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VOL. 131 | NO. 36 | Friday, February 19, 2016

Daily Digest

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Agricenter President John Charles Wilson Retiring

John Charles Wilson, president of Agricenter International, will be stepping down on July 1, 2016, after 15 years with the organization, but will continue on as a consultant on an as-needed basis.

The Agricenter board of directors has been actively looking at a field of candidates for his replacement.

Under Wilson’s leadership, two global agricultural corporations, Bayer CropScience and Helena Chemical Co., invested $20 million in high tech facilities on the Agricenter property.

This major expansion occurred without any government or taxpayer incentives. Startup companies like Delta BioRenewables and AgSmarts also leverage the Agricenter’s research farm capabilities, bringing economic development opportunities to agriculture.

Wilson is passionate about environmental education and the importance of engaging school-aged children with their food source.

Each year, Agricenter hosts over 4,000 children from across West Tennessee, helping them learn about sustainable agriculture and the importance of healthy eating.

Also under Wilson’s leadership, the Farmers Market vendors donate what they do not sell at the market, 19,000 pounds of fresh produce and bread annually, for needy families across the Memphis area.

Wilson has been an advocate for conservation stewardship in Tennessee for 40 years.

In the late 1990s, he was appointed by Gov. Don Sundquist to serve on the State of Tennessee Water Quality Control Board. He is an active member of the Memphis Agricultural Club, Tennessee & American Soybean Association and West Tennessee No-Till Farmers Association.

In 2014, Wilson was honored with placement in the prestigious Southeast National Association of Conservation Districts Hall of Fame for his lifetime commitment to conservation and agriculture. In 2015, Wilson received the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award for Lifetime Achievement which is given to an individual who has devoted at least 25 years of effective and valuable service to Tennessee’s environmental protection or conservation stewardship.

- Don Wade

Norvell Adds Two More to Tigers Football Coaching Staff

University of Memphis football coach Mike Norvell has made two more hires to his coaching staff.

Mark Bonis joins the Tiger football staff as the director of Player Personnel, while Kenny Dillingham joins the staff as a graduate assistant working with the Memphis quarterbacks.

Bonis comes to Memphis from Brother Martin High School in New Orleans. He has been on staff at Brother Martin since 2006, serving as a football and track coach. He led the Crusaders football team to the Louisiana Division I semifinals in 2014 and to the quarterfinals in 2015. He was a finalist for the NFL/New Orleans Saints Coach of the Year in 2014, when his team set school records for yards, points and rushing touchdowns. Bonis also served as a graduate assistant at Sam Houston State from 2002-2003, helping to coach the tight ends and the offensive line.

Bonis was a letter winner at Southern Miss from 1997-2000, playing linebacker and on special teams.

He helped USM to two Conference USA championships and two Liberty Bowl victories. He graduated from Southern Miss in 2002 and received his master’s degree from USM in 2004.

Dillingham has spent the past two seasons at Arizona State, where Norvell previously was an assistant coach and offensive coordinator.

In 2014, Dillingham served as a quality control intern, working with the tight ends and assisting with recruiting and was named a graduate assistant in 2015, working with the offense.

Prior to that, Dillingham served as an assistant football coach at Chaparral High School. A graduate of Arizona State, he also served as a football camp manager for the City of Scottsdale from 2009-2013 and was been a part of the Athletes in Training program in Phoenix from 2008-2010.

- Don Wade

UPS Appeals Brazil’s Backing Of FedEx’s TNT Takeover

A third party has appealed Brazil’s approval of FedEx Corp.’s acquisition of TNT, the companies jointly announced Feb. 18.

The Wall Street Journal and other sources identified the third party as FedEx rival United Parcel Service Inc.

UPS tried to acquire TNT in 2013, but was blocked by the European Union due to concerns over “too little competition” in the market if TNT was to leave, according to Bloomberg.

UPS currently is appealing the EU’s rejection of its earlier, higher bid for TNT (UPS offered $6.9 billion) and is lobbying to block FedEx.

On Feb. 2, Brazil’s Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica became the third antitrust entity to approve the takeover.

To secure the $4.9 billion acquisition, the offer needs approval from the European Union, Brazil, China and the U.S. Approval from China’s regulatory body is outstanding.

In the joint statement, FedEx said that it is confident the TNT acquisition will close in the first half of 2016

- Madeline Faber

Women’s Theatre Festival Seeking Play Submissions

The Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis is accepting play submissions for its biennial festival, scheduled for July 10-16 at Hattiloo Theatre, 37 S. Cooper St.

This marks the third festival for the organization, which was founded in 2012 by Memphians Karen Moore and Ruby O’Gray and incorporated as a nonprofit the following year. Its goals are to provide educational and performance opportunities for women and to celebrate the contribution of women in the theater arts industry.

All submitted plays should either be written by, directed by or feature a storyline about a woman or women. While out-of-town entries are welcome, the organization says it would like to see more playwrights from the Memphis area submitting their works.

The fee is $35 for theater companies and $25 for individuals, and the deadline is Feb. 28.

Though WTFM showcases plays by and about women, both men and women participate in the festival as performers, stage crew and production staff.

The organization also is inviting male playwrights to contact them about submissions if their play is female-driven or is directed by a female. For more information, visit womenstheatrefestivalofmemphis.org.

– Kate Simone

Baker and Swilley Partners at Wyatt Tarrant & Combs

Attorneys Marjorie S. Baker and David L. Swilley have been named partners at Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs LLP law firm.

The regional law firm made the announcement Thursday, Feb. 18.

Baker and Swilley are on the law firm’s trusts, estates and personal planning team.

Baker’s practice is in probate, trust administration and elder law. She is a past chair of the Memphis Bar Association’s Estate Planning and Probate Section.

Swilley’s practice is in estate planning, taxation and business advisory issues.

He is certified as an estate planning specialist by the Estate Law Specialist Board Inc. and he is a Certified Public Accountant.

- Bill Dries

Zoo Unveils Okapi Giraffe as Part of Hippo Camp Exhibit

The Memphis Zoo’s Zambezi River Hippo Camp, which will resemble an African village and be stocked with animals including hippos, crocodiles and flamingos, will also have a unique occupant that’s already begun getting accustomed to its new home at the zoo.

It’s an okapi giraffe named Miraq, the appearance of which looks like a cross between a zebra and a giraffe.

Okapis, according to the zoo, have zebra-like stripes and a long neck like that of a giraffe. They generally weigh between 400 and 700 pounds.

Miraq will be one piece of an exhibit that’s been under construction for two years and will also include four large crocodiles, which have also already arrived at the zoo. Matt Thompson, director of the zoo’s animal program, said there will also be an interactive area for children with drums and masks.

The hippos, he added, will also be fun to watch, as they’re actually “very light on their feet and graceful in the water.”

Introduced to the media Wednesday, Feb. 17, in an enclosed grassy space, Miraq didn’t seem to mind the proximity of strangers. He walked back and forth at a languid pace, interrupted only by occasional trips to a nearby wall, in front of which a container of water was waiting for him to dip his head down and lap up.

- Andy Meek

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