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VOL. 131 | NO. 257 | Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Ceasefire, Art and Memphis 3.0 and Giving Jazz Its Due In Memphis

By Bill Dries

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Grizz on the road the day after Christmas in Orlando where they got beat by the Magic 112– 102. They are in Boston Tuesday for the Celtics.

The Tigers are at the Forum Tuesday against SMU

Coming to Memphis next year, a version of Operation Ceasefire, pioneered in Boston more than 20 years ago, This came up on Behind The Headlines in a discussion with Memphis-Shelby Crime Commission president Bill Gibbons, Josh Spickler of Just City and Memphis City Council member Worth Morgan that touched on a lot of topics.

Ceasefire involves a confrontation of sorts with gang members or drug dealers in a neighborhood that gives a second chance to those who are judged likely to change their ways.

If this sounds familiar, you may remember a Memphis News cover story we did in 2010 on a Drug Market Intervention program in Springdale when Gibbons was District Attorney General.

One of the other topics that came during the BTH discussion was the local criminal justice system’s focus on pursuing cases of someone driving on a suspended license. With the start of the new year, the state will launch a new system to track whether drivers have the required insurance that will verify that on a continual basis.

Christmas wasn’t really ice-skating weather. But the Fourth Bluff Ice Rink will hang around to see if the weather changes … I should say when it will change. The rink is open until January 29 in Mississippi River Park by the visitors center on the way to the Pyramid. And don't forget the ice skating rink at The Memphis Zoo.

The still-forming Memphis 3.0 plan will include some ideas on urban art with the UrbanArt Commission joining the city’s Memphis 3.0 team. This is no small consideration. One of the undercurrents in development plans has been how much input there is from the residents of an area about public art that is brought into an area to animate it and give a sense that something is happening – there is some momentum.

Our year in review pieces take wings with a review of the year at Memphis International Airport or MEM as it is known by some. The airport continued its transition as an origin and destination airport out of the decades when it was a hub for various legacy carriers with most of its flights connecting flights. The transition is a slow one with smaller numbers of new flights that may not ever offer the number of flights to as many destinations that we once had. But the fares are lower. And the pursuit of service is more strategic.

The last time the Chronicle of Philanthropy measured contributions to nonprofits and other charities by city in 2012, the city of Memphis was second in the nation with Memphians contributing an estimated 5.1 percent of their total income to charity. Our review of the year for our local nonprofits surveys a collection of organizations with $14 billion in assets, 45,000 people employed and a $1.7 million annual payroll.

In the year ahead, Sazerac is coming to Newport, Tennessee to make whiskey. Sazerac bought the Avery’s Trail distillery there. No word yet on whether Sazerac will make the Popcorn Sutton brand that Avery’s is known for or if they will move production of one of their brands to Newport.

Following up on our story last week about Eric Trump’s foundation and its pledge to raise money for St. Jude among others. Here is the Associated Press investigation.

Jazz great Charles Lloyd on the PBS News Hour with a reminder that our city’s wealth of cultural influence includes a considerable jazz legacy that, at least to my mind, is too often overlooked, combined with the blues. The late Ernest Withers used to tell me that once upon a time in our city it was jazz to the north and blues to the south with Poplar Avenue being the approximate dividing line.

Maybe a new year’s resolution is in order that in 2017 we will resolve to bring our city’s jazz heritage to its deserved cultural spotlight in the city of Sun, Stax, Hi, and Ardent adding Phineas Newborn, Jimmie Lunceford and many others to a Memphis pedigree without borders. After all, Lloyd got his brass note on Beale Street in 2012. More to the point, our jazz legacy is often the tale of Memphians leaving a rich musical environment early on. A jazz homecoming is in order, I think.

PROPERTY SALES 76 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 83 131 1,047
BUILDING PERMITS 190 277 3,028