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VOL. 122 | NO. 229 | Monday, December 3, 2007

Daily Digest

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Elvis Presley Enterprises Buys 9.5 Acres in Whitehaven

     Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. has bought two parcels totaling 9.5 acres near Graceland in Whitehaven through two transactions.
     The first was the purchase of 5.53 acres from Roluwa Realty Co. for $661,856. The vacant land is on the north side of Craft Road east of Masonwood Lane and west of the Graceland mansion. The second purchase was 3.98 vacant acres bought from William Rowe Carrington Jones and Lucy Lanier Carrington Jones for $476,531. The parcel is adjacent on the north to the 5.53-acre site.
     The Shelby County Assessor's combined appraisal of the land is $83,475.
     EPE representatives were not available for comment by press time.
     Redevelopment plans for the Graceland area are in the works. Once the Memphis City Council reconvenes with several new members next year, the group is expected to hear a rezoning request needed as part of the large-scale plans. For details, see The Daily News' Nov. 21 edition at www.memphisdailynews.com.
     

Commission to Vote On Shelby Farms Plan Funding

     The Shelby County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote at its meeting today on $200,000 in funding for the county's share of the cost for a Shelby Farms Park Master Plan.
     The plan is still being developed. Three firms have been selected to compete for the job. The nonprofit Shelby Farms Park Conservancy will announce the winning master plan design in April.
     Also up for a vote is $604,000 in funding to relocate the county agencies and
      offices in the county office building at 157 Poplar Ave. The relocation is the first step toward demolishing the building, now home to the Shelby County Election Commission as well as the Jury Commission, and
      replacing it with a parking garage.
     Also, a $275,000 contract with Salton Cos. to replace windows at the Peggy Edmiston Administration Center faces an uncertain fate after being delayed several times. It goes to the commission today with
      a committee recommendation that it be voted down by the full commission.
     The companies are owned by Kirby Salton, a construction contractor whose name has come up in the recent federal grand jury investigation of city school system construction contracts. Salton has not been charged with any crime in that probe.
     And Commissioner Mike Ritz will push
     his resolution calling for a moratorium on any future or existing applications for community redevelopment plans. The measure failed
     to get a committee recommendation last
     week. Ritz wants a moratorium to come up with more specific guidelines for the use of Tax Increment Funding projects.
     The meeting begins at 1:30 p.m. in the first floor chamber of the Shelby County Administration Building, 160 N. Main St.
     

Pinnacle Purchases Stock From Northwest Airlines

     Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines Corp. has purchased almost 2.5 million shares of its outstanding common stock from Northwest Airlines Corp. at a price of $13.22 per share, for total consideration of nearly $33 million.
     With the sale of the shares, Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest is no longer a holder of any of Pinnacle's common stock. Northwest still retains Pinnacle's Class A Preferred Share, which the company has agreed to purchase from Northwest in January.
     With the completion of the transaction, Pinnacle has repurchased 4.45 million shares of its common stock since authorizing a
     stock repurchase program in May, reducing the total outstanding shares by approximately 20 percent.
     

FedEx to Up Ground, Home Delivery Rates

     FedEx Corp. will increase the standard list rates for FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery by an average of 4.9 percent. The new rates will be effective Jan. 7.
     FedEx Corp. previously announced an increase to the net average shipping rate for FedEx Express by 4.9 percent, which is composed of a 6.9 percent increase in standard list rates, offset by a 2 percentage point reduction in its fuel surcharge. The rates also are effective Jan. 7 and apply to U.S. and U.S. export express package and freight shipments.
     Additional changes will be made to other FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery surcharges effective Jan. 7. The details of the surcharges and the new rates are available at www.fedex.com/us/rates2008.
     

Luminetx a Finalist For Red Herring Award

     Memphis-based biotech company Luminetx has been named a finalist for the "Red Herring 100 Global 2007" awards by Red Herring Magazine.
     The Red Herring editorial team used a competitive process to whittle down a pool of 1,800 eligible companies to 200 finalists
     for the magazine's first-time award. Evaluations were made using such criteria as financial performance, innovation, management, global strategy and ecosystem integration.
     Red Herring is a global media company that offers an online daily technology news service and its innovation magazine.
     

Bredesen Wants to Consider Scholarship Changes

     Gov. Phil Bredesen on Thursday said officials should consider revamping the criteria for lottery scholarships as a way to improve access to state colleges and universities.
     Bredesen asked higher education officials in a budget hearing to consider the effects of recasting the lottery scholarships to include a need-based element.
     Lottery scholarships currently are available to all high school students - regardless of how much their parents make - who have at least a 3.0 grade-point average or score a 21 on the ACT college entrance exam.
     Bredesen said the officials could think about creating a merit-only scholarship at a higher GPA, while bringing in more students with greater financial need and have lower GPAs.
     "If you have a 3.2 and your parents are wealthy or well off, maybe use some of that money for the 2.8 whose parents are not wealthy and can't send them to college instead," Bredesen said.
     Bredesen said his idea is not yet in the form of a concrete proposal, and there might be questions about whether the changes would be allowed
      under the constitutional amendment that created the state lottery and the scholarships.
     

First Horizon Insurance Expands Memphis Staff

     First Horizon Insurance Group Inc., a subsidiary of First Tennessee Bank National Association, has expanded its Memphis sales force.
     Layne Maupin and Dale Ernst have joined the group's current staff.
     Maupin, who has 30 years of experience as an employee benefits insurance producer, is a
     former partner with Insurance Brokers and Services Co.
     Ernst is a 26-year veteran of Principal Financial Group. He most recently was the group's director of sales in the Memphis area.
     

Further Rate Reduction Could Come, Bernanke Hints

     Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Thursday hinted that another interest rate cut might be needed to bolster the economy. The worsening credit crunch, a deepening housing slump and rising energy prices probably will create some
     "headwinds for the consumer in the months ahead," he said.
     Bernanke said he expects consumer spending will continue to grow and suggested the country can withstand the current problems without falling
     into a recession. But he indicated that consumers could turn more cautious as they try to cope with all the stresses.
     The odds have grown that the country could enter a recession. A sharp cutback in consumer spending could send the economy into a tailspin. Against this backdrop, Fed policymakers will need to be "exceptionally alert
      and flexible," Bernanke said.
     That comment probably will be viewed as a
     sign the Fed could lower interest rates when it meets Dec. 11, its last session of the year.
     "Bernanke is leaning in the direction of a rate cut," said Brian Bethune, economist at Global Insight.
     Twice this year the central bank has trimmed rates to keep the housing collapse and credit crunch from throwing the economy into a recession. Those cuts came in September and late October.
     The economic outlook has been "importantly affected over the past month by renewed
     turbulence in financial markets, which has partially reversed the improvement that occurred in September and October," Bernanke said. "These developments have resulted in a further
     tightening in financial conditions, which has the potential to impose additional restraint on activity in housing markets and in other credit-sensitive sectors."
     Bernanke spoke hours after the White House lowered its economic growth projection for 2008 due to the deteriorating housing market.
     The White House also raised its estimate for unemployment next year, but said inflation
     should moderate.
     
RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 20 39 190
BUILDING PERMITS 0 305 3,056
BANKRUPTCIES 17 135 753
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 53 329
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0