Highlights and Lowlights of 2015 

From Darrius Stewart to Robert Lipscomb, 2015 wasn’t a dull year.


• Redevelopment plans for the Tennessee Brewery building were unveiled. Developer Billy Orgel plans to convert the historic building into apartments, build an adjacent six-story residential structure called the Wash House, and build a four-story parking garage across Tennessee Street.

• Wanda Wilson, the flamboyant and much-loved long time proprietor of Midtown's P&H Cafe, died. Wilson was beloved by generations of Memphis' artists, actors, journalists, students, and eccentrics of every stripe.


• Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) President Paul Morris announced that he would step down in the summer. Morris has gone on to work with his family business at Jack Morris Auto Glass. In September, Terence Patterson was selected to replace Morris. Patterson was treasurer of the DMC's Center City Development Corporation.

click to enlarge Zeke Logan
  • Zeke Logan

• WXMX 98.1 radio personality Zeke Logan, co-host of the Drake & Zeke show, died. Logan, whose real name was David Millar, was diagnosed with cancer several months earlier.


• Mayor A C Wharton announced his intention to hire Jack Sammons, former Memphis-Shelby Airport Authority board chair/former city councilman/president of Ampro Industries, Inc. hair products company, as the city chief administrative officer. Sammons replaced George Little, who was moved to the position of special assistant for minority and women's affairs and safety.


• Long time Memphis City Councilman Shea Flinn resigned his post after accepting a new job as senior vice president of the Greater Memphis Chamber's Chairman's Circle. Attorney Alan Crone was appointed to Flinn's seat, but in January, newly elected Philip Spinosa Jr. will take the seat.

click to enlarge flyby_goldcrest51.jpg

• Goldcrest 51 beer enthusiast Kenn Flemmons of Little Rock recreated the classic Memphis beer. He offered the first taste at the Revival beer garden in the Tennessee Brewery. Select bars across the city continue to sell Goldcrest 51 on draft.

• Bass Pro Shops opened its long-awaited super store in the long-vacant Pyramid. The sporting goods store features a bowling alley, a swamp with live alligators, a restaurant and hotel, and elevator rides to the top of the Pyramid.


• Blues legend B.B. King died in his sleep at age 89. He had been struggling with diabetes and was in hospice care.

• The Tennessee Department of Transportation announced that they planned to close the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge (the "Old Bridge") for up to nine months in 2017 during a proposed, three-year construction project on the I-55 interchange at E.H. Crump. In July, TDOT decided to pause the project and further study its economic impact.

• Noura Jackson, who was sentenced to 20 years and nine months for second-degree murder in her mother's 2005 stabbing death, accepted an Alford plea and will be released from prison in spring 2017. Her conviction was overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court last year, which cited then-Assistant District Attorney Amy Weirich with suppression of evidence in the case and illegal statements in her closing argument against Jackson.


• Ballet Memphis unveiled plans to raze the old, crumbling French Quarter Inn in Overton Square and erect a new studio space.

• Local same-sex couples lined up to marry after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. Memphians Chris and Bradley Brower were the first Shelby County couple to marry.


• Nineteen-year-old Darrius Stewart, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by Memphis Police officer Connor Schilling during a traffic stop. In November, Weirich recommended Schilling be indicted for the shooting, but a grand jury failed to indict. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation file on the case was released in December, and it shows discrepancies between Schilling's story and the stories of multiple witnesses.

click to enlarge Darrius Stewart
  • Darrius Stewart

• A macaque monkey named Zimm escaped her enclosure at the Memphis Zoo, sending Zoo officials on a wild, um, monkey chase through the Zoo's culvert system. Someone quickly launched a @Zimm901 Twitter account. Zimm was located a few days later.

• Widespread Panic fan Troy Goode died after being hog-tied by Southaven Police. Goode had taken LSD and was acting erractically when police attempted to subdue him. An attorney for Goode's family ordered an independent autopsy, which concluded that Goode died from complications related to being hog-tied. The Mississippi state autopsy report claimed Goode died of an LSD overdose.


• Memphis Police officer Sean Bolton was shot and killed by Tremaine Wilbourn after Bolton stopped to check on an illegally parked car that Wilbourn was a passenger in. Wilbourn ran but turned himself in a few days after the shooting. In December, Wilbourn was indicted on federal carjacking charges and felony possession of a firearm. He also faces state charges for murder.

• After white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine church members at a historically black church in Charleston, North Carolina, in June, Memphis joined other cities and states in calling for the removal of Confederate symbols. The city council approved an ordinance allowing the city to remove the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in Health Sciences Park, and they also approved a resolution to move the remains of Forrest and his wife, which are buried at the park.

• Longtime Action News 5 chief meteorologist Dave Brown retired after a 53-year career in radio and TV.

click to enlarge Robert Lipscomb
  • Robert Lipscomb

• Robert Lipscomb, the director of Housing and Community Development, was relieved of duties following an anonymous complaint that he had sexual relations with a minor. After news broke, other accusers alleged similar relations with Lipscomb. Lipscomb was also suspended from his role as director of the Memphis Housing Authority.


• Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong announced that officers will begin wearing body cameras. By year-end, he said they should have 2,000 cameras deployed.

• Trader Joe's finally confirmed they were opening a store in Germantown in 2016.


• Memphis City Councilman Jim Strickland defeats incumbent Wharton in the mayoral race. Strickland will begin his new job as city leader in January.

• Armstrong, who has served as police director since 2011, announced that he'll retire once Strickland finds a replacement.

• Police officer Terence Oldridge was shot and killed outside his home, apparently after a dispute with neighbor Lorenzo Clark. Clark was indicted for being a felon in possession of guns.


• The Urban Land Institute suggested a portion of the Mid-South Coliseum should be saved and used for concerts, but they also suggested the Fairgrounds needed a youth sports facility. The issue of what to do with the Coliseum had been a point of contention all year between preservationists and the city's Department of Housing and Community Development, which had been pushing to raze the arena, acquire TDZ status for the land, and build a youth sports facility.

• The Economic Development Growth Engine approved an extension of IKEA's PILOT agreement, and the Swedish retailer officially announced that it would open its Germantown Parkway store in the fall of 2016.


• Eugene Cashman, president of the nonprofit Urban Child Institue (UCI), announced his retirement plans in December. A Flyer story in August reported that critics say UCI sits on a huge investment fund but gives little of it to the community and also noted that Cashman has for a long time made a top-of-the-line salary.

• Strickland announced his transition team, which includes new Memphis Fire Director Gina Sweat, Chief of Staff Lisa Geater, Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen, and former reporters Ursala Madden and Kyle Veazey on his communications team, among others.

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