VOL. 131 | NO. 25 | Thursday, February 4, 2016
Council to Explore Separate Benefits for Cops, Firefighters
Memphis City Council members voted Tuesday, Feb. 2, to form a task force to explore a separate benefits package for police and firefighters.
The resolution by council member Edmund Ford Jr. is the first move toward a different set of benefits, which would serve as a recruitment tool to bolster the ranks of both departments.
Council members have discussed different benefits for public safety employees in the last year and a half. But the discussion has been a smaller and more sporadic part of the council’s larger debate and decisions to change the benefits of all city employees and retirees.
In other action Tuesday, a divided council approved a resolution backing pending state legislation to abolish the state-run Achievement School District.
The resolution sponsored by council member Martavius Jones, a former Shelby County Schools board member, passed on a 4-3 vote with council members Ford, Bill Morrison and Berlin Boyd recusing themselves. Council members Worth Morgan, Philip Spinosa and chairman Kemp Conrad abstained.
– Bill Dries
International Paper Beats Expectations in Q4 Earnings
International Paper Co. posted net earnings of $938 million for 2015, a 40 percent increase from the $555 million in 2014.
The earnings numbers reported Wednesday, Feb. 3, show fourth-quarter net earnings of $178 million compared to $134 million a year earlier, a 24.7 percent increase.
The fourth-quarter earnings are 87 cents on a per share basis after being adjusted for non-recurring costs. Analysts expected the earnings would be 83 cents per share.
Fourth-quarter revenue for Memphis-based IP came in $5.44 billion, short of the $5.6 billion analysts were expecting.
IP’s special items for the fourth quarter, which are included in the net earnings numbers, included a pre-tax charge of $15 million for the sale of its Carolina Coated Bristols brand as well as costs of conversion of the company’s Riegelwood, North Carolina, facility to all pulp production.
International Paper chairman and CEO Mark Sutton said the company’s North American industrial packaging business and its Ilim joint venture in Russia led the global year-end numbers to an 11 percent return on invested capital. Sutton described the percentage as a “record.”
– Bill Dries
Patent for Treating Arthritis Issued to ArGentis
Memphis-based arGentis Pharmaceuticals has been issued a patent for altered peptide ligands used in treating arthritis.
The research supporting the patent was conducted at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis and is licensed by arGentis from the University of Tennessee Research Foundation. The patent grants the use of the treatment in the U.S. and is based on the research of doctors at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that typically affects the small joints in hands and feet. The arGentis treatment uses a modified peptide ligand to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
– Andy Meek
Council Delays MLGW Agenda, Used Car Lot
The council also delayed for two weeks the entire Memphis Light Gas and Water Division consent agenda after councilman Reid Hedgepeth complained that the utility had done nothing about streetlights that have been out on a street in his district for a month.
“If I can’t get streetlights turned on up here, there’s no point in me being on the council,” Hedgepeth said. “If it took me this long to get streetlights on in my business, I wouldn’t have a business.”
MLGW president Jerry Collins said an underground cable is the culprit and that such repairs take about five days to fix after a 30-day waiting period.
The council also delayed a vote for two weeks on a used car lot in north Memphis at the corner of Chelsea and Tunica.
The developers said the car lot would double as a mentoring program for children but didn’t have details in a flurry of questions from council members after the description of the business changed.
At one point Robert Coleman described the car lot he wants to open with his brother as a nonprofit but quickly said it was a business that would feature mentoring once commerce was up and running.
“Our business is ultimately for the benefit of the children,” Coleman said, adding the children would be trained to do “exterior and interior automotive restoration.”
Council member Joe Brown opposed the delay saying the council was targeting the developers for racial reasons.
“You want to hold back Ferguson?” he asked at one point of council member Berlin Boyd.
“I’m not going back and forth on an issue that you are trying to polarize,” Boyd replied. “We’ve heard three different variations of what will happen,” said Boyd, who joined the call for the delay to meet with the developers. “I’m trying to help.”
– Bill Dries
Baptist Adds Medical Offices To North Mississippi Plans
Baptist Memorial Health Care is growing in Oxford, Miss., with a 78,000-square-foot Oxford Medical Office Building to be completed in August 2017.
Indianapolis-based commercial real estate developer Duke Realty soon will begin work on the three-story building, to be located on the campus of Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi. Scheduled to be completed in fall 2017, the 600,000-square-foot hospital is replacing a former branch, but the office building will be a new offering.
Nearly 50,000 square feet of the Oxford Medical Building will house Baptist-North Mississippi services, including outpatient physical therapy, wound care, a sleep lap, education/simulation and administrative space.
Baptist Medical Group physician offices will take up nearly 8,200 square feet and the Stern Cardiovascular Foundation will operate in 6,000 square feet of space. There is additional room for other specialty medical practices.
“The new hospital campus represents the single largest health care economic development project in the history of Oxford and Lafayette County,” said Bill Henning, administrator and CEO of Baptist North Mississippi, in a statement.
“There is very little medical space available in Oxford, and most of the facilities are 100 percent occupied,” added Keith Konkoli, Duke Realty executive vice president of healthcare. “We’re proud that we’ll be able to offer prospective tenants an opportunity to lease the only Class A, multispecialty, on-campus space in the market.”
– Madeline Faber
Lifeblood Grows Fleet With 7th Bloodmobile
Lifeblood has added a seventh bloodmobile to its fleet, thanks to a Plough Foundation grant.
The 40-foot-long mobile blood drive bus boasts the latest generator technology, including two turbo-charged generators with low emissions, as well as custom interior design for maximum comfort.
“A new bus will give us even more opportunities to reach donors in our community,” said Jennifer Balink, Lifeblood’s vice president of donor relations, in a statement. “We look forward to saving thousands of lives with the help of our generous community partners and supporters.”
Mobile blood drives account for 60 percent of Lifeblood’s total blood collections.
The blood collected on the new bus is expected to impact more than 6,000 lives in the Memphis community each year. Lifeblood blood donations serve accident, trauma and burn victims as well as premature babies and cancer patients in the Mid-South.
– Kate Simone
Stanford Financial Doc Accepted to UK Festival
A documentary about the rise and fall of a financier who had prominent ties to Memphis has been accepted to the UK Screen One Film Festival.
The film’s title is, “Where’s the Money? The Rise and Fall of Stanford Financial.” The downfall of Stanford was the second biggest financial scam in U.S. history after that of Bernie Madoff’s.
The film’s website, including the trailer, is live at stanfordmovie.com.
Federal authorities raided and shut down Stanford Financial in 2009. Two principal subordinates of Stanford – the company’s chief financial officer Jim Davis and chief investment officer Laura Pendergest-Holt – worked for him in Memphis.
Dave Henry, who worked for years as a video contractor for Stanford, is the filmmaker.
– Andy Meek