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VOL. 7 | NO. 5 | Saturday, January 25, 2014

Daily Digest

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Champion Awards Rebrands As T-Shirt Champions

Champion Awards and Apparel, a longtime apparel designer and printer, is reinventing itself to emphasize its focus on T-shirts.

The Memphis-based company’s new name will now be T-Shirt Champions, signifying its shift away from its original trophy engraving business that began in 1970.

While the company will still operate at 3649 Winplace Road, it has launched a website, tshirtchampions.com, to provide more customization options and opportunities for interaction with customers. The website offers instructions on placing orders, access to more than 20,000 individual pieces of art and firsthand design advice from T-Shirt Champions employees.

“Similar to other industries, the apparel printing process is evolving as consumer technology does,” said Mike Bowen, president and CEO of T-Shirt Champions, in a statement. “Proactively adapting our business model to meet our customer’s needs was critical to Champion’s continued success.”

Parnell Honored By Advertising Group

The Memphis Chapter of the American Advertising Federation has honored Jack Parnell with its 2014 Silver Medal Award for his career in broadcasting.

Each year, one person is chosen who has made outstanding contributions to advertising.

Parnell, the father of former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Chris Parnell, began his broadcasting career in 1955. His first job was as a part-timer in a radio/TV repair shop. He later worked as program director for WHBQ and then WMC-AM, among other career highlights.

Whalum, Harvey Pull Petitions for Mayor’s Race

Shelby County Commission Chairman James Harvey and former Shelby County Schools board member Kenneth Whalum Jr. have pulled qualifying petitions to run in the May Democratic primary for Shelby County Mayor.

They would join former Shelby County Commissioner Deidre Malone in the primary.

Incumbent Republican Mayor Mark Luttrell is seeking re-election.

Incumbent Democratic County Commissioners Melvin Burgess and Justin Ford also have petitions out for the new commission Districts 7 and 9, respectively.

Burgess and Ford complete the set of six incumbent commissioners seeking re-election this year. Six of the seven remaining incumbents are term-limited and cannot seek a third consecutive term. The seventh commissioner not seeking re-election, Chris Thomas, announced he would not run when he took the post of Lakeland city manager in January. He will serve the remaining eight months left in his current term.

The deadline for candidates to file their petitions in the May county primary elections is Feb. 20.

Republicans, Governor Discuss Voucher Bill

Republican state lawmakers have proposed a school voucher bill they hope will be acceptable to Gov. Bill Haslam, who has repeatedly said he favors a more limited version of the program that gives parents another option for educating their children.

Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown said Thursday that he spoke with the Republican governor Wednesday night about the proposal, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Dolores Gresham of Somerville and is supported by Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville.

Haslam’s proposal is limited to students from low-income families attending the bottom 5 percent of failing schools. He had that measure withdrawn last year when Senate Republicans sought to expand to a larger number of children.

The measure now being proposed by Republicans would affect students attending the bottom 10 percent of failing schools. Kelsey didn’t elaborate on his conversation with Haslam, only saying that the governor wants to see a bill pass this year.

“Sen. Gresham and I have gone a long way toward offering a compromise that we hope fits within the governor’s desires for a bill that he would like to see this year,” he said.

A spokesman for the governor didn’t immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press about the new proposal, but Haslam has said he plans to stick with his legislation.

Miss. Casino Revenue Falls Again in 2013

A dismal December closed out another year of declining revenue at Mississippi casinos.

Mississippi Department of Revenue figures show statewide casino revenue fell 9.5 percent from December 2012 to $168.3 million in the last month of 2013.

The 12 coastal casinos won $85.6 million from gamblers, down 5.2 percent from December 2012. The 18 river casinos from Tunica to Natchez won $82.7 million, down 13.5 percent from a year earlier.

Revenue statewide fell 4.7 percent for year to $2.14 billion. After peaking at nearly $2.9 billion in 2007, Mississippi casinos in 2013 won less than they did in 1997. Casinos have cut thousands of jobs to reduce costs and bolster profits during the revenue slide. The numbers exclude Choctaw Indian casinos, which aren’t required to report winnings to the state.

Attorney General Appeals Discrimination Ruling

The state attorney general’s office is appealing a ruling by a Nashville judge that the seven-man, two-woman makeup of a state commission is discriminatory and makes the commission invalid.

According to state law, the membership of the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission is supposed to approximate the state’s population in terms of race and gender. Although Tennessee is 52 percent female, the commission is only 22 percent female.

The commission’s job is to evaluate Tennessee’s appellate judges and recommend them for either retention or replacement. On the advice of the attorney general’s office, the commission held its regularly scheduled meeting on Friday despite the ruling by Davidson County Judge Hamilton Gayden.

Gayden had not issued an injunction barring the panel from meeting, although he said he hoped it would not meet.

Memphis Medical Society Names Board Chairman

Dr. Gary W. Kimzey, an anesthesiologist at Medical Anesthesia Group, has been named the 137th president of the Memphis Medical Society.

Kimzey and other officers and newly elected members of the 2014 board of directors will be installed on Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Memphis Marriott East. The event begins with a 6 p.m. cocktail reception.

Kimzey is a 1969 graduate of Christian Brothers High School and a 1973 graduate of the University of Tennessee, Martin. He received his medical degree in 1977 from the University of Tennessee-Memphis. Kimzey is a fellow with the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

30-Year Mortgage Rate Averaging 4.39 Percent

Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages changed little this week.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average for the 30-year loan declined to 4.39 percent from 4.41 percent last week. The average for the 15-year loan slipped to 3.44 percent from 3.45 percent.

Mortgage rates have risen about a full percentage point since hitting record lows roughly a year ago. The increase was driven by speculation that the Federal Reserve would reduce its $85 billion a month in bond purchases. The Fed determined last month that the economy was strong enough to start trimming the purchases, which have kept long-term interest rates low.

The rise in mortgage rates and higher home prices slowed sales of existing homes, which have fallen for three straight months.

But overall, 2013 was the best year for housing in seven years.

The National Association of Realtors reported Thursday that sales of existing homes edged up slightly in December, helping lift sales for the year to the highest level since 2006.

Most economists expect home sales and prices to keep rising this year, but at a slower pace. They forecast sales and prices will likely rise around 5 percent, down from double-digit gains in 2013.

Apartment Assn. Honors Woodyard Realty’s Barnes

Courtney Barnes of Woodyard Realty Corp. won the Associate Member of the Year award at the Apartment Association of Greater Memphis Diamond Achievement Gala.

Barnes, who was named Newcomer of the Year at the 2005 Pinnacle Awards commercial real estate ceremony, specializes in apartment sales and sales training for apartment owners.

Barnes’ involvement with the Apartment Association has included serving on the board of directors, assisting with the annual golf scramble and teaching educational classes at the association.

Medical Job Fair Planned for Jan. 28

Memphis-based medical device manufacturer Onyx Medical Corp. will hold a job fair Tuesday, Jan. 28, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 1800 N. Shelby Oaks Drive.

Hourly and salaried positions under consideration include skilled machinists and machine operators, a quality technician and a software developer. Job descriptions, qualifications and applications are available at onyxmedical.net.

Space is limited to the first 100 qualified applicants. Call 323-6699 for more information.

UTHSC Plans Open House For Prospective Students

The College of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center will host an open house for prospective students Friday, Feb. 21, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The event, to be held in the lower-level auditorium of the Student-Alumni Center, 800 Madison Ave., will provide information to individuals interested in learning more about educational programs for careers in allied health.

Prospective students will have the opportunity to talk with UTHSC allied health sciences faculty and students, tour teaching labs, and meet with representatives from the financial aid and admissions departments. College-level prerequisite coursework is required prior to admission to all UTHSC Allied Health Sciences programs.

To RSVP for the open house, email ahcareers@uthsc.edu or call 448-2126.

Council OKs Street Closures In Washington Bottoms

The Memphis City Council approved Tuesday, Jan. 21, a set of six alley and street closures on parcels totaling 28 acres in the Poplar Avenue-Cleveland Street area. The area, once known as Washington Bottoms, was cleared of buildings in 2008 in anticipation of redevelopment by a Memphis division of WSG Development Co. of Miami Beach, Fla.

WSG took out a $14 million construction loan for the project through Lehman Brothers Holdings, but after the economic downturn, Lehman Brothers foreclosed on the property and took control of it in 2010.

The council on Tuesday approved Lehman’s application for the same street and alley closures it had approved for WSG. Tuesday’s approval is good for three years.

The council also approved accepting $7.6 million in federal grant funding for the design and construction of improvements to Forest Hill-Irene Road from Walnut Grove Road to Rocky Point Road, and $661,795 in state funds for Walker Avenue streetscape improvements near the University of Memphis campus.

And the council approved a resolution by council member Myron Lowery that calls on the Shelby County Election Commission to have an effective and capable administrator. Lowery originally offered a “no confidence” resolution targeting Elections Administrator Richard Holden, similar to one approved by the Shelby County Commission last year.

Proposed Supermarket Wine Deal Draws Criticism

A proposed deal to allow supermarket wine sales in Tennessee is drawing criticism for trying to exclude big box retailers and convenience stores.

Supporters of the measure seeking to authorize cities and counties to hold referendums on supermarket wine sales have been heartened by the liquor industry lobby for the first time engaging in serious negotiations over the perennial bill.

But a proposal to require a minimum percentage of sales to be made up by groceries in order to gain a license to sell wine has drawn the ire of big retailers such as Wal-Mart and smaller convenience stores.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield said in an email that company is calling for legislation that “does not arbitrarily limit our ability to offer customers the convenience and product assortment they want.”

Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol and a main sponsor of supermarket wine sales, said Tuesday that he’s wary of setting up free-market barriers.

“Wal-Mart is the biggest grocery chain in Tennessee,” he said. “So do they have a valid point of having wine on their shelves? Sure they do.”

“But again, it’s all part of the process of what the final legislation looks like,” he said.

David McMahan, a lobbyist for the Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association, said restricting wine sales to traditional supermarkets would fulfill the public demand for picking up a bottle while grocery shopping, while at the same time keeping the state’s about 600 liquor stores from being driven out of business.

Randy Stepherson, a board member of the Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association, issued a statement lauding the ongoing negotiations. But the owner of Memphis-based Superlo Foods stressed that the talks “remain fluid at this time.”

Estate Planning Council Taps New Leadership

J. Randolph Flatt, a financial planner with the Mid-South Financial Group of Mass Mutual, has been elected to serve as vice president and acting president for the Estate Planning Council of Memphis.

The council promotes consumer understanding of the relationship between the estate planning functions of the life underwriter, trust officer, attorney, accountant and any other professional discipline in the estate planning field.

Other members of the council’s 2013-2014 executive committee are Amy O’Bannon with SunTrust Bank, treasurer; and Price Morrison, an attorney with Martin Tate Morrow & Marston PC, secretary. Sandra Zehntner, a certified public accountant, is the organization’s immediate past president.

Four at-large committee members also were elected recently to the council’s leadership. They include Doug Sweet of Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, Frank Horrell of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, John Seabold of Gerrish McCreary Smith PC and Mark Grochau of CBIZ MHM LLC.

Barbic: Diversity Not Charter Requirement

The head of an initiative to turn around Tennessee’s lowest performing schools is being criticized for stating that charter schools shouldn’t be responsible for diversity.

Chris Barbic, who heads the state’s Achievement School District, recently spoke at a forum at Lipscomb University in Nashville.

He told WPLN-FM that diversity is a good goal for any public school but shouldn’t be the responsibility of charters, which are privately operated and publicly funded.

A total of 69 charter schools are operating in Tennessee.

Critics fear that charter schools will expand into wealthier areas and become mostly white and affluent, effectively resegregating the school system.

Barbic said most schools are the representation of a neighborhood and most neighborhoods are people who live together that look alike.

“That’s just the honest reality,” he said at the Lipscomb forum. “I think that’s the case here in Nashville and most communities. And so I think to put that on charters that it’s something they’ve caused or are responsible for is unfair.”

IMF Raises Outlook For Global, US Economies

The International Monetary Fund is slightly more optimistic about the global and U.S. economies this year than it was three months ago.

In an updated outlook released Tuesday, the global lending organization forecasts that the world economy will grow 3.7 percent in 2014 and that the U.S. economy will grow 2.8 percent.

The global forecast is 0.1 percentage point higher and the U.S. forecast 0.2 point higher than the IMF’s October forecast.

After a sluggish start, global economic growth picked up in the second half of 2013. As a result, growth amounted to 3 percent last year. The IMF expects it will be even stronger growth this year.

“The recovery is indeed strengthening, but as we have said many times in the past, much work remains to be done,” IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard said Tuesday during a conference call.

The IMF forecasts that the U.S. economy grew 1.9 percent last year. And its 2.8 percent forecast for this year would match U.S. growth in 2012. Part of the anticipated improvement is based on expectations for less drag from higher U.S. taxes and across-the-board spending cuts.

By 2015, the IMF forecast the U.S. economy will grow 3 percent, or 0.4 percentage point lower than its October forecast.

The IMF reduced its outlook because a recent budget agreement left in place most of the spending cuts. The IMF had expected most of those cuts to have been eliminated by next year.

The IMF said that the United States and other major economies should be careful not to pull back prematurely on the economic support being provided by the Federal Reserve and other central banks. That’s because unemployment in many countries remains high and inflation is low.

NCRM Renovations To Debut in April

The first major renovation of the National Civil Rights Museum since its opening in 1991 will debut on April 4 and 5, the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The $27 million renovation was to debut in March, but museum officials confirmed they shifted the opening to April, which, along with the Martin Luther King Day national holiday in January commemorating King’s birth, is usually when the museum draws large crowds.

The museum is at what was once the Lorraine Motel, the site of King’s assassination. The renovation includes technology upgrades and new exhibits.

During the Monday, Jan. 20, Martin Luther King Day observances at the museum, leaders will show renderings of what the finished and upgraded museum will look like.

The museum will also offer a listen to a rare 1960 recording of King talking about the strategy of non-violent resistance and social change. The recording was donated to the museum in 2012 after it was bought by illusionist David Copperfield.

Shelby County Pension Fund Hits Another High

The value of the pension fund that pays benefits to Shelby County retirees hit a major high in November – reaching a value not since in at least a decade.

The fund’s value in November, according to the latest figures, climbed to a little more than $1.08 billion, up from $1.07 billion in October.

Stock market gains are part of the reason. The domestic equity component of the county’s portfolio was up 31.9 percent year to date in November.

Southland Park Expanding Casino Operations

Southland Park in West Memphis is starting work on a $37 million expansion that will give the greyhound track an expanded casino-style gambling area and a new exterior appearance.

Southland President and General Manager Troy Keeping said Friday that the track is in the final stage of negotiating with a branded restaurant and sports bar that will also open at the facility. The name will be announced later.

The expansion will add 41,000 square feet to make room for 500 new gaming machines, which will give the facility a capacity for nearly 2,000 games.

Keeping says that if construction goes according to schedule, the expanded area will open by the end of 2014.

Indoor Sports Facility Opening in July

Lakeland based developer Wes Misenhelter has bought 5.6 acres east of Grays Creek on Walnut Grove Road to build Wesscorp Sports & Office Property.

The development will include a 50,000-square-foot climate-controlled indoor sports facility, which will have a turf soccer field, and three separate areas for all levels of sports programs. The site also has two outparcels dedicated for office and medical development.

The sports facility is expected to be fully operational by July.

Diamond-Roberts Merger Announces New Name

The newly merged Diamond Cos. and Roberts Truck Center dealerships have settled on a new name and logo.

The new company will be called Summit Holdings and will do business as Summit Truck Group, Summit Bus and Summit Lease & Rental. The new Summit logo uses orange and grey lettering to represent the merger of the two family businesses.

Diamond, a holding company for International Truck and IC Bus dealerships in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee, merged Jan. 1 with Roberts Truck Center LLC, a holding company for truck and bus dealerships in Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

The new enterprise will remain a privately held company.

Bruno Mars Tickets Go on Sale Feb. 3

Bruno Mars, an 18-time Grammy Award nominee and winner, is bringing his 2014 Moonshine World Tour to FedExForum June 6 at 8 p.m.

Tickets go on sale Monday, Feb. 3, at 1 a.m., available at all Ticketmaster locations, ticketmaster.com, the FedExForum box office or by phone at 800-745-3000.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 70 125 13,455
MORTGAGES 119 192 17,541
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 1 33 3,424
BUILDING PERMITS 0 623 31,553
BANKRUPTCIES 62 128 12,823
BUSINESS LICENSES 40 51 4,648
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 80 233 19,690
MARRIAGE LICENSES 25 69 4,129

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