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VOL. 124 | NO. 119 | Friday, June 19, 2009

Daily Digest

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Reed White Files Permit For G’town Office Building

Reed White Holdings LLC has filed a $495,000 permit with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for new construction at 9055 Forest Centre Drive. The permit was applied for this month.

The permit follows a $737,000 construction loan the company made in October for a new single-story, 3,800-square-foot office building in the Forest Hill-Irene Subdivision, on the west side of Forest Hill-Irene Road between Poplar Avenue and Poplar Pike. The lender was the Bank of Fayette County.

Half of the new building is to sit on the 1.2-acre lot that fronts Forest Centre Drive, according to an earlier article in The Daily News.

McGehee Nicholson Burke Architects is the architect for the project. A message left with a representative there was not returned by press time. Reed White Holdings is serving as the contractor for the project.

Reed White Holdings LLC is a partnership between Bob Reed and Brian White. The duo has built a series of office buildings on various lots in the Forest Hill-Irene Commercial Subdivision, including one at 9045 Forest Centre Drive. In October, White told The Daily News construction on the buildings would begin in early 2009 with a seven- to nine-month timeline (weather-dependant).

For the earlier article on this project, see the Nov. 11 issue at www.memphisdailynews.com.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

Regents Finance Committee Approves Tuition Hike

The Board of Regents will consider tuition increases between 6 percent and 9 percent for full-time university students in Tennessee, including those at the University of Memphis.

The Business and Finance Committee voted unanimously Thursday to recommend to the full board tuition increases that will result in an average 6 percent revenue increase for the five TBR colleges and an average 7 percent revenue increase at the University of Memphis.

The entire board will consider the tuition increase proposals today.

Under the proposed recommendation, the amount of tuition increase will depend upon the number of credit hours a students is taking, a change from previous years.

Part-time students taking 11 credit hours or fewer will see in-state tuition increases between 1.06 percent and 5.24 percent, depending on the school.

U of M Receives Grant For MCS Teacher Training

The University of Memphis has been awarded a $1.5 million Robert Noyce Teaching Fellowship grant from the National Science Foundation.

The grant will be used to recruit, train and support secondary education math and science teachers for Memphis City Schools. Twenty fellows with bachelor’s degrees in math or science will have their tuition paid to complete a 30-hour master of arts in teaching degree. Memphis City Schools will fund a part-time residency program to provide mentoring and classroom experience.

Fellows also will receive a salary supplement of $10,000 for each of the first four years of their full-time teaching assignment.

The award was funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Volkswagen Group of America provided matching funds for the grant through a gift to the University of Memphis. The U of M and Memphis City Schools also provided additional matching funds for the six-year project.

House Approves Expansion Of Tenn. Charter Schools

The House has passed a bill to expand eligibility for charter schools in Tennessee.

The chamber voted 79-15 to approve the bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Beth Harwell of Nashville. Fourteen Democrats and one Republican voted against the bill.

The bill was revived after Democrats changed their minds on a previous decision to shut down the House Education Committee before taking a vote on the bill.

The Senate would have to agree to changes made in the House before it could head for the governor’s desk. Gov. Phil Bredesen has said he expects to sign a previous version of the charter schools measure into law.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned that Tennessee could have lost out on more than $100 million on federal stimulus money if changes weren’t adopted.

Standalone Ethics Panel Axed 4 Years After Waltz

The Tennessee Legislature has voted to do away with the standalone Ethics Commission that lawmakers created in 2005 in response to an FBI sting that netted four sitting lawmakers and an ex-senator accused of selling their votes.

Legislation sent to Gov. Phil Bredesen’s desk late Wednesday night would merge the Ethics Commission with the state Registry of Election Finance in a move sponsors say will streamline government and save about $300,000 – a relatively small sum in a $29.6 billion budget but an argument that resounded in a year of spending cuts and slumping revenues.

The Republican-sponsored legislation marks a turning point from events of 2005. That year public uproar over the sting – dubbed Operation Tennessee Waltz by the FBI – prompted the governor to call a special session of the Legislature that created the state’s first independent Ethics Commission as the centerpiece of ambitious reforms.

But lawmakers and lobbyists almost immediately began to chafe under the rules of the Ethics Commission, with a common refrain being that bribery was already an offense before the Tennessee Waltz arrests.

Supporters of the bill sent to Bredesen’s desk say the merger of the Ethics Commission and the Registry of Election Finance won’t impair the original commission mandate to enforce existing ethics laws – even though it proposes a smaller budget and fewer staffers for their work.

Critics charged the bill is a move to throttle ethics oversight.

The merger was ultimately approved 81-12 in the House and 22-11 in the Senate.

Jobless Benefit Rolls Drop Sharply

The total number of people on the unemployment insurance rolls dropped for the first time since early January, the government reported Thursday, while new claims for benefits rose slightly.

The report shows that job losses are easing after companies made deep cuts earlier this year. But nearly half of recipients at the end of last month had exhausted the 26 weeks of benefits provided under the regular state program without finding work, according to U.S. Labor Department data. That’s a record and compared with about 36 percent in December 2007, when the recession began.

“It is unlikely that new hiring has picked up in any meaningful fashion,” Joshua Shapiro, chief economist with MFR Inc., a consulting firm, wrote in a note to clients.

The department said the total unemployment insurance rolls fell by 148,000 to 6.69 million in the week ending June 6, the largest drop in more than seven years.

The drop also breaks a string of 21 straight increases in continuing claims, the last 19 of which were records. A dip in continuing claims several weeks ago was later revised higher. Initial claims rose by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 608,000 in the week ending June 13, above analysts’ expectations. The four-week average, which smooths fluctuations, fell by 7,000 to 615,750. Continuing claims data lags initial claims by one week.

The four-week average is at its lowest level since mid-February, further evidence that the pace of job cuts is slowing.

Sixth Swine Flu Case Confirmed in Shelby County

A child is the sixth person in Shelby County to become sick with the H1N1 virus, the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department reported Thursday.

The department is continuing surveillance to track flu activity in the area. People can protect themselves from the virus with frequent hand washing. Anyone with flu-like symptoms should stay home.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 78 215 4,981
MORTGAGES 96 322 6,548
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 25 1,504
BUILDING PERMITS 223 541 11,800
BANKRUPTCIES 84 203 5,162
BUSINESS LICENSES 19 65 2,001
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 124 351 6,815
MARRIAGE LICENSES 21 65 1,406

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