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VOL. 124 | NO. 142 | Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Daily Digest

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U of M Files Permit For New Weight Room

The University of Memphis has filed a $2.1 million permit application with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement to build a 12,000-square-foot weight room at the university’s Park Avenue Campus. The formal address for the campus and the facility is 1115 E. Getwell Loop.

The U of M’s athletic department recently completed its fundraising goal for the weight room, which is being built for the Tigers football team.

U of M associate athletic director for development Bill Lansden said the university has submitted paperwork with the state fire marshal and is awaiting approval. Once that is cleared, construction will begin – sometime in the fall – and should last nine to 11 months.

“The money’s there, the plans have been sent to the state for their approval, but sometimes that takes longer and that’s really out of our control,” Lansden said.

The weight room will be connected to the existing Billy J. Murphy Athletic Complex on the school’s Park Avenue Campus, at the southeast corner of Getwell Road and Park Avenue. The facility will include free and machine weights, plus a three-lane, 50-yard warm-up track inside.

The weight room is part of a $10 million capital campaign for the athletic complex. In addition to the weight room, the athletic department plans to re-turf one of the practice fields this fall. Then the school will begin fundraising to construct an indoor practice field.

Evans Taylor Foster Childress Architects is the architect for the weight room. Lansden said the general contract will be put out to bid following the requisite state approval.

For more about improvements to the U of M’s athletic facilities, see the April 27 edition of The Daily News, www.memphisdailynews.com.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

Board of Adjustment To Discuss Uptown SunTrust

The city-county Board of Adjustment will meet today to hear several zoning-related adjustment requests, including items related to the proposed construction of a SunTrust Bank branch in Uptown.

The location at issue is the north side of A.W. Willis Avenue west of Thomas Street. There are a variety of requests, including the permission of parking between the front building façade and A.W. Willis Avenue and a variance from the Uptown Memphis Zoning Regulations Neighborhood Center Overlay requirements to permit a one-story building.

The meeting will begin at 1 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St.

Mueller Industries Q2 Profit Slides on Lower Sales

Memphis-based Mueller Industries Inc., which makes metal fittings, valves and tubes, reported Tuesday that its second-quarter profit tumbled 78 percent as core product sales slid on lower copper and brass market values.

Net income slumped to $6 million, or 16 cents per share, compared to $27 million, or 72 cents per share, a year earlier.

For the period ended June 27, sales plunged 51 percent to $367.8 million from $753.5 million. The company said lower prices, mostly in its plumbing and refrigeration unit, contributed to the sales dropoff as well as lower unit volume at its OEM division. Mueller also noted that copper prices were 43 percent lower on average than in the prior-year period.

Schering-Plough Sales Drop in Consumer Health

Schering-Plough Corp.’s consumer health care sales were $381 million for the second quarter, a 5 percent drop from the same period in 2008, the company reported Tuesday when it released an earnings report. The consumer health care sales division, which is based in Memphis, had about 500 employees as of March.

The company attributed the decrease to lower sales of sun care products, which it said reflected unseasonable weather conditions in many parts of the United States.

Companywide, Schering-Plough reported net sales of $4.6 billion for the quarter and income of $633 million.

MLGW Posts Increase In Customer Satisfaction

Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division moved up four spots – the third best increase in overall score – for the South Midsize Region in the latest residential utility customer satisfaction study conducted by J.D. Power and Associates.

MLGW, previously ranked last in the nation, now ranks 117 out of 121 utilities in the nation in the latest survey.

MLGW’s overall score jumped 15 points in J.D. Power’s 2009 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study with a score of 548 out of 1,000 points. The average scores in the South Midsize category fell 8 points compared to 2008.

The study measures residential customer satisfaction with customers in six areas: power and quality, price, billing and payment, corporate citizenship, communications, and customer service. MLGW showed increases in all areas.

Survey Shows Many Restaurants Plan to Ban Guns

Many Tennessee restaurant owners don’t want guns in their businesses. They also don’t want to have to post signs banning them, fearing such signs will hurt business.

A law that took effect July 14 allows handgun permit holders to take weapons into bars and restaurants in which no more than 50 percent of the proceeds go to alcohol. Owners can opt out of the law by posting a sign.

Tennessee Hospitality Association CEO Walt Baker said about 78 percent of those responding to a statewide restaurant survey intend to ban guns on their premises.

Many of those who said they would not ban guns reported they were concerned that posting signs would hurt business with potential customers who weren’t familiar with the law and might wonder about the restaurant’s reputation.

Kevin Kane, president and CEO of the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the law was a “nightmare” for the city.

“We get hundreds of thousands of international visitors,” he said. “Now, when they go to Beale Street, they’ll be greeted by a three-by-five sign with a weapon in a circle with a line drawn through it.

“We look like an absolute joke. We look like we’re back in the 1800s. We’ve got enough challenges here. We’ve got a bad enough reputation.”

Randy Rayburn, owner of three Nashville restaurants is suing the state over the new law, arguing that it is unconstitutionally vague. He said owners who support guns in restaurants should have to opt in.

“Why not put the burden on those businesses that freely choose to welcome permit holders?” he said.

Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman last week declined to issue an injunction in that case that would have kept the law from taking effect. However, she set a hearing in 90 days to discuss the plaintiffs’ arguments.


Democrat Nichols Backs GOP’s Gibbons for Governor

Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols is crossing party lines to support Shelby County prosecutor Bill Gibbons’ Republican bid for governor.

Nichols is a lifelong Democrat who ran for governor in 2002. He lost that primary to Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Now he tells The Knoxville News Sentinel his perspective on party politics has changed.

He said he’s ready to support Republican Gibbons, a fellow district attorney, because Gibbons is willing to make public safety a campaign issue.

Nichols, named one of 12 vice chairmen of Gibbons’ campaign, said he hates to ask for money for himself, but has no problem asking for Gibbons.

Child Support Collections Increase in Tennessee

State officials say child support payments in Tennessee increased during the last fiscal year, despite a stumbling economy.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services collected more than $557 million for children through its child support program. The figure eclipsed the previous year’s record $530 million in collections.

DHS Commissioner Gina Lodge said her department and child support partners in all 31 judicial districts across the state are committed to ensuring that children benefit from court-ordered support payments.

While the majority of child support collections come through wage withholding from a parent, DHS also uses state license revocations, federal offset programs and liens to collect support.

In the fiscal year just ended, $33.25 million was collected by taking more than 24,000 tax refunds.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 51 334 9,936
MORTGAGES 41 330 10,946
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 12 1,301
BUILDING PERMITS 348 1,216 22,173
BANKRUPTCIES 43 348 6,311
BUSINESS LICENSES 30 142 4,081
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 19 127 3,019
MARRIAGE LICENSES 20 105 2,126