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VOL. 122 | NO. 144 | Thursday, August 2, 2007

Daily Digest

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Progress Made In Winstead Farms

     Riverbend Homes LLC and Harrell Home Builders LLC are moving ahead with construction plans in Lakeland's Winstead Farms Planned Mixed Use Development. Both companies recently bought lots and filed construction loans for property in the subdivision.
     Riverbend Homes bought six lots from Winstead Farms LLC in three transactions totaling $445,500, filing a $1 million loan through First Citizens National Bank, a $606,400 loan through Bank of Bartlett and a $358,700 loan through Oakland Deposit Bank.
     Harrell Home Builders bought seven lots from Winstead Farms LLC for $510,500, filing two loans through Bank of Bartlett: a $1.1 million construction loan for three lots and a $293,300 loan secured by the other four lots.
     Winstead Farms is a 116-lot mixed-use development on 77.44 acres off U.S. 70 and across the street from Lakeland City Hall. Amenities include a pool, kids' park with water sprinklers, and a fishing lake. Other builders include Magnolia Homes Inc. and Kenny Cook Construction.
     For details about Magnolia Homes' work in Winstead Farms, as well as more information about the subdivision, see The Daily News' July 23 Daily Digest at www.memphisdailynews.com.

 Tanner Introduces Iraq Planning Bill in Congress

     U.S. Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn., has introduced a bill in Congress he said would give congressional leaders more of a say in planning and strategy for Iraq.
     The bill - H.R. 3087, which has passed out of the House Armed Services Committee - would, among other things, ask the White House to report to Congress within roughly two months of the bill's passage to give a status report on troop redeployments in Iraq. In remarks he made during C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" program recently, Tanner said, "You have some
     people in Congress who want to be the generals on the ground and determine what hill to fight from. Well, as a military guy myself, I know that won't work. Then you have people in Congress who sit over here and just appropriate $100 billion every six months with no questions asked."
     Tanner represents Tennessee's 8th congressional district, which includes parts of West and Middle Tennessee.

Patriot Bank Opens South Tipton Branch

     Patriot Bank will have a grand opening for its newest branch, South Tipton, at noon today at 11529 U.S. 51 South in Atoka.
     The South Tipton location houses both bank and mortgage operations, with the existing Atoka mortgage office moving from Atoka-McLaughlin Road to the new location. The building features a large lobby, ample parking, drive-through banking and a drive-up ATM.
     It is Patriot Bank's fifth full-service location since the bank opened in Millington in October 2001. A sixth location is scheduled to open in South Covington in September.
     The South Tipton staff is led by assistant vice president and loan officer Robert "Bob" Braswell and branch manager and loan officer Jan Phillips. The South Tipton bank staff also includes Erica Daniel, Rebecca Ross, Rachel McMahan and Meghan Ward.
     The Patriot Bank mortgage office is headed by vice president Nora O'Hara and staffed by Carina Artioli and Mischa Butler.
     The ribbon cutting and dedication are scheduled for noon, followed by refreshments in the bank lobby. Entertainment will be provided by the Munford High School Advanced Singers, and customers can register to win door prizes and a grand prize of a $500 South Tipton shopping spree.
     For more information, call 837-7282 or visit www.patriot-bank.com.

City Schools Receive $9.7M For Improvements

     The Memphis City Schools district will receive $9.7 million of the more than $42 million in additional state revenue, referred to as Basic Education Plan (BEP) 2.0. The money will be used for intense improvements in teaching and learning for a group of schools currently on the state's probationary list of "striving schools."
     Gov. Phil Bredesen has ordered the district to implement a strict plan of action for schools that remain on the state-identified probationary list. Each of the city schools in the group will receive academic support tailored to its specific needs.
     The schools expected to receive support are Airways Middle, Carver High, Cypress Middle, East High, Fairley High, Frayser High, Geeter Middle, Hamilton High, Kingsbury Middle and High, Sherwood Middle, Treadwell Elementary, Treadwell High, Vance Middle and Westside Middle.
     Starting with the 2007-2008 school year, the schools also will have longer school days. The hours for these schools will begin at 7:30 a.m. and end at 2:45 p.m., adding 30 minutes to each day, or the equivalent of 14 days of instruction each year.
     Other changes in academic structure aim to improve the schools' scores and overall performance. Graduation coaches will be hired for high schools; literary and mathematics coaches will be hired to tutor students; performance-based incentives will be added for principals, teachers and staff; and some schools will be assigned an additional parent/family or behavioral specialist or guidance counselor.
     The plan, which is modeled after Douglas Reeves' STAR Model for Success and similar strategies successfully implemented in other city school districts, also provides for content-area specialists to work with the new academic coaches and for an academic superintendent to directly supervise the principals for the schools in the group.

Elvis Managers Plan Overhaul for Graceland

     The thousands of Elvis Presley fans descending on Memphis for the 30th anniversary of his death Aug. 16 won't see much sign of it, but plans are moving along for big-time changes at Graceland.
     Managers of Presley's famous home want to overhaul its tourist complex with a new visitors center bigger than a football field, a convention hotel and high-tech museum displays that can give a new, digital life to the King himself.
     All it will take to bring about those wonders is $250 million or so; the total reorganization of CKX Inc., the New York-based company that controls all things Elvis; and a publicly supported facelift for Graceland's struggling neighborhood.
     Last year, Graceland took in $27 million in revenue, and the overall Elvis business brings in more than $40 million a year. That made him the second-highest grossing dead celebrity in 2006, behind only Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, according to Forbes.
     Lisa Marie Presley still owns her father's house and 15 percent of Elvis Presley Enterprises, but CKX controls Graceland and its sprawling complex of souvenir shops and memorabilia museums.
     The new plans include an 80,000-square-foot visitors center designed from the ground up for handling big crowds and high-tech exhibits.
     "To put that in perspective, that's about six or seven times the size of the mansion," said CKX chairman Robert F.X. Sillerman.
     The center will be equipped for the kind of technical wizardry that allowed singer Celine Dion to recently perform what appeared to be a live duet with Elvis on the "American Idol" TV show, which CKX also owns.
     "People will actually think Elvis is there," Sillerman said. "It's going to be, 'Oh, wow,' I can tell you that."
     Graceland's 128-room Heartbreak Hotel is to be replaced by a convention hotel with up to 500 rooms.
     No timeline for the expansion has been set.
     "But moving straight ahead, with every intention of keeping the ball moving, we're probably looking at something in the neighborhood of a three-year process," said Jack Soden, EPE's top executive and a major player in opening Graceland to the public in 1982.
     Graceland managers have been working on their expansion plans for more than a year, and Sillerman has come to Memphis to talk with city, county and state officials about their assistance.
     CKX wants a "mutual cooperation agreement" with local government for major highway and utility improvements and renovation help for other businesses in the area, particularly along Elvis Presley Boulevard, a once-vibrant commercial strip now dotted with used-car lots and empty buildings.
     "We don't want to create an island," Soden said. "We want to be a catalyst for the right kind of growth and the right kind of revitalization of the commercial corridors."
PROPERTY SALES 56 94 12,852
MORTGAGES 23 50 8,053
BUILDING PERMITS 285 422 30,356
BANKRUPTCIES 23 67 6,131