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VOL. 123 | NO. 238 | Friday, December 5, 2008

Daily Digest

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Permit Filed to Upgrade U of M Baseball Stadium

The University of Memphis this week filed a $2.7 million permit application with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement to renovate its baseball stadium on the school’s Park Avenue Campus, at the southeast corner of Getwell Road and Park Avenue.

Formerly called Nat Buring Stadium, the new facility will be named after FedEx, which donated $3 million for improvements and additions to the 37-year-old baseball complex. The official name has not yet been confirmed.

Construction is slated to begin in January and should take about 10-12 months, said U of M associate athletic director for development Bill Lansden. General contractor bids went out and should be in within the next two weeks; the architect is Evans Taylor Foster Childress Architects.

The renovation calls for “a new dressing facility, dugouts, grandstands, concession areas, press box and private suites,” according to a university press release. “The dressing facility will include locker rooms for both Tiger coaches and players, office and meeting space, indoor pitching and batting cages, as well as a direct entrance into the Tiger dugout and field at game time. The dressing facility will be located along the third base line.”

The baseball team will play its 2009 season home games at three local parks – Millington’s USA Stadium, AutoZone Park and Snowden Grove Park in Southaven – while the ballpark is being renovated.

Lansden said a modern, state-of-the-art baseball stadium will aid Memphis coach Daron Schoenrock in his efforts to recruit talented players to the university and keep the program competitive nationally.

“Daron has done a wonderful job, but we need to provide him the resources to continue to improve the program, and this will do that,” Lansden said.

“He’s now going to have a facility that he can walk into any home on a recruiting basis and be on a level playing field.”

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

AbitibiBowater To Close Mills, Cut Jobs

The largest North American newsprint maker this week said it is taking several cost-cutting steps to address challenges in the market, including the elimination of 1,100 jobs and the closure of facilities in Tennessee and elsewhere in the U.S.

Among some of the changes announced by Montreal-based AbitibiBowater Inc. are the removal of about 830,000 metric tons of newsprint from the marketplace and the permanent closure by the end of 2008 of the company’s Covington, Tenn., paper converting facility. The company also said it is immediately idling two paper machines it operates in Calhoun, Tenn.

The company’s stock has fallen about 97 percent this year and faces a deteriorating customer base as newspapers struggle and their demand for paper plummets. In October, demand fell 18.2 percent.

Within 16 weeks about 800 jobs will be permanently cut and approximately 300 jobs will be indefinitely cut, an AbitibiBowater spokesman said. The jobs affected are nearly 7 percent of the work force, according to the corporate Web site. The company owns or operates 27 pulp and paper mills and 34 wood products facilities worldwide.

The company, which markets its products in more than 90 countries, estimates it will incur cash closure costs of about $45 million related to the recent changes. The company’s presence in Tennessee provides newspaper to companies throughout the state, including The Daily News.

Lenny’s Founder Dies in Texas

Leonard “Len” Moore, 54, died Tuesday in Conroe, Texas, according to the office of Montgomery County Justice of the Peace Trey Spikes and the Southeast Texas Forensics Center. The office said an autopsy was being performed Thursday.

Moore was the founder of the Lenny’s Sub Shop chain. Moore and his wife, Shelia, opened the original Lenny’s Sub Shop in Bartlett to finance their daughter’s college education and to satisfy their cravings for a Philadelphia-style sub. There are now Lenny’s Sub Shops throughout the U.S.

The corporate office of Lenny’s Franchisor LLC said it would release a statement today regarding Moore’s death.

Fred’s November Sales Fall 1.8 Percent

Memphis-based discount retailer Fred’s Inc. reported Thursday that same-store sales fell 1.8 percent in November, hurt by fewer post-Thanksgiving shopping days during the period.

Total sales during the four weeks ended Nov. 29 fell 6 percent to $141.7 million from $151.1 million last year.

The company is in the midst of a restructuring, closing 75 underperforming stores and 22 underperforming pharmacies. Excluding those stores, sales were flat.

Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, are a key measure of retailer performance, because they measure growth at existing stores rather than from newly opened ones.

Year-to-date, same-store sales rose 2.4 percent while total sales rose 2 percent to $1.47 billion.

The company reaffirmed fourth-quarter guidance given in November of earnings of 17 cents to 21 cents per share; analysts predict a profit of 19 cents per share.

Tennessee Among Unhealthiest States

Tennessee is ranked among the five unhealthiest states for the fifth consecutive year in an annual report.

The United Health Foundation ranked Tennessee No. 47 in its 19th annual America’s Health Rankings released Wednesday. The state dropped one slot from last year’s rank of No. 46.

Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina are behind Tennessee. Vermont tops the list for the second year.

The rankings are based on factors including smoking, obesity, high school graduation rates and the environment.

The Tennessean newspaper reported Department of Health chief medical officer Veronica Gunn said state efforts are having a positive impact on Tennesseans but improving the state’s health status takes time.

UT, Oak Ridge Sponsor Student Biz Competition

The University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory will sponsor a business competition for students across the state and the country that will focus on technology-based entrepreneurship called the UT High School Technology Challenge.

Teams of up to four students from across the country are invited to submit an entry, which will be judged on the creativity and innovation of their technology-based product idea. Students must explain and demonstrate that there is a market need for the product and there is enough demand to create a sustainable business.

The deadline for teams to submit applications and summaries of their ideas is Feb. 2. Teams chosen as finalists will present their projects to judges in person at the Global Venture Challenge in Oak Ridge and on the UT Knoxville campus March 27-28.

A scholarship to UT Knoxville, valued at $6,000, will be awarded to each member of the winning teams.

For those interested in entering the contest, information is available by clicking on “Idea to Product Competition” at www.globalventurechallenge.com.

Training Set to Prepare Pets in Case of Disaster

The Humane Society University will dispatch a Disaster Animal Response Team to Memphis to hold classes Jan. 9 to Jan. 11 at the Red Cross Mid-South Chapter at 1400 Central Ave.

The three-day courses are designed to familiarize participants with disaster situations and train them to be effective emergency animal relief responders. The courses include classroom training as well as specialized exercises to encourage role playing and quick response in an emergency situation.

The cost is $115 if registered by today and $125 if registered by Dec. 26.

Registration can be done online at humanesociety.org/university. Type in the keyword DART to locate the course.

PROPERTY SALES 51 334 9,936
MORTGAGES 41 330 10,946
BUILDING PERMITS 348 1,216 22,173
BANKRUPTCIES 43 348 6,311