MPD Officer Schilling Gets Disability Retirement

The city of Memphis pension board granted a line-of-duty disability retirement Thursday, March 31, to Memphis police officer Connor Schilling.

Schilling is the officer who shot and fatally wounded Darrius Stewart in July during a traffic stop in Hickory Hill.

Reaction to Stewart’s death and questions about the incident led to a policy of referring all fatal police encounters to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation instead of internal police investigations.

The TBI report on Stewart’s death raised questions about whether Stewart was trying to move away from Schilling when he was shot a second time.

Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich recommended that Schilling be charged with voluntary manslaughter. But the TBI presented the case to a grand jury, and because grand jury proceedings are secret, there has never been a definitive answer on whether the panel heard her recommendation.

The grand jury decided there would be no charges against Schilling.

Police brass planned an administrative hearing to determine if Schilling broke any department policies.

That was delayed when Schilling filed a notice that he was under a doctor’s care.

Two doctors told the city pension board that Schilling is disabled either emotionally or physically leading to the decision to grant his disability retirement request.

“This retirement was granted by the pension board, because it is required under the city’s pension laws based on the recommendation of two doctors,” city Chief Legal Officer Bruce McMullen said in a written statement.

Because Schilling’s retirement has been granted, McMullen said police cannot hold an administrative hearing.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland is a member of the pension board, but he did not participate in Thursday’s decision, according to a statement from the mayor’s office.

Schilling was a police officer for three years and nine months. His retirement is effective Friday. He will be paid approximately $29,588 a year in retirement.

– Bill Dries

Billingsley Calls for Release Of County Disparity Study

Shelby County Commissioner Mark Billingsley says county government leaders should release to the public a disparity study the commission reviewed privately Monday, March 28.

The study by Mason Tillman Associates is an overview of contracts and specifically how much of the county’s business is with minority-owned businesses.

The study is a first step toward a county percentage goal for contracting with minority-owned businesses.

Commissioners closed the March 28 review of the study at the advice of County Attorney Ross Dyer because of the likelihood a lawsuit will be filed over the attempt to set a percentage goal for county contracts.

Billingsley said during the closed session with Dyer, “It was noted … that ‘this document will serve as our legal defense once these things are implemented going forward.’”

But Billingsley and commissioner Walter Bailey argued for the release and public discussion of the study.

In the March 30 letter, Billingsley said the initial findings need “to be fully vetted by a multitude of individuals and professionals beyond our 13-member body.”

“Without the input of those most affected by our disparities and community partners, we will not be able to comprehensively address the root causes of our deficits that occurred from 2012 to 2014 and build a case for improvement,” he wrote.

Billingsley also said after commissioning the study in 2014, the county commission promised to release the results.

– Bill Dries

Cannon & Cannon Opens Local Engineering Office

Cannon & Cannon Inc., a Knoxville-based, women-owned consulting engineering firm, has established a Memphis office.

CCI provides services in civil engineering specializing in transportation and traffic design, electrical engineering design, water, wastewater and gas design. Also, CCI offers services in community, commercial and industrial development, as well as municipal revenue enhancement. CCI has been providing engineering services for 20 years and counts the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Knoxville Utility Board among its largest clients. CCI also has offices in Brentwood, Tenn., and Bowling Green, Ky.

Wain Gaskins has joined Cannon & Cannon, Inc., as the Memphis office manager and director of West Tennessee Operations. Gaskins has 37 years of engineering experience in the Memphis area with various consulting firms, including 14 years with the city of Memphis; he spent eight years as city engineer.

His role will be both business development and project management.

– Don Wade

Sullivan Branding Partners With Logo Brands

Memphis-based Sullivan Branding will lead brand development and marketing for national company Logo Brands, a leading manufacturer of officially licensed products. Logo Brands works with more than 450 logo licensures for groups like the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, Major League Soccer and four major branches of the United States Military.

Logo Brands president Matt McCauley said that Sullivan is the company’s first “agency of record.”

“We are ready to take this step in partnering with an agency for brand development and marketing,” he added.

Initially, Sullivan Branding will conduct research with Logo Brands audiences before launching a rebrand.

– Madeline Faber

Seafood Nutrition Website Shares Memphis Health Info

The Seafood Nutrition Partnership has launched a new website focused on the Memphis area to encourage individuals to improve their heart health by eating at least two seafood meals a week.

The site,, has information about upcoming health events, recipes, an introduction to eating healthy and sharing those habits on social media. There’s also a link to take the Healthy Heart Pledge (, which is the partnership’s national pledge to help Americans improve their heart health by eating seafood at least twice a week.

Since 2014, the partnership has been working in Memphis to spread awareness of healthy eating and the benefits of seafood, hosting health fairs and nutritional seminars.

For every Mid-Southerner who takes the pledge, the partnership is donating a can of seafood to the Mid-South Food Bank.

– Andy Meek

Economic Impact of Black Restaurant Week at $85,000

The inaugural Memphis Black Restaurant Week was a success, drawing in new customers and bringing economic benefit to local eateries.

Organizers found that more than 3,000 patrons participated in the March 7-13 event, contributing to an increased revenue of more than $85,000 and nearly 40 new jobs at local restaurants.

MBRW was the brainchild of Cynthia Daniels, public relations coordinator with the Workforce Investment Network and development manager with the Memphis Urban League.

Eight restaurants – Mot & Ed’s, Onix, Dejavu, Scoops Parlor, the H&M Dessert Lounge, The Bistro, The Office @ Uptown and Evergreen Grill – participated in the inaugural event.

– Madeline Faber

Memphis Earth Day Becoming Monthlong Event

While Earth Day is celebrated nationally on a single day – April 22 – a pair of Memphis organizations are expanding the effort to encompass the entire month.

Memphis Clean by 2019 and Clean Memphis are celebrating Earth Day 30 Days Straight with weekday and weekend cleanups hosted by businesses, neighborhoods, nonprofits and community centers across the city. Twenty-two large-scale projects are scheduled so far, with more being added each week.

Other plans include four environmental education fairs, service learning projects for 12 area schools, park projects, garden plantings and more.

Last year participants removed more than 100 tons of litter from Memphis streets. It’s part of an ongoing effort the Memphis Clean by 2019 initiative is working on to rid the city of trash and blight by 2019, the city’s bicentennial.

Memphis Clean by 2019 is a “moon mission” of the Chairman’s Circle, a business leadership group formed by the Greater Memphis Chamber.

“It’s exciting to see the response we have received from people all over the city who want to pitch in and take ownership of their neighborhoods and around their businesses to make Memphis a place where we all want to live and work,” said Shea Flinn, senior vice president of the Chairman’s Circle, in a statement.

Clean Memphis has the lead role for grassroots engagement for Memphis Clean by 2019 and coordinated the cleanup events with each organization and neighborhood for April.

Volunteers can sign up for any of the cleanups posted on

– Don Wade

St. Jude, Methodist Make ‘Best Places to Work’ List

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare have been named to Becker's Hospital Review 2016 list of its 150 Great Places to Work in Healthcare in the U.S.

The organizations featured on the list were chosen by the Becker's Hospital Review editorial team based on workforce-centric awards received; benefits offerings; wellness initiatives; and efforts to improve professional development, diversity and inclusion, work-life balance and a sense of community and unity among employees.

The 2016 list features both U.S. health care provider organizations, such as hospitals, health systems, ambulatory surgical centers and home health agencies, as well as other types of health care-specific companies, like consulting firms, health IT vendors, medical societies and more.

– Andy Meek

BancorpSouth Opens New Branch on Pauline Street

BancorpSouth opened a new Memphis branch this week serving Midtown, at 40 N. Pauline St.

The grand opening was held Thursday, March 31.

BancorpSouth corporate and local management, including its chairman and CEO Dan Rollins, as well as local advisory board members of the bank and other local figures and officials attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

– Andy Meek

Raymond James Tower Rappel to Benefit Orphanos

An upcoming fundraiser is giving thrill-seekers the chance to rappel down the 289-foot Raymond James Tower while supporting orphans and children around the world.

Memphis nonprofit Orphanos and Madison Realty, which owns the 21-story Downtown tower, have partnered for Over the Edge Memphis, scheduled for April 22-23.

The event encompasses four fundraising rappel challenges open to adults 18 and older who weigh 110 to 300 pounds.

To take part in the Individual Challenge, participants raise at least $1,000 prior to the event.

Other challenges include a competition between employees from each floor of the tower; the Toss the Boss Challenge, in which companies and organizations raise funds to send their boss over the side of the tower; and the Mascot Challenge, in which local mascots – including Rocky Redbird and the University of Memphis’ Pouncer, among others – raise funds for the rappel.

Orphanos is a Christian nonprofit organization that partners with ministries and missionaries that help at-risk children around the world.

Visit to make a pledge or sign up as a participant.

– Kate Simone

Legislation to Seal Police Body Cam Footage Dies

A proposal in the Tennessee Legislature that would seal police body camera footage from the public is dead for the year.

Supporters of the legislation say it protects bystanders, crime victims and police officers.

Public records advocates said they had no interest in getting bystander or crime victim recordings and thought citizens should have access to records in cases where police were alleged to have used unnecessary force or to have violated their own department's policies.

The measure, which was sponsored by Franklin Republican Rep. Glen Casada, was sent for further study after the legislative session.

– The Associated Press

Local Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud

A Germantown resident and business owner has pleaded guilty to one count of failing to pay over employment taxes to the Internal Revenue Service and faces sentencing July 22.

Larry Thornton, 66, the owner and chief executive of Software Earnings Inc. and First Touch Payment Solutions LLC, entered a plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Tennessee.

He faces a minimum of five years in prison and agreed to pay $10 million in restitution, according to a release from the prosecutors.

According to court documents, beginning in the second quarter of 2007, Thornton caused SEI to stop paying taxes required to be withheld from SEI employees’ paychecks. Beginning in the first quarter of 2010, Thornton caused First Touch to stop paying the taxes required to be withheld from First Touch’s employees’ pay. Between 2007 and 2011, Thornton collected more than $6.8 million in employment taxes from SEI and First Touch employees’ paychecks, but failed to pay those collected taxes over to the IRS.

Thornton also failed to pay his companies’ matching share of FICA taxes during those years, according to the release from the prosecuting agencies.

During that time, Thornton spent over $6.2 million on personal expenses, including house and condominium payments; vehicle, yacht and motorcycle loan payments; personal travel; and startup funding for his wife’s beauty boutique. As part of the guilty plea, Thornton admitted that his fraudulent conduct caused a tax loss of more than $8.9 million to the IRS.

Thornton faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine and the $10 million in restitution he agreed to in the plea agreement.

– Terry Hollahan

New Music Festival Coming to Shelby Farms

The Shelby Farms Park Conservancy and David Porter's The Consortium Memphis Music Town group are teaming up to put on a three-day, lakeside music festival at Shelby Farms Park in September on the park's new event stage.

The event, scheduled for Sept. 23-25, will coincide with the opening celebrations for Heart of the Park, Shelby Farms' biggest improvement project to date, which has been under construction since the summer of 2014.

The festival name and talent lineup will be announced in June. Porter, The Consortium MMT's founder and president, said the inaugural festival will “pair today's top performers with a community treasure, Shelby Farms Park. Plus, this venue, with its panoramic view of the newly expanded lake, will provide an unrivaled backdrop for this exciting event.”

The Heart of the Park grand opening will activate the newest amenities and opportunities at the park, which include a stage overlooking an expanded 80-acre lake, as well as LEED-designed buildings, a restaurant and cafe and more.

“We can't think of a better way to celebrate what Shelby Farms Park and the Heart of the Park project mean to Memphis than with a weekend full of music at the water's edge,” said Shelby Farms Park Conservancy executive director Jen Andrews. “We are so excited to partner with The

Consortium MMT to produce a world-class entertainment experience in Heart of the Park.”

– Andy Meek

Memphis Farmers Market Opens Season April 2

The Memphis Farmers Market again will be open for business starting Saturday, April 2. It will feature more than 70 vendors and is a producer-only market.

The market is open Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Nov. 19. It is located under the pavilion at Central Station at West G.E. Patterson and South Front Street in Downtown.

Executive director Allison Cook says this year’s market will include fresh vegetables and fruits from local farms; handmade pottery and other artisan products; baked goods, including a new gluten-free baker; floral arrangements; New Orleans seafood and local Mississippi catfish; proteins such as chicken, pork, beef and smoked tofu; and prepared goods such as guacamole.

A children’s program will be offered every first and third Saturday.

“This season we’re launching Life on the Farm, a program that teaches kids about farm animals, growing crops, eating vegetables and includes a fun take-home craft. We’re excited to offer families a new way to connect with our farmers,” Cook said in a statement. “By helping kids understand where their food comes from we will help a new generation gain an appreciation for farmers and locally grown goods.”

The market growth and new programs will be funded through individual donations, returning corporate sponsors and two major fundraising events: Bacon & Bourbon on April 16 and The Crop Hop 5K on June 17.

Visit to learn more about the market and each week’s theme and events.

– Don Wade

Construction Continues At Cummins Warehouse

Renovations continue at Cummins Inc.’s new distribution center. Jolly Roofing and Contracting Co. Inc. recently filed a $944,000 building permit application for the existing 400,000-square-foot warehouse at 5800 Challenge Drive.

In August of last year, contractor Dan Walker Associates Inc. applied for a $2.7 million building permit for internal renovations to the warehouse, which is just across the street from the existing Cummins distribution facility on Quest Way.

The permit lists Exeter 5800 Challenge LLC as the owner and Cummins as the tenant.

In December of last year, ProLogis unloaded nearly 90 million square feet of its industrial holdings – including its two industrial properties housing Cummins’ distributions operations – to Exeter Property Group. ProLogis had owned the property since 2002.

– Madeline Faber

Tenn. Justice Center Seeking ‘Mothers of the Year’

For the seventh year, the Tennessee Justice Center is asking for “Mother of the Year” nominations from Memphis-area children, teens and community members. The awards honor women for their persistence and dedication in ensuring their children receive necessary health care.

Any mother, foster mother or grandmother can be nominated. Those who are selected for recognition will receive a framed certificate and appear on the Tennessee Justice Center’s website and blog.

To nominate someone, children ages 3-9 can submit a picture showing why their nominee is their health care hero, while anyone 10 and older can submit an essay of 300 words or less explaining why their nominee is their health care hero.

Submissions should include a photo of the child and their nominee with the nominee’s name, the child’s name, phone number and address. Nominations must be received by April 22 and can be mailed to Tennessee Justice Center, 301 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, TN 37201, or emailed to

– Kate Simone

Malco Pulls $6.5M Permit For Downtown Theater

Downtown’s new movie theater is moving forward. Malco Theatres recently filed a $6.5 million building permit application for a seven-screen movie theater as part of the greater Central Station development spearheaded by Henry Turley Co. and Community Capital.

The permit also lists a rooftop seating area and a new box office and bar in the existing Power House building as part of the project.

The Malco theater will be at 45 E. G.E. Patterson St., at the southeast corner of Front Street. The theater would incorporate the historic Power House structure with new construction.

Vertical marquee signs are planned to light up the sides of the new building and the Power House column.

The theater is part of the greater $55 million redevelopment of Central Station, which includes a boutique hotel, apartments, restaurants, retail and significant infrastructure and landscaping improvements to the surrounding South Main area.

The project is expected to be completed in time for Elvis Week 2017.

– Madeline Faber

Another Memphis Tiger Announces Transfer

Coach Josh Pastner’s University of Memphis basketball team is down to eight scholarship players for next season after freshman Randall Broddie said on Twitter that he intends to transfer.

Broddie, a 6-foot-3 guard, did not even practice with the team this season, with Pastner saying Broddie needed to concentrate on his academics. Broddie’s announcement followed junior guard Avery Woodson’s, also on Twitter, that he planned to transfer. Woodson was an important part of the team, leading the team in 3-point shooting.

The number of scholarship players could still drop, too, because signee Charlie Moore was recruited by former Tigers assistant Damon Stoudamire (now head coach at Pacific). Moore has not said directly, publicly, that he will still come to Memphis although media reports have his high school coach confirming Moore is still planning to play for the Tigers.

Also, freshman forward Dedric Lawson is exploring his potential NBA opportunities over the next few weeks.

If Lawson does not return, Memphis will be absent its top five scorers from this past season. The top scoring returnee would be Dedric’s brother, K.J., who as a freshman averaged 8.8 points in 10 games before being injured.

– Don Wade

Memphis Meteorologist Scores Digital Seal

Meteorologist Erik Proseus, the proprietor of the independent, has been awarded the Digital Seal of Approval by the National Weather Association.

Similar to the television broadcaster Seal of Approval, the Digital Seal is awarded to meteorologists who provide content via digital means instead of through an over-the-air broadcast.

In order to be awarded the Digital Seal, applicants must complete all steps in a process that includes acceptance into the application process by the NWA executive director, passing a 100-question exam covering all aspects of meteorology with a score of at least 80 percent, receiving high marks on a series of blog posts or multimedia webcast submissions by an expert panel, and receiving final approval of the NWA president. A digital seal panel also evaluates applicants’ blog or webcast content on communication skills, use of graphics, meteorological competency, flow of presentation, use of terminology, and a feature – educational or editorial – article.

– Andy Meek

Rotary Club Launches ‘Rotar-e’ Memberships

The Rotary Club of Memphis has introduced a new membership option aimed at individuals who want to be a Rotarian but can’t attend regular meetings.

Called Rotar-e, the new option combines an online membership with many of the benefits of traditional club meetings and service opportunities. Ten lunch meetings are covered, with the option to attend more often as schedules allow, and the club plans to begin streaming many of its luncheon speakers online as a way for new members to stay connected.

One thing that isn’t changing: the community service component. Both traditional and Rotar-e members take part in the club’s service projects in varied areas of interest.

“Our traditional membership is still the membership option of choice for the majority; however, we know that other individuals would benefit from a slightly less structured system,” said Betty Sue McGarvey, president of the Memphis club, in a statement. “We also know that the more Rotarians we have, the better we can serve our community and the more professional connections we can build.”

For more information on Rotar-e memberships, contact Taylor Hughes at or 901-526-1318.

– Kate Simone

BB King’s Lands Spot On List Of Hottest Restaurants

B.B. King’s Blues Club Memphis has been named one of the Top 100 Hottest Restaurants in America for 2016 by OpenTable.

The list, according to OpenTable chief dining officer Caroline Potter, is generated from more than 5 million restaurant reviews collected from verified OpenTable diners between March 2015 and the end of February. Restaurants were sorted according to a score calculated from each restaurant’s average rating in the “hot spot” category, she said.

OpenTable, a leading provider of online restaurant reservations, seats more than 17 million diners per month via online bookings across more than 33,000 restaurants. Beale Street Blues Co. president Tommy Peters, whose company owns and operates B.B. King’s, called the restaurant’s inclusion on the list “a tremendous honor.”

– Andy Meek

Obama Commutes Sentences of Memphis Men

Six people from Tennessee and Kentucky, including two Memphis men, are among the 61 prisoners who had their sentences commuted by President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

All six were drug dealers who were sentenced to serve anywhere from 16 years to life in prison. Four are scheduled to be released on July 28.

Nathan Carter of Memphis was serving a life sentence in prison. He was convicted on two counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

One count involved 121 grams of the cocaine, and the other amount was 65.8 grams of the drug.

Robert Anthony Anderson of Louisville was serving a life sentence for his involvement in a cocaine distribution ring.

The others include Eric Smith of Memphis, Lamont Durville Glass of Knoxville, Robin Evette Shoulders of Louisville and Michael Yandal of Murray.

– The Associated Press

Apple Opens Redesigned Saddle Creek Store

Apple has opened its redesigned store in Saddle Creek – and it looks markedly different from the iPhone- and iPad-maker’s previous incarnation.

For starters, there’s no Apple logo on the outside. Upon entering, the eye is immediately drawn to new features like a 37-foot-tall TV display showing videos of Apple products along the back wall.

All-new wood tables throughout the store showcase Apple hardware like the company’s tablets and iPhones. There are also plenty of benches where customers can sit and relax.

Along walls on opposite sides of the store, wooden shelves carry products like watch bands and headphones.

When he presented plans for the renovated store to Germantown’s design commission last fall, Apple representative Rick Millitello called the store a “next generation” design and said the Germantown location is one of the first to get the new look.

– Andy Meek

Grizz Sign Jordan Farmar For Remainder of Season

The Memphis Grizzlies have signed guard Jordan Farmar for the remainder of the 2015-16 season.

Farmar has played five games (three starts) for the Grizzlies since signing a 10-day contract on March 21 and has averaged 10.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 25.6 minutes.

The 29-year-old has appeared in 495 games (33 starts) across nine NBA seasons and averaged 7.7 points, 1.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 19.5 minutes for the Los Angeles Lakers, New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies.

He was part of two NBA title teams with the Lakers.

Farmar was selected by the Lakers in the first round (26th overall) of the 2006 NBA Draft following a standout collegiate career at UCLA, where he averaged 13.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 5.2 assists.

– Don Wade

Methodist Univ. Hospital Gets Linear Accelerator

West Cancer Center has added a new linear accelerator at Methodist University Hospital

According to Methodist University Hospital CEO Jeff Liebman, the addition of the new Elekta linear accelerator is reflective of Methodist Healthcare’s commitment to not only cutting-edge patient care, but to Methodist’s partnership with the West Cancer Center.

Considered one of the most advanced and precise mechanisms for the delivery of radiotherapy, the Elekta LINAC system uses high-energy X-rays to conform to a tumor’s shape and destroy cancer cells while sparing normal tissue surrounding the tumor. West Cancer Center’s Department of Radiation Oncology is also now equipped with four linear accelerators – two at the Methodist University Hospital location and two at its new West Cancer Center location at 7945 Wolf River Blvd. in Germantown.

– Andy Meek

Haslam Taps Templeton For Agriculture Post

Jai Templeton, the former McNairy County mayor and a sixth-generation West Tennessee farmer, is the state’s new commissioner of agriculture.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Templeton’s appointment Thursday, March 31.

Templeton is currently serving as deputy commissioner of agriculture to current commissioner Julius Johnson, who last week announced his retirement effective May 1.

Templeton joined state government in 2011 as Haslam took office as governor.

His family’s farm is in Stantonville and produces grain, cotton, hay, timber and cattle.

Templeton was a field representative for U.S. Rep. Ed Bryant from 1995 to 2003. He also is a former McNairy County commissioner and a former president of the McNairy County Chamber of Commerce.

– Bill Dries

Regular Brews, Longer Hours for Memphis Made

Memphis Made Brewing Co. is expanding its year-round offerings and extending hours at its Cooper-Young tap room.

Fireside and RockBone IPA will join Lucid Kolsch as year-round offerings. The brewery will continue to sell limited release and seasonal beers.

Starting April 15, the tap room will be open Friday from 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Saturday from 1 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“We were turning away a lot of people at the end of the night, so we decided to stay open a bit later,” said co-founder Andy Ashby in a statement. “Cooper-Young draws people at all hours, so we wanted to make sure we were available to as many people as possible.”

Memphis Made will continue to give public tours of its brewery at 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

– Madeline Faber