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VOL. 122 | NO. 217 | Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Daily Digest

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Expansion in Works For Animal Science Offices

     The American Association for Laboratory Animal Science has applied for a $900,000 building permit to expand its office space at its Crestwyn Hills Drive headquarters.
     The project will cost about $900,000, or slightly more including furnishings, said Ann Turner, the executive director of Memphis-based AALAS.
     The group is doubling the size of its office space, adding about 6,000 square feet, Turner said. The organization also has a warehouse at the Crestwyn Hills site, but that part will not be expanded.
     The expansion is meant to accommodate new staff, most of whom already have been hired, but Turner said AALAS will be hiring for at least two additional positions next year.
     "We're just adding on because the organization has grown in staff size and programs," Turner said.
     AALAS is a professional organization of veterinarians and technicians who tend to animals in research labs. The organization provides education and certification programs and publishes reference materials such as professional journals.
     The contractor for the expansion is Grinder, Taber & Grinder Inc. and the architect is Renaissance Group. Construction has not yet started on the project, which is expected to reach completion by late 2008.
     AALAS has about 13,000 members and 32 employees.

Family Court Task Force Rescheduled for Today

     The Shelby County Board of Commissioners task force formed to discuss the viability of an all-encompassing Shelby County Family Court will hold its first meeting today. The meeting previously was scheduled for last week, but was cancelled.
     At the meeting, task force members will elect a chairman and establish dates for future meetings.
     The court, if created, will deal with all family issues, such as domestic violence, divorce, neglect and adoption.
     Family-related issues currently are handled by a number of courts. The creation of the court would call for changes in state law.
     Commissioners first expressed interest in researching the
     viability of such a court in September. At that time, commissioners sponsored a resolution creating the task force comprised of
     elected officials, representatives from the courts and community groups to study the issue and come up with recommendations by March 31.
     Today's meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Shelby County Mayor's large conference room, eighth floor of the Shelby County Administration Building, 160 N. Main St.

Gibbons, Other DAs Help New Orleans Office

     Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons is part of a team of district attorneys from across the country who traveled to New Orleans this week to assess and offer recommendations to help the troubled New Orleans district attorney's office.
     Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan resigned two weeks ago after a $3.7 million award was granted to former support workers and investigators. The fired workers, who were white, filed a federal lawsuit when they were fired and replaced with black applicants.
     Jordan authorized a $300,000 payment to the plaintiffs but said the $3.4 million is money the district attorney's office doesn't have. In resigning, he expressed a hope that his absence would make it easier for the office to settle the suit.
     Keva Landrum-Johnson was appointed interim district attorney. She is the former first assistant district attorney.
     The team is spending this week meeting with key criminal justice stakeholders, including judges, police officials, community leaders, prosecutors and members of the defense bar.
     Within 60 days of the assessment, the team is expected to make recommendations regarding necessary resources and best practices that could be applied to help rebuild the Orleans Parish district attorneys's office and the beleaguered system.
     The team of prosecutors includes district attorneys from Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., San Francisco and St. Louis.
     As part of the team, Gibbons has been asked to focus on relations between the Orleans Parrish district attorney's office and other law enforcement agencies.

Seven Assistant DAs Added to Local Office

     Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons has added seven new assistant district attorneys to his office's team of prosecutors.
     Bill Bright has been appointed chief prosecutor in the district attorney's White Collar Crime Unit. He most recently served as a staff attorney with the Tennessee Office of the Comptroller of the Treasury.
     Byron Winsett, a former vice president and general counsel for Winsett-Simmonds Inc., is a new prosecutor assigned to criminal court. Abby Wallace is a new prosecutor also assigned to criminal court.
     Four new prosecutors have been assigned to General Sessions Criminal Court - Ann Schiller, Melissa Boyd, Katherine Ratton and Miranda Baker.

Gas Prices Expected to Rise 20 Cents by December

     The price of gasoline may rise another 20 cents a gallon by December, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's top forecaster, whom the The Wall Street Journal cited in a report Monday.
     The estimate came after oil futures fell then rose Monday after Saudi Arabia's oil minister appeared to defuse rumors that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries might agree to boost production, the report on the paper's Web site said. The price of oil has approached $100 a barrel.

Wal-Mart Defies Predictions, Sees 8% Rise in Profits

     Wal-Mart Stores Inc. posted third quarter profits Tuesday of $2.86 billion and upped its projected earnings for the year as it heads into the holiday shopping season.
     The 8 percent rise in profits by the world's largest retailer beat Wall Street expectations and drew recognition from analysts.
     The company earned 70 cents per share, up from 62 cents per share in the same period a year ago. The 70 cents includes an after-tax gain equal to 1 cent per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had forecast earnings of 67 cents per share on revenue of $91.67 billion.
     Wal-Mart had revenue of $91.95 billion in the period ending Oct. 31, up 8.8 percent from $84.47 billion a year ago.
     Wal-Mart expects earnings for its fourth quarter to be between 99 cents per share and $1.03 per share. Earnings for the full year should be between $3.13 and $3.17, including a $40 million restructuring charge, the company said. Analysts project quarterly earnings per share of $1.02 and full-year profit of $3.09 per share.
     Wal-Mart President and Chief Executive Officer Lee Scott said it has been a tough year for consumers, but that the company's new focus on pricing is paying off.
     "We believe we are well positioned to win in this environment," Scott said in a recorded call.
     Scott said the company is showing improving trends in sales of home and apparel, an area in which Wal-Mart unsuccessfully sought to market to higher-income shoppers. Wal-Mart has switched back to its emphasis on price.
     "During the Christmas and holiday season, our price leadership position will benefit both our customers and the company. We have set the stage for a successful fourth quarter," Scott said.

Local Breast Cancer Survivor Receives National Award

     Memphis breast cancer survivor Carolyn Whitney walked the pink carpet at the Landmark Theatre in Los Angeles recently as one of the recipients of the Stop Breast Cancer for Life Hero Award. The award was presented by Lifetime Television.
     Whitney, a former Memphis City Schools teacher, was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2000.
     After receiving treatment, Whitney did some research and learned about a breast cancer survivorship organization for black women called the Sisters Network Inc. and contacted the national chapter. In February 2005, she started the Sisters Network Memphis Chapter. Under her leadership it has grown from 20 to 75 members.

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