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VOL. 8 | NO. 6 | Saturday, January 31, 2015

Daily Digest

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Shelby Farms Applies for $7.2M in Building Permits

The Shelby Farms Park Conservancy has applied for two building permits totaling $7.2 million for the creation of a new visitors center and new restaurant and retreat center.

The conservancy, which is pursuing a dramatic remaking of the 4,500-acre park, applied through the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for a $2.6 million permit for a new visitors center at 6903 N. Patriot Lake Blvd. The conservancy also applied for a $4.6 million permit for a new restaurant and retreat center at 415 E. Patriot Lake Blvd. Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC is listed as the contractor for both projects.

The new visitors center will replace one on Farm Road that the conservancy will demolish, with some materials from that property being used in the new center.

The projects are part of the conservancy’s Heart of the Park improvement campaign that is well underway. The conservancy hopes to close out its $70 million capital fundraising campaign by Saturday, Jan. 31. If they raise the final $100,000 by that date, an anonymous donor will match with a $1 million challenge grant.

The Heart of the Park improvements, expected to be complete in the summer of 2016, also include the ongoing expansion of Patriot Lake.

Airport Business Park Sells for $4.7 Million

A group affiliated with a Dallas-based commercial real estate financing company has acquired Airport Business Park at a significant discount.

CRE ABP Memphis LLC, which is affiliated with Dallas-based Gearing Capital Partners Inc., bought Airport Business Park from Allegiance Realty Corp. for $4.7 million, according to a Jan. 21 warranty deed.

Founded in 2005, Gearing Capital is a corporate real estate debt specialist, according to the company’s website.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Allegiance, operating under the names Airport Business Park Office Investment LLC and Memphis Office Investment LLC, bought the office park in 2007 for $13.8 million from Memphis Airport Inc., which was affiliated with LaSalle Investment Management Inc. That purchase was financed with a $14.2 million loan through CBRE Realty Finance Holdings IV LLC.

The eight-building park is north of Democrat Road east of Airport Business Park Road and west of Lamb Place. The buildings total 260,000 square feet and sit on about 25 acres.

The deed said eight buildings were included in the sale but lists only seven addresses: 2842 and 2815 E. Business Park Road, 2980 and 2890 Democrat Road, and 2815, 2847 and 2869 Business Park Road.

Trustmark Grows Earnings in 2014

Trustmark Corp. has reported net income of $28.1 million for the fourth quarter, representing earnings per share of $0.42.

For the full year 2014, net income totaled $123.6 million, which represented earnings per share of $1.83, an increase of 4.6 percent from the prior year.

The bank’s board has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.23 per share payable March 15. Trustmark president and CEO Gerard Host said in a prepared statement about the results that “2014 was a year of significant accomplishments for Trustmark,” one in which the company continued to build upon and expand customer relationships, among other things.

Crosstown Team Seeks 2 Mechanical Permits

The Sears Crosstown development team has applied for two mechanical permits totaling $7 million.

The Crosstown team applied for the permits through the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for fire protection systems and HVAC improvements. Walker J. Walker Inc. is listed as the contractor for the $5 million HVAC improvements while Security Fire Protection Co. Inc. is listed as the contractor for the $2 million in fire system upgrades.

On Feb. 21, the Crosstown team will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the project and unveil a new name for the property.

The Crosstown team is seeking to redevelop the vacant Crosstown building into a “vertical urban village” through arts, education and health care.

General contractor Grinder, Taber & Grinder was given the greenlight to begin construction Dec. 30. The Kemmons Wilson Cos. will oversee the project. Memphis-based LRK Inc. and Dialog of Vancouver partnered on design. SunTrust Bank is the largest financing source.

Projected to open in 2017, the building will create 800 jobs and generate more than $37 million in new wages annually, according to an economic impact analysis requested by the city of Memphis.

Bass Pro Hosting Pyramid Job Fair

Bass Pro Shops is hosting a job fair Monday, Feb. 2, through Wednesday, Feb. 4, to fill 600 full-time and part-time jobs for its destination attraction at The Pyramid.

Those interested in employment with Bass Pro may apply in person at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, south exhibit hall, 255 N. Main St., from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. Applicants must be 18 years old.

Applications will be accepted for full-time and part-time positions in the following departments: fishing, camping, hunting, archery, footwear, apparel/gifts, marine accessories, receiving and customer service. Bass Pro Shops will also employ cashiers, greeters, stockers, marine technicians, boat riggers, boat detailers and boat sales consultants.

In addition, restaurant positions are open for servers, hosts/hostesses, bussers, bartenders, dishwashers, line cooks and prep for the two full-service restaurants and bars located inside The Pyramid. Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill will also hire bowling technicians.

Big Cypress Lodge hotel positions available include concierge, houseman, front desk, night audit, bell service, massage therapist, esthetician and valet attendants.

Agency Services Appoints New Partner and COO

Angie Pettinger has been appointed as partner and chief operating officer at Agency Services Inc.

She’s filled several leadership roles at the company, a full-service life and health brokerage agency, since joining in 1994. She was originally recruited to lead the firm’s third-party administration division and went on to become a member of the senior leadership team.

As partner and COO, Pettinger will be responsible for overall day-to-day operations of the firm, management of all staff, and strategic planning for the firm.

NCAA to Honor CBU for Academic Excellence

Christian Brothers University, after posting a successful Academic Success Rate, will be honored with an Academic Excellence Award by the NCAA.

As part of the Division II Presidents' Award for Academic Excellence program, now in its fourth year, CBU will be honored after seeing a graduation success rate of 90 percent among its student-athletes. CBU earned this distinction with more than 20 other Division II institutions for achieving four-year athlete graduation rates of 90 percent or higher.

"This year's Presidents' Award for Academic Excellence honorees are outstanding examples of Division II's success in the classroom and off the field," said Tom Haas, president of Grand Valley State University and chair of the Division II Presidents Council. "We are delighted to share in their successes and commend them for their continued excellence."

Weddle-West Recommended as Memphis Provost

Karen Weddle-West has been recommended as the new provost at the University of Memphis by University President David Rudd.

Rudd announced Monday, Jan. 26, his recommendation to John Morgan, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, who will make the decision.

The provost position has been open since Rudd was selected president of the university last year.

Weddle-West had been serving as interim provost since Rudd became president. Before that, she had been vice provost for graduate studies.

Trezevant Selects New Chief Operating Officer

Kent Phillips has been named chief operating officer of Trezevant, a continuing care community at 177 N. Highland St. in Memphis. Phillips has more than 25 years of experience in managing retirement communities.

Prior to his new role at Trezevant, Phillips he served as COO of Virginia Baptist Homes in Richmond, Va.

Phillips will work closely with Trezevant’s current CEO, John Webb, who is planning to retire before the end of the year. Upon his retirement, Phillips will succeed Webb, transitioning into the role of Trezevant’s CEO.

Under Webb’s leadership, which spanned 14 years, Trezevant underwent a $120 million renovation and expansion project that doubled the size of the campus and its capacity.

Plan Calls for Closing Some Trails in Old Forest

The state is planning to close some trails within the Old Forest of Overton Park in Memphis.

The Old Forest State Natural Area is owned by the city of Memphis and managed by Overton Park Conservancy under the guidance of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Division of Natural Areas.

State law requires a management plan for the natural area that emphasizes the health of the ecosystem over recreational use.

The Commercial Appeal reports the trail closings are among proposals in the draft management plan for the Old Forest.

According to the plan, the dead-end trails, spur trails and cross trails are convoluted and redundant, and create visitor confusion. It also said some trails are used for illegal activity because they're hidden.

Tenn. Unemployment Rate Improves in December

Tennessee's unemployment rate declined in December, the fourth consecutive month showing improvement.

The state preliminary unemployment rate for December was 6.6 percent, an improvement over November's revised rate of 6.8 percent, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Despite the improvement, Tennessee still finds itself below the national unemployment rate, which was 5.6 percent in December.

The largest statewide gains were in the trade/transportation/utilities, manufacturing and mining/logging/construction sectors. Information and financial activities were the only sectors to post losses in December.

Dixie Pickers to Open East Memphis Store

Dixie Pickers, a retailer offering sporting goods, outdoor clothing, hunting gear, guns and other outdoor accessories, has signed a lease with Loeb Properties for a new store location at 964 June Road near the intersection of Poplar Avenue and Yates Road in East Memphis.

Dixie Pickers will be located in the 8,400-square-foot building formerly home to Tommy Bronson Sporting Goods. The Tommy Bronson store opened in 2013 and the Daily News reported Jan. 16 that it had closed.

This will be the second location for Dixie Pickers, which currently operates a store in the Collierville Town Square.

“We wanted a larger format for our second store,” said Damon Waxler, owner of Dixie Pickers, in a statement.

“The June Road property is perfect in terms of size, two stories and location,” Waxler said. “Poplar Avenue is key and the close proximity to Interstate 240 is very convenient for our customers.”

Waxler and his business partner and wife, Dawn, plan to open the location in July.

Staxtacular to Feature Grizzlies Players

The Soulsville Foundation and the Memphis Grizzlies are bringing the worlds of basketball, music and mentoring together at the foundation’s largest annual fundraiser, Staxtacular 2015.

Presented by SunTrust, Staxtacular will be held Feb. 7 from 7 p.m. until midnight at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

The Grizzlies’ “Core Four” – Tony Allen, Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph – will help host this year’s event alongside other members of the Grizzlies organization. The event will feature live music by the Stax Music Academy and the Bo-Keys with special guest Stax legend William Bell.

After being inspired by Stax Records’ legacy and encouraged by the Soulsville Foundation’s work with at-risk young people, former Grizzlies players Shane Battier and Brian Cardinal and their wives offered to host a fundraiser in 2005, which became Staxtacular. Since then, new Grizzlies players have taken on the host roles, and the event has raised more than $900,000 to date.

Staxtacular 2015 will feature the opportunity to bid on NBA memorabilia, travel packages, original artwork, music-related packages, and more during and live, silent and online auctions. Tickets are $150 and may be purchased at staxtacular.com or by calling 901-261-6338. Tickets are also available at the Stax Museum and at the Grizzlies Den Team Store inside FedExForum.

Medtronic Spinal Employees Volunteer 4,800 Hours

Nearly 1,100 of Medtronic Spinal’s Memphis-based employees volunteered at Mid-South nonprofit organizations in 2014. The 1,089 local volunteers contributed more than 4,789 charitable hours, an increase of nearly 14 percent over 2013.

Medtronic employees are encouraged to participate in community activities through the company’s Mission in Motion program, and are supported in their efforts to do so during workday hours.

Medtronic Spinal volunteer efforts include Project 6, held annually in June. Project 6 is Medtronic’s signature Mission in Motion program, with a monthlong global focus on employee volunteerism. Medtronic Spinal also conducts a Day of Caring in September and a Three Weeks of Giving service campaign during the holidays. Among the nonprofits served by Medtronic Spinal volunteers was the Memphis Oral School for the Deaf.

In July, Medtronic donated $10,000 to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital through a Project 6 Impact Grant as a reward for the volunteer activities at its Spinal division.

And in August, Medtronic granted $30,000 to Christ Community Health Services to support Spine Check: Community, a scoliosis awareness initiative organized by Medtronic Spinal and Shelby County Schools. Through the program, scoliosis screenings will be available to all of the nearly 22,000 Shelby County Schools students ages 12 to 14.

Collierville Schools OKs High School Site Search

The Collierville Schools board voted Tuesday, Jan. 28, to begin site selection for a new high school.

The vote involves architects and planners in a move toward a second high school for the suburban school district that began last year as the school system’s first school year began.

Collierville Schools superintendent John Aitken said the idea of an expansion of the existing Collierville High School proved to be unworkable.

Meanwhile, the board also approved allowing Aitken’s staff to begin looking at student rezoning options to relieve overcrowding at Schilling Farms Middle School.

ECS Selects Peterson as Head of School

Dan Peterson is the new head of school for Evangelical Christian School at the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

Peterson succeeds Bryan Miller in the post. Miller has been head of the Cordova school for 14 years.

Peterson comes to Memphis from Regents School of Austin, Texas, where he was head of the School of Logic and middle school principal.

He earned his undergraduate degree at Carson-Newman College and earned a Master of Divinity in theology and a doctorate in leadership and Christian education from Southern Seminary of Louisville, Ky.

Giannini Arraigned On Multiple Rape Charges

A Shelby County businessman has been indicted on charges of rape and aggravated rape stemming from alleged assaults on three different women, Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said Wednesday.

One of the cases against Mark Giannini occurred in 2002, while the other two occurred in the past two years, according to the indictments that became public Wednesday, Jan. 28. Giannini, co-founder of information technology company Service Assurance, will be arraigned Wednesday in Criminal Court Division 6.

Giannini was arrested on a Shelby County warrant earlier this month in Pinellas County, Fla., and was returned to Memphis Tuesday night.

Giannini, 49, initially was arrested last summer after a 25-year-old woman said he sexually assault her after she had gone with him to his Eads home in June for a job interview.

He was charged with aggravated rape and was released on $150,000 bond. He has been indicted on three counts of aggravated rape in that case.

A Feb. 10 hearing date has been set to determine whether additional bonds will be placed on the two other indictments.

In one of those, Giannini is accused of raping a 23-year-old woman who worked for him. The incident allegedly occurred in September 2013 at his Eads home.

The third indictment includes four counts of aggravated rape in which a 19-year-old employee said Giannini raped her at gunpoint in 2002 at the Registry Apartments in Cordova.

The case was reported to authorities last summer following publicity about Giannini’s arrest on the case in June.

Paragon Bank Taps IT Vice President

Paragon Bank has chosen Troy Wheetley as the bank’s first vice president of information technology.

He’ll report to Lewis Perkins, the bank’s executive vice president and chief financial officer. In his new role, Wheetley is responsible for overseeing daily operations in the information technology department, including working with management to set strategic initiatives, building technology plans and establishing information security standards to benefit both customers and employees.

In addition, he will review and implement new and emerging technology to complement the bank’s primary objective of raising expectations of what a financial institution should be.

ALSAC Buys Former Day Care Center

The fundraising arm of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has acquired an old day care center site on Second Street for $587,500.

ALSAC purchased the property at 460 N. Second St., located at Second and A.W. Willis Avenue near the St. Jude campus, from Straight Arrow LLC, according to a Jan. 9 warranty deed.

Built in 1947, the 2,460-square-foot building was once a day care center. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 appraisal is $104,700.

Paragon Recognized for Healthy Work Environment

Memphis-based Paragon Bank was recently awarded the 2014 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award for the State of Tennessee.

The American Psychological Association presents the award each year to recognize innovative companies that implement programs to foster employee health and well-being. Paragon was nominated by Dr. Robert Bloom, president-elect of the Tennessee Psychological Association and a Paragon customer.

Areas evaluated for the competition include employee involvement, health and safety, employee growth and development, work-life balance and employee recognition.

NTSB Releases Report On West Tenn. Helicopter Crash

A medical helicopter crash that killed three people in West Tennessee was likely caused when the pilot lost control of the aircraft during a climb, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

An NTSB probable cause report dated Tuesday provided details of the Oct. 22, 2013, crash in a wooded area of Fayette County that killed pilot Charles D. Smith, pediatric nurse Carrie Barlow and pediatric respiratory therapist Denise Adams.

The Hospital Wing helicopter crashed and burned while on the way to pick up an ailing child in Bolivar in the early morning.

Adams and Barlow worked for Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis. Hospital Wing aircraft transport patients to area hospitals.

The NTSB report says the pilot of the Eurocopter AS350B3 may have received an in-flight obstacle alert in night weather conditions that led him to operate under instrument flight rules. But the aircraft was not equipped for flight under instrument flight rules, the report said.

Welch Allyn Acquires Hubble Telemedical

Welch Allyn Inc. has acquired Hubble Telemedical Inc., a privately held health care company founded by University of Tennessee Health Science Center researcher Edward Chaum and Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher Kenneth Tobin, who developed a way to provide remote diabetic retinopathy screening and analysis in primary care doctors’ offices and other convenient settings.

Chaum, Plough Foundation Professor of Retinal Diseases and the acting director of research for the UTHSC Hamilton Eye Institute, and Tobin, director and a corporate research fellow of the Electrical and Electronics Systems Research Division at Oak Ridge, worked together on the technology to help save the sight of diabetic patients, particularly those with low incomes and a lack of access to regular vision screenings.

Hubble Telemedical offers real-time screening and diagnosis services for diabetic retinopathy, the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina.

The technology was developed at UTHSC and Oak Ridge using federal and private grant funding and was commercially licensed to Hubble by UT-Battelle and the University of Tennessee Research Foundation. Hubble’s Telemedical Retinal Image Analysis and Diagnosis, or TRIAD, is a web-based telemedical platform that uses retina cameras to capture and securely transmit patient images for remote, expert physician diagnosis and validation.

FDA Issues New Rules for Defibrillator Data

The Food and Drug Administration is requiring makers of heart-zapping defibrillators to submit more data on the emergency care devices after years of recalls and manufacturing problems.

Regulators say companies must now submit new testing data on battery life, adapters, electrodes and other components before receiving approval to sell the products.

Defibrillators use electric shocks to jolt the heart back to normal after patients suffer heart attacks or other cardiovascular problems. Once used exclusively in emergency rooms, they are now found in schools, office buildings and other public places.

The devices have been plagued by design and manufacturing flaws for years. The FDA says it has received 72,000 reports of defibrillator problems between 2005 and September 2014. Since 2005, manufacturers have issued 111 recalls involving more than 2 million defibrillators.

Hyneman Transfers Retail Center for $5.6M

A company affiliated with Kevin Hyneman has transferred a Lakeland shopping center for $5.6 million.

Banking Consultants of America LLC acquired the shopping center at 2961 Canada Road from Corner Shops LLC, according to a Jan. 7 warranty deed. The new ownership entity lists Hyneman’s office address as its mailing address. Hyneman also signed the warranty deed as chief manager of the seller, Corner Shops LLC, which acquired the property in 2008 for $3.1 million.

Hyneman said the sale was for estate planning and routine business housekeeping purposes.

“It’s a great asset and I’m proud to own it,” said Hyneman.

Located on the northwest corner of U.S. 64 and Canada Road, the 32,480-square-foot Class A shopping center was built in 2008. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 appraisal is $3.6 million.

US New Home Sales Jump 11.6 Percent in December

Sales of new U.S. homes accelerated strongly in December, a sign that home-buying may improve this year after a lackluster 2014.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that new home sales climbed 11.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481,000. The gains were not enough to offset essentially flat home-buying over the course of 2014. Just 435,000 new homes were bought last year, a modest 1.2 percent improvement from 2013.

The growth in December pointed to rising sales in 2015, buoyed by the combination of strong hiring in recent months and drastically lower mortgage rates. Home values are also rising at a slower pace, improving affordability for would-be buyers.

Over the past 12 months, median prices for new homes rose 8.2 percent to $298,100. That increase masks the gains on the lower-end of the new construction market. The share of new-homes priced $200,000 to $299,999 increased in December to 32 percent, up from 30 percent in the prior two months.

"This is where the first-timers are likely found, so it is encouraging that they appeared to be enticed into the new home market," noted Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

The improved health of the U.S. economy should help boost sales in the coming months.

State Agriculture Dept. Taking Hemp Applications

Tennessee's Department of Agriculture says it is accepting applications from those interested in growing industrial hemp.

The department says it is developing a licensing and inspection program for the production of industrial hemp in Tennessee.

Officials say industrial hemp is the same plant species of marijuana, but it has a significantly lower content of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. It can be used in a variety of products, including fabric, textiles, fibers and foods.

Those interested can download an application and memorandum of understanding at the department's website.

TracFone to Pay $40M in Federal Settlement

The nation's largest prepaid mobile provider, TracFone Wireless, will pay $40 million to settle government claims that it misled smartphone customers with promises of unlimited data service.

The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday that TracFone promised unlimited data in its advertising, but then drastically slowed down consumers' data speeds – a practice known as throttling – when they hit a certain limit of data within a 30-day period. In some cases, the FTC said, the company even cut off customers' data when it ran over the limit.

TracFone's prepaid wireless service is sold under various brands, including Straight Talk, Net10, Simple Mobile and Telcel America.

Consumers with phones operated by TracFone who had their service slowed or cut will be able to request a refund.

TracFone did not respond to an email requesting comment.

US Pending Home Sales Tumble in December

Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in December, a sign that low mortgage rates have yet to coax more buyers into the market.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index fell 3.7 percent last month to 100.7. The index ended the year below its 2013 average. But the Realtors project sales of existing homes will rebound in 2015 to 5.26 million, a 6.6 percent increase from last year.

Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a contract and a completed sale.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 124 481 17,865
MORTGAGES 127 530 20,565
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 4 48 2,693
BUILDING PERMITS 195 891 36,836
BANKRUPTCIES 52 262 11,426
BUSINESS LICENSES 24 139 5,848
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 26 116 6,830
MARRIAGE LICENSES 26 133 4,049