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VOL. 123 | NO. 67 | Friday, April 4, 2008

Daily Digest

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Solid Rock Christian Church To Begin New Building

     Solid Rock Christian Church has taken out a $2.9 million construction loan for a new two-story, 34,000-square-foot building. The new building will sit on what is currently vacant land at the corner of Raines and Ross roads.
     The lender is Evangelical Christian Credit Union.
     Solid Rock Christian Center Inc. quitclaimed, or transferred, the property to Solid Rock Christian Church Inc. in November 2006.
     The new building will house classrooms and a 2,000-seat sanctuary, said Bill Anderson, who is the pastor of Solid Rock and also the general contractor.
     "It happens to be a very unique situation," he said. "I get a chance to be thoroughly involved in the facility that's going up."
     Anderson said the slab will be poured in about a week. Although it is a 12-month construction project, Anderson said he expects the building to be complete in August or September.
     The contractor for the project is Jabez Builders Inc. The architect is Roy Scobey of Professional Design Resources.
     Although there currently is no school at Solid Rock, the new building will house classrooms.
     "We're going to retrofit the existing building for educational purposes, with the hope of a charter school in the near future," Anderson said.

Wright Medical Completes Inbone Acquisition

     Wright Medical Group Inc. has completed its acquisition of Inbone Technologies Inc. for an initial cash payment of $24 million, guaranteed future payments of $3.7 million and potential performance-based payments in the future.
     Arlington-based Wright designs and manufactures reconstructive joint devices and biologics and markets the products in more than 60 countries. Inbone manufactures ankle and rod-and-plate systems. Wright has begun to distribute Inbone's products in the U.S.
     The acquisition marks Wright's seventh business development initiative targeted for the foot- and ankle-surgery market in the last year.
     Wright is set to announce its first-quarter earnings April 24.

Former Med Cashier Receives Five-Year Prison Sentence

     A former lead cashier at The Regional Medical Center at Memphis was sentenced to five years in prison earlier this week on embezzlement and tax evasion charges.
     Cassandra J. Stanfield pleaded guilty to the charges in September. The plea deal called for Stanfield to give up a house and other property she bought with the millions she took from The Med. She also agreed to pay restitution, which U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla set at $2.8 million.
     Stanfield also admitted that she didn't file a federal income tax return for 2004, a year in which she showed an income of nearly $1 million. Stanfield stole the money over a four-year period starting in 2002 while working in The Med's Patient Financial Services Department.

Unemployment Claims Highest in Two Years

     The number of new people signing up for unemployment benefits last week shot up to the highest level in more than two years, fresh evidence of the damage to a national economy clobbered by housing, credit and financial crises.
     The U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday that new applications filed for unemployment insurance jumped by a seasonally adjusted 38,000 to 407,000 for the week ending March 29. The increase left claims at their highest point since Sept. 17, 2005, following the blows of the devastating Gulf Coast hurricanes.
     The latest snapshot of labor activity was worse than economists had anticipated. They had predicted claims would be much lower, around 365,000.
     A government analyst said some of the big increase in claims may have been related to an early Easter holiday this year, where claims that weren't filed or processed during the holiday week were pushed forward into the following week.
     Still, looking at the longer-term trend there was little doubt of the pickup in unemployment filings. A year ago, new claims stood at 319,000.
     Meanwhile, the number of people continuing to collect unemployment benefits rose by a sharp 97,000 to 2.94 million for the week ending March 22, the most recent period for which that information is available. That was the highest since July 17, 2004.
     The economy is suffering from a trio of mighty blows - a housing collapse, a credit crunch and a financial system in turmoil. That's causing people and businesses to hunker down, crimping spending, capital investment and hiring. Those things in turn further weaken the economy, in a vicious cycle.
     Employers cut jobs in January and February, and economists are predicting more losses when the government releases the March employment report today.
     The nation's unemployment rate, now at 4.8 percent, is expected to rise to 5 percent in March. The jobless rate could climb to 5.5 percent or higher by the end of this year, according to some analysts' projections.

Tenn. Funding Board Delays State Revenue Projections

     The State Funding Board is delaying its projections for state revenues until after the April 15 tax filing deadline, officials announced Wednesday.
     The postponement makes unlikely optimistic plans championed by Senate Republicans to adjourn by the end of April. The Legislature uses the board's estimates to prepare the annual state spending plan.
     The Funding Board had been scheduled to release its revenue estimates on April 10. That meeting has now been pushed back to an undetermined date in late April or early May.
     The General Assembly's only responsibility under the state constitution is to pass a balanced budget before adjourning.
     House Finance Chairman Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said the administration and lawmakers will work on an accelerated schedule to try to quickly wrap up the budget after the revenue estimates are released.
     Fitzhugh said May 9 could be a realistic ending date for the 105th General Assembly.
     Gov. Phil Bredesen has said he wants to see the level of business tax collections before settling on his final budget plan and has warned that more cuts are likely.
     "I have a considerable budget struggle this year, as I'm sure you're aware," Bredesen told reporters earlier Wednesday.
     When the governor presented his spending proposal in January, he assumed a shortage of $165 million in the current year. As of last month, the general fund shortfall stood at $212 million.
     The amount of this year's shortfall will spill over into plans for next year because the state will be starting from a lower base for the budget year that begins on July 1.
     Sales tax collections have missed projections by a wide margin this year, and officials want to see if the state might get bailed out by notoriously volatile corporate franchise and excise taxes.
     Business taxes have historically made up about 25 percent of state revenues, state Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz said earlier this week.

Credit Card Restrictions Bill Moves in State House

     A proposal that would restrict credit card solicitations to college students while they are on campus is moving in the Tennessee House.
     The bill sponsored by Speaker Pro Tempore Lois DeBerry, a Memphis Democrat, unanimously passed the House Education Committee on Wednesday.
     It would require institutions of higher learning that provide directories of their students to allow them to indicate that they don't want to be solicited.
     The companion bill was deferred in the Senate Education Committee Wednesday.

Downtown Artist to Discuss UrbanArt Projects

     Local artist Anthony Lee is opening his Downtown studio for a public viewing later this month to discuss two of the projects he's worked on for the Memphis UrbanArt Commission.
     His discussion of the projects will take place April 16 at 6 p.m. when he will describe "Modern Hieroglyphs," a temporary project he created for the UAC's 10th anniversary celebration last year.
     He also will talk about a permanent art piece he's working to get installed at Pierotti Park as part of the city of Memphis' Percent-for-Art program. The latter is a city initiative that involves setting aside part of the city's capital improvement project budget to go toward funding public artwork.
     Lee's Downtown studio is at 639 Marshall Ave.
PROPERTY SALES 69 357 17,741
MORTGAGES 66 403 20,438
BUILDING PERMITS 208 696 36,641
BANKRUPTCIES 52 210 11,374