Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Cohen: TVA Coal Ash Clean-Up Timeline 'Unacceptable'

Posted By on Tue, Mar 26, 2019 at 5:41 PM

Groundwater discharge from an aquifer test at the Tennessee Valley Authority Allen Combined Cycle Plant in October. - USGS
  • USGS
  • Groundwater discharge from an aquifer test at the Tennessee Valley Authority Allen Combined Cycle Plant in October.

Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) clean up of the coal ash at its now-idled Allen Fossil Plant could take up to 20 years and Rep. Steve Cohen told TVA leaders Tuesday that's too long.

TVA said it will close its remaining coal ash pond at the Allen plant. The federal agency is now in the process of deciding just how it will deal with the coal ash that remains at the site. Options include sealing the ash and storing it in place and removing the ash.

Cohen wrote a letter to TVA's "outgoing and incoming presidents and CEOs" on Tuesday after a meeting with the Tennessee congressional delegation. In the letter, Cohen said "they are not treating the cleanup of the coal ash found in the groundwater at the Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis with sufficient urgency."

“While it was my understanding that corrective work will begin this year, I was alarmed to learn at the meeting that cleanup could take as long as 20 years," Cohen said. "TVA’s timeline to address its coal ash – the primary source of pollution at Allen – is unacceptable. The citizens of Memphis and Shelby County deserve nothing less than full commitment in this matter.”

According to a brief news release issued by Memphis City Council chairman Kemp Conrad Tuesday morning, members of the council and leaders with Memphis Light, Gas & Water were in Chattanooga Tuesday to meet with TVA leaders. 

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Legislators Want to Curb Local Control of Plastic Bags, Food Containers

Posted By on Tue, Mar 26, 2019 at 9:20 AM

Plastic bags like these could cost you 4 cents apiece. - MAYA SMITH
  • Maya Smith
  • Plastic bags like these could cost you 4 cents apiece.

The Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club is seeking signatures to help stop bills in the Tennessee General Assembly that would ban cities’ abilities to put any restrictions on plastic bags and single-use containers.

The House version of the bill passed on the floor in that chamber Monday. The Senate bill is slated to be heard Tuesday in the Commerce and Labor committee.

The bill ”prohibits a local government from adopting or enforcing a resolution, ordinance, policy, or regulation that:

• regulates the use, disposition, or sale of an auxiliary container

• prohibits or restricts an auxiliary container or

• Enacts a fee, charge, or tax on an auxiliary container."

“This [bill] provides that this state is the exclusive regulator of food and drink sellers, vendors, vending machine operators, food establishments, and food service establishments in this state,” reads the bill. “This [bill] prohibits a local government from imposing a tax, fee, or otherwise regulating the wholesale or retail sale, manufacture, or distribution of any food or drink, food or drink content, amount of food or drink content, or food or drink ingredients…”

The Sierra Club called the bill “horrible legislation” and said it “would take away local communities ability to enact any restrictions or fees on single use containers, bags or eating implements (straws).”
“Single use plastics clog our stormwater systems, pollute our waterways, kill wildlife, and eventually result in microplastics in our water supplies,” reads the Sierra Club website. “Local communities know best how to handle their unique challenges with single use plastics and unless the state wants to enacted a ban across Tennessee, the General Assembly should stay out of their way.”

As of Tuesday morning, the club’s petition had 700 of the 1,000 signatures the club is seeking.

The Memphis City Council paused a vote on a new, local fee on plastic bags earlier this month as the state legislation made its ways through the Assembly.

The fee here is meant to curb plastic bag usage to reduce litter, especially in the city’s waterways, according to council member Berlin Boyd, who sponsored the resolution here.

The fee was initially 7 cents per bag but was lowered to 4 cents. If approved, it would take effect January 2020.

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Monday, March 25, 2019

FBI Seeks Information on Masked Bank Robber

Posted By on Mon, Mar 25, 2019 at 3:55 PM

The FBI says this man robbed a Germantown bank at gunpoint in December. - FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • The FBI says this man robbed a Germantown bank at gunpoint in December.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is seeking the public's help to identify a man in a hockey mask who robbed a bank at gunpoint in December.

The FBI issued the call for assistance Monday. The agency said the man robbed a SunTrust bank branch at 7770 Poplar in Germantown on Dec. 7th, 2018.
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
"The unknown male robbed the bank at gunpoint, placed the money in a red bag, and fled the scene on foot," reads a statement from the FBI. "The subject is described as a male, black, approximately 5'10" - 6'0" tall. The suspect was last seen wearing all black clothing, a white hockey mask, work-type gloves, and dark shoes."

The FBI said the subject is armed and dangerous.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI Memphis Field Office at (901) 747-4300 or Crime Stoppers Germantown at (901) 757-CASH (2274). Tips can also be submitted online at tips.fbi.gov.

Find more information about the robbery here.

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
The FBI is still looking for another subject who robbed a bank here in 2015.

That man, dubbed the "Devil Mask Robber" wore a "red devil mask" when he attempted to rob the First South Financial Credit Union at 7166 Winchester. the agency believes that robbery attempt was related to previous robberies at the same bank in 2014 and another time earlier in 2015.


"The subject is described as a male, black, approximately 5'10" to 6' tall. The suspect was last seen wearing a red devil mask, a dark blue hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, work-type gloves, and white tennis shoes," reads a statement from the FBI.

The subject is considered armed and dangerous.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI Memphis Field Office at (901) 747-4300 or the Crime Stoppers of Memphis and Shelby County, Inc. Tips can also be submitted online at tips.fbi.gov.

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‘A New Century of Soul’ Challenge Created to Fund Community Projects

Posted By on Mon, Mar 25, 2019 at 3:02 PM


The city wants to help jump start community-driven projects that make permanent improvements to public spaces.

Through the New Century of Soul challenge, Memphians can raise money to create community projects that honor the city’s first 200 years and look ahead to the next 100 years.

The challenge is a piece of Memphis and Shelby County’s larger bicentennial initiative, which was announced by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris last week. The theme of the new era is a “new century of soul.”

The challenge is designed to fund “lasting physical improvements to public space,” according to the bicentennial site.

“We’re engaging our next generation of innovators, artists, and leaders to create our region’s future.”

In partnership with the fundraising site ioby, those with project ideas can raise funds that could be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000.

Projects have to be a physical installation within Shelby County and must relate to one of the four pillars of the bicentennial initiative: culture, education, innovation, and service.

The projects must also be available to the entire community and have a “publicly accessible benefit.”

Examples of eligible projects include:

Murals or other public art

Community gardens

Pocket parks

Physical improvements to existing parks

The Memphis Brand Initiative will make the final decision of whether or not a project meets the goals of the New Century of Soul Initiative, and if it is eligible for funding under the challenge.

Submit your project idea here

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State: Keto, Paleo Diets Boon to Tennessee Farmers

Posted By on Mon, Mar 25, 2019 at 10:22 AM

New diets high in protein are giving lift to Tennessee meat producers.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) reported Thursday that demand for Tennessee meat is on the rise thanks to "protein-packed diets" and that the “trend is expected to continue.”

The sale of animal and animal products already accounted for nearly 40 percent of Tennessee agricultural sales in 2017, TDA said. Those sales generated $1.4 billion in revenue.

“We have seen a change in what people want on their table,” said Elaine Dustin of Belfair Farm in Wayne County. “Several consumers are following the keto diet, which includes meats that are trimmed with a small amount of fat and meat that is well marbled. [That]'s making grain-finished meats a consumer favorite.”
Farmers told TDA that they are seeing an increase in demand for beef, especially.

“A three-ounce serving of beef — about the size of an iPhone — provides more than ten essential nutrients, including protein, iron, zinc, and vitamins B12 and B6,” said Valerie Bass, executive director of the Tennessee Beef Industry Council. “One serving of beef contains about half of your daily value for protein in an average of 170 calories.”

To find a local producer near you, visit www.picktnproducts.org.

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Friday, March 22, 2019

U of M Announces New Tuition Structure

Posted By on Fri, Mar 22, 2019 at 3:18 PM

  • University of Memphis/Facebook
University of Memphis (U of M) officials announced major changes to the school's tuition structure on Friday that could make education there more affordable, more predictable, and more uniform.

Beginning in the fall semester, U of M will implement its Access Memphis initiative that will lock in tuition costs for incoming freshman, provide free classes after 12 hour credit hours are paid for, and make tuition rates uniform.

The university also said that about 86 percent of the students who received financial aid had 100 percent of their tuition and fees covered. By 2021, "we believe we will be covering all tuition/fees for these qualifying students by the fall 2021."

Here's how the university described the major components of Access Memphis Friday afternoon:

Guaranteed Tuition Plan – All incoming first-time, full-time freshmen will be eligible to enroll in our guaranteed tuition plan, which assures that they will lock in the Fall 2019 tuition rate for eight consecutive regular semesters if they take at least 12 student credit hours per semester.

Tuition Cap – Resident undergraduate students will only pay for 12 credit hours. All credit hours above 12 are free of charge. Resident graduate students will only pay for 10 student credit hours. Graduate credit hours over 10 are free of charge for resident students.

Uniform Tuition Rates – Students, regardless of whether they are taking traditional on-ground/in-person or online classes, will pay the same tuition rate.

Here are of U of M's full comments on the move:

"Among the core values at the University of Memphis are student success and access, along with diversity and inclusion. Over the past five years, the University of Memphis has had the lowest tuition/fee increases in the state of Tennessee and dramatically improved overall affordability in a rapidly changing higher education landscape.

"More than 50 percent of first-time freshmen at the University of Memphis are eligible for Pell grants (i.e., families with household incomes under $50,000). For Fall 2018, roughly 25 percent of our incoming first-time freshman cohort of 620 students came from households with an income threshold of $50,000 or less and were eligible for Hope scholarships.
"Last year, 86 percent of these students had their tuition and fees fully covered by Pell, Hope, and U of M institutional aid. We are committed to continuing to expand these numbers each year and believe we will be covering all tuition/fees for these qualifying students by the fall 2021.

"The University of Memphis’ commitment has always been, and continues to be, one of delivering high-quality educational programs to all of our students at the lowest possible cost. Toward this end, the U of M recently approved and will be implementing the following beginning fall 2019 as part of our Access Memphis initiative."

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Memphis Ranked on Dog Parks

Posted By on Fri, Mar 22, 2019 at 1:16 PM

  • Justin Fox Burks
Memphis lands on a lot of rando lists.

Best bluff cities. Best ursine sports mascots. Most-affordable alternative weekly newspapers. (These are fake, people.)

And lots of those lists come from really rando sources. UrbanYurt.com. LendingClownPenguin.org. The Hotdog-Is-Not-A-Sandwich Foundation. (These are also fake, people.)

But when the Trust for Public Land (TPL) talks dog parks? Sounds legit.

That San Francisco-based group is filled with experts on city parks. It issues a report each year that ranks the largest cities, “centered around our vision that everyone deserves to live within a 10-minute walk of a quality park.”

TPL said Thursday that Memphis ranks 72nd out of the nation’s biggest 100 cities for dog parks. The group divided the city’s population of 662,038 among its four dog parks and found there were .6 dog parks for every 100,000 people. Corpus Christi, Anaheim, and Jacksonville had the same number per capita but were ranked lower then Memphis.
“Dog parks are built for dogs, but are fantastic resources for people,” said Diane Regas, president and CEO of the TPL. “As anyone who has chatted with a neighbor while taking their four-legged friend to the dog park knows, community is created there. Having places to meet our neighbors can help us find common ground and encourages everyone to get outside.”

America’s 100 largest cities have 810 off-leash dog parks, according to TPL New York has the most dog parks (145).

But here are TPL’s top cities for dog parks:

1. Boise, Idaho, with 13 total dog parks, or 5.7 per 100,000 residents.
2. Portland, Oregon, with 35 total dog parks, or 5.4 per 100,000 residents.
3. Henderson, Nevada, with 15 total dog parks, or 5.0 per 100,000 residents.

Other cities in the top 10 include Norfolk, Virginia (4th place); San Francisco, California, and Tampa, Florida (tied for 5th place); Las Vegas; Nevada, and Madison, Wisconsin (tied for 7th place); Oakland, California (9th place); and Arlington, Virginia (10th place).

See the full list for yourself here:

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Infographic: Pay in Tennessee Film

Posted By on Thu, Mar 21, 2019 at 12:06 PM


Report: Incentives Have Helped Tennessee Film Industry Grow

Posted By on Thu, Mar 21, 2019 at 11:40 AM

(From left to right) Dustin Ingram as Carl Perkins, - Kevin Fonteyne as Johnny Cash, Drake Milligan as Elvis Presley, and Christian Lees as Jerry Lee Lewis - PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF CMT
  • Photographs Courtesy of CMT
  • (From left to right) Dustin Ingram as Carl Perkins, Kevin Fonteyne as Johnny Cash, Drake Milligan as Elvis Presley, and Christian Lees as Jerry Lee Lewis

State officials have given film companies $69.1 million in reimbursements or rebates for 68 production projects in Tennessee since 2007, according to a recent report, a move that has yielded $73.2 million in new tax revenues.

The Tennessee Entertainment Commission’s (TEC) February report said the “production industry continues to play a key role in the Tennessee economy.” Incentives have helped that sector grow, the report said, and the motion picture and video industry is set to grow in the state by 41 percent over the next five years.

The sector employs 6,016 in Tennessee, ranking the state sixth among all states in overall employment in the film-production sector. The film sector has added 2,400 new jobs in the state over the last five years. In that time, the sector as a whole grew by 135 percent.
Most of the state’s film jobs (4,441) are in Nashville, the report said. Memphis is not mentioned in the TEC report.

The productions generate spin-off revenue, too. Over the last nine years, the reports says production projects purchased $171.9 million in goods and services from about 10,400 Tennessee vendors.

The report estimates $419.5 million in new incomes were generated for Tennessee workers from those 68 incentivized projects. In total, incentivized film projects here yielded $655.6 million in total economic output for the state since 2007, according to the report. The report did not break down figures by regions or cities.
In January, MovieMaker magazine ranked Memphis (for the sixth year in a row) in the top 20 places to shoot in the country. Emmy and Grammy-winning writer and moviemaker Robert Gordon told the magazine that the 1990s-era John Grisham films laid down the tracks for the movie industry here.

Here’s Gordon’s description in the magazine of shooting in Memphis:

“Memphis is a great place to shoot,” Gordon said. “As a location, you can find streets to match most any era, and most any condition.

“Also, the crews are skilled, eager, and flexible. People I’ve worked with (on non-union shoots) are ready to do what’s needed, even if it means duties not normally assigned. They’re innovative and ready to try, and if you treat people right, they’ll go the extra mile, delivering you images you’d never have imagined.

“A friend of mine says, ‘Memphis is the town where nothing happens but the impossible always does.’”

Tennessee offers production companies a 25 percent cash refund on certain costs. Wages for in-state crew qualify for the rebate, for example, while wages for out-of-state workers don’t. But not all projects are approved and the approval process (run by the TEC) isn’t objective.

“Tennessee’s state production incentive program has limited funding and therefore is not ’first come, first served,’” according to the Memphis and Shelby County Film and Television Commission website. “Projects are approved based on merit and the ’best interests’ of the state.”

The commission offers film companies discounts on Memphis Police Department rates and hotel rates, according to the website.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Memphis Pets of the Week (March 21-27)

Posted By on Wed, Mar 20, 2019 at 11:43 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, March 19, 2019

Memphis Minute: Wolf River Harbor Clean Up, Internet Points

Posted By on Tue, Mar 19, 2019 at 1:09 PM

Here's the link to the clean-up page.  

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Earnestine & Hazel's Seeks Information on Vandal, Promises Burger

Posted By on Tue, Mar 19, 2019 at 11:04 AM

A vandal punched three holes in the wall Saturday night. - EARNESTINE & HAZEL'S/FACEBOOK
  • Earnestine & Hazel's/Facebook
  • A vandal punched three holes in the wall Saturday night.

Earnestine & Hazel's needs your help.

Someone punched three holes in a wall in the upstairs hallway Saturday night, "causing significant damage." The vandal has not yet been identified but the E&H staff want to solve this whodunnit.

The venerated South Main watering hole bills itself as "ragged but right." But, in a way that maybe only Memphians can understand, E&H staffers believe that raggedness should be preserved.

"We are operating in a very delicate and historically significant building that was constructed in 1906," reads the bar's Facebook post on Monday. "Preserving Earnestine's integrity is at the top of our priorities, but we cannot do it without your help."

If you saw it go down or have any information about it, the E&H staff "would love to buy you a burger and a drink and talk about it."
The vandalism happened during a celebration of Nate Barnes' 27th anniversary of working at E&H. You probably know Moore as the broad-smiled, good-natured upstairs bartender, Mr. Nate.

Read the post yourself here:

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Monday, March 18, 2019

OUTMemphis Starts Building New Youth Center

Posted By on Mon, Mar 18, 2019 at 11:34 AM

After years of behind-the-scenes work, OUTMemphis will begin building its Youth Emergency Center this week and it will serve as the area’s only LGBTQ-specific shelter and drop-in center.

Work began on the center in 2016. OUTMemphis closed on a piece of Shelby County Land Bank property at 2059 Southern that spans three parcels. But work to clearly identify the problem with homeless youth who identified as LGBTQ here began in 2015, with the city’s first ever survey/count of that population.

Last year, the Community Alliance for the Homeless 2018 Point-in-Time/Youth Count found that 57 percent of homeless youth utilize emergency shelters and 43 percent use transitional housing. In Shelby County, 51 percent of unaccompanied youth are 18-24. LGBTQ young people aged 18-24 make up 40 percent of youth experiencing homelessness.

OUTMemphis piloted several possible solutions to the problem, including host families and hotel vouchers. Ultimately, the group founded The Metamorphosis Project, a long-term approach to LGBTQ-specific emergency shelter for youth.

A site map shows how the group would use shipping containers to build its shelter. - MEMPHIS AND SHELBY COUNTY OFFICE OF PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
  • Memphis and Shelby County Office of Planning and Development
  • A site map shows how the group would use shipping containers to build its shelter.

“One night, I received three calls in an hour from youths across the state looking for housing services,” said Stephanie Reyes, who launched OUTMemphis’ Youth Services programs and spearheads The Metamorphosis Project. “That very night, we decided enough was enough. We needed to do something drastic to serve our kids.

“For years, LGBTQ youth in Memphis have had to endure shelters that were not safe, free, or welcoming. Now we will have a space of our own, so our youth can not only survive but thrive.”

OUTMemphis has said the center would house 20 clients at full capacity. The Metamorphosis building will start with four beds, a classroom, meeting and office space, a kitchen, laundry, storage, and parking.

The Youth Emergency Center is one part of the overall, three-pronged effort by the Metamorphosis Project. It also includes Youth Emergency Services (YES), which supplies hygiene products, food, clothes, bus passes, case management, and more. The overall project also includes Rapid Re-Housing, which began in 2017. It helps participants with one year of rental assistance and guidance on renting a first home.

When finished, the center will be one of about 20 like it across the country.

This map shows where the OUTMemphis youth homeless shelter will be located.
  • This map shows where the OUTMemphis youth homeless shelter will be located.

“This space will be the first and only drop-in center and shelter for youth in Memphis,” said Stephanie Bell, Youth Services Manager at OUTMemphis. “This will be the city’s first chance to change the lives of those most vulnerable.”

Reyes has said in the past that many Memphis-area shelters don’t advertise that they are LGTBQ-friendly. Others are either not free, safe, or welcoming.

Funds for the new building and the Metamorphosis Project came from the Assisi Foundation, Plough Foundation, the Mystic Krewe of Pagasus, Friends of George’s and Manna House.

“It showed us that we were not the only people in this city to see this need and want to help,” said Reyes. “People rallied together to make this happen, and we expect to see that significant support continue as the emergency shelter begins operations and, hopefully, expands.”

In 2016, boarded-up houses stood on the site where OUTMemphis wants to build a homeless shelter for LGBT youths. - GOOGLE MAPS
  • Google Maps
  • In 2016, boarded-up houses stood on the site where OUTMemphis wants to build a homeless shelter for LGBT youths.

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Do You Want to Be Jimmy Smits?

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2019 at 12:14 PM

The production company that's filming the Bluff City Law series pilot in Memphis is looking for Jimmy Smits. Well, not the real Jimmy Smits. They already have him. He's the star. What they're looking for is a stand-in for Smits.

Here's the deal, direct from On Location Casting:

NBC will be in Memphis to film the pilot “ BLUFF CITY LAW”. We are looking for a “Stand In” for actor Jimmy Smits. He is 6’3”, 240lbs, with olive skin and dark hair. We would like to find someone who is a close match to these physical characteristics as possible. They will work 3/16-3/20 and 3/23-3/27. They will need to be available all days. Should you have someone who would like to apply please have them send their, Name, Photo, age, height & weight to Onlocationcastingmemphis.com .

Is this guy your doppelganger?


Then, you know what to do. 

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

‘Damaging Winds’ Forecast for Memphis

Posted By on Wed, Mar 13, 2019 at 1:49 PM


Severe weather is expected to hit Memphis this evening, lasting through the night and into tomorrow.

The primary risk is damaging winds, according to the Memphis National Weather Service (NWS). Other concerns are large hail and flooding.

The greatest risk is along the Mississippi River today, with the risk moving further east on Thursday, Jim Branda, forecaster for the Memphis NWS, said.

There is a wind advisory in place for Memphis and surrounding areas until midnight Wednesday, but Branda anticipates damaging winds throughout Wednesday. Branda said wind gusts could reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. The winds will be strong enough to bring down trees and power lines, resulting in power outages, Branda adds.

The NWS encourages residents to secure loose items, as well as watch for fallen trees and power lines. It also warns that high-profile vehicles might be difficult to drive in strong winds.

The NWS puts storms into five categories based on the severity of risks. Most of Memphis is in the Slight risk — or second lowest — as of Wednesday at 10:28 a.m.

This means Memphians can expect “short-lived and/or not widespread isolated intense storms.” This is down from the Enhanced risk category Memphis was in early this morning. Enhanced risk, the third level, would have meant “more persistent and/or widespread intense storms.”

Memphis Light, Gas and Water said Wednesday that the utility is on standby to handle any power outages that may occur.

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