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VOL. 127 | NO. 178 | Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Daily Digest

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Private Investor Buys Prescott Place Apartments

Private investor Dr. Harvard Stephens has bought a 272-unit low-income housing complex near Memphis International Airport for $1.3 million, or $4,780 per unit.

Built in 1972, the Class D Prescott Place Apartments, 3461 Steve Road, has been owned by Alabama-based entity Prescott Place Apartments LP for seven years – when the company bought it for $5.3 million.

The complex is situated on 13.1 acres on the south side of Steve Road east of South Prescott Street, with the south end bordering Interstate 240.

Over the past several years, the Shelby County Assessor’s appraisal of the property, which uses the address 1747 Morlye St., has steadily decreased. Its latest appraisal is $2.8 million, down from $4.1 million five years ago.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

Metso to Expand Clarksdale Operations

Finland-based Metso Corp., a supplier of technology and services to customers in the process industries, is expanding operations at its Clarksdale, Miss., facility to increase its conveyor component manufacturing operations.

Metso is investing $4 million in the project and plans to create 30 to 50 jobs; the Clarksdale facility currently employs 61 workers. The investments will strengthen Metso’s services business capabilities for its mining and construction customers.

The Mississippi Development Authority provided assistance in support of the project to help Metso move equipment to the Clarksdale facility. Additionally, the agency provided assistance for renovations to the Clarksdale facility and for workforce training.

Metso employs 30,000 workers in more than 50 countries.

– Sarah Baker

Ritz Settles In as Commission Chairman

Shelby County Commissioners had some new seating arrangements and committee assignments Monday, Sept. 10, as commissioner Mike Ritz began his yearlong term as chairman of the body.

Former chairman and Democrat Sidney Chism was seated next to former chairman pro tempore and Republican Wyatt Bunker.

“I want to thank you for getting me back within swinging distance of Sidney,” Bunker told Ritz.

“I don’t know if you did us any favors,” Chism replied.

Ritz announced his intentions to keep commissioners more focused on specific topics instead of personalities in the next year.

Republican Chris Thomas is seated next to Democrat Henri Brooks. But during the meeting Brooks found more common ground with Republican Terry Roland as both objected to plans to have the new commission administrator to be appointed later this month then appoint the deputy administrator. The deputy position has also been appointed by the commission in the past. Action on the matter was delayed for two weeks.

Meanwhile, Ritz has named Melvin Burgess as the new chairman of the commission’s budget and finance committee, a committee Ritz chaired previously. Burgess is also chairman pro tempore. And Justin Ford becomes chairman of the general government committee, a committee that had been chaired by Brent Taylor during his interim tenure on the body.

In other action, the commission approved on third and final reading an ordinance increasing the annual emission fee from non-motor vehicle emissions sources to $43 per ton. The previous fee of $30 per ton was set five years ago.

And the commission approved on third and final readings a trio of ordinances updating the Memphis and Shelby County fuel gas, mechanical and plumbing codes.

– Bill Dries

Law School Hosts Civility Forum

The Tennessee Bar Association and the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law will host a public forum next week dealing with free speech and civility in public policy debates.

The forum Tuesday, Sept. 18, will run from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the law school’s Wade Auditorium.

The event is the first in a series of three discussions across the state designed to encourage a public conversation about the tensions between civility and free speech. It will focus on how these issues play out in public policy debates, and the program will use the current school consolidation effort in Memphis and Shelby County as a case study.

More information about the Tennessee Bar Association or the Memphis forum is available from Stacey Shrader at 615-383-7421 or sshrader@tnbar.org.

– Andy Meek

Mid-South Fair Begins Sept. 21

The Mid-South Fair will be held Sept. 21-30 at the Landers Center in Southaven, and this year’s theme will be “Making Memories.”

Mid-South Fair President Mike McGee says this year’s fair will include entertainment, rides, food and the fair’s 59th annual Youth Talent competition, which he says is the oldest amateur youth talent competition in the country.

The fair is a nonprofit organization governed by a board of directors, operated by a full-time staff, and funded by sponsorships and donations.

Since 2001, the fair has given out $64,000 in educational scholarships for excellence in youth talent, creative arts and agriculture. The Mid-South Fair this year plans to give back to the community by supporting the Memphis Child Advocacy Center and Mid-South Food Bank.

In addition, local churches can ask their members to bring a current weekly bulletin or offering envelope, which include the church’s name and address, to the fair to receive $1 off a single adult admission. The fair will then donate $1 back to their church youth program when the fair ends.

– Aisling Maki

Hagerty to Go on Leave to Work for Romney

Bill Hagerty is stepping away from his role as commissioner of the state Economic and Community Development Department to work for Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Hagerty will serve as a member of the campaign’s presidential readiness team in Washington. He held a similar role in U.S. Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign four years ago.

Gov. Bill Haslam praised Hagerty’s selection and said he expects him to “do a great job.” Claude Ramsey, the governor’s deputy, will also run the agency until Hagerty’s return after the election.

The state Democratic Party criticized the move as illustrating that Haslam and Hagerty are more interested in presidential politics than in improving the state’s unemployment rate.

Hagerty’s unpaid leave begins Sept. 17.

– The Associated Press

Retail Group Opposes Card Fee Settlement

The National Retail Federation is opposing a proposed $7.25 billion settlement that Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc. and major banks have agreed to pay retailers for alleged fee fixing.

The retail trade association said Tuesday that its board has given approval for it to go to court to try to block the settlement. The NRF, which is not a party to the lawsuit, says it is unsure whether outside groups will be allowed to intervene or if the case qualifies as a class action.

The NRF says it believes the proposed settlement will not stop swipe fees from continuing to rise, which will hurt both retailers and shoppers, and that it will prevent any future legal challenges.

The NRF represents more than 9,000 retailers of various sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the U.S. and 45 countries overseas.

“The settlement was by the credit card companies and for the credit card companies. This will not help merchants or customers,” said Mallory Duncan, senior vice president and general counsel for NRF.

NRF’s action comes as other retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp., who are not part of the settlement, have previously spoken out against the settlement.

In July Visa, Mastercard and the banks settled a lawsuit brought by several retailers that claimed card issuers conspired to fix merchants’ fees for accepting credit cards. Retailers have long complained about the billions of dollars in “swipe” or “interchange” fees that that they have had to pay, which average about 2 percent of the price of a purchase.

Under the settlement, stores will be allowed to charge customers more if they pay with a credit card. The settlement covers only U.S. transactions.

– The Associated Press

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