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VOL. 117 | NO. 119 | Thursday, June 19, 2003

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Tennessee Municipal League gives Memphis time to shine Tennessee Municipal League gives Memphis time to shine


The Daily News

When a towns No. 1 employer is forced to make drastic cutbacks, it affects more than just those employees. It changes the economic landscape for that town.

Just ask any Millington government official who witnessed firsthand the results of such a closing when personnel at the towns Naval Air Station Memphis was drastically reduced nearly a decade ago.

But thanks to the Tennessee Municipal League, whose annual conference begins in earnest Sunday in Memphis, the impact of the bases downsizing was diminished.

They helped us a tremendous amount when the base left, said Millington Mayor George R. Harvell Jr. We get state-shared taxes, so when they left, wed lose it. Thats 12,000 (residents) over four years. Youre talking about $100 per person.

But the TML lobbied the state legislature, and the burden was eased as the loss of state-shared taxes was phased in over four years.

The TML which, in addition to its role as lobbyist for Tennessee towns and cities, functions as an overall presence in the state capital kicks things off Saturday with pre-conference activities at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.

The first general session takes place Monday with U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., University of Tennessee president John Shumaker and National League of Cities vice president Charles Lyons serving as speakers.

During the conference, city officials from across the state hope to take advantage of what TML can offer them.

It allows us to network, said Germantown Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy, who will take part in the conference both as a Germantown representative and as president of Tennessee Women in Government. Particularly this June meeting, it allows people from big and small towns to talk to each other. Well address general issues and some more specific issues.

More than 1,000 municipal officials are expected to attend the 64th annual conference, which rotates between Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Gatlinburg. It was last in Memphis in 1998.

Much has changed in Memphis since that last meeting. And many conference attendees might be a bit surprised, especially those who havent been here in a while.

This is great exposure for the city, said Gale Jones Carson, executive assistant to Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton. Ive talked to many people who have moved away and come back since the rebirth and they just love it.

Were always glad to have people here in town spending money. And this is a good group to have in town.

One highlight of the conference will be mobile workshops, a new program for the conference that will showcase five projects in Memphis.

Were adding the mobile workshops so city officials can see firsthand successful projects going on in Memphis, said Carole Graves, TML communications director.

Three projects will be toured Monday, including the revitalized LeMoyne Gardens, a public housing development; the Yo! Memphis facility, created by Memphis government with a $10 million multi-year grant from the U.S. Department of Labor; and a Memphis wastewater treatment plant.

Tuesday tours include a Memphis Renewal Community and the FedExForum.

Harvell said he will attend, along with three or four Millington aldermen, but the conference is not open only to elected officials. City managers, attorneys and just about anyone else involved with a municipal staff can participate.

About 98 percent of Tennessee municipalities are members of TML, Graves said. They are not required to attend the conference, but most do.

Keynote speaker Dr. Michael Stewart will focus on bringing groups together with his session, Hanging Together or Hanging Separately, set for Tuesday morning.

The focus of the conference is unity, Graves said.

Well focus on building partnerships, whether its with their local Chamber of Commerce or civic groups, she said.

Educational opportunities will be provided throughout the conference for both elected officials and municipal employees. Fifteen sessions will cover topics such as downtown revitalization, wireless security, the Tennessee Department of Transportations transit plan, paperless city council meetings, preventing identity theft, growing healthy communities and negotiating cable TV franchises, among others.

Goldsworthy, who served on the TML board for four years as a district representative, is presenting two workshops, the first of which deals with the Open Records Law and electronic information.

The other, hosted by TWIG, deals with building healthy communities.

Though she expects to be quite busy with the workshops, Goldsworthy said she will make time to take away more ideas for the future than her staff can handle.

My staff has to live with me for a week when I get back, she said. I send so many memos with ideas. Sometimes its a specific idea you can bring back. Sometimes its just awareness of how something works.


PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751