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VOL. 123 | NO. 60 | Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Daily Digest

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Gwatney Dealership Sells for $7.1 Million

     Russell Gwatney has sold his car dealership at 2000 Covington Pike to Jim Keras for $7.1 million via quitclaim deed. The deal comprised 12 parcels of land with the main property address as 1972 Covington Pike. It includes the Gwatney Chevrolet business and the transaction closed March 10.
     The buying entity was Keras Children's Family LP, which financed the purchase with a $7 million loan from GMAC Bank. The partners listed for Keras Children's Family are James J. Keras and Pennellie R. Keras.
     When reached by phone, Jim Keras declined comment, instead deferring to a press release that did not arrive by press time. Attempts to reach Gwatney were unsuccessful.
     Keras owns Subaru and Nissan dealerships on Covington Pike, and Gwatney owns three Saturn dealerships in the Mid-South.
     Gwatney owned the Chevrolet dealership on Covington Pike for more than 20 years. The 13,244-square-foot building was built in 1986 and sits on 6.6 acres. The Shelby County Assessor's 2007 appraisal was $2.5 million. The appraisal for the entire property - roughly 20 acres - was about $3 million.

Commission to Consider Charter Changes

     The Shelby County Board of Commissioners will continue its work today on proposed changes to the county charter. The meetings have drawn all 13 members of the body since they started earlier this month.
     At Monday's session, the group approved a recommendation to keep the position of register an elected one with the same duties, but as an elected position established in the County Charter instead of in the Tennessee Constitution. The commissioners also recommended a limit of three terms and stripping the office of the power to file salary petitions to contest personnel decisions of the county administration.
     Commissioners also voted to keep the duties the same for the office of Shelby County clerk and do away with salary petitions for that office holder as well. But the commission has made no decision on whether the position should be elected, although it did approve a three-term limit.
     Last week, the group approved charter changes that would make the positions of sheriff, trustee and assessor elected under the County Charter with three term limits on each. Salary petition authority was taken from the trustee and assessor. The sheriff would have salary petition authority but under a different procedure than the one now used under terms of the Tennessee Constitution.
     Commissioners will take one more vote on all of the tentative recommendations. Those approved will go to Shelby County voters in an August referendum for approval.
     The meeting begins at 9 a.m. today in the fourth floor conference room of the Shelby County Administration Building, 160 N. Main St.

Impact Marketing Files for Bankruptcy

     Memphis-based advertising and marketing agency Impact Marketing LLC has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, according to The Daily News Online, www.memphisdailynews.com.
     Phone calls to Impact Marketing seeking a comment were unanswered, but a recording from Patricia Chandler, the company's owner and CEO, refers all calls regarding legal or accounting issues to Tommy L. Fullen.
     She concludes the call by apologizing for any inconvenience the bankruptcy action may have caused her clients.
     Fullen is a local attorney who filed the bankruptcy action for Impact. He was unavailable for comment by press time.
     Impact Marketing is the agency that formerly represented Memphis-based Lenny's Sub Shop, EP Delta Kitchen on Beale Street and Grand Events & Party Rentals.

Consumer Confidence Sinks to Five-Year Low

     Consumer confidence sank to a five-year low in March as tight credit markets, rising prices and worsening job prospects made many worry that the economy has fallen into recession.
     The Conference Board, a business-backed research group, said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index plunged to 64.5 in March from a revised 76.4 in February. That was far below the 73 expected by analysts surveyed by Thomson/IFR.
     The index has been weakening since July, and is watched because lower consumer confidence tends to result in lower consumer buying, which is a drag on the economy.
     Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's research center, said the latest index reading was the lowest since 61.4 in March 2003, just ahead of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
     "Consumers' outlook for business conditions, the job market and their income prospects is quite pessimistic and suggests further weakening may be on the horizon," she added.
     There were steep declines in two companion indexes.
     The present situation index, which looks at current conditions, slumped to 89.2 in March from 104 the month before. The expectations index, which looks ahead, dropped to a 35-year low of 47.9 in March from 58 in February. The last time the reading was that depressed was in December 1973, when it registered 45.2 amid the Arab oil embargo and Watergate scandal, the Conference Board said.
     In the expectations appraisal, a growing number of consumers said they expected business conditions to worsen over the next six months. On the labor market, consumers expecting fewer jobs increased to 29 percent in March from 28 percent in February, while those expecting more jobs declined to 7.7 percent from 8.9 percent.
     The survey by the New York-based Conference Board is based on a sample of 5,000 U.S. households.

Graceland Launches New Exhibits

     The Graceland Visitor Center unveiled this week new exhibits chronicling separate periods in the life of Elvis Presley, including his induction into the Army and his 1968 TV special.
     The exhibits, "Private Presley" and "Elvis 68," showcase items that the general public has never seen, including Elvis' Army foot locker, dress uniforms and a wristband he wore during the '68 Comeback Special, among other items. In addition, Graceland unveiled a VIP Tour exclusive exhibit that showcases other personal Elvis artifacts such as the deed to Graceland.

ArtsMemphis Names Contest Semifinalists

     ArtsMemphis has named the semifinalists for its Web-based filmmaking contest "Our Vibe. Our City. On Film."
     Semifinalists are "Blues," by Harmony Stewart; "I Am Art," by Billy Worley; "Aid to the Artist," by Jordan Danelz and Amit Kapadia; "The Warble Atelier," by Andy Strong; "West Clinic," by Joe Incardona; "Thus Spake Dolph Smith," by Tom Wayne; "Community of Creatives," by Live from Memphis; "Shredder," by Jon Sparks; "Wild Bill's," by Suzannah R. Herbert; "Last Cut (Pure Gold)," by Ashley Gerst; "Indie Dreams," by Donald Meyers; and "The Dance Lesson," by Jim Esposito.
     A panel of local experts judged the films that were submitted from Jan. 15 through Feb. 29.
     The films, which are five minutes or less in length, are on the ArtsMemphis Web site, www.artsmemphis.org. The public can view the films and vote for their favorite.
     The top five finalists will be announced by the end of this month.

Porter-Leath Receives $180K Grant from State

     Porter-Leath is the recipient of an $180,000 grant from the state of Tennessee. The grant, facilitated by the Governor's Office of Children's Care Coordination, will help provide wide-ranging support services to 300 pregnant women in Memphis through Porter-Leath's Cornerstone program.
     The Cornerstone program, which aims to help pregnant women and reduce the high infant mortality rate, provides regular home visits, case management, parent education, health and developmental screening and peer support groups for pregnant women and their children through age 2.

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