VOL. 9 | NO. 17 | Saturday, April 23, 2016
Major Violent Crime Rate Up 18.3 Percent From 2015
The major violent crime rate was up 18.3 percent countywide for the first three months of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015, according to crime statistics released Thursday, April 21, by the Memphis-Shelby Crime Commission.
The major violent crime rate in Memphis increased 16.7 percent for the same time periods.
The major violent crime category used by the crime commission as part of the Operation: Safe Community anti-crime effort includes murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery.
Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich, who is chairwoman of Operation: Safe Community, said homicides and aggravated assaults were the driving force in the overall increase.
The countywide homicide rate per 100,000 people for January-March was 4.7, a 69.2 percent increase from the 2.8 homicides per 100,000 during the first three months of 2015.
The robbery rate of 85.3 per 100,000 people was a 34.2 percent increase from a year ago. And the aggravated assault rate of 216.2 per 100,000 was a 14 percent jump from last year.
Reported rapes, at 11.2 per 100,000, were down 10.3 percent from the first quarter of 2015.
“This is unacceptable,” Weirich said in a written statement. “We are currently reviewing our collective plan to address crime … and working to improve these numbers.”
The homicide rate in Memphis per 100,000 was 6.7 for the three months, a 69.2 percent increase from a year ago. Robberies per 100,000 in the city were up 34.2 percent from the first quarter of 2015.
Operation: Safe Community and the Crime Commission began tracking crime statistics in 2006, which is considered the baseline year for measuring crime rates as part of the effort.
By that standard, the major violent crime rate is down 10.8 percent countywide from 2006 and the major property crime rate has dropped 42.2 percent.
In Memphis, the major violent crime rate has dropped 7.4 percent from 2006 and the major property crime rate is down 38.9 percent since 2006.
But since 2006, the homicide and aggravated assault rates countywide and for Memphis are the only two categories to show an increase.
The countywide murder rate is up 34.6 percent compared to 2006 and aggravated assaults are up 7.3 percent. The Memphis murder rate is up 42.8 percent compared to the same period in 2006 and aggravated assaults are up 12.2 percent.
– Bill Dries
Memphis Health & Ed Board Can Resume Issuing Bonds
The Memphis Health, Education and Housing Facility Board is back in business. In a letter sent Wednesday, April 20, Tennessee Housing and Development Agency executive director Ralph Perrey told the Health & Ed board that it may immediately resume issuing bonds.
In the letter addressed to Daniel Reid, the board’s chairman, Perrey said that he was reassured by the appointment of Martin Edwards to serve as the board’s interim executive director.
Two weeks ago, THDA put a temporary hold on the Health & Ed board’s ability to issue bonds. Perrey said that the action stemmed from the board’s four-month vacuum without an executive director and national media coverage of Global Ministries Foundation, a nonprofit housing provider that used the board to finance its apartment projects. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development pulled its rent subsidies from two complexes after the properties failed several HUD inspections. That action caused the Health & Ed Board bonds to default.
“As you pointed out, the Memphis Health Ed Board at present has no recourse if those awarded bond financing or PILOT agreements do not hold up their end of the bargain. The board will be well-served by the new measures Mr. Edwards plans to put in place,” Perrey’s letter states. It does not mention Global Ministries Foundation specifically.
The letter goes on to say that Health & Ed board can resume fulfilling its two pending bond deals at the applicants’ requests.
City Council will vote on two new members, Carolyn Head and Buckner Wellford, at its May 3 meeting.
– Madeline Faber
3rd Sewage Pipe Leak, This One in Frayser, Under Repair
Memphis Public Works crews continued work Wednesday, April 20, on a wastewater pipe leak in Frayser that was discovered Tuesday in the Loosahatchie River. The leak of raw sewage on its way to the T.E. Maxson Wastewater Treatment Plant is the third in less than a month in Memphis.
A larger pipe leaked raw waste for nearly a week into Cypress Creek and McKellar Lake. After a bypass was in place to alter the flow of sewage in lieu of permanent repairs, a smaller pipe in Cypress Creek began leaking.
The Loosahatchie leak is being fixed with the same bypass method.
– Bill Dries
CBHS Gets $1 Million Gift, Names Business Program
Christian Brothers High School has announced its business program will be called the Bill and Carol Marr Department of Business and Economics. The program is named in honor of the $1 million gift from alumnus Bill Marr, CBHS Class of 1964.
Marr’s investment will ensure the continuation and expansion of the current business curriculum at CBHS.
“Any alum who appreciates the valuable lessons learned at CBHS should pay back what he can,” Marr said. “I hope this contribution will help Christian Brothers prepare their students for business careers in sales and marketing.”
Marr, retired vice president of North American and Australian Field Operations at Sun Microsystems, will be honored on Monday, April 25, 8 a.m. at a dedication ceremony on the CBHS campus hosted by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland (CBHS ’82) and Bob McEniry (CBHS ’59), chairman of nexAir.
Marr will speak about the education and life preparation he received at the school.
Marr’s gift will not only help further develop business curriculum for the 68 percent of CBHS students currently enrolled in business elective courses, but will also kick start the establishment of an alumni advisory council and national career mentoring program. The program will work to build meaningful professional relationships between the local business community and students in an effort to support post-collegiate talent retention and job placement.
Currently, more than 6,000 CBHS alumni live and work in the Memphis area, including senior executives at FedEx Corp., AutoZone Inc., nexAir, and FTN Financial, as well as established small and medium-sized business owners.
– Don Wade
Memphis PR Firm Expands to Atlanta
Memphis-based PR, marketing communications and creative services firm Kingdom Quality Communications has opened its second office.
The new office in Atlanta, located in the city’s Buckhead area, will be headed by Amy Rosenberg, a former senior account executive from the Memphis office. Rosenberg successfully managed a number of accounts for KQ Communications, including Chick-fil-A restaurants of Greater Memphis.
The Atlanta office officially opened in March and already has added a Georgia school district, as well as an Atlanta-based architecture firm, technology company and nonprofit organization to its client roster.
– Andy Meek
Memphis Health Care Orgs Honored As Industry’s Best
A few Memphis-based health care institutions have landed on the 2016 Best Workplaces in Health Care list, according to the global research and consulting firm Great Place to Work and Fortune Magazine.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare are numbers 7 and 8, respectively.
To create the list, Great Place to Work® surveyed close to 34,500 employees at 51 health care organizations, including hospital systems, home health care providers, national health care associations, and medical products distributors. Winning companies were chosen based on responses to Great Place to Work’s Trust Index employee assessment survey. Survey questions assessed co-workers' feelings on camaraderie and pride on the job, as well as how they felt about other workplace issues including management, communication, work-life balance, and compensation.
– Andy Meek
Memphis-based Payday And Title Lender Acquired
Cleveland, Tenn.-based Check Into Cash has acquired a private, family owned and operated payday and title lending operation - Equity Management Group Inc. - that’s based in Memphis.
EMG was founded by Kimberly Gardner in 1994, and she joins Check Into Cash as vice president of public affairs and community relations.
Gardner also brings Michael Moore with her, formerly a member of her senior management team. He will serve as Repossessions and Remarketing Manager for Check Into Cash.
– Andy Meek
Bring It Food Hub Rebrands, Expands
The Mid-South multi-farm community-supported agriculture nonprofit Bring It Food Hub is reaping a harvest of growth and new offerings.
An affiliate of Memphis Tilth, Bring It Food Hub distributes local produce and farm products in the Memphis area. In addition to weekly produce shares, the venture will offer add-on shares during the summer 2016 season that include locally grown and sourced bread, eggs, cheese and fresh-cut flowers.
In addition to more than three dozen weekly pick-up locations available citywide, Bring It now also offers a home-delivery option for Midtown on Friday afternoons.
According to Bring It’s new executive director Carol Colter, at this point in the organization’s calendar last year about 60 season shares had been purchased.
Today, it’s surpassed 200 shares in advance of the season that officially begins on May 3.
Subscriptions can be purchased on a monthly or season-long basis from May through November.
The nonprofit has also rebranded its website (bringitfoodhub.com), social media and marketing channels in partnership with creative communications consulting firm DCA.
– Andy Meek
Memphis Fashion Week Hits Highest Economic Impact
This year’s Memphis Fashion Week saw the greatest economic impact out of the event’s five-year run.
Memphis Fashion Week, which ran April 4-9, is an annual event highlighting emerging and established Memphis designers with fundraisers and fashion shows.
This year’s event raised $36,000 for the Memphis Fashion Fund, which supports scholarships for fashion design classes at Memphis College of Art.
To support the week’s two fashion shows, event organizers hired 47 models and 20 backstage crew members/stylists, resulting in $20,000 in local economic impact.
Fifty businesses participated in Memphis Fashion Week, and the event showcased 21 local and national designers.
As part of the Emerging Memphis Designer Project, Zoe Vu took home the first-place scholarship for her singles collection, and Mary Ambrose won first place for her mini-collection.
– Madeline Faber
Bond Executives Indicted On Theft, Tax Charges
The president of Memphis Bonding Co. and a manager at 24 Hour Bonding Co. of Memphis were indicted separately Friday, April 15, by a Shelby County grand jury on theft and sales tax fraud charges.
Memphis Bonding president George Austin Hitt is specifically accused of failing to report thousands of bonds to the state and allegedly failing to pay the $12 tax levied on each bond as required by state law.
Tennessee revenue investigators allege that from January 2010 to June 2015, Memphis Bonding and another of Hitt’s companies, Tennessee Bonding Co., wrote bonds that were not reported and did not pay the state tax on them.
Angela Bryant, a manager of 24 Hour Bond Co., is accused of theft over $10,000, a smaller amount than Hitt.
Bryant is specifically accused of failing to report bonds and failing to pay taxes on them from January 2013 to June 2015.
– Bill Dries
CFOs See Little Decline In Inappropriate Requests
As the old saying goes, ask for forgiveness, not permission.
Some employees are taking the adage to heart, as Robert Half Management Resources reports in its latest survey of CFOs about company expense reimbursements.
The report shows that over the past three years, there has been little improvement in regard to employees submitting expense reimbursement reports that have no chance of getting paid.
More than 2,200 CFOs at a random sample of companies in 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas were asked by an independent research firm if they had seen an increase or decrease in the number of inappropriate expense reports submitted by employees. Only 11 percent reported a drop in appropriate requests.
The Robert Half report shows 8 percent of CFOs saw somewhat of a decline in such requests over the three years, but 20 percent reported somewhat of an increase in inappropriate reimbursement submissions. Two-thirds reported no change.
Among the most unusual requests, CFOs said employees requested expense reimbursements for a new car, vacations, a flat-screen TV, toilet paper and a 10-cent parking meter charge. One employee asked the company to reimburse a doggie day spa expense and another submitted a taxidermy receipt.
“These outlandish and sometimes funny examples shed light on what can be a serious problem for businesses,” said Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources in a release. “Inappropriate expense reports are costly – both to the company’s bottom line and to the careers of the people who submit them.”
Hird said organizations should make the expense reporting process as simple as possible.
“Ensure your policies are clearly communicated and accessible to all employees,” he said. “Take a big-picture view of the program. Removing ambiguity can help reduce the number of problematic requests.”
– Terry Hollahan
Tenn. Lottery Sets Record For Education Funding
The Tennessee Lottery says it returned a record $119 million for education funding during the first quarter of the year, a 27 percent increase over the previous quarterly record.
Lottery-funded programs include 12 different scholarships and grants, multiple after-school programs, an energy-efficient schools program and Tennessee Promise, which offers eligible high school seniors the chance to go to community or technical college without paying tuition.
Lottery President and CEO Rebecca Hargrove said the record adds to what was already becoming an all-time high fiscal year. The previous record of $93.6 million was set during the third quarter of 2015.
The quarter also broke records for instant ticket sales with $355 million, draw-style sales at $125 million and the three top selling months for total sales since inception.
– The Associated Press
Artspace Lofts Gets $25,000 State Boost
The Tennessee Arts Commission has donated $25,000 to support the South Main Artspace Lofts.
The $17 million project will convert a South Main warehouse into 58 affordable apartments for working artists. Rents will range from $450 to $770, and artists will have access to studios and shared gallery space.
The grant, which will be administered locally by ArtsMemphis, will go toward the public plaza space. ArtsMemphis will use the gathering area for performances and public art exhibits.
The commission’s grant joins contributions from the city of Memphis, Educational Foundation of America and the Assisi Foundation of Memphis.
“This project will engage arts and culture in continuing to brand this Memphis neighborhood, reach underserved populations, and cement a high value partnership for Tennessee with the national nonprofit Artspace,” said Anne Pope, executive director for the Tennessee Arts Commission.
– Madeline Faber
RedBall Project Bounces Into Memphis April 28
A 250-pound red inflated ball will mark the centennial celebration at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art starting April 28.
The RedBall Project by artist Kurt Perschke moves to a different site every day through May 7, when it returns to the Brooks entrance for the formal centennial celebration of the museum’s opening.
The ball is squeezed into spaces, and spectators are encouraged to participate in its journey from one site to another.
Here’s where the RedBall will be from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day:
Thursday, April 28: Memphis Brooks Museum of Art plaza, 1934 Poplar Ave.
April 29: New Daisy Theatre, 330 Beale St.
April 30: Beale Street Landing, 251 Riverside Drive
May 1: 409 S. Main St.
May 2: UTHSC Randolph Student Alumni Center, 800 Madison Ave.
May 3: Barboro Alley, Front Street between Union and Gayoso
May 4: Memphis College of Art, 1930 Poplar Ave.
May 5: Hattiloo Theatre, 37 S. Cooper
May 6: Stax Museum of American Soul Music, 926 E. McLemore Ave.
Saturday, May 7: Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, 1916 entrance
– Bill Dries
West Cancer Teams Up With Ovarian Cancer Foundation
West Cancer Center and the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Foundation have announced a fundraising partnership to include the annual Ovarian Cancer Awareness 5K Teal Run and Walk with the West Fight On Cycle, Run, Walk event on Sept. 17 at Shelby Farms Park.
Fight On Cycle, Run, Walk will include a 5K run and a tribute walk in conjunction with the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Foundation; cycling events to include a 18-mile ride, a 32-mile ride, a 62-mile metric century ride, a Cyclocross event; and a health and wellness expo complete with entertainment, food and beverages.
Said Ovarian Cancer Awareness Foundation president Judy Childress in a statement, “We are looking forward to joining forces with West Cancer Center and the West Fight On Cycle, Run, Walk event this year to raise much-needed funds to help with the mission to saves lives by reaching out to encourage awareness, to provide support programs for patients, survivors and caregivers; and to promote education in the fight against cancer.”
– Andy Meek
ABB Begins Shipping From Senatobia Facility
Less than four months after ABB Electrification Products announced plans for an 85,000-square-foot production facility in Senatobia, Miss., the company has shipped its first products from the new plant.
ABB, the parent company of Memphis-based electrical components maker Thomas & Betts, sent the first shipment of ProLine Panelboard products in mid-March, the company said in a statement Tuesday, April 19. In the company’s words, it was “part of a project schedule with extremely tight deadlines required by one of ABB’s customers.”
ProLine Panelboard products previously were assembled at a Wisconsin facility.
In March 2015, ABB announced it was shopping the Memphis area to build a $30 million manufacturing site. When the Senatobia facility was announced in December, ABB said the project will create 200 new jobs within three years and add 100 more within five years.
The Mississippi Development Authority granted incentives to support infrastructure needs and workforce training.
In addition to the ProLine products, the Senatobia facility will assemble a range of ABB’s other low-voltage items, including enclosed starters, solar rapid-shutdown systems, switches and disconnects, push-buttons and breaker assemblies.
– Kate Simone
UT-Campbell Clinic Taps Department Chair
Campbell Clinic pediatric orthopaedic surgeon Dr. James Beaty has been named the chair of the UT-Campbell Clinic Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Biomedical Engineering in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
He also has been awarded the Harold B. Boyd Professorship in Orthopaedic Surgery.
Beaty, a UTHSC alumnus, is the ninth department chair since its founding in 1911. He will oversee the day-to-day operations of the department and as chairman will report directly to Dr. David Stern, the Robert Kaplan Executive Dean for the College of Medicine at UTHSC.
– Andy Meek
U of M Alumni Association To Present Awards May 21
The University of Memphis Alumni Association will present its 2016 Distinguished Alumni Awards on Saturday, May 21, beginning at 6 p.m. The event will be held at the Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality & Resort Management, 3700 Central Ave.
Four individuals will be honored as Distinguished Alumni: Judge Tim J. Dwyer (BA ’76, JD ’80), General Sessions Criminal Court judge, Shelby County Drug Court; Barbara U. Prescott (BSEd ’71, MEd ’73), chair of PeopleFirst Partnership and vice president of Allie Prescott & Partners; Freddie A. Towler (BBA ’84), International Paper’s vice president of supply chain, pulp, paper and coated paperboard; and Anita Vaughn (BA ’77, MPA ’82), consultant for Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation and former CEO of Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women.
DeAngelo Williams, running back for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers and founder of the DeAngelo Williams Foundation, will be recognized as Honorary Outstanding Young Alumnus.
Mike and Marian Burns, community advocates and founders of Comtrak Logistics, and Willie Gregory, director of Global Community Impact for Nike Inc., will be honored as Honorary Alumni.
Visit memphis.edu/alumni/daa2016 for more information and to purchase tables and individual tickets.
– Don Wade
Gibson Guitar Sculpture Project Seeks Artists
A set of 20 Gibson guitar sculptures will begin showing up at various sites in Memphis later this year as part of a “GuitarTown” public art project.
The project by the Gibson Foundation, the nonprofit philanthropic division of Gibson Brands, is currently seeking applications from artists to customize the 10-foot-tall replicas of Gibson Lucille brand guitars for the GuitarTown project.
The deadline to apply is June 5 through the Cafe Arts portal. The artists will be jury selected and announced in mid-June.
The guitars are on display across the city through 2017 and then are to be auctioned off for local charities.
The foundation already has invited local artists Lamar Sorrento and Brandon Marshall to design two of the guitars. Sorrento, who is also a musician, is known for his primitive portraits of blues musicians. Marshall is known for his murals and graffiti work.
The guitars designed by both will be unveiled in September on the birthday anniversary of the late blues legend B.B. King. King famously named his Gibson guitar Lucille after rescuing it from a fire at an Arkansas roadhouse he was playing early in his career. He named the guitar Lucille after a woman two men were fighting over when the fire started. King said the name was a reminder to never do such a foolish thing again.
Gibson has done GuitarTown projects in Austin, Texas; Nashville; Miami; Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, Calif.; Waukesha, Wisc.; and London, England. Those and other installations have raised more than $3 million for local charities.
– Bill Dries
MLGW Reports Decrease In Average Winter Bill
Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division customers got a break on their winter utility bills, the result of low natural gas prices.
The average residential natural gas bill during the past winter was $54.11, according to MLGW. That’s a drop of 59 percent, or $78.12, since prices peaked in 2007.
Overall, the average winter residential utility bill fell 30 percent, or $67.70, to $157.23 compared to 2007-08.
For the past several years, MLGW has posted the lowest combined residential utility bill among 50 cities surveyed in an annual rates comparison, and that trend continued this year, the utility said.
– Kate Simone
Bid to Override Veto Of Bible Bill Fails
A bid to override Gov. Bill Haslam’s veto of a bill to make Tennessee the first state to designate the Bible as its official book failed in the state House on Wednesday.
Forty-three members voted to re-pass the bill, falling well short of the 50-vote threshold to turn back to the veto.
The Republican governor last week turned back the bill over constitutional concerns and because of concerns the measure “trivializes” what he considers a sacred text.
Sponsors argued the measure seeks to honor the economic and historical impact of the Bible in Tennessee history, rather than a state endorsement of religion.
“It doesn’t force anyone to read it, it doesn’t force anyone to buy it, it doesn’t anyone to believe it,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jerry Sexton, a former Baptist minister. “It’s simply symbolic.”
But opponents said it diminishes the significance of the Bible to place it alongside other state symbols. Earlier in the session, the Legislature approved a resolution to add the .50-caliber Barrett sniper rifle to the state’s official symbols, like the Tennessee cave salamander, the eastern box turtle and the channel catfish – plus nine state songs, including the moonshine-themed “Rocky Top.”
Lawmakers passed the bill despite a warning by the state’s attorney general that it would violate both the U.S. and Tennessee constitutions, the latter of which states that “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.”
Haslam said in his veto message that elected officials’ “deepest beliefs” should inform their decisions.
“Men and women motivated by faith have every right and obligation to bring their belief and commitment to the public debate,” he said. “However, that is very different from the governmental establishment of religion that our founders warned against and our constitution prohibits.”
– The Associated Press
Monogram Loves Kids Taking Grant Applications
The Monogram Loves Kids Foundation, a charitable fund of Memphis-based Monogram Foods, has $25,000 in grants available for Memphis-area children’s charities.
The funds are part of $200,000 to be awarded to organizations in the eight regional areas in which Monogram does business.
Organizations interested in applying for the grants, which will range from $500 to $10,000, can access the application form at monogramfoods.com. Applications are due July 29.
Since the foundation began in 2010, Monogram has donated more than $750,000 to charities focused on children and families.
– Kate Simone
Young & Rubicam Opens Memphis Ad Agency
Advertising agency Young & Rubicam is opening a 50-person office in the Memphis area to service its account with the U.S. Navy.
The acount will be run in partnership with firms VML, Wunderman, Burson-Marsteller and MEC. The Y&R office will also look to expand its client roster here.
– Andy Meek
Arlington Gets New Shopping Center
A new retail building is coming to Arlington. A recently filed $1.2 million building permit application lists the project as “new commercial retail shell building at The Shops.” Texas-based Shop Cos. is listed as the owner and tenant.
The Shops at Arlington Village, located at 5224 Airline Road, will be anchored by Kroger. Other confirmed tenants include a Supercuts and a gas station, according to the Shop Companies’ website. Other deals are in process with UPS, GNC, Starbucks, Wendy’s and an unnamed urgent care facility.
– Madeline Faber