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VOL. 128 | NO. 59 | Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Daily Digest

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Second Permit Filed for U of M Housing

A second permit has been filed in conjunction with a 74-unit, high-end student housing community at 3655 Southern Ave. near the University of Memphis.

Newport Beach, Calif.-based Rael Development Corp. and Memphis general contractor Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC filed a $600,000 permit with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for project revisions.

The companies plan to break ground this summer on the $14 million development, which is scheduled to be completed next year. Last month they filed the initial $9.4 million building permit.

Rael has assembled several parcels and will demolish the existing structures – including vacant apartment structures – on the site in June.

Graeme Rael, principal of Rael Development, told The Daily News earlier this year that the student housing will be upscale and “highly amenitized.”

“Our whole business model, is building extremely high-quality, durable apartments near great campuses, which the University of Memphis is,” Rael said at the time. “We will have swimming, fitness, media center, computing centers. We’re very attuned to security and management.”

The project will mark Rael Development’s first in Memphis. Rael said his firm looks at the university’s current supply and potential for growth.

“We like to work very closely with the universities where we locate,” he said. “Even though it’s a fully private project, we still view the university as a partner.”

The apartments will have a range of one- to four-bedroom units. On-site surface parking will be available to residents.

The architect is St. Louis-based Rosemann & Associates PC. Rael said the design will be “traditional leaning to contemporary” and that it will “fit with the context” of the surrounding community.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

Croom Appointed New Bankruptcy Judge

James Croom, assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, has been appointed by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to be West Tennessee’s new bankruptcy judge.

Croom’s chambers and courtroom are in the Eastern Division office in Jackson.

Croom was appointed to the position because it became vacant upon the retirement last year of Judge Harvey Boswell. President Barack Obama signed a bill last year that would have prevented that bankruptcy judgeship from lapsing, thus allowing the new appointment.

– Andy Meek

Memphis CBS Affiliate WREG Up for Sale

WREG, the CBS affiliate in Memphis, is apparently up for sale.

Local TV LLC, the station’s owners, have announced internally they’re selling all their stations, according to a tweet from WREG-TV anchor Richard Ransom. “Anyone want to buy a TV station?” he added.

WREG general manager Ron Walter did not respond to a request for comment. TV industry trade publication Broadcasting & Cable magazine has reported station staffs are being alerted across the company’s footprint and the process may take up to a year.

– Andy Meek

Dixon Showcases Sculptures from College of Art Students

Students at the Memphis College of Art will showcase their creations on the grounds of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens.

The exhibition will be on view April 9-14, and will feature work from professor Elizabeth Brown’s Sustainable Sculpture: Works in Cardboard class. The cardboard sculptures are inspired by the connection between nature and culture.

While the sculptures are mostly cardboard, the artists also have incorporated a variety of traditional sculpting, woodworking and papermaking techniques, as well as more innovative methods such as knitting with cardboard “yarn.”

International Paper donated the corrugated cardboard that will be used in the exhibit.

“The exhibition will make a statement even as it disintegrates over time and with the elements,” Brown said.

– Jennifer Johnson Backer

Mumford Jr. Pleads in Teacher Cheating Scandal

The son of the former Memphis City Schools assistant principal at the center of a teacher testing cheating scandal became the 12th person in the federal case to plead guilty last week in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.

Clarence Mumford Jr. of Memphis pleaded guilty March 19 to having someone take the PRAXIS exam in his name in 2008 at the University of Mississippi. And Mumford, who became a Memphis City Schools teachers as a result of the passing grade, also pleaded guilty to charges that he took the exam in the names of three other people.

Mumford is scheduled to be sentenced June 21 by federal Judge John Fowlkes.

His father, Clarence Mumford Sr., pleaded guilty in February and is to be sentenced by Fowlkes May 13.

The elder Mumford was indicted in July in a case in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee that has grown to include other teachers and other test takers for those teachers who have since pleaded guilty.

At the outset, U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton said the cheating involved more than 50 teachers from the three-state area taking in Memphis and West Tennessee as well as East Arkansas and North Mississippi.

– Bill Dries

Arkansas Lawmakers Weigh Steel Mill Project Reports

Arkansas lawmakers are meeting to discuss Gov. Mike Beebe’s proposal to provide a company with $125 million in state financing to build a $1.1 billion steel mill in Osceola.

The Legislature’s economic development committees were set to convene a special meeting Monday to discuss the project after a pair of reports from outside consultants released last week offered mixed opinions of the costs and benefits of the proposal.

Both reports said the mill had the potential to bring sizable economic benefits to the state. But one group of consultants concluded that the size of the incentive package Beebe is proposing would erode some of those benefits. The other report says state economic development officials overestimated the long-term benefits of the project and didn’t consider uncertainties surrounding the project.

– The Associated Press

Administration Advances Brown for TVA Board

The Obama administration has angered Tennessee’s U.S. senators by again nominating energy-efficiency expert Marilyn Brown for a full term on the Tennessee Valley Authority board.

The nomination, sent to the Senate on Thursday night, comes two months after Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker procedurally blocked a previous attempt by President Barack Obama to gain confirmation of Brown to a six-year term.

Brown was appointed to the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors in 2010 to fill out an unexpired term until 2012.

Both Alexander and Corker expressed irritation at the nomination.

“This is another example of the Obama White House not listening,” Alexander said in a statement Friday. “I told the White House in advance that the TVA board needs a nominee with a better understanding of the relationship between low electricity rates and better jobs in the Tennessee Valley.”

Fellow Republican Corker’s response was also sharp.

“TVA needs leaders who enthusiastically support the mission of producing economical electricity and have an abiding appreciation of its important economic development role and impact on the well-being of Valley residents,” Corker said. “Unfortunately, during my discussions with Dr. Brown, it was clear she does not share that point of view.”

While neither senator specifically said he would again try to block Brown’s nomination, Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, told the Tennessean such a move is expected.

“I think it was a pretty clear signal,” he said in an interview with the newspaper’s Washington reporter.

Smith also said Alexander and Corker should be specific about why they don’t like Brown’s qualifications.

“We reject petty politics and personality differences as legitimate reasons for blocking her confirmation,” he said.

Brown teaches at Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy. She formerly worked for the Department of Energy at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

– The Associated Press

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