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VOL. 112 | NO. 204 | Thursday, November 5, 1998

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By SUZANNE THOMPSON Neighborhood business owners form alliance in Highland area By SUZANNE THOMPSON The Daily News Members of the newly formed Normal Business Alliance may not know what their annual dues will be, but they are certain of one thing. They want to bring change to the Highland Strip area by working together. The business association consists of about 20 members, and organizers hope other business owners will join their efforts to clean up and revitalize the area, said Edgar Thomas, interim president for the group. Thomas is general manager of Tiger Bookstore on Walker Avenue, which has just undergone a $300,000 facelift that increased parking and added another entrance off Southern Avenue. The group recently purchased, with support from the University District Inc., 20 temporary cardboard trash containers emblazoned with Keep Memphis Clean, said Hal Mabray, a partner in The Peddler bicycle shop and member of the NBA. Thomas said the group wants to combat litter created from sources such as young people who purchase beer at local convenience stores, sit in parking lots to drink and then discard the containers on the spot. The containers have been out for about three weeks, said Charles Holmes, a part-time consultant to University of Memphis president V. Lane Rawlins and retired director of community relations for the university. Holmes, whose wife, Nancy, is president of the board of the University District Inc., said he helped get the group started, and there already has been a decrease in litter because people are using the temporary containers. Thomas said he hopes association members eventually will invest in permanent wire-mesh trash containers that could be chained to utility poles. The containers cost about $165 each, and it would be the responsibility of each business owner to empty the cans, but Thomas hopes fellow shop owners will share the responsibility of emptying the cans for the common good of the neighborhood. But, cleaning up the neighborhood is just a part of what the NBA hopes to accomplish. Members also want to try to improve the area and are considering different types of projects such as investing in new lampposts and planting more trees. Mabray said the group also would like to reduce vagrancy in the Highland Strip area. He said he has come to work several times and found a homeless person asleep on the doorstep to his bike shop. A church-run soup kitchen and a nearby Goodwill store also draw vagrants to the area, he said. These changes in the area prompted the effort to start the group, which was named after the Normal Train Station that operated in the area when rail transport was at its height. "It had a different face at the turn of the century," Mabray said.

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