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VOL. 123 | NO. 46 | Thursday, March 6, 2008

Daily Digest

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Two Cemeteries Acquired By Pennsylvania Entity

     Bristol, Pa.-based StoneMor Partners LP, operating as its subsidiary Lakewood Hamilton Cemetery LLC, has acquired two local cemeteries that were involved in a 2007 Federal Trade Commission mandate.
     StoneMor took over the Northridge/Woodhaven Cemetery and Funeral Chapel in Millington for $2 million and Memorial Park Southwoods Cemetery in Memphis for $1.5 million via quitclaim deed from Alderwoods Inc.
     Although the transactions closed in December, they weren't finalized for public record until Tuesday. Calls to StoneMor were not returned by press time.
     The sale of the properties was initiated in November 2006, when Houston-based Service Corporation International (SCI), the nation's largest chain of funeral homes and cemeteries, proposed the acquisition of Cincinnati-based Alderwoods, the second-largest chain.
     As part of the merger agreement, the FTC mandated the sale of funeral homes in 47 markets in which the new company would hold a monopoly. StoneMor wound up acquiring 45 cemeteries, 30 funeral homes and one pet cemetery from SCI.
     Three cemeteries and four funeral homes in Tennessee were affected. Last summer, Alderwoods sold the 150-acre Memorial Park Cemetery and Funeral Home on Poplar Avenue for $24 million to Northstar Memorial Group LLC of Decatur, Ill.

Staggered Council Terms On Charter Commission Agenda

     The Charter Commission of Memphis and Shelby County is scheduled today to consider adding proposed changes to the City Charter for a coming charter referendum.
     On the agenda is the idea of staggering the terms of City Council members and barring them from serving as voting members of boards such as the Center City Commission.
     The meeting starts at 3 p.m. in the fifth-floor conference room at City Hall, 125 N. Main St.

MLGW Board to Discuss Payment Programs

     At today's Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division board of commissioners meeting, members will discuss a resolution to allow qualified residential customers to be eligible for the Net Due Date Program, as well as an option to enroll in the SmartPay Program.
     The Net Due Date program is designed for people on fixed incomes who only receive checks once a month. Under this program, they have the right to request the due date on their bill be delayed until after they have received the check.
     MLGW's Smart Pay program allows people to pay the same amount every month for their utility bills. Under the Smart Pay program, the bill is calculated by averaging utility bills over two six-month periods from the previous year.
     The meeting begins today at 1:30 p.m. at MLGW Administration Building, 220 S. Main St.

Three Foreclosures Filed Against Patricia Alexander

     Three first-run foreclosures have been filed for properties owned by Patricia Alexander. They begin on Page 39 of today's Daily News.
     Patricia Alexander is the wife of Charles Alexander, who together have seen nearly 50 foreclosure notices for their properties filed since the middle of February.
     The properties scheduled for sale are at 1645 Locust St., 857 N. Mansfield St. and 2437 Carnes Ave. U.S. Bank N.A. is the owner and holder of the debts for all three properties, which were mortgaged in May 2002.
     The properties are slated for sale March 27 at noon at the southwest Adams Avenue entrance of the Shelby County Courthouse.
     Oakland Deposit Bank is listed as an interested party on all three notices.
     Attempts to reach the Alexanders by phone have been unsuccessful.
     For more information on the earlier foreclosure notices filed against the Alexanders, visit www.memphisdailynews.com.

Memphis MPO Committee To Meet Today

     The Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization's Engineering and Technical Committee will meet today from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Shelby County Training Conference Room, 1075 Mullins Station Road.
     Call 576-6601 for more information.

First Horizon, Fifth Third Trial Date Set

     A tentative trial date has been set in the dispute over a collapsed deal between Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. and Fifth Third Bank of Cincinnati.
     The dispute began last month over a scheduled sale of nine Atlanta-area First Horizon bank branches to Fifth Third. Fifth Third has filed a lawsuit in Davidson County Chancery Court in Nashville over First Horizon backing out of the sale. The court recently set a trial date of April 21 in the case.
     Depositions are scheduled to begin later this month.

Discrimination Complaints Increase 9 Percent

     Federal job discrimination complaints filed by workers against private employers shot up 9 percent last year, the biggest annual increase since the early 1990s.
     The data released Wednesday by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission show allegations of discrimination based on race, retaliation and sex were the most frequent, continuing a long-term trend.
     Overall, the commission said complaints increased from 75,768 charges filed in 2006, to 82,792 last fiscal year. That's the highest complaint level since 2002 and the biggest annual percentage increase since 1993.
     Complaints had been trending downward until 2006, when they increased slightly before spiking last year.
     "It's possible that there's a trend developing here and employers need to be aware of this," said commission spokesman David B. Grinberg. "The fact that filings are up close to 10 percent, hopefully employers will see that as a wake-up call and pay more attention to discrimination issues in the workplace."
     Allegations of discrimination based on race were the leading category of complaints - 30,510 in all, or 37 percent of all filings last year, said the commission, which enforces federal anti-discrimination laws among private employers.
     Charges based on retaliation accounted for 26,663 of the complaints, about 32 percent of all filings with the commission. For the first time retaliation was the second-most frequent complaint, surpassing sex-based charges. Retaliation charges were up 18 percent from the previous year.
     Sex discrimination complaints totaled 24,826 of the filings, 30 percent of the overall cases.
     Several other categories tracked by the commission also saw double-digit percentage increases from the previous year, including complaints about age and disability discrimination.
     Complaints about discrimination based on pregnancy saw a big increase, up 14 percent to 5,587 charges last year - a record high.
     The only major category to see a decrease was complaints involving equal pay, which slipped from 861 in 2006 to 818 last year, accounting for 1 percent of all cases filed.
     During 2007, 72,442 private sector discrimination complaints were resolved; the commission recovered approximately $345 million in compensation for those who had filed discrimination charges.

Financial Staff Additions Not Expected in Q2

     Only 1 percent of chief financial officers in the Memphis area said they expect to add accounting and finance staff during the second quarter, according to the most recent Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index.
     Six percent of executives surveyed plan to add staff during the quarter and 5 percent anticipate reductions in personnel.
     The net 1 percent increase is unchanged from the area's Q1 2008 forecast.
     The local results reflect a two-quarter rolling average based on interviews with 200 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in the Memphis area with 20 or more employees; 1,400 CFOs were questioned for the national data.
     Results for the entire survey are available at www.roberthalf.com.

ABC's Home Makeover Show Coming to Memphis

     The producers of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" would like to honor a local "hometown hero" by renovating their home.
     Ty Pennington, the show's host, and his crew have been all across the map and now are looking for an inspirational family in Memphis to feature on the TV show, which airs Sunday nights on ABC.
     Producers are looking for people who have strength and who have put their own needs aside to help someone else. They also want families who are in dire need of help.
     Interested families should e-mail a short description of their family story to:
     ExtremeMemphis@gmail.com. The deadline for nominations is March 14.

Center City Board Adds Three

     Stuart McGehee, Harold Collins and William Boyd have joined the Center City Commission's board of directors.
     The CCC is charged with facilitating Downtown revitalization. The three new members are the latest addition to the 20-member board that is comprised of private- and public-sector representatives.
MORTGAGES 80 320 1,066
BUILDING PERMITS 120 590 2,248