VOL. 9 | NO. 51 | Saturday, December 17, 2016
Big River Crossing Draws 65,000 in First Six Weeks
More than 65,000 bicyclists and pedestrians have used the Big River Crossing since its Oct. 22 opening.
The boardwalk on the northern side of the Harahan Bridge across the Mississippi River drew its highest traffic count over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Data on who is visiting the crossing show 70 percent come from Memphis and 30 percent from West Memphis. The mix is about 85 percent pedestrian and 15 percent cyclist.
Soon after the Oct. 22 opening of the mile-long boardwalk, construction began on the Delta Regional River Park, a 5-mile trail system on the West Memphis flood plain that offers views of the Memphis skyline as well as a walk across the site of Hopefield, the settlement that came before West Memphis.
The river park, which can be seen from Big River Crossing, is expected to open early next year.
– Bill Dries
Shelby County Awarded $11.5M for Head Start
The Shelby County Board of Education has been awarded an $11.5 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support Head Start projects.
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, who announced the grant Wednesday, Dec. 14, called the funding “an investment in our children, our families and our future.”
“Because of this important funding, children from low-income families throughout Memphis and Shelby County will be better prepared to learn when they enter school,” Cohen said in a written statement.
The federal program provides comprehensive services to enrolled children and their families, including health, nutrition, social services, education and cognitive development services, and others determined to be necessary by family needs assessments.
Shelby County Head Start provides these services to nearly 5,000 children in Memphis and Shelby County.
The program was founded in 1965. Since then, it has served 30 million children and their families across the U.S.
– Daily News staff
Developer Buys Former Merle Norman Warehouse
Merle Norman Cosmetics Inc. has sold its former Memphis distribution center to local real estate developer Thomas Farnsworth Jr. for $1.3 million.
Built in 1974, the warehouse at 3670 S. Perkins Road spans 73,768 square feet and sits on 8.2 acres near the Parkway Village neighborhood in Memphis, according to the Shelby County Assessor of Property. The site most recently was appraised at $1.4 million.
“I’ve been in the industrial real estate business all of my career, and I have never seen a second-generation building show that well. It has been immaculately maintained,” said Farnsworth Investment Co. president Thomas Farnsworth III.
Farnsworth said his company currently is searching for a tenant to lease the property. Hank Martin with NAI Saig Co. was hired by Farnsworth to market the building, which Merle Norman vacated in January.
Land next to the building, which was designed for light manufacturing, assembly and distribution, is also available in case future tenants need additional space, Farnsworth said.
“For someone looking for a well-maintained second-generation building, this building would be as good as anything they will see in town,” he added.
The Memphis center had been one of two that supplied products to franchised Merle Norman locations. All of the distribution operations have shifted to its other center in Los Angeles, where the company is headquartered.
– Patrick Lantrip
MLGW: Winter Heating Bills Likely to Be Lower
MLGW customers can expect lower average heating bills this winter because abundant shale gas supplies are keeping prices low, according to the utility.
For the next three months, MLGW says, weather forecasters are predicting above normal winter temperatures. Based on current gas prices and consumption, residents can expect an average monthly gas bill of about $65 with a mild winter. A colder winter could raise bills 30 percent higher.
Through risk management strategies, MLGW has capped purchase costs to protect customers from unexpected high gas spikes.
“If prices were to go out the roof, we basically have a ceiling on gas prices,” MLGW energy resources supervisor Jeff Sissom said in a statement.
– Daily News staff
UTHSC to Graduate 135 In Winter Commencement
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center will graduate 135 health care professionals at its winter commencement Friday, Dec. 16.
“The faculty and staff of UTHSC celebrate the success of our graduates,” said Lori Gonzalez, vice chancellor of Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs at UTHSC, in a statement. “This new generation of health care providers has been educated to be skilled, compassionate and caring, and to positively impact the health of the communities where they live and work.”
University of Tennessee president Joe DiPietro will confer the degrees, and UTHSC chancellor Dr. Steve Schwab will challenge the graduates to work for the health and wellness of all people. The 135 graduates include six from the College of Dentistry, 17 from the College of Graduate Health Sciences, 20 from the College of Health Professions, 31 from the College of Medicine, and 61 from the College of Nursing.
– Daily News staff
Allegiant Bringing Back Summer Seasonal Flights
Memphis travelers looking for a summer getaway can add three new destinations to their list.
Allegiant Air recently announced the return of seasonal flights from Memphis International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Arizona’s Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (AZA) and Florida’s Destin-Ft. Walton Beach Airport (VPS).
“We are excited to see the return of two more options to the western U.S., as well as a popular vacation destination in Destin-Ft. Walton,” Pace Cooper, chairman of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority board of commissioners, said in a release. “All three of these routes were popular among our passengers last year, so this is great news for summer travelers.”
The Destin-Ft. Walton flights will be the first to return on May 18, followed by the Phoenix flights on May 19 and the Los Angeles flights on June 1.
Additionally, Allegiant will suspend their Jacksonville, Florida, flights for the season starting in January.
Allegiant, which began operations in Memphis last year, now offers nonstop service to eight destinations from MEM. In addition to the returning seasonal routes, destinations include Austin, Texas; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Orlando, St. Petersburg-Clearwater and Ft. Lauderdale in Florida.
The addition of the summer flights now brings Memphis International’s total number of destinations to 37.
Tickets for the biweekly flights are now on sale at allegiant.com.
– Patrick Lantrip
St. Jude Appoints Clinical Director
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has tapped Dr. Ellis Neufeld as clinical director, physician-in-chief and executive vice president.
His appointment will begin in March. In his role, Neufeld will oversee the organization’s academic clinical departments and all clinical operations. The appointment comes as St. Jude launches an effort to increase the number of cancer patients treated at its campus and on protocols around the world.
An internationally respected leader in pediatric hematology, Neufeld comes to St. Jude from Boston, where he served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School for the past 26 years. He was most recently associate chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Neufeld also served as medical director at the Boston Hemophilia Center and held the Egan Family Foundation Chair in Transitional Medicine at Harvard Medical School as a professor of pediatrics.
– Andy Meek
Tigers Fall 82-79 To Monmouth
All five University of Memphis starters scored in double-figures, but it wasn’t enough as Monmouth University defeated the Tigers 82-79 at FedExForum on Tuesday, Dec. 12.
Dedric Lawson led the Tigers with 18 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. Point guard Jeremiah Martin had 14 points and four assists.
Memphis (7-3) was hurt by a couple of late turnovers, including on their last possession when they needed a three to tie the game.
“We looked confused there and probably should have called timeout and set something else up,” Memphis coach Tubby Smith said.
Monmouth (9-2) knocked down 11 threes compared to just four for the Tigers. Memphis again had foul line struggles, connecting on 21 of 32 free throws for 65.6 percent.
Memphis next plays at Oklahoma (6-3) on Saturday, Dec. 17. The game will be broadcast on CBS starting at 11:30 Central.
– Don Wade
Frayser Store Closed As Nuisance Will Reopen
A Frayser convenience store closed last week as a public nuisance because of ongoing drug trafficking and other criminal activity will be allowed to reopen after taking steps to improve security, Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich said Wednesday, Dec. 14.
The owner of the J & R Food Mart at 1473 Corning St. agreed to install surveillance cameras, improve lighting, hire an armed security guard, paint over graffiti, add fencing around an out-of-use car wash, terminate any employees complicit in criminal activity and pay $300 toward the investigation by the Memphis Police Department Organized Crime Unit.
The agreement, according to a memorandum of understanding between prosecutors and store representative Senan Alzandani, is not an admission of guilt or liability, but is “an attempt to work together and ultimately resolve this litigation.”
The remedies outlined in the agreement were the result of joint consultation with Safeways Inc., a data-driven nonprofit partnership agency that specializes in crime prevention and quality-of-life initiatives.
Police had been called to the store 69 times in the past year. Police memos document numerous instances of drug trafficking, robberies, armed individuals, aggravated assaults, vandalism and other criminal activity.
The store’s closure was based on a nuisance petition filed by Weirich and city attorney/chief legal officer Bruce McMullen.
The store is in a residential area less than a mile from Corning Elementary School and less than a half mile from the Georgian Hills Church of God. Three apartment complexes are also nearby, including Corning Village, Pershing Park and Timber Pines.
– Daily News staff
Elvis Birthday Observance Expands to Guest House
The traditional proclamation of Elvis Presley’s birthday will still take place Jan. 8 on the front lawn of Graceland. But other events around what would have been the entertainer’s 82nd birthday next month will be held at the recently opened Guest House at Graceland.
That includes birthday cake and coffee after the proclamation, which traditionally is read by the Memphis and Shelby County mayors.
The events begin Jan. 5 with the start of a trivia contest and a screening of the 1972 television special “Aloha From Hawaii” at the Guest House.
Other events include The Auction at Graceland, an auction of 164 third-party items authenticated by Graceland, on Jan. 7. The same day, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra will perform its annual Elvis concert at the Cannon Center.
– Bill Dries
American Car Care Signs 9-Year Lease at Lenox Park
American Car Care has signed a lease with Lenox Park C-F Owner LLC for 17,427 square feet in Lenox Park Building E, located at 6775 Lenox Center Court.
The total value of the nine-year lease is $2.8 million.
American Car Care was represented by Hank Martin with NAI Saig Co., and the landlord was represented by Ron Kastner of CB Richard Ellis.
Built in 1999, the 101,246-square-foot Class A building at 6775 Lenox Center Court is situated on 7.8 acres near Knight Arnold Road and Mount Moriah Road Extended. The Shelby County Assessor ’s 2016 appraisal is $5 million.
– Patrick Lantrip
Cosmic Coconut Rebrands, Revamps Menu Options
Cosmic Coconut is rebranding as City Silo Table & Pantry. It will offer comfort food and drinks and host a grand opening Jan. 14.
Located in the former Cosmic Coconut space in the East Memphis Sanderlin Centre plus the adjacent unit, City Silo will encompass 2,600 square feet, feature a full kitchen and provide a seating capacity of close to 50.
City Silo will also offer egg, dairy and humanely raised chicken options while continuing to offer an extensive plant-based menu.
Anchored by a 10-foot farm table, City Silo will feature restaurant seating; coolers with grab-and-go items; plus a retail area with small-batch chocolates, jams, fermented vegetables, organic pastas, flours and grains.
City Silo also promises to be “overwhelmingly” organic and local whenever possible.
– Andy Meek
State Cites Local Company For Illegal Sale of Securities
The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance has announced disciplinary action against a Collierville-based business and its principal found in violation of the state’s securities laws.
TDCI, which announced the disciplinary action Tuesday, Dec. 13, cited O’Neil Capital Partners L.P. and operator Brian O’Neil Putt for multiple violations, including selling securities that were not registered; selling securities without being registered as a broker-dealer or investment adviser; not being honest about the nature of the transactions; failing to abide by all the specified terms; failing to return all of the funds upon request; and borrowing money from a customer.
A final order imposes $115,000 in civil penalties against O’Neil Capital Partners and Putt, and orders them to cease and desist from any future activity in violation of Tennessee’s securities laws.
Consumers can visit TDCI’s website (tn.gov/commerce) to inspect disciplinary actions, including the order against O’Neil Capital Partners and Putt, and to verify licenses of securities and insurance professionals.
– Daily News staff
Corker, Alexander React To Latest Trump Picks
Two of President-elect Donald Trump’s latest cabinet nominees will be going before Senate committees that include Tennessee’s two Republican senators.
Sen. Bob Corker chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which will hold a hearing in January for secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil.
Corker was among those Trump considered to head the State Department. And Trump called Corker the night before the announcement to let him know that Tillerson would be the nominee.
In a prepared statement Tuesday, Dec. 13, Corker said he “very much appreciated” the call. And he said it was an honor to be considered for the post.
“Mr. Tillerson is a very impressive individual and has an extraordinary working knowledge of the world,” Corker said in the statement. “I congratulate him on his nomination and look forward to meeting with him and chairing his confirmation hearing.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander, meanwhile, is a member of the U.S. Senate committee on energy and natural resources, which will consider Trump’s nomination of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as energy secretary.
In a statement, Alexander termed Perry “a first-class public servant.”
“I look forward to learning more about his plans for supporting energy research, strong national laboratories and supercomputing that help give America its competitive edge in creating jobs,” Alexander added.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis expressed a different view on the Cabinet picks, including U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington, as Secretary of the Interior and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for Environmental Protection Agency administrator.
“We are abandoning the Earth to oil’s Dark Ages part 2,” Cohen tweeted Tuesday, Dec. 13.
– Bill Dries
Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club Raise $400K for Le Bonheur
Local Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club associates, customers and members recently wrapped up a seven-week campaign that collected $399,032 on behalf of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. The fundraiser was part of a national campaign for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals that resulted in nearly $37 million for member hospitals across America.
Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club associates at 80 West Tennessee locations held various in-store fundraising activities during the campaign, which ran Aug. 29 to Oct. 16. Customers were given the option to donate at the register, and stores also held silent auctions, bake sales and cookouts.
“We are so grateful for the support from Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. They are some of our most passionate and committed advocates,” said Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital president and CEO Meri Armour in a statement. “Le Bonheur is able to care for many sick children because of the support of a very generous community. Thanks to supporters like Walmart and Sam’s Club we are working to cure disease in children and make sure they grow up happy and healthy.”
Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club associates have collected nearly $1 billion for sick and injured children since partnering with Children’s Miracle Network in 1987.
The 170 hospitals in the network use funds based on what they need most – typically providing lifesaving equipment and research, supporting top therapy programs and providing charitable care.
In Le Bonheur’s case, the funds will be used to provide cutting-edge medical care and further research into childhood illnesses.
– Daily News staff
Village Shops of Forest Hill Sells for $37.1 Million
A 360,000-square-foot commercial retail center in Germantown recently was purchased by Epic Real Estate Partners acting as EREP Forest Hill I LLC for $37.1 million.
The Village Shops of Forest Hill retail center, located at 9155 U.S. 72 at the intersection with Forest Hill-Irene Road, previously was owned by Memphis-based Boyle Investment Co. and Milton T. Schaeffer acting as BIC-MTS Partners.
In conjunction with the purchase, EREP Forest Hill took out a $26 million loan through Wells Fargo Bank for the property.
Austin, Texas-based Epic Real Estate Partners was founded in 2012 and has bought, managed and developed properties in 27 states totaling more than $400 million.
Memphis-based Boyle Investment Co. was founded in 1933 and specializes in land development capabilities for office, retail, industrial and residential properties.
– Patrick Lantrip
Loflin Yard Adds Winter Touches
Downtown's Loflin Yard has some new touches that should help visitors enjoy things during the colder winter months.
Booths now fill the heated Safe House and weather-proofed exterior patio overlooking Loflin Falls. Gas heaters also line the perimeter of the Coach House porch, and the Coach House’s new sealed doors additionally allow for comfortable interior dining.
Seasonal cocktails will roll out on Wednesday, Dec. 14, featuring a few hot beverages such as mulled wine and hot buttered rum. The food menu also now includes a winter beet salad with goat cheese and arugula; a smoked brisket chili with aged cheddar; and a smoked turkey po’ boy with avocado aioli during Saturday and Sunday lunch hours. S’mores fixings for four are available to order at the window and roast in a community fire pit.
Loflin Yard’s winter hours are Wednesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
– Andy Meek
St. Benedict Achieves AP Capstone Status
St. Benedict at Auburndale High School will be offering Advance Placement seminar and research courses at the start of the next school year and will award AP Capstone Diplomas as part of the program.
The Catholic school in Cordova announced AP Capstone status Friday, Dec. 9.
The courses help students develop research, collaboration and communication skills at a college level and the AP Capstone diploma lets colleges and universities know those students have skills that involve critical thinking and the ability to analyze complex questions from many perspectives.
St. Benedict joins White Station High School and Houston High School in Germantown in offering the AP Capstone designation.
The high school becomes the eighth in the state to offer AP Capstone.
Principal Sondra Morris, in a prepared statement, said the program “gets a broader, more diverse student population ready for college and beyond.”
“The program gives our teachers more leeway with curriculum choices so their students can access more challenging coursework and sharpen their reading and writing skills,” she said.
The seminar course is taken before the research course and the students are usually in the 10th or 11th grade.
– Bill Dries
Grizz GM Wallace, Others Get Contract Extensions
Memphis Grizzlies controlling owner Robert Pera has announced that general manager Chris Wallace, executive vice president of basketball operations John Hollinger and executive vice president of player personnel Ed Stefanski have been signed to multi-year extensions.
Per team policy, terms of the contracts will not be disclosed.
“Chris, John and Ed bring a wealth of NBA experience and success, and have done a tremendous job establishing the strong culture that I believe is necessary to ensure sustained success in this ultra-competitive environment,” Pera said in a statement.
Wallace joined the Grizzlies as general manager and vice president of basketball operations on June 18, 2007, and assembled much of the talent that has helped guide the franchise to a club-record six consecutive playoff appearances.
Through trades, free agency and the draft, Wallace established a core that includes the franchise leader in assists, steals and games played Mike Conley; 2014-15 All-NBA First Team center and 2012-13 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol; two-time NBA All-Star (2009, 2012) Zach Randolph; five-time NBA All-Defense mainstay Tony Allen; and highly coveted free agent Chandler Parsons.
Prior to joining the Grizzlies, Wallace spent 10 seasons as general manager of the Boston Celtics (1997-2007) and four seasons as a scout with the Miami Heat (1993-97), where he was promoted to director of player personnel in his final season. Wallace worked in various scouting capacities for the New York Knicks (1991-92), Los Angeles Clippers (1990-91), Denver Nuggets (1989-90) and Portland Trail Blazers (1986-89).
Hollinger joined the organization as vice president of basketball operations on Dec. 13, 2012. Best known for his work at the forefront of basketball's analytics movement, Hollinger holds a prominent role in more traditional basketball functions such as scouting and medical support, while using his analytics background in analyzing personnel decisions such as trades, the draft, free agency and salary cap management. In addition, Hollinger oversees the Grizzlies’ analytics infrastructure and international scouting.
Stefanski joined the Grizzlies as executive vice president of player personnel on July 30, 2014, bringing to Memphis his well-earned reputation league-wide as an excellent evaluator of talent following management positions at the highest levels with the New Jersey Nets (1999-2007), Philadelphia 76ers (2007-11) and Toronto Raptors (2011-13).
– Don Wade
UTHSC Professor Wins Gates Foundation Award
Dr. Arash Shaban-Nejad, an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, has received a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Shaban-Nejad will pursue a global health and development research project titled, “A Semantic Framework to Support Evolution and Interoperability.”
The Grand Challenges Explorations supports innovative thinkers worldwide to explore ideas that can “break the mold” in solving persistent global health and development challenges.
Currently, there is no reliable mechanism to consistently manage changes in distributed dynamic malaria data sources in developing countries, causing access and use difficulties.
Shaban-Nejad, along with a team of investigators, will develop an analytical framework to improve data and semantic interoperability, change management and evolution, and help integrate dynamic surveillance data from multiple sources and health systems to support real-time decision-making for malaria eradication and elimination.
– Andy Meek