VOL. 9 | NO. 50 | Saturday, December 10, 2016
Literacy Mid-South Names Shelton Executive Director
Literacy Mid-South has announced the nonprofit’s new executive director, Knox Shelton. Shelton, who has been with Literacy Mid-South since July 2015 in various roles, will be in the position effective Jan. 1, 2017. Shelton has been serving as interim executive director since July 2016. Prior to that, he was the organization’s community relations manager.
Shelton will be responsible for developing and implementing a five-year strategic plan for Literacy Mid-South. In the long-term, his duties will include increasing funding from individuals and grant-making organizations as well as continued collaboration with Memphis-area nonprofits and city and county agencies.
“His leadership has been evident in the successful implementation and continued momentum of Literacy Mid-South’s services and programs," said Amanda Clarkson, Literacy Mid-South’s board chair. "The Summer Reading Initiative expanded its reach from 1,000 students last summer to 2,500 this summer, providing 1,400 minutes of reading intervention.”
Literacy Mid-South has been working to increase the literacy of Mid-Southerners for more than 40 years through group literacy classes, individual tutoring and resourcing other nonprofits. Earlier this year, it unveiled the Read901 initiative, a renewed citywide campaign to increase the amount of students reading on a third-grade reading level.
“I am thrilled at the opportunity to lead this organization and witness its continual growth,” Shelton said. “Literacy Mid-South has made significant strides.”
The board of directors has also added four new members in recent months, including Arlene Goldner of Archer Malmo; Laura Burditt, community volunteer; Suzanna Bonefas of Rhodes College; and Travis Green with the Shelby County General Sessions Court Clerk’s office.
– Don Wade
Boca Raton Bowl Tickets on Sale
Tickets for the 2016 Boca Raton Bowl featuring the University of Memphis against Conference USA champion Western Kentucky University are on sale now through the University of Memphis Ticket Office.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.GoTigersGoTix.com or by calling the ticket office at 901-678-2331. The game will be played at FAU Stadium, on the campus of Florida Atlantic University, on Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. (ET) and will be carried nationally on ESPN.
Tickets are $40 and fans planning on attending the game are encouraged to purchase through the University of Memphis to help the university sell its full allotment of tickets. Fans who cannot attend the game, but who are willing to help sell out the university allotment, can purchase a $20 ticket that will be donated to first responders and 501c youth groups in the Boca Raton area.
This is the third straight season the Tigers have gone to a bowl game. Western Kentucky ranks second in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 45.1 points per game, while Memphis is 17th with a 39.5 average.
– Don Wade
UTHSC Taps Clark as New Associate Vice Chancellor
Dr. MaryAnn Clark has been named associate vice chancellor for academic affairs for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
Clark will provide leadership in academic affairs and program development across all colleges and programs offered at UTHSC. She collaborates with vice chancellors, deans, program directors, faculty and system administrators in support of the institution’s educational mission and strategic priorities. And she’s also responsible for the oversight and coordination of program planning and program assessment, curriculum development and academic policy, along with fostering interprofessional and cross-campus collaborations.
The position reports to Dr. Lori Gonzalez, vice chancellor of Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs at UTHSC.
– Andy Meek
Young Democrats Hold Conference in Memphis
The Young Democrats of America is holding its annual winter conference in Memphis Friday, Dec. 9, through Dec. 11.
Congressman Keith Ellison, who is among the contenders to become new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is the featured guest at an opening-night reception.
The gathering is built around sessions Saturday and Sunday on specific issues and strategies, from grassroots organizing to discussions about marijuana decriminalization and even a phone banking session.
There is also a “progressive millennial training academy session on “the gap between the civil rights movement and social justice movement.”
– Bill Dries
Jerry Lee Lewis Playing New Year’s Eve on Beale
Rock ’n’ roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis will play the Beale Street nightspot bearing his name on New Year’s Eve.
Lewis will play a single show at Jerry Lee Lewis’ Cafe and Honky Tonk, 310 Beale, at 8 p.m.
The show is one of several events planned to ring in the New Year in the entertainment district.
One block over from Lewis’ nightclub, rhythm and blues singer Bobby Rush will be playing Handy Park with Southern Avenue.
– Bill Dries
Aspen Dental Locations Opening This Month
Two new Aspen Dental practices are opening this month in the Memphis area – the one at 8544 U.S. Highway 51 N. opened Thursday, Dec. 8.
A Cordova location at 695 N. Germantown Pkwy. will open on Dec. 15.
Aspen Dental bills itself as an independent, affordable practice that takes all kinds of insurance, but will also treat patients without insurance.
The new Millington office is led by Dr. Carlos Alexander, who received his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree at Meharry Medical College. Dr. Cynthia Brown, who also received her DDS from Meharry Medical College, will lead the Cordova practice.
The two new offices are the first in Shelby County. There are 27 Aspen Dental practices in Tennessee.
Aspen Dental offers a full range of dental and denture services, a denture money-back guarantee and free, new-patient exams and X-rays for patients without dental insurance.
The practices will be open evenings and on select Saturdays to maximize access for patients.
– Daily News staff
Bass, Berry & Sims Joins Hackathon Alliance
Bass, Berry & Sims PLC has officially joined the national Hackathon Alliance, a group of 36 law firms that are committed to implementing one or more ideas aimed at increasing gender parity in the top ranks of the legal profession.
Those ideas were generated during the Women in Law Hackathon, which was created by Diversity Lab in collaboration with Stanford Law School and Bloomberg Law.
Bass, Berry & Sims joined after its managing partner, Todd Rolapp, participated in the event and committed to implementing strategies across its offices, including Memphis. The aim is to advance and retain experienced women lawyers in law firms.
“I am excited to have Bass, Berry & Sims be among these prestigious firms to join the Hackathon Alliance,” Rolapp said in a release. “I truly enjoyed participating in the Women in Hackathon event to identify and develop better ways to engage and retain women attorneys across the legal industry. I am eager to start working with the alliance.”
Diversity Lab creates and tests new ways to close the gender gap and boost diversity in organizations at the leadership level.
– Daily News staff
Air Canada to Resume Memphis-Toronto Route
Air Canada is returning to Memphis International Airport to resume nonstop service between Memphis and Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), the airline announced Wednesday, Dec. 7.
The flights will begin May 1 and mark the first daily international flights at MEM since 2012.
Air Canada previously operated at Memphis International from 2010 to 2012.
It will fly a 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200 for the new Toronto route.
With the additional services, Memphis International has 10 airlines providing service to 34 destinations.
“We are thrilled to welcome back Air Canada, and are excited to return daily international service to our passengers,” Pace Cooper, chairman of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority board of commissioners, said in a release. “This route is more than a connection between Memphis and Toronto – it opens up many, many international connections for Memphis travelers as well.”
By having direct access to Toronto, the new Air Canada route will give Memphis flyers a connection to more than 160 international destinations worldwide where Air Canada flies.
Memphis passengers will have one-stop connectivity to 41 international destinations including Budapest, Copenhagen, Dubai, Vienna, Warsaw and many Canadian cities.
“We are delighted to bring the Maple Leaf to Memphis next year,” said Lisa Pierce, senior director for USA Sales & Market Development at Air Canada. “Our new service will offer more travel options for local residents, both to visit Canada or to connect conveniently to our international network.”
Flights out of MEM depart at 3:50 p.m. Central time and arrive in Toronto at 7:04 p.m. Eastern; flights leave Toronto at 2:50 p.m. Eastern and arrive at 3:20 p.m. Central.
Visit flymemphis.com/flights to see schedule information for Air Canada and other flights at MEM.
– Daily News staff
Cohen Proposes Grants For School Bus Seatbelts
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen has introduced a bill that would provide federal grants for hip and shoulder seatbelts and retrofit existing school buses with the same.
Cohen is calling the legislation the Bring Enhanced Liability in Transportation for Students (BELTS) Act. It also includes grants for motion activation sensors in school buses.
The bill also directs the federal government’s Transportation Department to withhold 10 percent of some federal highway funds to states whose legislatures do not require background checks of school bus drivers in their states.
The same penalty would apply to states that do not have a law that increases penalties from a first offense to a second offense for motorists cited and convicted of illegally passing a stopped school bus.
The legislation is prompted by a November school bus crash in Chattanooga that killed six children.
Cohen termed the incident a “wakeup call.”
As a state senator, before his election to the U.S. House, Cohen sponsored a bill requiring seat belts on school buses that never got out of Senate committee.
– Bill Dries
UTHSC Dept. Chair Joins Council on Alcohol Abuse
Dr. Alex Dopico of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, who has spent more than 20 years researching the effects of alcohol on the brain, has been appointed to serve a four-year term on the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Dopico is chair of the Department of Pharmacology in the College of Medicine at UTHSC.
The council is the highest advisory board for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health.
The 18-member council advises, assists and consults with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the director of the NIAAA on matters related to the activities and policies of the institute.
Along with helping to shape policy nationwide, the council is charged with second-level review on grants for alcohol research before they are funded.
– Andy Meek
Memphis Lawmakers Elected To Black Caucus
Several Democratic state lawmakers from Tennessee, including four from Memphis, have been elected to leadership roles within the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.
Rep. Raumesh Akbari was elected treasurer of the national organization at its 40th annual legislative conference in New Orleans last week. Fellow Memphis Rep. Larry Miller was named regional vice chair.
Reps. Karen Camper and G.A. Hardaway of Memphis and Brenda Gilmore of Nashville were named executive members at large.
Gilmore, who is the chair of the Tennessee Black Caucus, says the Tennessee lawmakers’ election to leadership roles with the National Black Caucus “shows the great influence that African-American lawmakers from this state are having on the national stage.”
– The Associated Press
China Fines Medtronic On Anti-Monopoly Charges
Medical device maker Medtronic, whose spinal business is based in Memphis, has been fined $17 million by Chinese anti-monopoly regulators in the latest effort by Beijing to force down what it sees as unreasonably high prices.
Regulators concluded Medtronic, which supplies cardiovascular, restorative, and diabetes-related medical devices, suppressed competition by enforcing minimum prices its distributors were required to charge, the government said Wednesday.
Foreign automakers, milk suppliers and other companies have faced similar penalties. Setting minimum prices is a common tactic in other markets but lawyers say Beijing appears to see them as a barrier to competition.
“Competition in China’s high-value consumables and implantable medical equipment market is inadequate,” said a statement by the Cabinet’s planning agency. It said preventing market forces from setting prices “increases the burden on patients and damages the interests of consumers.”
Business groups welcomed the passage of China’s first anti-monopoly law in 2008 as a step toward clarifying operating conditions. Since then, they have said it is enforced more actively against foreign companies than against their Chinese rivals.
There have been few court rulings to clarify the application of the 2008 law. That has fed uncertainty about how it will apply to global companies that are eager to expand in the world’s second-largest economy.
– The Associated Press
Riverside Ice Rink To Open Dec. 10
A city ice skating rink by the Mississippi River opens Saturday, Dec. 10.
The Fourth Bluff Ice Rink, located in Mississippi River Park next to the Tennessee Welcome Center, is open to the public into January for a $10 admission, which includes skate rental.
The rink is part of efforts to bring more public use to the area, including at the Cossitt Library and in parks overlooking the river and Wolf River Harbor. It is funded with a $5 million grant from the Reimagining the Civic Commons organization, which is a coalition of four national phil-anthropic groups.
The local Fourth Bluff effort includes the Downtown Memphis Commission, Hattiloo Theatre, the Memphis Library Foundation, the Hyde Family Foundations, film producer Craig Brewer and Black Lodge Video.
Programming for the ice rink includes themed skate nights and weeks, live music, food trucks, skating lessons and free Wi-Fi.
The hours are Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.; Tuesday-Thursday 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Fridays 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.; and Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The rink is closed on Mondays.
– Bill Dries
La Quinta Guest Sues Over Legionnaires’ Outbreak
A California woman staying at the La Quinta Inn & Suites near Memphis International Airport has filed a $3 million civil lawsuit against the owners of the motel at 2979 Millbranch Road over a recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.
Acencion Casas, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Marlene Casas, claims in the suit that the owners, La Quinta Holdings Inc. and Minesh and Jagruti Patel, “created a dangerous condition at the hotel by maintaining it in a manner that threatened the safety of their guests.”
The lawsuit, which was filed in Memphis federal court Tuesday, Dec. 6, also alleges the owners knew of the condition and failed to warn Casas or other guests.
Marlene Casas stayed overnight at the Memphis motel Aug. 27, the lawsuit claims.
Sadler Bailey, the attorney representing Casas, said she was in the city to visit Graceland.
“This lady drank water at the hotel out of the tap and she took a shower and the air conditioner was running,” Bailey said. “It could have been any of those sources. … It’s quite possible – in fact, it’s quite probable – that other people were exposed to the same bacteria and didn’t get sick. Marlene’s got some significant underlying health problems.”
Casas developed pneumonia, Bailey said, 10 days after she stayed at the motel, showing symp-toms three to four days after returning from Memphis.
The Shelby County Health Department ordered the La Quinta to close Sept. 22 after confirming five cases of Legionnaires’ disease linked to the business.
Health officials said those who stayed at the hotel between July 1 and Sept. 22, which included more than 6,000 reservations, could have been exposed to the disease.
The La Quinta was allowed to reopen Oct. 5 after health officials were unable to find an active source of the legionella bacteria. By the time of the reopening, the health department had identi-fied seven confirmed cases and 19 probable cases of Legionnaires’ disease. The owners agreed to follow a water maintenance plan, and the health department said it would continue surveillance for six months following the outbreak.
The summer outbreak of the bacteria is the second locally in three years. Bailey was the attorney in a legal claim involving an outbreak at the 24-Hour Fitness gym on Ridgeway Road that ended with a confidential settlement.
– Bill Dries
Commission Sets Meeting On Minority Business
Shelby County Commissioners have set a special meeting for Dec. 14 to vote on the second reading of two ordinances that would change county purchasing procedures to both enhance the amount of locally owned small businesses that get county contracts and establish a minority and women business enterprise (MWBE) program.
A delay in the scheduled second reading vote Monday, Dec. 5, came as commissioners and business leaders debated the precise terms for county government contracting. That includes whether the enterprise program should have language that sets specific standards for contracting with black-owned businesses.
The commission and administration’s goal is to have the policies approved by year’s end, which is why the special meeting was scheduled. That would set third and final reading of both ordinances for Dec. 19, the final commission meeting of 2016.
With the delay, the commission then voted down Monday a $1.3 million contract for security services at local county government facilities with Allied University Security Services.
Commissioners specifically questioned why a local business didn’t get the contract in a bidding process overseen by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. SCSO officials said they followed county procedures in the bidding.
The defeat of the contract means Allied will continue to provide security services on a month-to-month basis as they are now. As that continues, the county administration will rebid the contract.
Meanwhile, commissioners Van Turner and Terry Roland pulled the third and final reading of their ordinance that would have made assistant county attorneys part of county government’s civil service system and thus more difficult for a county mayor to fire them. Turner said he wanted to perhaps redraw the measure.
The commission approved the second of three readings of an ordinance setting up agreements with the cities of Millington, Lakeland and Arlington for emergency ambulance service by the Shelby County Fire Department. The county has been contracting with a private company for ambulance service.
– Bill Dries
Tennessee Lawmakers To Convene in January
State lawmakers are scheduled to convene the 110th Tennessee General Assembly on Jan. 10.
The three-day organizational session will kick off with the formal elections for speaker in both chambers, though heavy Republican majorities in both the Senate and House mean that little drama is expected for the Republican nominees, Sen. Randy McNally of Oak Ridge and Rep. Beth Harwell of Nashville.
The next day, the two chambers are scheduled to meet in join session to elect the comptroller, treasurer and secretary of state.
And on the last day of the organizational session lawmakers are to participate in ethics training.
Once those tasks are complete, lawmakers plan to take a recess until the end of the month before returning to hear Gov. Bill Haslam’s annual state of the state address.
– The Associated Press
GTx Pursues 1-For-10 Reverse Stock Split
Memphis-based biopharmaceutical company GTx Inc. has announced a reverse stock split of its shares of common stock, at a ratio of 1-for-10.
At the opening of trading on Tuesday, Dec. 6, GTx’s common stock will begin trading on a split-adjusted basis, and the number of shares of common stock outstanding will decrease from about 159.2 million pre-split shares to about 15.9 million post-split shares.
The idea behind the move is to enable GTx to regain compliance with the $1 minimum bid price requirement for continued listing on the NASDAQ. In order to regain compliance, the closing bid price of GTx’s common stock must be at least $1 for a minimum of 10 consecutive trading days.
In the reverse stock split, every 10 shares of GTx’s common stock outstanding will automatically be combined and reclassified into one new share of common stock. Holders of common stock that would otherwise receive a fractional share of common stock because of the reverse stock split will receive cash in lieu of the fractional share.
– Andy Meek
Study: Shelby County Saw Most GDP Growth in Tenn.
Shelby County saw more than $2.6 billion growth in its gross domestic product over the last four years, the most among Tennessee’s 95 counties, according to a new study by financial technology company SmartAsset.
The findings were part of SmartAsset’s broader look at the places with the most incoming investment across the U.S. Other categories the study looked at included business growth, new building permits and municipal bonds.
Davidson County came in at No. 2 for GDP growth, at $2.5 billion over four years. Knox County came was third, at a little less than $1.5 billion in growth. Tipton County ranked No. 36, while Fayette County was No. 43.
Shelby County’s GDP growth placed it at No. 59 in the nation. The top three were Los Angeles County, California ($44.6 billion in growth over four years); Harris County, Texas ($38.8 billion); and Dallas County, Texas ($25.3 billion).
As for Shelby County’s performance in other areas of SmartAsset’s study, it ranked No. 56 among the state’s 95 counties for business growth, with a 0.6 percent decrease; No. 35 for new building permits, with 5.8 per 1,000 homes; and No. 16 for municipal bonds, with $1,552 per capita.
An interactive map and methodology can be found at smartasset.com.
– Daily News staff
FedEx On ‘Best Workplaces For African-Americans’ List
Memphis-based FedEx Corp. has been chosen as one of 2016’s 10 Best Workplaces for African-Americans by global research and consulting firm Great Place to Work and Fortune. The company ranked No. 3 on the list, which is based on employees’ assessments of workplace fairness, opportunities for training, and access to senior leadership, among other factors.
“At FedEx, we know that workforce diversity and inclusion are key drivers of business success,” Gloria Boyland, corporate vice president of Operations and Service Support at FedEx, said in a written statement. “We value and celebrate the diversity of our more than 400,000 team members across the globe, and are honored to be recognized for our commitment to providing opportunities for career advancement.”
FedEx works with organizations such as Historically Black Colleges & Universities, the National Urban League, National Black MBA Association, United Negro College Fund and Inroads to support the advancement of minorities and women.
– Daily News staff
Stevie Nicks to Play Memphis Show in March
Stevie Nicks will play FedExForum March 8 on the second leg of her “24 Karat Gold Tour,” Live Nation Entertainment announced Monday, Dec. 5.
Tickets to the Memphis show, which includes Pretenders as the opening act, go on sale Dec. 12, with a presale starting Friday to all Memphis Grizzlies MVP season ticket holders.
The Fleetwood Mac singer-songwriter and solo artist announced the first leg of the tour in September and began the tour in October.
– Bill Dries
City of Memphis Offers Bike Rack Service
The city of Memphis is offering a set of 10 bike racks to be used for bicycles at public or private events.
The offer from the city Division of Engineering is being managed without charge by the nonprofit Bike Walk Memphis.
The racks can hold seven bicycles each.
Bike Walk Memphis provides valets that staff the racks at events to reduce demand for car parking and cut the number of bikes attached to poles, trees and other fixtures. The system has been tested at the MEMFix Film Row event and the recent Malted festival at Memphis Made Brewing.
– Bill Dries
Lifeblood Again Sponsoring ‘Bears for Le Bonheur'
Patients at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital will be the recipients of holiday-themed plush stuffed polar bears in Lifeblood’s “Bears for Le Bonheur” holiday donation program, which is underway through Dec. 21.
For each Lifeblood donor that gives blood or platelets during that time, Lifeblood will donate a stuffed polar bear to a Le Bonheur patient.
Donations may be made at any Lifeblood donor center or at a mobile blood drive. To find a donation location near you, visit clublifeblood.org and enter a ZIP code.
– Andy Meek