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VOL. 127 | NO. 56 | Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Daily Digest

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Union Mission Buys Washington Property

Memphis Union Mission has bought property behind its men’s emergency shelter at 383 Poplar Ave. for $975,000, part of an expansion plan approved by the city-county Land Use Control Board and Memphis City Council earlier this year.

The purchase of 332 Washington Ave., 352 Washington Ave. and 364 Washington Ave. from WMC Investment Co., Equity Group 92 LLC, Bryan A. Crisman and Marie C. Crisman closed Thursday, March 15.

The property includes an 11,528-square-foot Class B warehouse built in 1972 on 0.9 acres at 352 Washington; a 15,840-square-foot Class E warehouse built in 1923 on 0.8 acres at 364 Washington; and a vacant 0.2-acre parcel at 332 Washington, according to the Shelby County Assessor of Property.

The assessor’s 2011 appraisal totaled $658,700.

In January, the Land Use Control Board recommended the council approve a special-use permit for the mission to expand onto 3.1 acres behind the current mission. The council approved that permit in February.

The property will be used to expand the mission to address overcrowding at its current facility and provide new services, according to Memphis Union Mission’s website.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

United Housing Opens Smart Classroom

United Housing Inc. has revolutionized its Homebuyer Education classroom at its office, 51 N. Cooper St., to a smart one with funds from a City of Memphis Strategic Community Investment Fund grant.

The smart classroom replaces a VHS system and large notepad with a projector, screen, speaker, DVD player, laptop and document camera. An online program is also available as an alternative to classroom learning.

Homebuyer education will be provided at the United Housing office on Wednesday, March 21, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., covering details on purchasing a home and receiving money through the Hardest Hit Fund. Access to credit counseling will also be available.

Meanwhile, United Housing has exceeded a fundraising goal of $11,000 from local sponsorships to benefit Wolf River Bluffs, an energy-efficient subdivision in Frayser scheduled to begin development in June.

To continue fundraising efforts, United Housing will host “An Evening at the Theatre” April 19. Noel Coward’s “Present Laughter” will be showing at Circuit Playhouse, 66 S. Cooper St. Proceeds from online ticket sales and raffle items will go toward upcoming projects.

– Sarah Baker

Memphis Prom Closet Collecting Dresses

Memphis Prom Closet – an organization that provides free prom dresses to economically disadvantaged girls – is collecting prom dresses through Friday, March 23, at BRIDGES, 477 N. Fifth St., and all at Verizon Wireless stores.

Memphis Prom Closet is in its second season of collecting prom dresses. The group donated dresses to Northside High School last year and has chosen to donate proceeds this year to junior and senior girls at Northside, Manassas and Douglass high schools.

On March 31, the group will host a “Prom Party” event at which girls will choose their dresses. Dressing rooms will be available and volunteers will be on hand to help with decisions. The girls will also be able to participate in discussions about prom safety and receive hair and makeup tips from professional stylists.

This year’s event is sponsored by Verizon Wireless and Macy’s.

– Aisling Maki

Mid-South Food Bank Appoints Board Members

Mid-South Food Bank has appointed Rafael Durand from International Paper Co. and James Gibbs from Riviana Foods Inc. to its board of directors.

Durand is International Paper’s director of human resources for environmental, health, safety and sustainability and global manufacturing technology. He also serves on the board of Latino Memphis.

Gibbs is director of engineering and facility manager at Riviana Foods. During his 20 years there, he has worked in numerous capacities in the operations division. Before moving to Memphis, he was involved with the Houston Food Bank through Riviana.

– Taylor Shoptaw

US Builders Start Fewer Homes in February

U.S. builders started work on slightly fewer homes in February. But they began laying the ground work for a turnaround later this year by requesting the most building permits in any month since October 2008.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that builders broke ground on a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 698,000 homes last month. That’s down 1.1 percent from January’s revised level of 706,000, also the highest since October 2008.

Building permits, a gauge of future construction, jumped 5.1 percent last month to 717,000. Two-thirds are for single-family homes, which are critical to a housing recovery.

It can take up to 12 months for a builder to obtain a permit and construct a single-family home.

Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said he expects further gains over the next few months, based on a measure of builder confidence that has increased in five of the past six months.

“Housing will add to growth all year, and beyond,” Shepherdson said.

The housing market still has a long way to go before a full recovery is under way. The current pace of construction is barely half the rate considered healthy, as are the number of permits being requested. Most analysts say it could be years before the industry returns to full health.

Construction of single-family homes, which makes up roughly 70 percent of housing starts, dipped in February to 457,000 after rising for four straight months to an 18-month high. A jump in apartment construction offset the decline.

– The Associated Press

Gov't Requires New Labels for Hazardous Chemicals

The Obama administration announced long-awaited regulations to improve labels on hazardous chemicals and make them conform with international guidelines developed by the United Nations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimated that such labels could prevent more than 40 deaths and about 500 workplace injuries and illnesses from exposure to hazardous chemicals each year.

Assistant Labor Secretary David Michaels said labels will be easier to understand and less confusing, especially for low-literacy workers. About 43 million U.S. workers come in contact with hazardous materials on the job.

The process of developing the rules began during the Bush administration, and the rules were initially proposed more than two years ago. The Obama administration is holding them out as a product of a presidential directive last year to streamline burdensome agency regulations and eliminate red tape.

Chemical manufacturers currently have to produce two sets of labels and records: one to satisfy U.S. standards and another to meet the U.N. guidelines. OSHA officials said that by ending the duplication, the industry could save more than $475 million annually in training costs and paperwork.

The rules will be phased in over a transition period and companies will not have to comply with them fully until June 2016.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 207 263 9,865
MORTGAGES 197 246 10,862
BUILDING PERMITS 138 686 21,643
BANKRUPTCIES 0 256 6,219