Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Amazon Posts 500 New Jobs for Olive Branch Center

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2020 at 12:01 PM

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Need a job? Amazon has 500 of them.

The retail giant posted the jobs for its new, 1-million-square-foot fulfillment center in Olive Branch on Tuesday, July 28th.

The full-time jobs start at $15 per hour. They also come with a benefits package that includes health, vision, and dental insurance, a 401(k) with a 50 percent company match, up to 20 weeks paid parental leave, and Amazon’s career program that pre-pays 95 percent of tuition for courses in high-demand fields.

The fulfillment center will be located at 11505 Progress Way in Olive Branch. Workers there will pick, pack, and ship large customer items, like sports equipment, patio furniture, fishing rods, pet food, kayaks, bicycles, and larger household goods.

Job candidates must be 18 years or older and have a high school diploma or equivalent to be considered. Learn more here. Or, sign up for text alerts by texting PITNOW to 77088.

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Online Lecture Series Focuses on Black Lives in America

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2020 at 11:51 AM

PHOTO BY MIKE VON ON UNSPLASH
  • Photo by Mike Von on Unsplash

This week the national nonprofit Braver Angels continues its 2020 social action campaign with a series of lectures centered around sharing the experiences of African Americans in the United States.

The goal of their 2020 campaign is to “show the American people how to ‘fight right’ — how to compete with one another politically and engage our differences in a way that builds our bonds rather than destroys them.”

Braver Angels is a grassroots organization that works to closes depolarize politics. The group consists of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents and hosts lectures, guest speakers, film views, and open panels with the hope of finding common ground in politics.

This Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m., the group will be hosting an American Public Forum scholar Glenn Loury, media entrepreneur, and activist Joy Donnell, and businessman/community advocate Nel Glover in a discussion on the future of Black America. The event will be moderated by Braver Angels.

On Thursday from 8 to 10 p.m., the Braver Angels community and Americans from across the country will debate the subject of reparations and the logistics behind them in modern times. Coleman Hughes, Roderick Graham, Jason Hill are guests to look out for during the live stream.

Finally, on Friday starting at 8 p.m., Braver Angels will be hosting the inaugural meeting of the Braver Angels Film discussion group by doing a deep dive into the movie Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America.

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Mayors: ‘This Fight Can’t Go On Forever Without National Assistance’

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2020 at 11:47 AM

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Mayors of cities up and down the Mississippi River urged Congress to pass a federal stimulus package Tuesday to aid them in the worsening COVID-19 crisis.

Mayors of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI) described “challenging” situations in their cities Tuesday. Testing supplies were stretched. Testing times were long. Personal protective equipment (PPE) was running low. Hits to their cities’ budgets have been worse than the financial crisis of the late 2000s.

For all of this, the mayors asked the House and Senate for expediency in passing a stimulus package that includes revenue replacement for local governments, resources for testing, additional PPE assistance for schools, intense heat response, and hurricane preparations in the face of the ongoing coronavirus surge.

The MRCTI mayors banded together in March to pool resources for a region-wide response to the COVID-19 crisis. The move “paid off,” according to Bettendorf, Iowa, Mayor Bob Gallagher.

“We’ve now accumulated over 75,000 units of PPE, equipping our cities with masks, body coverings, and now thermometers,” he said in a statement. “We’ve also partnered with technical experts to better access federal resources.

“As a region we can better respond to the pandemic than individually. But, this fight can’t go on forever without national assistance.”

City revenues from the 10-state, Mississippi-River corridor are down between 10 percent to 30 percent, leaving fewer resources to deliver basic services and respond to the crisis.
“We are working to contain the contagion, but our depleted revenue complicates our efforts,” said Lacrosse, Wisconsin, Mayor Tim Kabat. “Also, if we are going to get our economy fully reopened, we need to have the capacity to test the healthy, not just the exposed and symptomatic.”

“My state originally peaked on May 28th with 646 new cases reported that day. We more than doubled that on July 24th alone.”

The new surge is raging across the Mississippi Delta in Louisiana and Mississippi. New virus rates are topping the worst levels seen in April by several hundred cases all in the midst of a very active hurricane season, according to the MRCTI.

“Here in Mississippi, we’re seeing cases rise to past double what we were seeing in April, May, or June,” said Vicksburg, Mississippi, Mayor George Flaggs. “It didn’t take long to climb from 400 cases a day to 1,600 and it is the western side of the state seeing the fastest rise in newly reported cases.
“In fact, I just placed a new order with MRCTI for additional masks and thermometers to assist my city with response. We got ahead of this before and think we can again, but now cases are rising much faster and we’ve been fighting the pandemic longer with a greater toll.”

Mayor Sharon Weston Broome of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said test times there have climbed to as much as 10 days. 

“If we’re expected to open schools in the fall, have capacity in place for a major hurricane, and lift it all with a third less revenue, then we need action on this stimulus now and it has to get funds to Main Street,” she said. “We only had one city along the entire Mississippi River qualify for direct funding from the CARES Act.”

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New Virus Cases Rise by 528

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2020 at 10:21 AM

* as of Monday, July 27th

Shelby County added 528 new cases of COVID-19 on test results reported since Sunday morning.

The number is not the number of new cases on tests given yesterday. Tests results are now rarely returned within 24 hours and can take up to eight or more days. The new-case count comes from numerous tests over numerous days from numerous laboratories.

The latest weekly data available shows 15.9 percent of all tests were positive for the week of July 12th, a slight increase over the 15.3 percent of positive tests reported the week before. The weekly average positivity rate has grown steadily since the 4 percent rate recorded for the week of May 4th, just as the county's economy began to reopen.

The county's overall average positive rate for COVID-19 was 10 percent on Monday, according to the latest figures from the Shelby County Health Department, on all test results reported since the virus arrived here in March.

The total number of COVID-19 cases here stands at 19m694. One new death was reported since Monday morning. The death toll in Shelby County now stands at 263.

The total of known COVID-19 cases now diagnosed in Shelby County is 5,530. The figure is 28.1 percent of all virus cases recorded in Shelby county since March. However, there are 8,024 contacts now in quarantine.
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Monday, July 27, 2020

Shelby County Schools to Go All-Virtual This Fall

Posted By on Mon, Jul 27, 2020 at 12:31 PM


As the numbers of confirmed COVID–19 cases continue to rise in Memphis, Shelby County Schools superintendent Dr. Joris M. Ray announced Monday that the district will begin its school year fully virtual starting on August 31st.

The move came amid growing national pressure for schools to remain closed due to the COVID–19 pandemic. However, Ray cited the growing number of cases and uncertainty of the pandemic as major factors in the decision. 

“Safety signage, spacing desks, more hand sanitizer, and masks simply cannot make a school safe in a community that is experiencing a daily triple-digit increase of virus cases," Ray said in a video announcement. "There are more than 18,000 cases of COVID-19 in Shelby County — a 9.3% positivity rate and growing. Science tells us that by September, our community will reach the same trajectory as New York City, and this figure does not account for the students returning to school.”

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Teachers will have the option to teach remotely or in classrooms, but all students will rely on remote learning until further notice.

To supplement the process all students will be given a digital device and have the opportunity for an internet hotspot, based on need. Shelby County Schools will also continue to provide meals for students and accommodations to students who receive special education services.


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Average Positivity Rate Hits 10 Percent

Posted By on Mon, Jul 27, 2020 at 10:49 AM


Shelby County added 402 new cases of COVID-19 on test results reported since Sunday morning.

The number is not the number of new cases on tests given yesterday. Tests results are now rarely returned within 24 hours and can take up to eight or more days. The new-case count comes from numerous tests over numerous days from numerous laboratories.

The latest weekly data available shows 15.5 percent of all tests were positive for the week of July 12th, a slight increase over the 15.2 percent of positive tests reported the week before.

The weekly average positivity rate has grown steadily since the 4 percent rate recorded for the week of May 4th, just as the county's economy began to reopen. The county's overall average positive rate for COVID-19 was 9.8 percent Wednesday, according to the latest information, on all test results reported since the virus arrived here in March.

The total number of COVID-19 cases here stands at 19,166. Three new deaths were reported since Friday morning. The death toll in Shelby County now stands at 262.

The total of known COVID-19 cases now diagnosed in Shelby County is 5,439. The figure is 28.4 percent of all virus cases recorded in Shelby county since March. However, there are 8,053 contacts now in quarantine.
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Friday, July 24, 2020

More Than 8,000 Virus Contacts in Quarantine

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2020 at 10:34 AM

*as of Thursday, July 23rd


Shelby County added 374 new cases of COVID-19 on test results reported since Wednesday morning.

The number is not the number of new cases on tests given yesterday. Tests results are now rarely returned within 24 hours and can take up to eight or more days. The new-case count comes from numerous tests over numerous days from numerous laboratories.

The latest weekly data available shows 15.5 percent of all tests were positive for the week of July 12th, a slight increase over the 15.2 percent of positive tests reported the week before. The weekly average positivity rate has grown steadily since the 4 percent rate recorded for the week of May 4th, just as the county's economy began to reopen.

The county's overall average positive rate for COVID-19 was 9.8 percent Wednesday, according to the latest information, on all test results reported since the virus arrived here in March.

The seven-day rolling average of daily tests rose above 15 percent on July 8th, according to the latest data. That figure was 15.5 percent on July 18th.

The total number of COVID-19 cases here stands at 18,058. Three new deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. The death toll in Shelby County now stands at 259.

The total of known COVID-19 cases now diagnosed in Shelby County is 4,980. The figure is 27.6 percent of all virus cases recorded in Shelby county since March. However, there are 8,055 contacts now in quarantine.

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Thursday, July 23, 2020

MRPP: Mud Island Amphitheater Fix 'Complicated'; Will Cost $2M-$10.5M

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2020 at 12:33 PM

COURTESY: JERRED PRICE
  • Courtesy: Jerred Price

The Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA) announced plans this week to help revive Mud Island Amphitheater. The group formed a committee to begin working to ultimately bring concerts back to the 5,000-seat amphitheater.

The venue is part of the massive Mud Island River Park, opened in 1982 at a cost of $63 million. When it opened, the park included three restaurants. While those are closed, Mud Island still features an indoor museum (now closed because of COVID-19), a boat launch, a monorail with two terminals between a suspension bridge, and a five-block long scale model of the Lower Mississippi River. 
THE TENNESSEAN/1982
  • The Tennessean/1982


Here’s how it was described in a 1982 full-page ad in The Tennessean right before it opened: “Not a theme park. Not an amusement park. Mud Island is a 50-acre Mississippi River adventure built by the people of Memphis.”

Mud Island River Park is one of several riverfront parks managed for the city by the Mississippi River Parks Partnership (MRPP). The group was criticized earlier this week by DNA president Jerred Price for allowing the park to fall into “despair” and allowing the stage at the amphitheater to remain unused since 2018. The group proposed finding a corporate sponsor who would get naming rights to the venue for money to fix it up. (See below.)

COURTESY: JERRED PRICE
  • Courtesy: Jerred Price

George Abbott, director of external affairs for the MRPP, said the amphitheater is special but should be considered a part of the entire Mud Island River Park. To deliver the venue as a “minimum viable product” — for safety upgrades to even allow shows back there at all — it would cost $2 million. But to do it right for modern productions, it would cost more than $10 million. He said MRPP asked city leaders for the money this year but couldn’t blame them for not approving it. — Toby Sells

Memphis Flyer: What do you think about the DNA’s plans for Mud Island Amphitheater?

George Abbot: There's no denying that the amphitheater really sits in an incredible location and has a beautiful backdrop behind it. As such, it's an important asset for our city.

But I think it's very hard to consider the amphitheater in isolation. Mud Island was really built as a complete experience. I wasn’t alive when it opened. But I've heard people talk about it. You went there to eat at one of the restaurants. You visited the museum. There were shows every hour in the amphitheater. (The amphitheater) was really designed as a piece.

(The MRPP has) been in place for just over two years. We’ve had multiple discussions with venue operators about what can take place in the amphitheater, what needs to happen, which upgrades need to go in there. There hasn’t been a show in the amphitheater since 2018. [Allison Krauss and Widespread Panic were among the last shows there.]



If you look at the cost-assessment, you begin to see how it's inextricably tied to the rest of the island. You're looking at roughly around $2 million in capital expenses, that needs to be put in [the amphitheater] to achieve a minimum viable product. That's only the amphitheater itself.

Then, you begin to ask the question: Well, how do people get there? Then you start looking at some of the capital expenses for the two [monorail] terminals on either end. Then, you start asking questions about the monorail, and about the parking lot, and the escalators and elevators. It all adds up. We’ve worked with a couple of different firms to do cost estimates for all of Mud Island and they can get up to more than $20 million in capital expenses.

The discussions we've had with venue operators, and promoters all took place in a pre-pandemic environment. Looking ahead to the future, who knows what what the concert industry looks like and what the live-event industry looks like.

That, to me, actually creates a very exciting opportunity for the amphitheater. This could be a prototype of the new concert-going experience. But to get there, you need a little bit more understanding of what the landscape looks like. You need a very savvy, smart, and experienced operator to partner with us to get there.
I don't think there's really anyone who disagrees with the fact that we've got an asset on our hands. The discussion really is, again, we need the right partner to be in place, to operate this at a level that we all want to see here in Memphis. We’ve spoken of some of those offerings and we'll continue to have those discussions. But it takes some time and I don’t think really any concert promoters or operators are looking very far in the future right now.

COURTESY: JERRED PRICE
  • Courtesy: Jerred Price

MF: As far as priorities right now for the MRPP, are Mud Island and the amphitheater, maybe No. 2 or No. 3 and Tom Lee Park is No. 1?

GA: I wouldn't necessarily rank them because we've been working on both of those projects at the same time.

We are stewards of public assets. As such, it is our responsibility to steward public assets in the way that brings the most benefits to the city. That’s one of the reasons I find it difficult to recommend spending that. … Let’s say you do the minimum viable product for the amphitheater. It’s about $2 million.

We actually asked for that money in the (the city’s Capital Improvement Program budget) this year. The city didn't give that that money to us. But, to be fair, I don't really blame them so much for that. That delivers you the safety upgrades inside the amphitheater itself. That doesn't do anything about access.

Some of the operators we've spoken to have estimated that you’d need about $8.5 million on top of that $2 million for the upgrades to the amphitheater — things like raising the roof so you can fit in modern productions — to really make it a competitive facility.

So, I don't blame (city leaders) for not approving that money while there isn’t some kind of a comprehensive plan in place for the island.

Our job as stewards of public assets is to invest in places where they can have the most impact, which is precisely why there has been a focus not just on Tom Lee Park, but on all of our parks that are adjacent to Downtown. As such, they’re accessible to many, many more people without necessarily having to drive and bringing the associated economic benefit to Downtown businesses.

One of the problems with Mud Island, for me, is that it was always kind of pitched as like the theme-park-type experience. It was difficult to access and most people would drive Downtown or you'd even drive directly on onto Mud Island, the parking lot over there, and that was kind of your day out. That's what it was designed as.

MISSISSIPPI RIVER PARKS PARTNERSHIP
  • Mississippi River Parks Partnership

You’d come Downtown. Experience the theme park. Stay in the theme park. Eat here. Entertain yourself here, and then get back in your car, and drive away.

If we think of how we build a successful and thriving Downtown, you want people to do multiple things on that trip. So, you come Downtown, maybe have dinner on the [Main Street] Mall. You visit a riverfront park and then go to a show at the Orpheum, all without having to get back into that into that car. Every time someone gets back into that car, it's a potential that they drive away and they drive out of Downtown.

So, connectivity is key and that’s always been Mud Island’s weakness. And that's why our focus in the past couple of years has been on those places that are accessible, that bring the economic impacts of Downtown, but that also are accessible and close to the neighborhoods to the north and south of Downtown that have been economically depressed for a long time.

For some people, visiting the riverfront is kind of the place where they find peace. It's the place that is kind of the equivalent for a vacation. So, it makes sense to invest in places that are most accessible to them.

MF: Is Mud Island River Park open right now?

GA: It is. All of the riverfront parks are open. What is closed are the the inside facilities. So, that means that the (Mud Island) terminals and the walk bridge are closed, but you can still access the park from from Island Drive.

MISSISSIPPI RIVER PARKS PARTNERSHIP
  • Mississippi River Parks Partnership

MF: What do you say to the folks who go over there and they see the cracks and the weeds and are concerned about the maintenance and upkeep of Mud Island?

GA: It's important to make a distinction between maintenance and capital expenses. We could talk for a long, long time about Mud Island, but the program was built with an assumption of self-sustaining revenue. There was the ticket price. There were businesses there and restaurants over there.

Very, very quickly after it opened those visitorship projections didn't didn't bear out. And ... it became a loss-making project. Four or five years after it opened, it was kind of kicked around. It was managed by various entities. I'm pretty sure [Pyramid developer] Sydney Schlencker managed it at one point before the [Riverfront Development Corporation] was created.

Because the revenue isn’t there, the backlog of maintenance issues began all the way back in the 1980s. There's a point where it becomes a capital expense. What’s in our contract and what's in our budget for the city is the general day-to-day maintenance. The things that are not in that are these … capital expenses.

We've done the cost estimates and baked in everything over there to get it to the 1982 standard. You're looking at more than $20 million. But, again, it's difficult for me to recommend that as a good use of public assets. Because that delivers you … Okay, we got Mud Island that's just the way it was in 1982, with a program that that didn't succeed in 1982. It’s now 2020.

MISSISSIPPI RIVER PARKS PARTNERSHIP
  • Mississippi River Parks Partnership

You know there’s a very, very different recreation market and a very, very different concept market. [Mud Island] really needs kind of a comprehensive plan ... I mentioned that connectivity was always a disadvantage of Mud Island, but it can also be an added advantage, depending on what you're using it for. Like, you're at once close but far away. So, you almost need to find that longtime use to take advantage of that.

There’s a lot of concrete over there. It was built with one idea of how it can be used. When that use didn't pan out, it then became a problem. I think that that's why you if you look at the Tom Lee plans, you'll see that pretty much everything in the park is flexible and multipurpose, which is which is the way that we build nowadays.

That’s the way that we build kind of every project. There’s very few single-use projects. Even if you think of somewhere like (Crosstown Concourse). It’s that mix of shops, school, healthcare, and apartments. It has flexible sets that can be reconfigured depending on how the economy changes and how our tastes change.

That’s really the gold standard for public spaces now. We want to avoid building things like, like Mud Island to have one program and build things that are flexible and that can adapt and change over time.

MF: Is there anything you want to add or anything we left out?

GA: I would just like to make two additional points because I think I noticed in [the article on Jerred Price] there were these claims that we used to have hundreds of concerts a year at the amphitheater. We looked back. The last time there were double figures (for concerts) annually was 2011. The most concerts ever held in a year on Mud Island was 21 and that was back in 1997.

So, again, just thinking about how we're spending dollars. That's 21 nights a year. As good stewards, we've got to say, okay, what would it take to get us to 21 nights a year and could that even happen?


Everyone forgets that it’s 5,000 seats over there with the bleachers. You take the bleachers away — the bleachers are terrible — it goes down to 4,000. Just as a comparison, the Landers Center is 8,000. Snowden Grove is 11,000. So, they're really not competing on the same playing field.

There’s a question as to could you even get back up to that 21 nights per year? And then if you do, what's the outturn you need to get there? What’s the return on that? This is a more complicated issue than it appears on the face of it.

I think a lot of people have memories of going to concerts there and if it could just be that again, it would be great. But then once you peek beneath the hood and look at the numbers, it becomes more complicated.

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Current Known Virus Cases Fall Below 5,000

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2020 at 10:48 AM


* as of July 22nd

Shelby County added 429 new cases of COVID-19 on test results reported since Wednesday morning.

The number is not the number of new cases on tests given yesterday. Tests results are now rarely returned within 24 hours and can take up to eight or more days. The new-case count comes from numerous tests over numerous days from numerous laboratories.

The latest weekly data available shows 15.2 percent of all tests were positive for the week of July 5th, a slight increase over the 14.2 percent of positive tests reported the week before. The weekly average positivity rate has grown steadily since the 4 percent rate recorded for the week of May 4th, just as the county's economy began to reopen.

The county's overall average positive rate for COVID-19 was 9.7 percent Wednesday, according to the latest information, on all test results reported since the virus arrived here in March.

The seven-day rolling average of daily tests rose to 15 percent on July 9th, according to the latest data. That figure was 15.7 percent on July 16th.

The total number of COVID-19 cases here stands at 17,255. No new deaths were reported from Monday morning. The death toll rose by five in Shelby County and now stands at 256.

The total of known COVID-19 cases now diagnosed in Shelby County is 4,993. The figure is 28.2 percent of all virus cases recorded in Shelby county since March. However, there are 7,782 contacts now in quarantine.

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Riverside Drive to Reopen August 3rd

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2020 at 9:31 AM

GOOGLE MAPS
  • Google Maps

Riverside Drive will reopen to vehicles on Monday, August 3rd but will close again on weekends, according to the Mississippi River Parks Partnership (MRPP).

In a Thursday morning email, the MRPP said the street will close each Friday at 6 p.m. and open again at 6 a.m. on Monday mornings "to allow people to use the street and park safely." The Tom Lee Park parking lot will remain closed.

The MRPP said it regularly counts visitors to the parks it manages and takes note of their activities. During the coronavirus pandemic, more people have been using the riverfront parks and using Riverside Drive "to spread out across Tom Lee Park and onto the street."

"An analysis of interviews with park visitors over the past couple of months shows that 'peace,' 'safe,' and 'convenient' are overwhelmingly used to describe the atmosphere and nature of Tom Lee Park with Riverside Drive closed to vehicles," reads the statement. "The partnership will continue our work with Mayor Jim Strickland, Memphis Police Department, and city engineering to find ways to continue to deliver this atmosphere even as cars and motorcycles return to Riverside Drive."

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Humane Society Seeking Fosters

Posted on Wed, Jul 22, 2020 at 12:36 PM

PHOTO BY THE LUCKY NEKO ON UNSPLASH
  • Photo by The Lucky Neko on Unsplash
The Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County (HSMSC) has a growing need for fosters — especially for kittens.

If you are among those who are now working from home or furloughed due to COVID-19, it may be a good time to consider helping an animal in need.

We spoke to the Humane Society's volunteer coordinator, Ashley Moore, and director of fundraising, Katherine Russell, regarding the current need. Here’s what they had to say.

Why is it important for people to foster?
Last month, our kitten intake was up 236 percent as compared to June 2019. We traditionally take in more kittens and puppies during warmer months but received three times the requests this year due to a variety of reasons related to COVID-19, such as limited facilities offering spay and neuter surgeries, as well as fewer shelter options for surrendering litters.

Since kittens are vulnerable to disease and illness, they cannot stay in the shelter environment. We rely on fosters to take care of and play with them until they are at least two pounds — the point at which they can receive vaccinations and other preventive veterinary care. With the help of foster families, we’re able to support vulnerable puppies and kittens while also limiting the number of animals we have in the shelter at any one time. This helps protect our staff during a time where social distancing and a healthy workplace are critical.

Any specific reasons a person would not qualify for fostering?
During our application process, we ask several qualifying questions to determine whether an individual or family is a good fit for our foster program. Generally, extensive time spent away from the home and rental situations where animals are disallowed would disqualify someone from participating. We encourage anyone who is interested to submit an application and talk with our adoption team about their situation to determine if they would be an ideal candidate for fostering animals in need.

How many kittens are currently available to adopt or foster?
We cannot take in kittens without potential fosters being ready. Once our foster coordinator has approved fosters ready and waiting, our intake staff alerts her of kittens ready to come in. Once the kittens are in the building for intake, fosters can pick them up. As kittens in foster homes grow, get their vaccinations, and are eventually adopted, those families are able to take in other kittens. The more fosters we have available, the more kittens we’re able to take in.

As of July 20th, we have 56 kittens in foster homes. Eight of those kittens are vaccinated, treated, and available for adoption.

What does fostering for HSMSC look like?
Prepare for two-four weeks of playing and caring for baby kittens while they grow and gain enough weight to enter the facility. This way, they’re able to receive their necessary immunization shots and are able to get spayed/neutered.

What’s the cost?
The Humane Society provides blankets, towels, toys, litter, food and medical needs, while fosters just love and play until the kittens are ready for adoption. The foster program ensures that everyone is provided the right tools to care for these animals, no matter their socioeconomic status.

How do we sign up?
To get involved, a foster application should be filled out and submitted. This application will ask whether the foster rents or owns their home, whether or not there are other animals or children in the home, and if they have experience fostering. Once the application is filled, we will match the applicant with kittens that fit their specific needs.

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New Virus Cases Rise by 277

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2020 at 10:44 AM



Shelby County added 277 new cases of COVID-19 on test results reported since Tuesday morning.

The number is not the number of new cases on tests given yesterday. Tests results are now rarely returned within 24 hours and can take up to eight or more days. The new-case count comes from numerous tests over numerous days from numerous laboratories.

The latest weekly data available shows 14.7 percent of all tests were positive for the week of July 5th, a slight increase over the 14.2 percent of positive tests reported the week before. The weekly average positivity rate has grown steadily since the 4 percent rate recorded for the week of May 4th, just as the county's economy began to reopen.

The county's overall average positive rate for COVID-19 was 9.7 percent Tuesday on all test results reported since the virus arrived here in March. The seven-day rolling average of daily tests rose to 15 percent on July 9th, according to the latest data. That figure was 15.7 percent on July 16th.


The total number of COVID-19 cases here stands at 17,255. No new deaths were reported from Monday morning. The death toll rose by seven in Shelby County and now stands at 251.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Council Committee Approves ‘Black Lives Matter’ Renaming

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2020 at 3:47 PM

Memphis City Hall
  • Memphis City Hall

The Memphis City Council’s planning and zoning committee passed an amended form of a resolution that called for the renaming of a stretch of Poplar Avenue to Black Lives Matter Avenue.

The committee voted eight to four in favor of the amended form of the resolution with councilwoman Rhonda Logan abstaining. Though the committee unanimously agreed in the sentiment behind the resolution, conflict arose after, as an amendment called for a change in the location of the stretch of road and a street to also be named in honor of the late John Lewis. 

Through the resolution, the location and name of the stretch of road will be reviewed by an advisory committee established earlier in the day to assist the council regarding city of Memphis street, park, and place names. The resolution was initially proposed by council member Michalyn Easter-Thomas in a press conference Monday morning.

The council plans to use the Land Use Control Board to rename the stretch of Poplar between Front Street and Danny Thomas Boulevard.

“This particular stretch was chosen because it highlights where … we spend most of our budget and our citizen’s tax dollars and the target institutions in which we have the current capacity to change for the present and for future generations,” said Easter-Thomas.

Council member JB Smiley was critical of the committee’s decision, citing that they had the power to make a decision today.

“For far too long we have been pushing and kicking the can down for Black people to get what they deserve,” said Smiley. “What we are proposing today is simply telling Black folks your time for justice should be delayed. I cannot fathom why people, particularly in the city of Memphis, would want to delay what’s due.”

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Group Aims to Revive Mud Island Amphitheater

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2020 at 12:30 PM

COURTESY: JERRED PRICE
  • Courtesy: Jerred Price

The Mud Island Amphitheater has been quiet for awhile now, but a new group hopes to change that.

Jerred Price was elected president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA) in February. He recently formed two new committees. One will focus on affordability: helping people with increases in land values and tax increases and keeping Downtown rents affordable. The other will focus on reviving Mud Island Amphitheater.

Price has been a vocal critic of the Mississippi River Parks Partnership’s (MRPP) move to redo Tom Lee Park. Price is the administrator of a Facebook group called Save the River Parks and the Festivals.

Group members criticize the state of Mud Island River Park with its weeds, cracks, and holes. In a video that shows all of this (below), the group says it’s proof the the MRPP has “failed our parks.” The state of Mud Island in general has many critics calling for MRPP to fix the park first before embarking on the $60 million plan to completely renovate Tom Lee Park.


We caught up with Price recently about the Mud Island committee and his hopes for the one-of-a-kind, 5,000-seat theater. — Toby Sells

Memphis Flyer: Why did you get interested in this issue?

Jerred Price: I’m a musician. I play Almost Elton John (an Elton John tribute artist) with my band at Lafayette’s every month. I started in 2014, playing almost only on Beale Street at Hard Rock Cafe.

Jerred Price as Almost Elton John - JERRED PRICE/FACEBOOK
  • Jerred Price/Facebook
  • Jerred Price as Almost Elton John

When I went down there, I thought, “where are other places we could do shows like this, other venues?” So, I started looking. I realized that they had this beautiful backdrop of the city behind this cool amphitheater in the middle of the river. I didn't even know it was there, as a child coming from Arkansas. I got really interested (in the amphitheater) and wondered, “Man, why does it look so bad?”

Even up until, I think, three or four years ago, they did concerts there. I know Eric Clapton played up there in 2015. Fallout Boy was there recently. They’ve (recently) had about 15 or 16 different bands play there. They’ve had some big names roll in there.

Then, it stopped. I think it stopped because the focus on the rebranded (Riverfront Development Corp. now the MRPP) is not on Mud Island. It’s not on promoting it. It's focused on Tom Lee Park. You’ll see the timeline of when the concerts stopped and when the Tom Lee Park fundraising initiative began; it matches up.

Then, Mud Island kind of fell into despair. The maintenance out there is horrible and I think that's why the bands don't want to come out there. I understand the logistics trouble. I do. I want that to be very clear, that we understand it's a challenging venue, challenging location.

COURTESY: JERRED PRICE
  • Courtesy: Jerred Price

But you look at venues all over the world like the Colosseum in Rome, the Red Rocks Amphitheater. There are theaters that are in the mountains and, somehow, they get logistics and they make that work. So, if we can get amphitheaters (like these to work), I think we can get Mud Island amphitheater … we can make it work and it has worked.

It is challenging, but it can still work and it did for years and years and years. It's just become not the focus. I think a lot of Downtowners are really disappointed in the condition of it.

I know that, per public record, the city signs a contract every year for MRPP, formerly RDC, to maintain, and manage, and oversee the river parks. I think they get $3 million to $4 million a year from the city of Memphis budget [it was $2.97 million in 2018], but where's the maintenance going? Where's the oversight in [the contract] because if you look at maintenance out there, it looks like the city's not giving them a dime. I mean, it's bad.

I created a post on Facebook a little while back and I threw up (images of amphitheater concepts) for Servicemaster, and AutoZone, and FedEx. What if they took over the naming rights like Renasant Bank with the new convention center? What if they put up the naming rights, and sold it to a corporation, and got investors, and got a new promotion marketing team, and did some upgrades out there? How much could that bring back that theater? Then, [the post] gets shared 1,500 times.

COURTESY: JERRED PRICE
  • Courtesy: Jerred Price
The big concern, too, with some of the people here in Memphis and a lot of the comments [on Facebook] is that we're losing tourism dollars to the BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove down in Southaven.

The hotel industry and the restaurant industry, they’d love to have concerts back. That’s 4,000 people coming Downtown. They're going to want to go eat. They're going to need places to stay. They're going to need restaurants and want to go to the bars to hang out.

It's a return on investment. It’s more than just about the amphitheater. It’s about Downtown. So, when I got elected president this past February of the DNA, I said I'm gonna make it a focus to restore and bring back this beloved amphitheater.

MF: Do you have a timeline for this?

JP: We are basing our timeline on the safety of Downtown and Memphis. We want to make sure that whatever we do is in a timely manner that is safe for everyone together.

But we are going to do the background work of putting it together so we can be able to pull the trigger when they do say we can have concerts. That way, all the legwork is done. We’ve got the promotion companies. We've got the artists. We've got the money. We've got the investors to potentially do, maybe, a pop-up concert out there.

Al Kapone with Nikki Minaj at Mud Island. - MEMPHIS FLYER FILE PHOTO
  • Memphis Flyer file photo
  • Al Kapone with Nikki Minaj at Mud Island.

As soon as we get the say-so from the Shelby County Health Department and the city feels comfortable with gathering in large numbers, we'll do a pop-up concert out there. Memphians and humans by nature are very tangible people. We like to see, feel, and touch. So, when we get out there, and we see this amphitheater, we see the view, we touch the seats, we feel the music, that's when people are going to get even more behind the project.

MF: To do that, would you have to get permission from the MRPP?

JP: Any event that takes place in a park that's managed by MRPP simply has to be submitted to them with the proper insurance — if it's needed — or plans for the event. You just kind of have to have an outline presented to them, and then get the permission to do it.

My hope — and I hope this makes it into the way you write it, too — we hope that we get the support and partnership of MRPP. If their their motto on their website is working ... let me read it for you.

It says, “Memphis River Parks Partnerships works with and for the people of Memphis to trigger the transformative power of our river.” So, we hope the MRPP will work with and for the people in health resurrecting this beloved amphitheater, and supporting our mission and our committee to do that.
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MF: Did we leave anything out or is there anything you want to add?

JP: I hope that MRPP will focus more on investing more maintenance dollars in this beloved park. I understand it has its challenges.

But so did many other projects that have recently been completed such as Crosstown Concourse. People said it was nearly impossible to do what they've done there. But it's been done and it's a success and people love it.

I think we need to make sure that we we keep this jewel that sits on the front porch of our city. We need to keep it alive and we need to keep going.

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New Virus Cases Rise By 211, ICU Usage At 85 Percent Capacity

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2020 at 10:45 AM

* The average positivity rate was not updated on the Shelby County Health Department website as of 10:40 a.m.

Shelby County added 211 new cases of COVID-19 on test results reported since Monday morning.

The number is not the number of new cases on tests given yesterday. Tests results are now rarely returned within 24 hours and can take up to eight or more days. The new-case count comes from numerous tests over numerous days from numerous laboratories.

The latest weekly data available shows 15 percent of all tests were positive for the week of July 5th, a slight increase over the 14.2 percent of positive tests reported the week before. The weekly average positivity rate has grown steadily since the 4 percent rate recorded for the week of May 4th, just as the county's economy began to reopen.

The county's overall average positive rate for COVID-19 was 9.6 percent Monday on all test results reported since the virus arrived here in March.

The seven-day rolling average of daily tests rose to 15 percent on July 9th, according to the latest data. That figure increased to 15.7 percent on July 14th.

The total number of COVID-19 cases here stands at 16,987. No new deaths were reported from Monday morning. The death toll in Shelby County stands at 244.
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