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VOL. 130 | NO. 246 | Friday, December 18, 2015


Bill Dries

Last Word: The Force Reawakens, Methodist Expands and Setting Up 2016

By Bill Dries

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Last Word is a new daily online column that offers an overview of what’s happened at the end of shift, so to speak. Picture a dimly lit newsroom in the Downtown night and the last person in the place leaving a memo for the morning shift and you have a pretty good idea of what we are aiming for.

You can add the saxophone playing a noir theme or EDM even if you wish. Some of this will be about links to stories, other parts will be a reporter’s notebook of items that didn’t make the story.

May the force be with you as many of you will be reading this on the day the new Star Wars movie “The Force Awakens” makes its national premiere.
You’ve probably seen the Star Wars spoof produced by Running Pony that made its debut at the Greater Memphis Chamber’s annual luncheon. If not, here it is one more time. You might say "The Force Reawakens" -- or not.
We’ll take the liberty of saying the movie premiere also marks an end to the pre-Christmas political rush – the rush to get those last meetings of the year and critical pronouncements done and in the books.

One of those was the $275 million Methodist Healthcare expansion that Andy Meek had first word of Thursday – get it – first word.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be some political developments during the void. After all, what better time to dump something you really don’t want to get too much attention.

The March 1 ballot with the Tennessee Presidential primaries and the countywide primaries for General Sessions Court Clerk will be set by the Shelby County Election Commission Friday in a special meeting. State election officials have already set the Presidential primary fields with 14 contenders in the Republican primary and three in the Democratic primary.

For Mayor-elect Jim Strickland, the invitations to his oath of office ceremony along with the city council and city court clerk are out and in circulation -- noon on January 1 at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.
Strickland points out that the invitation is a reprint of outgoing Mayor A C Wharton’s invitation four years ago just with different names.
He commented after receiving the report from his transition team Wednesday at the University of Memphis.

In the transition itself, Maura Black Sullivan, is leaving as interim executive director of the Memphis Housing Authority to become chief operating officer for the city of Chattanooga. Before going to MHA after the suspension of Robert Lipscomb, Black had been deputy chief administrative officer at City Hall.

Whoever succeeds her at MHA will be an integral part of the South City development which includes $30 million in federal funding for the demolition and redevelopment of Foote Homes, the city’s last large public housing development. Madeline Faber has more on the fate of a used car lot that wanted to open up in the South City area.

Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid has had two million visitors since it opened in late April. That’s a staggering number when you consider that the city has about 10 million tourists visit the city annually, according to Kevin Kane, president of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Meanwhile outside the Pyramid along the Memphis harbor, the Corps of Engineers has stopped the city from cutting down trees along the water’s edge because the city didn’t get the required state and federal permits.

University of Memphis football includes some long term plans for nonconference series including one with Mississippi State.

And a busy Don Wade looks at high cotton for Ole Miss football and basketball.

Rhodes College has a new vice president for academic affairs and faculty dean. He is Dr. Milton Moreland who has been serving as interim dean for the last year and a half as the college conducted a national search. He is a professor of religious studies and has served as chair of the archaeology program, director of the Memphis Center and coordinator of the Institute for Regional Studies at Rhodes.

The college also linked to a post on Muslim Matters by another faculty member Yasir Qadhi who has been responding for two years to a spliced and edited audio tape that has been making the rounds.
We've included the Rhodes College link to Muslim Matters because we think it is important to see the college's response as well.

Also in our social media travels, we came across this post from former Grizzly Shane Battier on the end of his NBA career.

If you are a candidate with any kind of track record in Memphis you have probably heard of Robert Hummel and/or his company, American Resource Systems.
Hummel’s trade was direct mail political ads and their distribution to mailboxes across Shelby County.
He died Wednesday.
Practiced at its best there is a precision to direct mail that those who rely on it put a premium on.
They expect that when a district boundary puts one side of a street in one district and their neighbors across the street in another that the direct mail piece will show up on the right side of the street and not the other.
And in the direct mail world there is nothing worse than the last minute appeal to voters that shows up the day after the election.

Flags are at half-staff in Bartlett for Bartlett Judge Freeman Marr who died Thursday at the age of 91.
Marr had been a judge in Bartlett City Court since 1969.
Municipal judges are elected to terms of eight years making Marr the longest serving elected leader in Shelby County.

Your "Last Word" thoughts are welcome by writing us at bdries@memphisdailynews.com.

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