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VOL. 125 | NO. 184 | Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Daily Digest

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Highland Towers Sells for $1.8 Million

Orlando, Fla.-based Serenity Towers at Midtown Memphis LLC has bought Highland Towers retirement community at 400 S. Highland St., for $1.8 million. The seller was Seattle-based New Wesley Highland Towers Associates.

The sale was financed with a $3.2 million loan through the Glenda G. Morgan Charitable Foundation Inc.

The high-rise retirement center sits on 2.8 acres on the east side of Highland Street between Norriswood and Watauga avenues. It was built in 1964.

The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2010 appraisal is $2.6 million.

The buying entity, Serenity Towers at Midtown Memphis LLC, is affiliated with Elevation Financial Group. The selling entity, New Wesley Highland Towers Associates, is affiliated with Security Properties Inc. Representatives from Elevation Financial and Security Properties did not return calls by press time.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Kate Simone

Trustmark CEO Prepares to Retire

Trustmark Corp. CEO Richard Hickson is preparing to hand off the reins of the Jackson, Miss.-based bank to Gerard (Jerry) Host at the end of the year, when Hickson retires from the post Dec. 31.

He leaves the bank in a strong position, having overseen its repayment of federal TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) funds and what he told The Daily News a few months ago was “a great year in 2009.”

“We were successful in growing our capital base and decreasing our real estate exposure,” he said. “We also experienced reasonably good deposit growth.”

Hickson will still be chairman of Trustmark and Trustmark National Bank until the annual shareholders’ meeting in May, at which time he’ll retire.

Host is president and chief operating officer of Trustmark National Bank.

During his 26 years with Trustmark, Host has served in various executive capacities, including president and chief operating officer of the general banking, consumer services and financial services divisions, as well as chief financial officer.

Andy Meek

Tenn. Sees Decline in Unemployment

Tennessee’s unemployment rate dropped in August from the year-ago period, according to state unemployment figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The state saw unemployment of 9.6 percent in August, down from 10.9 percent a year ago. It was the second-largest decline in unemployment nationwide, slightly off from Alabama’s 1.4 percent decrease.

More than half of U.S. states saw their unemployment rates rise in August, the largest number in six months, as hiring weakened across the country.

The jobless rate increased in 27 states last month, the Labor Department said Tuesday. It fell in 13 and was unchanged in 10 states and Washington D.C. That’s worse than the previous month, when the rate increased in only 14 states and fell in 18. It’s also the most states to see an increase since February.

Nevada, plagued by a vicious housing slump, reported the nation’s highest unemployment rate for the fourth straight month, at 14.4 percent. That’s a record high for the state.

The next highest rates were in Michigan, with 13.1 percent, and California, at 12.4 percent.

North Dakota posted the lowest jobless rate, 3.7 percent, followed by South Dakota at 4.5 percent and Nebraska at 4.6 percent.

– The Daily News/The Associated Press

Nashville’s Trost Named Commissioner of Revenue

Nashville attorney Charles A. Trost is the new Tennessee commissioner of revenue.

Gov. Phil Bredesen appointed Trost to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Reagan Farr. Farr resigned effective Sept. 1 to return to the private sector as Bredesen is within months of completing his second and final four-year term of office.

Trost comes to the governor’s cabinet from being counsel with Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP of Nashville, where he worked in state tax law. Bredesen cited Trost’s experience in working with companies relocating to the state.

“I appreciate his willingness to step in at this time to provide continued leadership to the Department of Revenue and ensure our efforts to create new jobs and attract capital investment to Tennessee are uninterrupted,” Bredesen said.

Under Bredesen’s administration, the revenue department has worked in tandem with the commissioner of economic development in recruiting jobs. The department provides the revenue figures and projections that determine what initiatives the state can undertake.

– Bill Dries

Higgins Takes Div. 4 Oath of Office

Circuit Court Judge Gina C. Higgins takes the oath of office Thursday as the new Div. 4 judge. The ceremony will be at 4 p.m. in the City Council chambers at City Hall. Higgins won the post in the Aug. 5 elections in one of five special races.

She succeeds Lori Ridder, who was appointed to the post by Gov. Phil Bredesen. Ridder was one of three appointees to judicial positions who ran in the August elections and lost.

Higgins will serve the remainder of the eight-year term of the late Rita Stotts.

– Bill Dries

HHS Releases $1.39M in Energy Assistance Funds

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released $1.39 million in emergency contingency funding to help low-income homeowners and renters meet home energy needs in Tennessee.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program contingency fund will provide eligible families with additional assistance to pay heating and cooling costs and home weatherization.

The contingency funds are in addition to the $4.5 billion in LIHEAP block grant funding and the $490 million in emergency contingency funds received by states earlier this year.

In total, Congress appropriated $5.1 billion for LIHEAP in the 2010 fiscal year.

Individuals interested in applying for energy assistance in Tennessee should call 615-313-4766 or visit http://state.tn.us/humanserv/adfam/afs_hea.htm.

– Taylor Shoptaw

Ground Zero Blues Club Closes Amid Court Battle

Ground Zero Blues Club on Beale Street has closed, apparently the victim of a civil court battle over past due rent and ownership.

The club recently opened in the building that was once Pat O’Brien’s.

Belongings from the club were set on the sidewalk Monday afternoon as if it was an eviction.

Ken Hall, marketing director for Performa Entertainment Real Estate Inc., said he was not certain if it was eviction.

“It is my understanding that the courts will decide this week who is to run Ground Zero,” he said in an e-mail responding to an inquiry from The Daily News.

Ground Zero moved to Beale Street in April from nearby Lee’s Landing.

– Bill Dries

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 69 311 15,028
MORTGAGES 83 338 19,668
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 43 3,838
BUILDING PERMITS 0 512 35,842
BANKRUPTCIES 65 247 14,281
BUSINESS LICENSES 16 120 5,111
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 70 316 21,749
MARRIAGE LICENSES 18 93 4,650

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