Riverside Park. So, we’re working together with the Memphis River Parks Partnership to extend the trail further south from where it currently ends by the Big River Crossing to connect the French Fort neighborhoods, Chickasaw Heritage Park, MLK Riverside Park, and also, most importantly, the neighborhoods down there.

We’ll be providing a nice connection from South Memphis to Downtown and different amenities along the riverfront, while allowing more Memphians to access these recreational opportunities.


MF: What about Midtown?

NO: There’s going to be new sidewalks in Overton Park along Poplar Avenue. This is needed for a number of reasons. Currently, if you're trying to walk or bike to Overton Park from the other side of Poplar, it can be a hairy situation. There’s no sidewalk at all, and when you think about it, it’s one of the most popular parks in the city without pedestrian access to get to it.


It’s also going to provide (Americans with Disability Act) connectivity to the (Memphis Area Transit Authority) bus stops along that section of Poplar. Today, there are bus stops there but no sidewalks to get to them. So, it’s as much of a transit access project as it is a pedestrian safety project.

Overton Park sidewalk along Poplar. - AMANDA JANELLE MCGILLVERY
  • Amanda Janelle McGillvery
  • Overton Park sidewalk along Poplar.

MF: And the fifth project?


NO: It’s the Walker Avenue project in South Memphis. We recently did a demonstration project on Walker Avenue testing traffic circles and roundabouts. Right now, we’re undertaking a survey of residents to get some feedback on what their reactions to the project were. My goal is to make permanent changes and improvements to the street by late summer.


MF: What are some of the project’s features?


NO: It’s a special project because it will introduce different ways to calm traffic that we aren’t really used to in Memphis. We use a lot of speed humps, but don’t have a lot of traffic circles, bump outs, or pinch points. There are a lot of different options out there that are really common in other U.S. cities that we just don’t have in Memphis. Some have advantages over other types. This project will be a great model to showcase that there are other options out there.

Walker Avenue demonstration project - NICK OYLER
  • Nick Oyler
  • Walker Avenue demonstration project

MF: Overall, what are your main priorities this year?


NO: First and foremost is pedestrian safety. It continues to be an issue that I feel needs more focus. The projects that I mentioned are indicative that we are trying to change things and put more funding toward pedestrian safety projects as we continue that momentum with even more of these projects coming online in the upcoming years. I see 2019 as sort of a year of positioning ourselves for greater action down the line. From a bike perspective, my focus is on filling in the missing gaps in the network.


MF: How does your work complement the work of other organizations in the city?


NO: Another priority is being a good partner to other organizations we have in the city, whether that be Bird, Lime, or Explore Bike Share. If we were having this conversation a year ago, they weren’t here yet. But now that they are here, they have the opportunity to be the game-changers in transportation and mobility. We have the opportunity to have affordable transportation around Memphis, and we need to work together to make sure they reach their full potential. The city has to make sure it’s providing safe streets for users to take advantage of the various opportunities.


MF: As Memphis approaches its 200th anniversary, what should the city’s posture be toward dedicated pedestrian and bike spaces?


NO: Well, in some ways I think we need to look back to where we were 100 years ago. And what I mean by that is if you look at the way the city and streets were built 100 years ago, they were much like what we want today across the country. They were walkable with high-quality public transit. One hundred years ago, Memphis had almost 100 streetcar lines connecting every neighborhood in the city. It was efficient and frequent. Our neighborhoods were also built in a more dense, mixed-use fashion that fostered walking and riding bikes.


So, moving forward, I think Memphis 30 years from now will look more like the Memphis of 100 years ago than the Memphis of today.


MF: Anything else you’d like to add?

NO: These projects are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot of other exciting projects going on the ground this year. Other than that, follow us on social media at Bike/Ped Memphis.

Midtown Store to Re-Open Under Safety Conditions

Posted By on Wed, Jan 16, 2019 at 10:21 AM


GOOGLE MAPS
  • Google Maps
A Midtown convenience store was allowed to reopen Tuesday after its owner agreed to a long list of new safety improvements for the store, including hiring a security guard.

Last week, Memphis Police Department officials shuttered the tiny Express Deli and Grocery at 1295 Jefferson. Police said a months-long investigation there found dozens of police calls that led to dozens of arrests involving drug trafficking, prostitution, assaults, robberies, and thefts.

Store owner Fatima Saeidi agreed in Judge Patrick Dandridge's Environmental Court to  a host of changes to re-open the store.

That new agreement requires Saeidi to install security lighting and surveillance cameras, allow Memphis Police Department (MPD) access the cameras, hire a security guard to monitor outside the store, pay $300 restitution to offset a portion of the MPD investigation, place "no trespassing" signs outside the store, and authorize police to enforce the no trespassing order.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

U of M to Open Tech Research Facilities

Posted By on Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 11:59 AM

communitech.jpeg

As a way to strengthen its role as a researched-based driver of economic development, the University of Memphis announced Tuesday the opening of a CommiTech Research Park.


Spearheaded by the University of Memphis Research Foundation, the research park will be launched in three phases, beginning Thursday with the opening of the first facility in the University District.


An inaugural cohort of 17 citizen companies and collaborator members will move into the facility. Working with university students and staffs, the companies will look to grow in the University District over upcoming years.


The seven citizen companies involved are:


• SweetBio, a Memphis-based biotech company in the wound-care industry with Manuka honey-incorporated products

• DayaMed, a Toronto-based B2B2C digital health and analytics company that provides real-time medication adherence

• Minute School, Waterloo-based learning management system solving continuing education opportunities in higher education and beyond

• BookLocal, a Memphis-based blockchain travel company enabling hotels to tokenize, manage, and rent their room inventory with the security of the blockchain

• Green Mountain Technology, Memphis-based technology company providing highly customizable parcel spend management solutions

• XYO Network, a San Diego-based blockchain company building a people-powered location network built on the blockchain

• Ops-Fuel, Memphis-based, veteran-owned company helping soldiers, athletes, and others achieve better health.

Ten other companies, including DexFreight, Blockchain901, Web3Devs, IBM, IMC Companies, Tech901, Epicenter, Memphis Women in Technology, Remedichain, and CodeCrew will also collaborate in the facility.


The grand opening of the initial phase will be held Thursday, January 17th from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. at 460 S. Highland.


During the second phase later this year, an applied research facility will be developed at the U of M’s Park Avenue Campus. Finally, phase three will center on a public-private partnerships to attract research enterprises and labs to the University District.


The research park will help to create more jobs and opportunities in the city, U of M President M. David Rudd said.


“We are excited to create jobs and opportunities for Memphis and our students,” Rudd said. “We welcome companies from all over the world to work with our faculty and students, benefit from our world-class research, and engage an innovative community of companies and scholars.”


Tags: ,

Explore Bike Share Looking to Expand Staff

Posted By on Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 11:12 AM

EXPLORE BIKE SHARE
  • Explore Bike Share

Memphis’ Explore Bike Share (EBS) is looking to add two more full-time staff members, as well as part-time bike technicians to its team, the organization announced Tuesday.


The bike-sharing nonprofit is seeking a “proven sales leader” to serve as the Membership Marketing Director, a “proven fundraising and business development leader” to assume the Development Manager role, and “revolutionaries” to serve as bike technicians.


Applicants for both of the full-time positions should have the ability to collaborate with diverse groups; familiarity with and connections in the area; action-oriented, entrepreneurial, adaptable, and innovative approaches; and be a persuasive, passionate communicator with excellent interpersonal skills.


Serving as the EBS representative in its business and community relationships, the Membership Marketing Director will develop and execute programs, activities, promotions, and relationships that work to increase ridership and retain memberships. Other specific responsibilities include:


• Assisting the executive director and board with budgeting and developing short- and long-range plans, making adjustments when necessary

• Coordinating public relation efforts, member communications and news, media events, and marketing materials

• Interacting with Chamber of Commerce, Memphis Tourism, and other organizations to network and market EBS memberships

• Assessing membership categories and pricing to meet the changing market of needs


Qualifications for the position include a thorough commitment to EBS’s mission, along with a college degree and proven sales, marketing, and leadership experience. More specifically, applicants should have:


• An unwavering commitment to increasing ridership through sales, engagement, promotions, and data-driven evaluation

• Success at managing a wide array of tasks and projects

• Ability to thrive in an ever-changing, fast-paced environment

• Excellent organization, leadership, and planning skills



Secondly, EBS is looking to hire a development manager who will be charged with expanding the reach and impact of EBS through business development, corporate partnerships, fundraising, specials events, grant writing, networking, and referral cultivation.


Applicants should have experience with fundraising and constructive leadership. Some of the duties include:


• Increasing annual revenue by growing and stewarding sponsors and donor base

• Identifying, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding philanthropic support

• Developing and maintaining relationships with large donors, corporate partners, and gate-keepers

• Preparing and delivering presentations and proposals when needed


The development manager should have three or more years of fundraising experience, a proven ability to manage relationships, meet goals, and articulate messages, as well as success with writing grant proposals and a demonstrated knowledge of nonprofit fundraising best practices.



Finally, EBS is looking for part-time bike maintenance technicians with customer service and mechanical skills. The technicians will work about 25-35 hours a week starting at $15 an hour.The main duties include:


• Maintaining the bike fleet, including assembly, inspections, and basic repairs.

• Operating and maintaining company vans and mopeds

• Moving bikes among stations

•Installing and removing stations

•Troubleshooting at stations


Applicants for the role should be at least 21 years old with basic bike mechanic experience, critical thinking skills, a clean driving record, skills to ride a bike in an urban environment, and the ability to lift up to 55 pounds and work in strenuous weather conditions.


To apply for any of the three positions, submit a resume and cover letter to EBS via email at info@explorebikeshare.com. For more information about the jobs, visit EBS’ career page.

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UPDATE: Water Rights Hearing Postponed Until May

Posted By on Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 9:52 AM


A diagram shows the layer of aquifers underneath Memphis. - COREY OWENS/GREATER MEMPHIS CHAMBER
  • Corey Owens/Greater Memphis Chamber
  • A diagram shows the layer of aquifers underneath Memphis.

UPDATE: The water-rights case the Flyer told you about yesterday (the one that was supposed to start today) has been delayed until May.

One of the expert witnesses expected to testify in the case is out on a medical condition. The parties agreed to delay the hearing until May 20th and wrap up the proceedings on May 24th.

ORIGINAL POST: Mississippi and Tennessee take the nearly 14-year-old water-rights lawsuit to Nashville Tuesday for what could be a final hearing before the case goes before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case is (obviously) complex and the first of its kind. For a deeper dive into the case, we’ll point you to this blog post by Catherine Janasie, writing for the University of Mississippi’s National Sea Grant Law Center.

But here's what you should know before the case gets underway Tuesday.

The players:
State of Mississippi
State of Tennessee/city of Memphis/Memphis Light, Gas & Water
Judge Eugene E. Siler, Jr., appointed as Special Master for the case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit

Role of the Special Master: holds hearings, hears evidence, makes a report, suggests an opinion to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The core of the case:
The Memphis Sand aquifer is part of the larger Sparta Aquifer, which straddles the Tennessee/Mississippi border. Mississippi officials claim billions of gallons of their water have been pumped into Tennessee at Memphis.

Arguments:
Tennessee’s argument: Water in the aquifer should be shared between states.
Mississippi’s argument: That water belonged to us.

What do they want?
Mississippi:
$615 million in damages
Tennessee: a water-sharing agreement between the two states.

So, what could happen during this week’s hearings?
1.
The case could be heard and the ultimate decision would be for the U.S. Supreme Court.
2. Siler could dismiss the case.

What’s the over/under?
Can’t say. However, Siler allowed the case to go on after Tennessee officials asked for it to be dismissed in 2016.

But in the decision he said "dismissal would likely be warranted” because federal law calls for the aquifer to be shared. Also, he wrote that Mississippi’s argument fails to plausibly show that the Sparta Sand aquifer is not an interstate resource.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Commercial Appeal Moving to Peabody Place

Posted By on Mon, Jan 14, 2019 at 1:58 PM

The Commercial Appeal office building at 495 Union. - GOOGLE MAPS
  • Google Maps
  • The Commercial Appeal office building at 495 Union.

The Commercial Appeal will move from its longtime home at 495 Union to Peabody Place’s Pembroke Square in May, according to a post on the newspaper's website Monday afternoon.

Gannett Co., the paper’s owner, announced in April it had sold the Union location to a group called Twenty Lakes Holdings LLC. Owners then gave a one-year timeline to find a new office location for the paper’s staff.
1339977006-495_union_ave.jpg

Here’s what Mike Jung, president of The Commercial Appeal, said of the move in a blog post Monday:

“We are thrilled to be moving into Pembroke Square and being a part of Peabody Place, a hub of activity in the heart of Downtown Memphis.

“While 495 Union has been a great home during the past 40-plus years, it will feel good to move into a more modern space that will better serve our needs now and in the future.”

Media Group Proposes to Buy Gannett Co.

Posted By on Mon, Jan 14, 2019 at 9:01 AM

screen_shot_2017-03-28_at_1.12.16_pm.png

Board members of Gannett Co., corporate owner of The Commercial Appeal, are reviewing an unsolicited acquisition proposal from MNG Enterprises, Inc., a large newspaper chain with a reputation for cutting staff.

Gannett bought The Commercial Appeal and other former Scripps newspapers in 2015, in a deal valued at $280 million. Since then, the Memphis newspaper cut its staff in several rounds of layoffs, saw the exodus of numerous editorial veterans to the new digital startup The Daily Memphian, and hired a number of new reporters.

News of the proposal surfaced first in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

Gannett issued a formal statement on the proposal Monday morning on the investor relations page of its corporate website.

“Gannett today confirmed that it has received an unsolicited proposal from MNG Enterprises Inc. to acquire Gannett for $12 per share in cash,” reads the statement. ”Gannett’s stock closed at $9.75 on Friday, Jan. 11th, 2019.
toc_1416_art.jpg

“Consistent with its fiduciary duties and in consultation with its financial and legal advisors, the Gannett board of directors will carefully review the proposal received to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interest of the company and Gannett shareholders. No action needs to be taken by Gannett shareholders at this point."

In a post Monday morning, Columbia Journalism Review’s Jon Allsop wrote that the proposal troubles some media watchers.

Here’s a part of what Allsop wrote:

“The scoop might normally have passed under the radar as standard-issue jockeying — except MNG Enterprises is better known as Digital First Media, the prolific private-equity-backed publisher that has become an industry byword for cost-cutting and job-slashing.

"The largest shareholder of Digital First Media, which owns about 200 publications nationwide, is Alden Global Capital, a New York-based hedge fund that specializes in investing in troubled companies.

"The names Digital First and Alden made headlines last April after flagship paper The Denver Post ran an editorial excoriating them as ‘vultures’ alongside a striking all-staff photo, from 2013, with tens of since-laid-off employees blacked out
.
JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks

"A few weeks later, the editor of a neighboring Digital First title, Boulder’s Daily Camera, was fired over a similar rebuke; then, in early May, the Post’s editorial page editor himself resigned, accusing Digital First executives of further attempts at censorship (CJR published a critical editorial he said was spiked).

"As tensions rose, staffers from Digital First papers as far away as California traveled to protest outside Alden’s New York offices. Buyout campaigns were mooted, then fizzled.

"Given this raw context, yesterday’s Journal report elicited immediate concern among media reporters and local-news watchers, many of whom noted that Gannett titles nationwide are in a sad enough state without the prospect of further cuts.”

Gannett sold The Commercial Appeal building at 495 Union in April 2018 and planned to move its staff within a year. The company is now considering new locations.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Brewery, Airbnb Hotel, Art Lofts Up for DMC Review

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2019 at 11:42 AM


A rendering of the inside of Grind City Brewing's taproom. - CENTER CITY DEVELOPMENT CORP.
  • Center City Development Corp.
  • A rendering of the inside of Grind City Brewing's taproom.

A brewery, an Airbnb hotel, and artist loft walk into the Center City Development Corp. (CCDC)….alright, that’s pretty lame.

But next week developers of Grind City Brewing, Ambassador Hotel, and The Medicine Factory will get a review (and possible nod) from the CCDC, a committee of the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC), for grants and loans that will help them fund their projects Downtown.

Here are the basics:

A rendering of the inside of Grind City Brewing's taproom. - CENTER CITY DEVELOPMENT CORP.
  • Center City Development Corp.
  • A rendering of the inside of Grind City Brewing's taproom.

Grind City Brewing

What: brewery and taproom
Where: 83 Waterworks
Request: grant of $55,697.50
For what: demolition of front warehouse wall, paint, installation of roll-up openings.

Grind City developers announced last year they planned to open a brewery in an industrial part of northern Downtown on the east bank of the Wolf River Harbor.

“We are developing a state-of-the-art brewery and taproom that is unique to the city of Memphis,” the company wrote in its request to the CCDC.

The CCDC staff recommends the grant.

“Local breweries and taprooms have the power to be catalysts for economic development in emerging neighborhoods,” reads the staff report. “Taprooms can be draws for people and additional investment to vacant buildings and sites in the neighborhood.

”Local breweries and taprooms also function as informal community hubs and places for residents and visitors alike to gather.”

The proposed new exterior of the Ambassador Hotel. - CENTER CITY DEVELOPMENT CORP.
  • Center City Development Corp.
  • The proposed new exterior of the Ambassador Hotel.

Ambassador Hotel


What: apartments, Airbnb hotel, “well-known hospitality company”
Where: 345 S. Main St.
Request: loan of up to $200,000; grant up to $60,000
For what: exterior improvements, general renovations

From the developer, Collierville’s GEM Investments:

“The top two floors will provide a mixture of long-term and short-term rentals, dependent on demand. The market currently is lacking in short term rental units operated on platforms such as Airbnb and Homeaway. The project will meet that demand by master leasing the top two floors to an international short-term rental manager.
“The bottom floor will be occupied by a well-known hospitality company, helping build the food scene of the South Main District.“

The CCDC staff likes it:

“This project is clearly aligned with the DMC’s primary goals of improving commercial property values, encouraging new investment, and fighting blight,” reads the staff report. “With major neighborhood investments underway or recently completed at Tennessee Brewery, Central Station, Artspace Lofts, Malco Theater, Arrive Hotel, Slider Inn, Oden Marketing, Wiseacre, Museum Lofts, Century House, and the Arcade building, this project will only add to the significant momentum seen in South Main.”

A current view outside The Medicine Factory. - CENTER CITY DEVELOPMENT CORP.
  • Center City Development Corp.
  • A current view outside The Medicine Factory.

The Medicine Factory


What: artist lofts
Where: 85 W. Virginia Ave.
Request: loan of up to $150,000
For what: general renovations

Phillip and Joseph Lewis bought the warehouse property last year. The space has been used as artists’ studios for the last decade and now has nine studios. The new owners want to improve the building and offer more artists lofts and create a an event space “while maintaining the industrial look of the building.”

A current view inside The Medicine Factory. - CENTER CITY DEVELOPMENT CORP.
  • Center City Development Corp.
  • A current view inside The Medicine Factory.

The CCDC staff recommends the loan:

“Maintaining a vibrant arts community is crucial for any thriving Downtown,” reads the report. “Often, as development and investment in an area increases, it can make become challenging for artists to find studio spaces in the midst of a hot real estate market.

“This renovation will help preserve The Medicine Factory as an active studio space for local artists, while increasing its capacity to serve additional artists.”

All of the projects will get CCDC review on Wednesday, Jan. 16th.

March, Rally Planned to Highlight Women’s Electoral Momentum

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2019 at 10:37 AM

Women’s March in Memphis - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Women’s March in Memphis

A Memphis activism organization is planning two events this month to continue the positive momentum in activism and highlight the number of elected women on a local and national scale.


Tricia Dewey, one of the organizers, said the events planned by Memphis Women’s March Collective are intended to help activists and communities stay mobilized on civil rights, LGBTQ rights, poverty issues, immigration, education, criminal justice reform, health care, all progressive women’s issues, and “the freedoms that make America great.”


Co-hosted by the Tennessee Young Democrats Women’s Caucus, the first event is a march slated for Saturday, January 19th. Beginning at Memphis City Hall and ending at the Judge D’Army Bailey Courthouse, the march will feature speakers, entertainment, and music.

Women's March 2018 - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Women's March 2018

One week later, the group plans to hold their 2019 Legislative and Action Rally at Clayborn Temple for networking and connecting purposes. Speakers at the event will touch on local and statewide issues like health care, gun control, and immigration. They will also outline ways that activists can continue to make a difference in those areas.


The rally is inspired by the 2018 March to the Polls Rally, Sondra Tucker, a co-organizer of the event, said. She adds that the 2018 rally helped get six of its featured speakers elected positions in Shelby County and on the state level.


“The event is another opportunity for interested folks to plug into actions and to work together to get their voices heard,” Tucker said. “This year’s rally is not only a chance for people of all genders, races, and nationalities to come together, but also to realize that Memphis gained some momentum with a countywide sweep by Democrats and progressive candidates that included many women and women of color that was noticed nationally.


The women’s inaugural march took place Downtown in 2017, with more than 9,000 demonstrators in attendance, one of the organizers of this year’s events, Kayla Gore said.


Signs used in last year's Women's March
  • Signs used in last year's Women's March

“We had people excited about a march this year,” Gore said. “We had people excited about continuing to do the work.

"There was energy, So we decided to organize both a march and a rally. There is plenty of work to do on women’s issues in Memphis and Shelby County.”


Tami Sawyer, Memphis activist and Shelby County Commissioner, said she’s excited about the momentum that’s been built from the 2017 march, which she believes brought awareness and change to the city.


“In 2018, we showed we could win elections and also impact elections in areas that are not traditionally progressive,” Sawyer said. “This year’s rally is another way to keep our momentum going. We have shown that the future is female.


“I am very proud of every woman in Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, and the United States who stepped up and ran for office. Many of us won our races and are ready to bring change to the status quo.”


The Facebook pages for the events indicate that more than 2,500 people are interested in attending either. More info, as well as ways to volunteer can be found here.

MLGW Enacts Hardship Policy for Furloughed Government Employees

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2019 at 10:25 AM

1397161833-mlgw.jpg
Memphis Light, Gas & Water (MLGW) will help keep the lights on for government employees affected by the partial shutdown of the federal government.

The shutdown is now in its 21st day, tying for the longest lapse in federal funding in history, according to CNBC. Around 800,000 federal employees are furloughed and on Friday they’ll miss their first paychecks.

Any of those employees in Memphis can keep their utilities running as MLGW enacted its hardship policy Friday.

“Under this policy, furloughed employees experiencing temporary, financial hardship are able to make payment arrangements, which can prevent an interruption in utility services,” reads a statement from MLGW.

Anyone interested in the program should gather their furlough documents and call (901) 544-6549 or visit an MLGW community office.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Midtown Store Closed as Nuisance

Posted By on Thu, Jan 10, 2019 at 1:23 PM

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  • Google Maps
Thanks to a rash of drug trafficking, prostitution, assaults, robberies and thefts, a Midtown store was closed Thursday as a public nuisance, according to Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich.

The tiny Express Deli and Grocery at 1295 Jefferson was closed after an investigation by the Memphis Police Department’s (MPD) Organized Crime Unit.

From June 2016 and September 2018, the store was the site of 69 calls for police service, according to the MPD. Those resulted in 43 incident reports and 29 arrests, including 17 felony arrests on the store’s premises and surrounding property. MPD said the store attracts loiterers, crack cocaine traffickers, and is the site of “illegal and dangerous activity.”

The store’s owner, Fatima Saeidi, is scheduled for a hearing at 10:30 a.m. Monday before Judge Patrick Dandridge in Environmental Court. Saeidi will be asked to show why the temporary injunction/restraining order should not be made permanent.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Council Makes History, Three Appointees’ Priorities Vary

Posted By on Wed, Jan 9, 2019 at 11:35 AM

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Back at full strength with 13 members, the Memphis City Council saw many historical firsts Tuesday night with the appointments of Gerre Currie, Sherman Greer, and Cheyenne Johnson.


This is the first time in council history:


•Eight African-American members make up the majority of the body.


•Four African-American women will serve together on the council.


•Three appointed members will serve at the same time.


•A member of the Ford family has not held the District 6 seat (since 1972).


City Council chair Kemp Conrad anticipates working with the group, collaborating, executing, and “getting stuff done.”


“I was thrilled and privileged to lead the meeting last night,” Conrad said. “I think we have a great group down there. It’s amazing what can happen when you bring people together with different backgrounds and experience for a common purpose. It’s powerful.”


The three newly-appointed members will serve through 2019, with the option of running in October for a full four-year term.


In the meantime, some of the priorities of the trio include economic development, housing, and retiree benefits.


Sherman Greer of District 1 - LINKEDIN
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  • Sherman Greer of District 1

Representing District 1, Greer is the executive director of government relations at Southwest Tennessee Community College. In the past, Greer has worked with U.S. Reps. Steve Cohen and Harold Ford Jr.


Greer said he wants to focus on engaging youth through programs in his district.


“I was one of those kids with a single parent, at home with nothing to do at times,” Greer said. “I don’t think one council member can change that, but we have to find some way to get young males engaged and employed.”


Greer also said he’d like to see Frayser, which sits in his district, to “flourish more.”


“Frayser is one of the best communities in the whole city,” Greer said. “I lived in Frayser and grew up in Frayser. It’s situated in a perfect spot for growth.”


Additionally, Greer said he plans to address city retiree benefits down the road.


Cheyenne Johnson of Super District 8-2 - SHELBY COUNTY
  • Shelby County
  • Cheyenne Johnson of Super District 8-2

“I’ll probably take a hit for this, but it’s something we have to go back to and address down the road,” Greer said. “I think that’s something we have to look at and really come to a consensus.


“Like I said, it’s all about compromising and doing what’s right by people who have served."


Johnson, who now represents Super District 8-2, is a former Shelby County Assessor of Property. She said her main goal is to promote economic growth in the district and throughout the city.


“What can we actually do to bring resources to the city?” Johnson said. “How can we encourage people to understand what economics is all about?”


Gerre Currie of District 6 - LINKEDIN
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  • Gerre Currie of District 6

Gerre Currie, representing District 6, is a community development officer at Financial Federal Bank. During her time on the council, she said her main priority will be improving Memphis’ housing stock, as well as commercial development.


“Housing is always needed,” Currie said. “It’s important and it’s critical. My focus will not only be on housing, but the development that the city is experiencing now.”


Currie said she’s also looking to make sure minority businesses get their “fair share of the pie in anything that goes on in this city.”


“I’m interested in fairness across the board,” Currie said.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Council Ends Impasse Over District 1 Seat

Posted By on Tue, Jan 8, 2019 at 5:14 PM

Sherman Greer taking oath of office
  • Sherman Greer taking oath of office

After two months of debate and delay, Tuesday the Memphis City Council filled the District 1 seat, appointing Sherman Greer.


None of the remaining original contenders were considered after the floor was opened up to new nominees who met the requirements for the position. Councilwoman Patrice Robinson nominated Greer, and no other nominations were made by council members or the public.


Greer, the executive director of government relations at Southwest Tennessee Community College, was given an opportunity to speak to the council. Greer, who said he’s lived in District 1 for more than 20 years, highlighted his willingness to serve.


Without any discussion or pushback, the council proceeded to vote, awarding eight votes to Greer.

Cheyenne Johnson, center,  is chosen for the Super District 8-2 seat.
  • Cheyenne Johnson, center, is chosen for the Super District 8-2 seat.

Greer took the oath immediately after being appointed and took his seat behind the dais, as the council moved forward with filling the Super District 8-2 and District 6 seats.

Eleven qualified candidates made their cases for an appointment to the Super District seat, which was ultimately won by Cheyenne Johnson. Johnson, former county property assessor, received seven favorable votes during the first round of voting and, like Greer, immediately took the oath of office and joined the rest of the council.

Moving on, the council heard from six candidates looking to fill the District 6 seat. After an initial round of voting, Lynette Williams, who ran in this year’s Democratic primary for Tennessee House District 85, and former council member Edmund Ford Sr. were the two top vote-getters. However, neither were able to get the seven votes required to be appointed.

Aiming to avoid a repeat of the District 1 appointee process, councilman Worth Morgan added another candidate to the mix, nominating Gerre Currie, who vied for the Super District 8-2 seat. Currie was given a chance to speak to the council.


In the next round, council members Martavius Jones, Jamita Swearengen, and Joe Brown maintained their support for Ford Sr., as Currie garnered five votes, two shy of winning.


After recessing for more than 40 minutes, dispersing into smaller groups of discussion, the council returned to their seats. Jones, echoed by Robinson, and Canale expressed disappointment over the council’s inability to reach a consensus.


“I was hoping we could leave 2018 in 2018,” Jones said.


After a few more rounds of voting, newly-appointed member Johnson, who had abstained in previous rounds, ended the deadlock by casting a vote for Currie, giving her the seven needed to win.


This this is the first time the council has had four African-American women.


Earlier in the meeting, council members played a bit of musical chairs, as Kemp Conrad was appointed by his colleagues as the 2019 chairman, replacing Berlin Boyd. Robinson was chosen as the vice chair, taking over for Frank Colvett Jr.

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