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VOL. 129 | NO. 100 | Thursday, May 22, 2014

Daily Digest

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Von Drehle Files Loan on Hickory Hill Facility

Towel and tissue producer von Drehle Corp. has filed a $2.2 million loan on its industrial facility at 4826 Hickory Hill Road.

The Hickory, N.C., company’s local affiliate, von Drehle Tennessee LLC, filed the deed of trust, security agreement, assignment of leases and rents and fixture filing May 20 through Branch Banking and Trust Co., or BB&T.

Von Drehle executives F. Raymond von Drehle Jr. and Stephen P. von Drehle signed the trust deed.

Built in 1978, the Class B warehouse sits on 12.5 acres along the east side of Hickory Hill Road south of East Shelby Drive. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2013 appraisal was $2.9 million.

Von Drehle, which bought the property in 2006 for $3 million from Weyerhaeuser Co., produces towel and tissue products for the away-from-home market.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

Speak Creative Opens Nashville Office

Website design, development and digital strategy firm Speak Creative has opened a new office in Nashville.

The development comes amid the 15th anniversary for Speak, which grew revenue 18 percent last year over the previous year. Since January 2013, Speak also has grown its staff size by 37 percent.

The firm works with clients in more than 40 states. Its new Nashville office is located on the city’s historic Music Row.

- Andy Meek

PRIZM Chamber Music Festival Accepting Applications

PRIZM Ensemble, one of Memphis’ few professional classical chamber ensembles, is accepting applications for the PRIZM Chamber Music Festival, running June 9 to June 14 at Shady Grove Presbyterian Church, 5530 Shady Grove Road.

The festival – which is open to musicians 12 years or older with a minimum of two years of experience playing string, woodwind or brass instruments – offers Mid-South chamber music students the opportunity to learn from and play alongside local and national professional musicians. Students will receive daily chamber music coaching and participate in master classes, team-building workshops and other activities.

During the festival, all string players and selected wind participants will play together in an orchestra without a conductor, based on the model made popular by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in New York. Select students will also have the opportunity to perform in concerts alongside the instructors during the weeklong event.

Tuition is $325, and registration will be open until June 2 or when the festival reaches capacity. Registration and scholarship assistance forms are available at prizmensemble.com.

– Don Wade

Paragon Bank Reports Positive Quarterly Earnings

Paragon Bank recently reported earnings for the first quarter, a period in which the bank saw pre-tax earnings increase 119 percent over the first quarter of 2013.

Among the results for the quarter, Paragon’s net income was 30 percent higher than in the first quarter of 2013. Paragon also saw an increase of $12.2 million in loans, equating to growth of 6.2 percent.

In unrelated news, Paragon has appointed Wes Minton as a mortgage loan consultant. He’ll primarily work in Paragon’s Saddle Creek and Grove Park banking centers.

– Andy Meek

City Council Awaits Final Actuary Report

The Memphis City Council is expected to get a final report June 10 from Segal Consulting of Atlanta, the actuary firm it hired to review pension liability and annual required contribution estimates by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s administration and municipal unions.

The council will meet in committee June 10 to hear the report and is scheduled to take final overall votes on the city operating budget, capital budget and city property tax rate at its June 17 meeting, marking the end of the city budget season.

Those votes will include council action on steps to pay more toward the liability and increase the annual contribution, although the amount of the increase is still being debated.

The Greater Memphis Chamber’s incoming president, Phil Trenary, urged the council Tuesday, May 20, to quickly switch new hires and unvested city employees with fewer than 10 years of service to a 401(k)-type defined contributions plan.

Trenary made the comments during a brief introduction at the council executive session. The former Pinnacle Airlines CEO told the council the chamber intends to become engaged on such public policy and political issues on a sustained basis.

Trenary said the switch to a sustained contributions plan is fair and puts the finances of city government on a more stable footing.

A vote on the change is not yet on the council’s agenda for action.

After the session, Trenary talked with Memphis Fire Fighters Association leaders who vehemently disagree with the change.

– Bill Dries

City Council Approves Shady Grove Development

The Memphis City Council approved Tuesday, May 20, a 22-lot residential planned development at the southeast corner of Shady Grove Road and Interstate 240 by Greenbrier Partners LLC.

And the council voted down a special-use permit sought by Shelby County government for a cemetery at the northeast corner of Raleigh-Millington and Duncan roads. The cemetery goes to the Shelby County Commission for approval Monday, June 2. County officials say the current cemetery for indigent citizens on Ellis Road will run out of space in two years.

The council approved on the first of three readings a proposed ordinance by council Chairman Jim Strickland that would eliminate incentives for employees to schedule their retirement several years in advance under the city’s Deferred Retirement Option Plan and get paid for working for the city as well as a pension.

Also passing on first reading Tuesday was a pilot program for residential parking permits in the Overton Square area.

– Bill Dries

Tennessee Ranks Low for Senior Health

America’s Health Rankings has released its second annual report on senior population health at the state and national levels, and the news isn’t good for Tennessee.

The data from America’s Health Rankings 2014 Senior Report shows Tennessee ranks 43rd in the country for the health of its seniors, down one spot from 2013 after accounting for an update in the study’s methodology.

The analysis reflects the health of Tennessee seniors on 34 measures, including prevalence of obesity, chronic health conditions, level of physical activity, food insecurity and poverty.

Tennessee’s problems areas included the second-highest rate of smoking in the country, at 12.5 percent, or 110,000 seniors who smoke; ranking 46th for preventable hospitalizations, 47th for hip fractures and 45th for teeth extractions; and a bottom-10 ranking for food insecurity among seniors for the second year in a row.

On the positive side: The state ranked well for its low prevalence of chronic drinking among seniors (5th), a high percentage of social support (4th) and high flu vaccination coverage (2nd). The study also shows that physical inactivity among seniors decreased by 22 percent in the past year. The percentage of hospital deaths among seniors also decreased by 22 percent, boosting the state’s ranking on that measure to 35th from 45th.

– Don Wade

River Casino Revenue Drags Down Mississippi Totals

While casinos along Mississippi's Gulf Coast continue to tread water, those along the Mississippi River continue to post steep revenue declines.

Mississippi Department of Revenue figures show casinos statewide won $164 million from gamblers in April, down 6 percent from April 2013.

The 12 coastal casinos won $84.5 million, down less than 1 percent from April 2013. The 18 river casinos won $79.8 million, down 12 percent from a year earlier. The month's results underline the growing split between Mississippi's two casino markets. Revenue along the Gulf has been rising a little bit since the end of summer 2013. But declines in the key Tunica market are steep and could intensify when Caesars Entertainment Corp. closes it Harrah's casino in Tunica on June 2.

– The Associated Press

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