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VOL. 125 | NO. 95 | Monday, May 17, 2010

Daily Digest

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Westside Compress Files Loan with Louis Dreyfus

Westside Compress Co. Inc., a subsidiary of Dunavant Enterprises, has filed a $9.2 million loan through Louis Dreyfus Commodities Memphis Warehousing LLC.

The lender is an entity related to Louis Dreyfus Corp., the parent company of Allenberg Cotton Co., which is in the midst of a merger with Dunavant.

The deed of trust, assignment of rents, security agreement and fixture filing was dated April 9, although it wasn’t recorded by the Shelby County Register of Deeds until last week. H.J. Weathersby, an executive at Dunavant, signed the trust deed as vice president of Westside Compress.

The transaction also included a memorandum of warehouse lease agreement for the 665,995-square-foot facility at 3003 Harvester Lane in Frayser.

Built in 1946, that building sits on 38.37 acres and has an appraised value of $3 million, according to the Shelby County Assessor of Property.

It’s the second notable transaction in the past month involving the merger of Dunavant and Allenberg, a pair of longtime Memphis cotton kings.

Also in April, Allenberg bought the Dunavant Enterprises Inc. headquarters at 3797 New Getwell Road.

Allenberg’s parent company, Louis Dreyfus Corp. (operating in the transaction as Louis Dreyfus Commodities Asset Holdings LLC), paid $1 million for the 63,662-square-foot facility – less than half its appraised value of $2.3 million.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

Morgan Keegan Scores Top Rankings

Simon Leopold, a senior analyst at Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc., was named the top earnings estimator in the nation in the Financial Times/StarMine 2009 ranking’s of the top brokerage analysts on Wall Street.

Leopold and two other Morgan Keegan analysts were top-ranked earnings estimators and stock pickers in their respective industry sectors. And seven Morgan Keegan analysts were named among the top three stock pickers and earnings estimators in their respective categories, according to the Memphis investment firm.

Andy Meek

More Former Clerks Indicted for Bribery

The former chief administrative officer for the Shelby County Clerk’s Office is in the latest batch of indictments in a continuing investigation of the clerk’s office.

Charles Nichols was indicted last week on two counts of bribery. Also charged by the Shelby County grand jury were Jacqueline Denson, a clerk, on six bribery counts, and Nancy Life, title clerk manager for Gossett Motor cars, on two bribery counts.

A fourth defendant was not in custody as the weekend began. People indicted on state charges in Shelby County are not identified until they are notified of the indictment.

An investigation by the Shelby County Attorney’s Office of alleged bribery by citizens as well as car dealers prompted Nichols to resign last year. The grand jury investigation followed with the indictment of several other clerk's workers.

“The grand jury’s previous actions as well as the indictments returned this week will help restore the public’s confidence that steps have been taken to address illegal practices in the county clerk’s office,” said District Attorney General Bill Gibbons in a statement. “It is possible more indictments could be returned by the grand jury in this matter.”

– Bill Dries

New Phonebook Features Opera Memphis

Opera Memphis plans to unveil the 2010 Memphis AT&T Real White Pages directory cover, which features the organization.

Charles Schaffler, chairman of the board of trustees for Opera Memphis, Lori Cheramie, AT&T Advertising Solutions area marketing manager, and Chuck Thomas, AT&T regional director of external affairs, are scheduled to be on hand for the 10 a.m. unveiling at Clark Opera Memphis Center, 6745 Wolf River Parkway.

The delivery of the new directory begins Tuesday and continues through July 13.

Tom Wilemon

University of Tennessee Gives Gore Honorary Degree

Former Vice President Al Gore on Friday received the University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s third ever honorary doctorate.

Gore, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told graduating students in a 20-minute speech that addressing humans’ impact on climate is the “biggest item of unfinished business” on the American agenda.

About two dozen protesters across the street from the UT basketball arena, where the ceremony was held, waved signs decrying Gore’s anti-global warming stance. “Gore: phony science, phony degree,” one sign read.

The school’s previous honorary doctorates were given to former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker and singer Dolly Parton.

Gore, a graduate of Harvard, has campaigned worldwide to draw attention to climate change, which led to the Oscar-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

– The Associated Press

Opry House Stripped to Foundation for Repairs

The Grand Ole Opry House has been stripped to its concrete foundation as workers try to repair damage from flooding about two weeks ago.

The stage, including a historic 6-foot circle of floorboards from the old Ryman Auditorium stage, has been removed along with pews that served as seats on the house floor. That Ryman wood is considered the heart of country music by some and its status as it sat under 4 feet of water was a big concern for country music stars and fans.

Grand Ole Opry president Steve Buchanan said Thursday during a tour with reporters that a few coats of varnish helped the circle survive, though the rest of the stage was destroyed.

“It’s going to need a little attention by a skilled craftsman, but we expect that it will be ready to go back in place pretty soon,” he said of the circle.

The tour showed a building that was eerily empty and dark, but already in the midst of extensive repairs.

All things touched by water that couldn’t be cleaned have been stripped and every single artifact, costume, instrument and piece of archival material that wasn’t rescued May 2 when the flood started to creep in has been shipped out for cleaning, repair or restoration.

Key pieces taken to safety included the fiddle Roy Acuff played during his first Opry show, the shoes Minnie Pearl wore for more than 50 years of performances and the steamboat whistle founder George D. Hay blew to signal the start of shows. Many others were whisked away even as the water sloshed around the knees of employees.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 28 290 16,197
MORTGAGES 33 165 10,087
BUILDING PERMITS 184 608 38,544
BANKRUPTCIES 33 125 7,597