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VOL. 127 | NO. 84 | Monday, April 30, 2012

Daily Digest

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Best Western Exec. Inn Financed for $1.4M

The 60-room Best Western Executive Inn at 3105 Millbranch Road has been financed for $1.4 million, the second loan owner Jai Gayatri Inc. has filed for the Whitehaven property in as many months.

The most recent filed loan, through First Capital Bank, follows a $1.1 million loan through Renasant Bank filed March 1.

Built in 2000, the 30,668-square-foot, two-story hotel is situated on 1.5 acres on the west side of Millbranch between Nonconnah Boulevard to the north and East Brooks Road to the south.

The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2011 appraisal of the property was $1.6 million.

Jai Gayatri, doing business as Best Western of Memphis, acquired the then-vacant land via quitclaim in 1999.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

Schools Planning Commission Begins Look at Facilities

The schools consolidation planning commission took its first look Thursday, April 26, at a committee recommendation that the group recommend the countywide school board consider closing 21 schools.

Which schools would be up to the school board and the group doesn’t intend to say which ones it would recommend if it approves the general set of suggestions that go to the school board approval.

The planning commission’s logistics committee picked 21 schools out of 90 total – most in the southwest and northwest parts of the city – that have a utilization rate under 80 percent.

But the decision isn’t as simple as pointing to schools that are below capacity, said committee chairman Richard Holden.

Holden, who is the former chief of operations for the Shelby County Schools system, said some under capacity schools could remain open and be brought up to capacity with the closing of other nearby schools also under capacity but in buildings that are older than the under capacity school that might remain.

That was what happened in North Memphis several years ago when the Memphis City Schools board opted to close Caldwell Elementary School and send its students to another under utilized school, Guthrie Elementary, which is about a mile away.

The planning commission will vote on that and other recommendations including adapting the Memphis City Schools nutrition services model with a central kitchen concept of preparing meals when it meets in May.

– Bill Dries

First Tennessee Foundation Awards $385K in Arts Grants

The First Tennessee Foundation is distributing $385,000 in grants to 15 Memphis-area arts groups through a new ArtsFirst grants partnership with ArtsMemphis.

All requests for First Tennessee Foundation ArtsFirst grants are made through ArtsMemphis.

Funding is decided by a grant panel made up of representatives from the First Tennessee Foundation and ArtsMemphis, and eligible organizations, which include museums and performing arts and visual arts organizations, must be located in Shelby County and have a history of presenting quality arts projects.

The 2012 grant recipients are The Blues Foundation, Creative Aging Mid-South, Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Levitt Shell, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis College of Art, National Metal Museum, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, New Ballet Ensemble, The Orpheum Theatre, The Pink Palace Museum, Playhouse on the Square, Hattiloo Theatre, RiverArtsFest and Theatre Memphis.

– Andy Meek

Fred's Super Dollar Raises $637,916 for Hospitals

Record-breaking donations from customers at fred’s Super Dollar stores have raised more than half-million dollars during its annual campaign to collect money to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

This year’s campaign set a new record with a total of $637,916, officials at fred’s Super Dollar announced. The total was a 17.4 percent increase over last year’s $543,025.

In what has become a fred’s Super Dollar tradition, shoppers were offered a chance to purchase special paper Miracle Balloons for $1 each at any store location. All the proceeds from the sale benefited the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital closest to the fred’s Super Dollar where the balloon was purchased.

This year’s campaign – from Feb. 20 to April 8 – well exceeded the goal of $595,000.

As an added incentive, customers who purchased a Miracle Balloon in a fred’s Super Dollar were rewarded with a coupon for $1 off the purchase of two bags of Hershey’s Candy.

Since 2006, the first year of the campaign, fred’s Super Dollar has raised $3.3 million.

– Sarah Baker

UTHSC Professor Receives $2.1M for Alcohol Research

Dr. Robert W. Williams, director of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s Center for Integrative and Translational Genomics, has received two grants totaling more than $2.1 million from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Williams is also a professor in UTHSC’s Departments of Anatomy and Neurobiology and Pediatrics.

The awards – part of a large NIH initiative, the Integrative Neuroscience Initiative on Alcoholism – will be used to fund ongoing research over a five-year period, with the goal of understanding how increased stress predisposes people to addiction and alcoholism.

Williams and his team will process, analyze and distribute massive data sets from research conducted on the causes, prevention and treatment of alcoholism. Data sets from various research studies will be integrated into GeneNetwork, which is a free scientific Web resource and database that allows relationships between differences in genes to be studied.

Williams’ collection and research of data will help to make connections between studies, as well as to create new avenues for further research.

– Aisling Maki

Bill to Require Older Kindergarten Students

A proposal to move up the cutoff date to meet kindergarten age requirements is headed to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Jack Johnson of Franklin was approved 21-10 by the Tennessee Senate on Thursday, April 26. The companion bill passed the House 68-30 earlier last week.

Currently, children must be 5 years old by Sept. 30 to enroll in kindergarten. The measure would move that cutoff date to Aug. 31 in the school year beginning in 2013, and to Aug. 15 the following year.

Johnson says he proposed the legislation at the urging of kindergarten teachers who say some children are not ready to learn until they have reached a certain age.

Democratic Sen. Roy Herron of Dresden said the measure would hurt cash-strapped parents.

– The Associated Press

Natural Gas Prices Rise; Oil Declines Slightly

Natural gas is rising as cooler weather and production cuts are raising expectations that demand may improve.

Natural gas rose 2.1 cents to $2.147 per 1,000 cubic feet Friday in early trading.

The previous week the price dropped to the lowest level in more than a decade.

The price plunged this year as a natural gas production boom created a glut of supply and demand dropped due to a mild winter.

The weather has turned cooler in some regions, which could create more demand for the fuel.

Oil is down 36 cents to $104.19 per barrel in New York after the U.S. reported slower economic growth. Brent crude has dropped 64 cents to $119.28 in London.

At the pump, gasoline prices fell less than half a cent to $3.826 per gallon.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 85 205 21,165
MORTGAGES 76 206 24,338
BUILDING PERMITS 183 321 43,755
BANKRUPTCIES 48 92 13,560