VOL. 8 | NO. 53 | Saturday, December 26, 2015
Varsity Brands Acquires Texas-Based Company
Memphis-based Varsity Brands has acquired Allgoods LLC of Grand Prairie, Texas, an apparel school fundraising company.
Allgoods operates under various brand names, the best known being its flagship Faircloth.
Through customized clothing, Allgoods has generated $38 million in funds for athletic and school-based organizations since 2006.
Allgoods will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Varsity Brands, according the Wednesday, Dec. 23, announcement of the acquisition. The company will maintain its Grand Prairie headquarters and a set of satellite facilities, including 200,000 square feet of distribution and manufacturing space.
Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Varsity Brands is a set of businesses that market fundraising programs and products to schools, including colleges and universities, as well as churches and professional organizations.
The portfolio includes Herff Jones, BSN Sports and Varsity Spirit.
Varsity Brands is owned by Charlesbank Capital Partners, a Boston private equity firm, and Partners Group, a private markets investment management firm.
– Bill Dries
Airport Passengers Increase 16 Percent in November
November marked the fifth consecutive month that the Memphis International Airport saw increases in origin-and-destination traffic.
There were 167,107 total enplanements, up 16 percent from 144,507 travelers in November 2014. Year-to-date, the airport has seen 833,638 enplanements. In the same period last year, there were 745,564.
At a Dec. 17 meeting of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, CFO Forrest Artz said that the increased traffic is attributed to new services, market competition between carriers and the addition of low-cost carrier Allegiant.
– Madeline Faber
Luttrell Appoints Kneeland Deputy County Fire Chief
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell has appointed Glen Kneeland as the Shelby County Fire Department’s deputy fire chief.
Kneeland comes to the No. 2 job to county fire chief Alvin Benson at county fire from being a division chief. He has been a county firefighter since 1988 and is a founding member of the department’s special operations rescue team.
Kneeland succeeds deputy chief Dale H. Burress who retires at the end of this month.
– Bill Dries
Starry 4K Run/Walk At Shelby Farms Returns
Shelby Farms Park Conservancy has announced the return of the Starry 4K Run/Walk.
The Monday, Dec. 28, race is a way to experience the park’s new Starry Nights light show. This event will be the last chance to experience Orion Starry Nights in 2015.
Pre-registered participants will receive a long-sleeved glow-in-the-dark t-shirt. The race is family-friendly and open to all ages.
Online registration fee (includes t-shirt) is $25, and race day registration is $30. Visit shelbyfarmspark.org for more information.
All proceeds benefit Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, the nonprofit that manages and operates Shelby Farms Park and Greenline.
– Don Wade
Theological Seminary Signs $1.7 Million Mortgage
The first wave of Memphis Theological Seminary’s expansion is coming.
The seminary on Dec. 16 signed a 10-year, $1.7 million mortgage with Mississippi-based The People’s Bank.
In October, the Memphis seminary announced a $25 million campaign to support a new chapel and classroom building, endowments and scholarships and deferred maintenance on the current campus at 168 East Parkway S.
Memphis Theological Seminary president Daniel Jay Earhart-Brown signed as grantor on the loan.
– Madeline Faber
Google Honors Memphis Among US Digital Capitals
Google has named Memphis its 2015 eCity of Tennessee, the search engine announced this week.
The eCity Awards recognize the strongest online business community in each state as the digital capitals of America. These cities’ businesses embrace the web to find new customers, connect with existing clients and fuel their local economies.
Google worked with independent research firm IPSOS to analyze the online strength of local small businesses in cities in all 50 states.
“We’re proud to recognize this growing entrepreneurial spirit – and the role that it plays in both creating jobs and sustaining local economies,” Emily Harris, marketing manager for Google’s Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map Program, said in a statement.
Google reports that 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find information about local businesses, but less than half of U.S. small businesses have a website and only 37 percent have claimed or updated their business information on a search engine.
– Kate Simone
Baptist Hits EMR Adoption Milestone
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society recently recognized Baptist Memorial Health Care for reaching “Stage 6” status on its Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model.
The designation is something that only 25 percent of hospitals in the country have achieved.
All 14 Baptist Memorial hospitals and 120 Baptist Medical Group clinics are using Epic, Baptist’s electronic health record system that was rolled out in phases beginning in January 2014 and has been branded as Baptist OneCare.
Baptist joins 26 Tennessee hospitals, 15 Mississippi hospitals and 12 Arkansas hospitals in reaching Stage 6, the second highest level possible. Achieving that status means Baptist, among other things, has almost fully automated/paperless medical records when implementing its information technology applications across most of the inpatient care settings.
– Andy Meek
UPS to Power Local Alt-Fuel Fleet With Gas From Landfills
UPS says it will supply its fleet in Memphis and in Jackson, Miss., with an estimated 15 million diesel gallon gas equivalents of renewable natural gas as part of a multi-year agreement with Memphis Light, Gas & Water and Atmos Energy Marketing LLC.
The deal is part of an initiative UPS announced earlier this year to significantly expand its use of renewable natural gas in UPS’ alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet.
The company has a goal of driving 1 billion miles with its alternative fuels fleet, known as the Rolling Laboratory, by the end of 2017.
The RNG will fuel more than 140 heavy-duty trucks in Memphis and Jackson, part of UPS’ natural gas fleet, which includes more than 3,800 medium- and heavy-duty vehicles worldwide. RNG, also known as biomethane, can be derived from many sources, including decomposing organic waste in landfills, wastewater treatment and agriculture.
It’s then distributed through the natural gas pipeline system, making it available for use as liquefied natural gas or compressed natural gas.
– Andy Meek
Grizz Push Conley, Gasol For NBA Fans’ All-Star Votes
The National Basketball Association and Verizon tipped off NBA All-Star Voting 2016 last week, giving fans around the world an opportunity to vote for their favorite players into NBA All-Star 2016 in Toronto.
All Grizzlies players are eligible for All-Star voting, including point guard Mike Conley and two-time NBA All-Star and last year’s Western Conference starting center, Marc Gasol.
New to the voting program this year, NBA fans are able to cast votes directly through Google Search on their desktop, tablet and mobile devices. They also can vote on nba.com, through the NBA app (available on Android and iOS), SMS text, and social media networks including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Fans also can post the official Grizzlies’ All-Star voting graphic and use the hashtag #NBAVOTE and the players’ first and last names on their favorite social site or Google search.
All current NBA players are available for selection. Fans can select up to two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference when choosing starters via nba.com or the app.
Voting will conclude on Jan. 18. Other balloting updates will be shared on Friday, Dec. 25, as well as Jan. 7 and 14. The 2016 NBA All-Star Game will be played Feb. 14.
– Don Wade
Tenn. Supreme Court Updates Rules on Attorney Licensing
The Tennessee Supreme Court is changing the state’s rules for licensing attorneys to practice in the state.
The updates announced Monday, Dec. 21, were prompted by a request from the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners for an overhaul of the regulations that govern the licensing process the board administers.
The board cited attorneys’ greater mobility between states.
Among the changes, in-house corporate attorneys who are licensed in another state can practice in Tennessee once they register with the board, provided they work solely as counsel for the company in Tennessee.
Attorneys in good standing in another state can practice in Tennessee pending approval of their law license application if they meet requirements, including associating with a local attorney.
The rule also now allows for combined degree programs that grant a law degree along with an undergraduate degree.
The application process no longer includes submitting a notice of “intent to sit for the bar examination,” which adds a month to the application deadline. But with that particular change, late applications no longer will be accepted.
Also, the Board of Law Examiners can request an applicant take a drug test as part of the character investigation; refusing to take the drug test means an applicant can be denied a law license.
Applicants with a law license in another country are required to obtain a Master of Laws postgraduate law degree, commonly known as an LL.M., from a program sanctioned by the American Bar Association.
And spouses of those in the military can be granted temporary law licenses in Tennessee while their spouse is stationed across the state or at Fort Campbell, Ky. They must be licensed in another state and meet other requirements.
– Bill Dries
Memphis’ Ariel Hearn Named AAC Player of the Week
University of Memphis guard Ariel Hearn has been named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Week, the first such honor in Hearn’s career.
Hearn helped lead the Tigers to a 2-0 record last week with victories over Central Michigan and Illinois. In the two contests, Hearn averaged 23.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.5 steals. Hearn shot 50 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from behind the three-point line and 81.8 percent from the free throw line.
Hearn has moved into the Top 10 on the Tigers’ all-time scoring chart. She is in the No. 10 spot with 1,664 career points. Hearn’s six assists give her 352 for her career, which is good for the No. 8 spot on the Tigers all-time assists list.
Hearn is the only player in Tigers women’s basketball history with 1,500 points and 350 assists.
– Don Wade
Germantown Names Federal Transportation Projects
Three weeks after Congressional leaders in Washington agreed on a five-year Surface Transportation Program, the city of Germantown is among local governments moving quickly to identify how they intend to use the coming infusion of federal funding.
The projects identified by Germantown leaders are: Germantown Road/Wolf River Boulevard intersection improvements; Poplar Avenue culvert replacements and repairs at various locations, including design work; Wolf River Boulevard repaving from Germantown Road to the western city limits, including design work; Winchester Road repaving from Forest Hill-Irene Road to the eastern city limits, including design work; and signal upgrades at various locations.
The city will hold a public meeting on the 2017-2010 priorities Jan. 12 at 9 a.m. at the Economic and Community Development Building, 1920 S. Germantown Road.
– Bill Dries
Olive Garden Changes Hands for $3.2 Million
A Wolfchase Galleria-area Olive Garden has changed hands for $3.2 million.
Florida-based GMRI Inc. sold the property at 8405 US Highway 64 to Florida-based FCPT Restaurant Properties LLC, according to a Nov. 2 warranty deed.
In conjunction with the sale, FCPT Restaurant Properties signed a 13-year lease with GMRI Inc.
FCPT Restaurant Properties and GMRI are both fully-owned subsidiaries of Darden Restaurant Group, which houses brands like Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Seasons 52 and Bahama Breeze.
According to the Shelby County Assessor of Property, the 8,139-square-foot restaurant was built in 2001. It is appraised at $2.5 million.
– Madeline Faber
Rhodes Named to Kiplinger’s Best College Value List
Rhodes has been named to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance’s list of Top 300 Best College Values of 2016. The list includes private universities, private liberal arts colleges and public colleges that combine strong academics with affordable costs.
Rhodes is ranked No. 55 among liberal arts colleges and No. 104 among all colleges.
Rhodes has appeared on the list multiple times. Quality measures include the admission rate, the percentage of students who return for sophomore year, the student-faculty ratio and four-year graduation rate.
Cost criteria include sticker price, financial aid and average debt at graduation.
– Andy Meek
St. George’s School Receives Two Awards
Recognizing its distinctive educational model and long-standing commitment to diversity, St. George’s Independent School has been selected as the 2015 recipient of the SPARK award for education.
Produced in partnership with WKNO-TV, the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club and the Rotary Club of Memphis, the SPARK awards celebrate and recognize the efforts of individuals, nonprofits, corporations, and schools that are igniting change and making a positive impact in the Greater Memphis community.
Student-led service initiatives include: raising money and granting wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and collecting 4,500 pairs of shoes to support communities in need.
St. George’s also has been selected as the 2015 winner of the statewide Good Sports Always Recycle Sustainability Steward award. Sponsored by Eastman, Food City and Waste Connections in conjunction with the University of Tennessee, the award is given to one Tennessee school each year that demonstrates outstanding conservation and recycling efforts.
St. George’s was chosen for its advancements in reducing its overall waste footprint through energy and water conservation, recycling programs and the use of green space.
School representatives were honored in a special presentation at a University of Tennessee football game in October and given a check for $1,500, which will be used to build a recycling program at another school in the Memphis area.
– Don Wade
UnitedHealthcare Grants $55K to Tennessee 4-H
UnitedHealthcare and the University of Tennessee’s 4-H Youth Development Program are expanding their partnership to help fight hunger and food insecurity by promoting nutrition and budgeting education in underserved communities.
UnitedHealthcare is granting $55,000 to the University of Tennessee 4-H Extension, which administers 4-H programs statewide, to support the “4-H Food Smart Families” program. The program provides families with nutrition education and cooking and food-budgeting skills, and it also connects families with nutrition assistance through SNAP benefits.
4-H Food Smart Families is expected to engage nearly 6,000 Tennesseans, including nearly 1,700 kids and 4,300 of their family members that are eligible for or receiving SNAP benefits.
Goals include educating youth on the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, choosing healthier snacks and eating breakfast; and teaching their families how to buy and prepare healthier, affordable foods on a budget while practicing food-safety principles.
Throughout Tennessee, the 4-H Food Smart Program will engage 4-H teen leaders to serve as youth ambassadors and mentors to teach their peers, families and communities about how to prepare healthy meals on a budget.
“We are excited to see the 4-H and UnitedHealthcare partnership grow, and work to strengthen and empower our future leaders,” said Tennessee 4-H Youth Development Director Steve Sutton in a statement. “Through the 4-H Food Smart Program we are leveraging the proven influence of young people and helping them establish sustainable habits for their families and their communities.”
– Kate Simone
Tennessee Manufacturing Employment Increases
Tennessee’s manufacturing employment grew for a fourth consecutive year, according to the 2016 Tennessee Manufacturers Register.
The industrial database and registry shows the state gained 1,994 industrial jobs from September 2014 to September 2015.
The state has 6,828 manufacturers, by the register’s count, that employ 386,185 workers.
Since September 2011, the state has added 12,637 industrial jobs.
Despite the good news nationwide, Tennessee’s two largest cities both lost manufacturing-industry jobs this year. Manufacturing jobs in Memphis declined 1.8 percent over the year, and fell 1 percent in Nashville, according to Manufacturers News Inc., which publishes the register. In Knoxville, manufacturing employment rose 2.3 percent.
Transportation equipment is the state’s largest manufacturing sector by jobs, accounting for 51,001 jobs. The other leading sectors with growth in the last year were electronics, rubber/plastics, lumber and wood and furniture and fixtures.
Meanwhile, the printing and publishing sector lost jobs from September to September along with textiles and apparel, primary metals and food products.
– Bill Dries
Turner Construction Tapped for Methodist University Hospital Project
The Memphis office of Turner Construction has been tapped to build a $275 million campus expansion project at Methodist University Hospital that will include a new patient tower and a 700-space parking garage.
Turner said the new patient tower will be constructed by means of an overbuild, meaning it will be built on top of the existing emergency department, which Turner completed in 2014. Turner also has to ensure the work does not interfere with the daily operations of the facility.
Construction on the Methodist University Hospital campus is slated to begin toward the beginning of 2016. Turner will work with HKS Architects Inc. and Self-Tucker Architects on the project.
– Andy Meek
Lynch Projected As High As No. 2 Overall in NFL Draft
After University of Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch had tossed seven touchdown passes in the Tigers’ regular-season ending victory over SMU, the redshirt junior said he would not decide about his future until after the team’s bowl game.
Lynch didn’t know then, but that game will be the Dec. 30 Birmingham Bowl vs. Auburn. In all probability, it will be Lynch’s last appearance in a Memphis uniform.
Various Web “experts” have begun rolling out their projections for next spring’s NFL Draft. At ESPN, Todd McShay’s mock draft has Lynch going No. 2 overall to the Cleveland Browns. And yes, that’s where Johnny Manziel works for the time being.
A Yahoo Sports mock draft predicted Lynch would be taken at No. 9 and go to Philadelphia. At CBSSports.com, where there were two mock drafts, Lynch was pegged at No. 2 in one and going 10th overall to the St. Louis Rams in the other.
But don’t get too excited about the idea of Lynch playing up I-55 in St. Louis. The Rams are very possibly moving back to Los Angeles before next season.
– Don Wade
U of M Athletes Again Average 3.0 GPA
For the 10th consecutive semester, student-athletes at the University of Memphis posted a departmental GPA of at least 3.0, finishing the fall of 2015 with a 3.00 GPA.
Fifteen of the program’s 17 teams posted a team GPA of 3.0 or higher. The Tiger men’s tennis team led all men’s sports with a 3.5 GPA, while women’s soccer led the women’s teams with a 3.74 GPA.
“This is a result of the culture here in our athletic department that we have been creating since 2012,” U of M director of athletics Tom Bowen said in a statement. “Our goals are still not fully attained, but this demonstrates that our student-athletes know our standards and expectations and that they share in our desire to be the best.”
First-year Tigers also had a strong showing in the classroom. Sixty-six of the Tigers’ 100 freshmen student-athletes posted a GPA of 3.0 or higher and 41 of them also earned a spot on the Dean’s List with a GPA of 3.5 or higher. The freshman class posted a cumulative 3.14 GPA for the fall semester.
Across all sports, 207 out of the program’s 366 student-athletes finished with a 3.0 or higher GPA (56 percent), while 118 (or 32 percent) finished the fall as a Dean’s List member with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher. Twenty-eight Tigers posted a perfect 4.0 GPA this fall.
Academic success was not the only highlight for Memphis student-athletes. It was also announced that Memphis finished in the top 25 in the country in the NCAA Team Works Competition. Memphis finished 23rd overall in the competition and 18th against other NCAA Division I institutions. In all, Tigers’ student-athletes logged over 1,200 hours of community service in the past four months, including visits to the Ronald McDonald House and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, participating in events with the Special Olympics and the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis & The Mid-South, and groups like Memphis Athletic Ministries, the City of Memphis Athletic Department, Habitat for Humanity, various churches and local elementary, middle and high schools.
– Don Wade
Wolfchase-Area Restaurant Sold to NYC Property Group
The property housing Romano’s Macaroni Grill at 2859 N. Germantown Parkway has sold for $2.4 million. Brixmor Wolfcreek Outparcel Owner LLC purchased the property from husband and wife King Chow and Jasmine Lin in a Dec. 11 warranty deed.
Dean Bernstein, executive vice president of New York-based Brixmor Property Group Inc., signed as affiant.
Built in 1998, the 6,564-square-foot building originally housed a Chili’s restaurant. Chow and Lin purchased the property from Chili’s Inc. in 2010 for $1.9 million.
The structure is situated on 1.7 acres on the west side of North Germantown Parkway south of U.S. 64, and the Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2015 appraisal is $2.1 million.
– Madeline Faber
Sullivan Leaves MHA for Chattanooga Post
Maura Black Sullivan is leaving as interim director of the Memphis Housing Authority at the end of December to become the chief operating officer of Chattanooga city government.
Chattanooga mayor Andy Berke announced her appointment Thursday, Dec. 17.
Sullivan was appointed by outgoing Memphis Mayor A C Wharton as interim head of the housing authority following the suspension of Robert Lipscomb.
She came to the interim assignment from being deputy chief administrative officer for the city.
Lipscomb was director of the city’s division of Housing and Community Development as well as executive director of the housing authority.
He resigned as HCD director following allegations of sexual misconduct that Memphis Police continue to investigate.
Lipscomb has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, the housing authority will oversee a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods grant from the federal department of Housing and Urban Development for the demolition and redevelopment of Foote Homes, the city’s last large public housing development.
It is to be redeveloped as part of the larger South City multi-use project that covers the area south of FedExForum into South Memphis.
– Bill Dries
United Housing Has $2M Economic Impact for 2015
In fiscal year 2015, affordable housing agency United Housing Inc. made a direct economic impact of more than $2 million in West Tennessee.
Through its homebuyer education and foreclosure prevention programs, UHI counseled 836 individuals, helped 368 families purchase a home and saved 124 homes from foreclosure. In addition, UHI sold 17 homes with a $928,509 impact on the local real estate economy and invested $988,120 in the community through acquisition and rehabs.
The nonprofit also invested $154,000 in down payment assistance.
– Madeline Faber
Slight Decline In Local Violent Crime Rates
Major violent crime declined in Memphis and Shelby County as a whole through the end of November compared to the first 11 months of 2014.
The crime statistics from the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission show major violent crimes were down 0.6 percent in Memphis and down 1.5 percent countywide from the same 11-month period a year ago.
The violent crimes that make up the broad category include murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery.
Shelby County’s murder rate going into December was down 10.4 percent compared to the first 11 months of 2014. The murder rate in Memphis declined 8.5 percent from a year ago.
Major property crime rates also declined countywide and in the city. The countywide major property crime rate dropped 5.6 percent compared to a year ago and dropped in the city 5.9 percent from 2014.
– Bill Dries