Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Memphis Pets of the Week (June 29-July 5)

Posted By on Wed, Jun 28, 2017 at 10:42 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, June 27, 2017

Celebration Scheduled to Kick off 'Great Streets' Downtown

Posted By on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 2:15 PM

Peabody Place - BIKE/PED MEMPHIS
  • Bike/Ped Memphis
  • Peabody Place

The Downtown Memphis Commission is sponsoring a party tonight at 5:00 to celebrate the kick off of the Great Streets Pilot project, which created a new space for bikers and pedestrians Downtown.

Over the past few weeks, a handful of Downtown streets, including parts of Beale and Front Street received a facelift, as Public Works crews repaved and restriped the streets, and volunteers decorated portions with art, plants, and furniture.




The Great Streets Pilot project, an effort of the City's Division of Engineering and the UrbanArt Commission, is a combination of new protected east-west bike lanes, pedestrian spaces, outdoor eating area, and games.


Tonight near the intersection of Main Street and Peabody Place, there will be live music, Sprock n' Roll Party Bike rides, MEMPops, games, and a photo booth.

The project is piloted for one year and is designed to connect with proposed bike lanes to come in the fall to Riverside Drive and Dr. MLK Jr. Avenue.

Lyft: Memphis Home to Generous Tippers

Posted By on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 12:00 PM

LYFT
  • Lyft
Lyft said Memphis is home to some of country’s most generous tippers.

Memphis ranked 9th nationally in the percentage of Lyft rides that end with a tip. The ride sharing company operates in more than 350 communities across the country.

Here’s how Memphis stacked up in the nation’s top 10:

Salt Lake City, UT
Lincoln, NE
Portland, OR
Omaha, NE
Colorado Springs, CO
Louisville, KY
Nashville, TN
Denver, CO
Memphis, TN
Minneapolis, MN

So far this year, Lyft drivers have collected more than $250 million in tips. More than $50 million of those tips were generated in the last two and a half months, the company said.

Lyft drivers earned a total of $1.6 billion in 2016, according to the company.

MemphisFlyer.com to require Facebook or Google account for comments

Posted By on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 11:45 AM

SERGEY ZOLKIN, UNSPLASH
  • Sergey Zolkin, Unsplash
Beginning on Wednesday, June 28, the Flyer will only accept story comments from registered Facebook or Google accounts.

Until now, we've allowed people to register with their own name, anonymously, semi-anonymously, and even not to register at all to make comments. It was a system that led to some great and spirited conversations, but unfortunately it also allowed tons of spam, hateful and racist comments every day, posters with multiple sock-puppet accounts, and personal attacks on Flyer staffers and other commenters. Monitoring and deleting reader comments was a constant hassle, even (and especially) on weekends, and, frankly, it was a waste of our time and energy. We simply aren't staffed to monitor and referee MemphisFlyer.com 24/7.

We recognize that some of our long-time commenters have posted under pseudonyms in order to avoid consequences from employers and/or simply from a desire to keep their identity secret, for whatever reason. Many of these folks have contributed greatly to the success of the site. We are sorry to lose you, if we must.

We're joining what's become the norm for most news organizations around the country. We realize that some folks will still create fake social media accounts and try to game the system, but we intend to keep diligently monitoring the site and doing our best to keep comments and conversations civil and transparent.

Bruce VanWyngarden, editor


Arkansas Will Accept Marijuana Applications Friday

Posted By on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 11:13 AM

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Patients, growers, and prospective dispensary owners can apply Friday to state officials in Arkansas to join the state’s brand new medical marijuana program.

Arkansas voters approved medical marijuana in the state last year. Since then the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission (AMMC), under the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration, was established to organize the program and work out its details.

Arkansas officials said they expect 20,000 to 40,000 patients to apply for a medical marijuana registration card. Those cards will cost $50 so even if 30,000 apply, the registration fee will cover the $1.5 million officials have said it will cost to run the marijuana program there.

The AMMC will also begin accepting applications Friday for “cultivation” facilities, or marijuana grow operations. The AMMC will issue only five licenses but can also issue less than that number if “an insufficient number of qualified applicants” meet the September 18 application deadline.

Also, the commission will start to accept applications for 32 dispensaries across the state. The commission carved up the state in eight geography zones and each zone will get four dispensaries. The zone closest to Memphis stretched from the Missouri boot heel to Crittenden County, home to West Memphis.

Arkansans will get their marijuana registration cards as soon as dispensaries are approved, established, and ready to sell. State officials said that could be early 2018.

Not all cities are required to have medical marijuana dispensaries, though. The law passed by voters allows cities to opt out. So far, only Hot Springs and Siloam Springs have chosen bans (but those bans are only a few months long).

Of course, the law does not give marijuana patients carte blanche to smoke just anywhere. According to the law, marijuana cannot be consumed on a school bus, on the grounds of any preschool or primary or secondary school, in a motor vehicle, any government building, health care facility, and more.

Also, patients will only receive a medical marijuana registration card if they are an Arkansas resident, of course, and can prove they have cancer, glaucoma, HIV, Hepatitis C, lateral sclerosis, Tourette’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, PTSD, severe arthritis, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia, peripheral neuropathy, or chronic pain.

Business is slowly beginning to grow around the new program. Some websites, like weedmaps.com and ardispensaries.com are waiting to populate their maps to help patients find dispensaries in the Natural State.

Another company, The Herbal Compliance Co., is now trying to attract investors with a “golden opportunity” that awaits working in the “cannabis compliance” space.

The Horseshoe Lake-based company is holding a meeting today to attract those investors in hopes of raising between $100,000 and $1 million. The minimum buy-in is $100.

That money will start the business that aims to help marijuana companies navigate the waters between state law and federal law.






Monday, June 26, 2017

President Trump Approves Federal Assistance in Tennessee for Memorial Weekend Storm Recovery

Posted By on Mon, Jun 26, 2017 at 12:51 PM

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President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration for the State of Tennessee in response to the Memorial weekend storms that parts of Shelby County, along with others are still recovering from.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal assistance will be available to supplement state and local storm-recovery efforts in 12 Tennessee counties, including Shelby County.

Local government officials, as well as certain private nonprofit organizations may apply for reimbursement for emergency work or repair resulting from the storm.

Funding will also be available for statewide hazard-mitigating measures.

However, FEMA has not made a decision concerning Gov. Bill Haslam's request of additional individual assistance for Shelby County residents.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mayor: Greensward Deal Is a 'Win-Win-Win'

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 3:15 PM


BRANDON DILL
  • Brandon Dill
Designers with Memphis-based Powers Hill Design could officially kick off their work this week to create a new main parking lot for the Memphis Zoo, a move that will eventually end parking on the Overton Park Greensward.

The Memphis City Council quietly accepted funds for the project from the Overton Park Conservancy (OPC) on Tuesday. The vote came with no debate on what was once the most controversial issue at Memphis City Hall.

OPC officials were ready to deliver the funds to the city more than two months ago. But zoo officials said OPC did not have the money to actually build the project and threatened to pull out of the entire agreement if OPC could not get the money.

The council gave the OPC two months to raise $1 million, which it did through an online campaign that went national, several local fundraisers, and some big-money matching grants from local philanthropists and foundations.

With that money in hand, the OPC went back to council this week to give it the money for the design portion of the project.

Here’s what OPC communications director Melissa McMasters said of the situation:

“We were thrilled to be able to demonstrate the community's commitment to protecting the park, and we're eager to set in motion a solution to the Greensward parking problem. Now the design team can get to work and develop concepts, and we look forward to getting our neighbors' feedback during the public engagement process.

It's great to feel like we can finally get down to the business of returning parkland to the community!”

In his Weekly Update, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said the compromise deal is a “win-win-win.”

“This week’s news brings us closer to the realization of a solution I proposed last year, which accomplishes three things: permanently ends Greensward parking, allows our great zoo to continue to thrive, and uses no city tax dollars, leaving them to be dedicated to core services.

It’s a win-win-win, proving the worth of compromise to permanently settle an issue that has dragged on for some three decades.”


Confederate Group Promises 'Swarthy Convict' Cellmate for Those Removing Statues

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 2:40 PM

FACEBOOK, MEMPHIS BRIGADE, SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS
  • Facebook, Memphis Brigade, Sons of Confederate Veterans


Those who want to take down Confederate monuments in Memphis are “losers,” according to the Memphis Brigade of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (MBCSV), and if they illegally take down any statues they can spend years in prison with a “swarthy convict.”

These revelations come from a stroll through the MBCSV Facebook page. The identity of the group’s Facebook poster isn’t known. It is not clear whether or not the poster speaks for the entire group or for themselves only. If the poster speaks for the group, the page becomes a source of insight into and official statement from perhaps the largest group to oppose the statues' removal.

But the page posts often about defending Confederate statues and monuments, also defending and clarifying the significance of the Confederate flag, and occasionally taking swipes at “yankee” newspaper columnists and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

FACEBOOK, MEMPHIS BRIGADE, SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS
  • Facebook, Memphis Brigade, Sons of Confederate Veterans
On a local level, the MBCSV Facebook page often posits that the city does not have enough police officers, a source of the city’s high crime rate, it claims. The page uses the assertion to sideswipe arguments for removing statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis from Memphis parks, with the idea that city leaders have more to worry about.

On a post about the city’s upcoming Independence Day Fireworks Spectacular happening Downtown, the MBCSV poster wrote, “I hear General Forrest and Jeff Davis are going to stay on their pedestals, so they won't shoot/rob/stab/abduct you. But all other bets are off. If you go down there be careful.”

The MBCSV Facebook page also used the too-few-police line to call those who want the Confederate statues removed “losers.”

“A group of losers met at a school to talk about taking down statues last night, while two blocks away a guard was carjacked at a hospital,” the poster wrote on June 21, the day after the meeting at Bruce Elementary of those interested in working to remove the statues. “Our Thin Blue Line gets thinner, and the city cut their budget $1.73 million.”

Posting at 11:05 p.m. the night of that meeting, the MBCSV promised 30 years of jail time for anyone illegally removing the statues, jail time that would come with a dark-skinned cell mate, according to the group.

Here's what the post says:

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“Advice from the Brigade:

Stop, relax, and think about whether you want to enjoy Memphis in May for the next 30 years, or spending those same evenings with a swarthy convict with anger issues, nestled in cozy Brushy Mountain State Prison. (Upside, you will learn a skill by stamping out SCV license plates.)”

Swarthy means “of a dark color, complexion, or cast,” according to Merriam-Webster. Google says “swarthy” means “dark-skinned.”  Lee Millar is often quoted in the media as the spokesman for the local Sons of the Confederate Veterans group in Memphis. But there are many affiliated groups in Memphis. Millar he is a member of the General Nathan Bedford Forrest Camp 215.

Millar does not shy away from tough talk, much like the poster for the MBCSV group. In a statement about the recent meeting to remove the statues, Millar said those who want to tear down historic monuments “are no better than Nazis or ISIS. They are historical terrorists” and said the “TearDownMemphis” or the “TakeEmDown” groups bear “the same characteristics.”

“ I will NOT be attending the Bruce meeting today so as to not legitimize that mob gathering,” Millar wrote at the time.

Here's a brief look at some of the images and posts from the MBCSV Facebook page. Also included are several comments to the group's posts that were never deleted.

Tropical Storm Cindy Knocks Out Power to Thousands

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 11:22 AM

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More than 8,500 Memphis Light Gas & Water (MLGW) are without power Friday morning as the weakened but powerful Tropical Storm Cindy moved through the area bringing heavy rains and high winds.

More than 10,500 MLGW customers were without power early Friday morning as Cindy blew in at around 7 a.m. MemphisWeather.net reported wind gusts of about 30 mph - 40 mph. The winds pushed over a tree into the roadway close to Union and East Parkway.

The storm has rolled out of town but Cindy may not yet be done with Memphis. The National Weather Service NWS) said the storm will head northeast and dump rain on the Ohio Valley. The NWS expects this to raise Mississippi River levels by 20 feet.

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Bucks Battle in Epic Trail Camera Video

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 10:39 AM



Trail cameras posted by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) officers caught two deer battling in nearby Hardeman County.

The video was captured Wednesday, caught by a trail camera installed by TWRA wildlife officers Amy and Bubba Spencer. A TWRA post on Facebook called the video "surprising" and that it has "fascinated a lot of folks and media."

"Amy and Bubba think these two bucks were working out their issues over a small food plot in Hardeman County," the TWRA post reads.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Trio of Lawyers to Investigate Alleged Misconduct in Shelby County School System

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 4:36 PM

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An independent investigation into allegations of misconduct in the Shelby County Schools (SCS) system is being led by the former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee Edward Stanton, III.

Stanton, now a partner at Butler Snow law firm, along with former FBI agent Scott Newton and lawyer Paul Adams were granted full authority to investigate the allegations that were raised by a former SCS principal of manipulating transcripts, practicing intimidation, and other misconduct among the school system's leaders.

Newton will be investigating claims that members of the Shelby County Board of Education, along with other leaders of SCS received kickbacks, while Adams will look into possible incidents of sexual harassment and racial discrimination.

Both Stanton and Newton have been authorized to make recommendations to the Superintendent following the investigation.

The investigation team has also set up a hotline for anyone with information regarding the allegations. Individuals can call 901-680-7277 or email the team.

Memphis Braces for Tropical Storm Cindy

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 3:18 PM

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Tropical Storm Cindy is already impacting the MidSouth, even though the tangible effects of the storm have yet to reach it.

Remnants of the storm are expected to move across the MidSouth late Thursday and through Friday night, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

“Showers and thunderstorms will increase across the area tonight and Friday, with rain chances really ramping up on Friday as a cold front interacts with the tropical moisture,” reads a NWS forecast for Memphis. “Heavy rainfall is becoming more likely across the region. As a result, there will be a potential for flash flooding this afternoon into Friday night.”

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Dale Lane, director, Shelby County Office of Preparedness (SCOP), has said to plan on flash flooding in the area. He said the NWS issued a flash flood warning here beginning at 1 p.m until Friday evening. The storm could also bring “short lived tornadoes” and damaging winds. But Lane noted that flash flooding is a very likely threat.

“Keep abreast of changing weather conditions and please stay off the roadways during flash flooding,” Lane said Thursday. “Public works is working diligently to ensure our storm drains are clear. We would greatly appreciate your assistance by removing any debris or trash from storm drains near your home or work.”

The threat of the storm brought organizers with the Memphis Botanic Garden to re-schedule Friday’s Live at the Garden show featuring country act Little Big Town. That sold out show has been moved to September 8. Garden officials said existing tickets are still good and will be honored at the gates that night.



In a YouTube video Thursday, the performers said they were sorry they couldn’t play the show, which had a new set list and new production elements.

“Stay safe and we’re so sorry to have to do this,” Little Big Town vocalist Karen Fairchild said.

State officials also postponed the grand opening of the new I-55 Shelby County Welcome Center. Officials planned to have the ceremony Friday but postponed it indefinitely “based on the current forecast, and the potential for severe weather activity,”

Memphis, Light, Gas & Water (MLGW) did not respond to an inquiry on their preparation plans for the storm.


City Receives Grant to Enhance Diversity of City Vendors, Contractors

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 3:10 PM

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The City of Memphis will now benefit from a nationwide cohort called City Accelerator that aims to support local government projects that impact lower income residents.

An initiative of Citi Foundation and Living Cities, City Accelerator will grant the City of Memphis $100,000, allowing the City to test new ways to drive sustainable growth and increase opportunities for minority-owned businesses.

Memphis will work together with Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles and Milwaukee to refine its procurement spending, pursuing at least one new strategy to enhance diversity of city vendors and contractors, while directing more spending to local minority-owned businesses.  

Specifically, Memphis will develop policy and process reforms in the procurement system. For example, the City will use data from a recent study of disparity in city contracting to target areas with available minority vendors who are underutilized in the public procurement system.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland says Memphis' inclusion in the program will strengthen the City's efforts to create a more equitable economy.

"We know that for our economy to work, it must work for all," Mayor Strickland said. "That's why the City of Memphis' performance with minority and women-owned businesses has been a priority of mine since becoming mayor."

City of Memphis’ Office of Business Diversity and Compliance (OBDC) has worked to increase the amount of city contract spending with small, minority and women-owned businesses from 12 percent when Mayor Strickland took Office in 2015 to 20 percent as of March.

"At the City of Memphis, we are intentional about growing our business with small, minority and women-owned businesses— and just as intentional about empowering these businesses to grow," director of OBDC Joann Massey said.

Frayser to Have New Grocery-Anchored Shopping Center

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 11:13 AM

Proposed shopping center at 2571 N. Hollywood St.
  • Proposed shopping center at 2571 N. Hollywood St.
A near 20-acre lot in Frayser that has been vacant for over two decades will now be transformed into a shopping center with retailers, grocers, and restaurants.

The Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County (EDGE) awarded the Frayser Gateway team a 15-year Community Builder Pay-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) incentive to develop 97,000 square feet of space.

The incentive gives the group a temporary abatement of taxes in return for contracting local minority or women-owned small businesses.

Costing a little over $16 million, the proposed shopping center is expected to bring 136 jobs to an area that has unemployment rates between 15 to 30 percent.

The new space at 2571 N. Hollywood St. will be a grocery-anchored shopping center, providing access to food in neighborhoods that are currently certified food deserts.

EDGE board members commended the group for their proposal, as chairman Al Bright Jr. says the Frayser Gateway will bring economic growth to the area and put money back into the community, while eliminating blight and creating jobs.

Construction on Frayser Gateway is set to begin in late 2018.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Gannett to Pay Severance in Guild Agreement

Posted By on Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 3:46 PM

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Gannett Co. has reached a settlement agreement with the Memphis Newspaper Guild and eligible, laid-off employees will receive severance pay and short-term health insurance.

The settlement was announced Wednesday afternoon by Guild president Daniel Connolly who said the agreement was reached Tuesday afternoon.

“We regret that it took so long to achieve a fair settlement, but the worst part of this conflict is behind us,” Connolly said.

As part of the agreement, the Guild will drop its complaint against the company with the National Labor Relations Board, Connolly said.

Here’s Connolly’s statement in full:

“A few days ago, our labor union hung up signs throughout The Commercial Appeal's offices that read ‘Shame on Gannett - Pay the Severance.’
The Guild hung "shame on Gannett" posters around the office at the newspaper's headquarters at 495 Union. - NEWSPAPER GUILD OF MEMPHIS
  • Newspaper Guild of Memphis
  • The Guild hung "shame on Gannett" posters around the office at the newspaper's headquarters at 495 Union.
Yesterday, we took all those signs down. The reason: we signed settlement agreements with the company Tuesday afternoon, ending a severance dispute that had lingered for more than two months.

All twenty-three former employees in advertising and editorial will receive cash payments, and those who had health insurance through The Commercial Appeal are eligible for up to six months of continued health insurance coverage, fully paid by the company.

We anticipate we'll have to do lots of review and followups over the next few weeks as we make sure that our former employees receive proper payments.

We regret that it took so long to achieve a fair settlement, but the worst part of this conflict is behind us.

As part of the settlement, we have agreed to drop our formal complaint through the union grievance and arbitration process as well as our federal National Labor Relations Board cases challenging the company's actions.

I want to thank Guild vice president Wayne Risher for his hours of hard work on this matter, Guild office manager Amy Olmstead for her diligence and care in communicating with our former employees and relaying their concerns to the company, and our attorney Sam Morris for guiding us through this complex process. I also thank the Guild board members for voting to authorize the union to pursue an aggressive legal course that helped us get to this point.

And I want to thank everyone else at The Commercial Appeal, in our families and in the broader community for your interest and support for what we're doing. It does make a difference.”
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