VOL. 9 | NO. 23 | Saturday, June 4, 2016
County Commission Explores Wheel Tax Shift
Shelby County Commissioners set the stage in Wednesday, June 1, committee sessions to take the first of three votes Monday on a stable $4.37 county property tax rate.
But the commission will put off a vote on the county operating budget to further discuss a shift of revenue from the county wheel tax.
County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s administration is proposing to allocate half of the projected wheel tax revenue – an estimated $16 million of $32 million – to go for capital needs of the county’s seven public school districts based on average daily attendance of each.
But commissioners are debating whether to instead allow Shelby County Schools to use its 78 percent share of that $16 million for its operating budget. It would close most of a $27.2 million funding gap in the school system’s operating budget proposal.
SCS leaders prefer allowing the shift to operating expenses, superintendent Dorsey Hopson told commissioners during Wednesday’s committee sessions.
The school system would be free to use the money for operating budget items anyway because county government’s role is to approve a total amount of funding for schools.
County government has no line item control of the SCS budget.
Some commissioners want to make the shift anyway.
Hopson said it would leave the school system with an approximate $5 million funding gap in its budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1. That’s after factoring in projected growth in other tax revenue sources.
So commissioners continue to debate how to close that and whether SCS could use money from its reserve as it did in the current fiscal year.
The half of the wheel tax revenue that is in play had originally gone to pay county debt. But Luttrell, in presenting his budget proposal to the commission earlier this year, said the amount for county debt is no longer needed.
The other half of wheel tax revenue is already allocated for operating expenses of all seven school districts in the county based on average daily attendance.
– Bill Driese
Old Dominion Freight Expands Service Center
Old Dominion Freight Line is expanding its facilities at 2098 Spirit of 76 Drive. The trucking company recently applied for a $1.5 million building permit to “add one bay to existing shop.”
The Memphis service center provides direct service to Tennessee and Northern Mississippi and is one of five Old Dominion service facilities in Tennessee.
In 2014, Old Dominion opened a $30 million expansion at its Memphis hub, bringing a new 267-door facility and creating 100 jobs.
– Madeline Faber
Greenprint Summit To Be Held June 23
The Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability will hold its second Greenprint Summit this month.
On June 23, regional speakers and local leaders will speak on their efforts in improving green infrastructure in the Mid-South.
The announced speakers include former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean; Ryan Gravel, founding principal of Sixpitch and a leader in establishing the Atlanta BeltLine; and Laura Morris, former executive director of the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy.
The summit, which is free and open to the public, runs from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Memphis Botanic Garden, 750 Cherry Road.
“This Greenprint Summit will give locals an opportunity to hear from experts on the importance of these investments and the benefits of green spaces for the livability, vitality and success of our region,” said Greenprint coordinator John Michels.
The summit is made possible by the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle and Hyde Family Foundations.
– Madeline Faber
Orgs Team Up to Offer STEM Camps for Teens
The Memphis Library Foundation, AutoZone and the West Tennessee STEM Hub at the University of Memphis are offering Memphis high school students a STEM opportunity this summer.
Hosted by the Memphis Public Library and West Tennessee STEM Hub, Memphis high school students will be offered a free, hands-on camp to explore all things science, technology, engineering and math. They’ll learn new skills and explore STEM careers during the weeklong camps, which also will offer hands-on experiences and team activities that feature engineering problem-solving challenges and robotics activities.
The Library’s Teen Staff and West Tennessee STEM Hub Ambassadors will lead the camps. Following the camps, attendees will be invited to participate in follow-up events, networking and leadership opportunities, tours of local businesses, and meet-and-greets with STEM entrepreneurs.
For more information or to apply for these camps, as well as a camp schedule, visit memphislibrary.org.
– Andy Meek
Tennessee AG Says He Has Authority in Durham Probe
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery is reasserting his authority to investigate sexual harassment allegations against state Rep. Jeremy Durham.
The Tennessean reports that the attorney general’s office, in an opinion issued Tuesday, said a special House committee gave Slatery the authority to conduct the probe.
Republican Rep. Rick Womick of Rockvale had posed questions about the investigation and called it a “witch hunt” and part of a “hit list” by Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville.
Harwell called in February for Slatery’s office to investigate after several women alleged inappropriate behavior by Durham, both in person and via text messages.
Durham stepped down in January as House majority whip, but the lawmaker has denied any wrongdoing, has called the scope of the investigation “unreasonable,” and is seeking re-election.
– The Associated Press
UTHSC Taps Director For Patient Safety Center
Dr. Chad Epps has been named executive director of the new $36.7 million Interprofessional Simulation and Patient Safety Center being built at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
He begins the job June 1, and he’ll be the first to lead academic programs in the new building, which is expected to be completed in 2017.
The building will allow students from all six colleges at UTHSC to train together in simulation settings to develop their skills in delivering team-based health care. Using high-tech mannequins and standardized patients – actors who portray patients with a variety of conditions – UTHSC will offer state-of-the-art training under the safest conditions possible.
Each floor of the three-story building will be dedicated to a different aspect of simulation training.
The first floor includes bed-skill stations that will allow students to focus on preclinical skills and assessments. There also will be a simulated home environment, where students can practice delivering in-home patient care.
The second floor will house a simulated acute-care setting resembling a hospital environment with patient rooms and a variety of manikins that can simulate everything from surgery to labor and delivery.
The third floor will house the standardized patient program. It will include 24 patient exam rooms, as well as a community pharmacy setting.
– Andy Meek
Cloverleaf Shopping CentercUnveils New Look
The owners of the Cloverleaf Shopping Center at Summer Avenue and White Station Road have recently wrapped a major renovation and rebranding of the center.
The new signage and retro logo is meant to be a throwback to the center’s mid-century roots.
“Cloverleaf is an extremely well-located shopping center that needed a fresh look and image,” said David Gottlieb, managing partner of Sigo Partners LLC, in a statement. “The investments we made in our first year of ownership make the center more visible, attractive and welcoming for shoppers, and will benefit our tenants with increased traffic and sales.”
In addition to adding the neon sign and logo, Sigo Partners repainted the buildings, restriped the parking lot to add more spaces, and added LED lighting to improve visibility and energy efficiency.
Sigo Partners will host a free community event on Saturday, June 4, to announce the reopening of the center. Memphis historian Jimmy Ogle will speak on Summer Avenue’s role in Memphis’ development, and Cloverleaf tenants Cash Saver and Pancho’s will have special offerings. Food trucks, music and activities are planned from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sigo Partners purchased the center from Junior Realty in August for $4.8 million.
– Madeline Faber
City Council Weighing Budget Amendments
The Memphis City Council budget committee plan to wrap up its work Tuesday, May 31, on the city operating and capital budget proposals for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The committee meets Tuesday, May 31, at 3 p.m. and will hear from nonprofit agencies seeking city grants. Council members also will propose amendments to the budget proposals from Mayor Jim Strickland’s administration.
The committee sessions have been drawing a majority or better of the 13 council members, which makes committee votes a good indication of how the full council is likely to vote. The full council is scheduled to take final votes on both budgets, as well as the city property tax rate and its allocation, at its June 7 meeting.
– Bill Dries
Redbirds, FESJC Present AutoZone Park Theme Night
In conjunction with the FedEx St. Jude Classic, the annual PGA Tour event being held June 6-12 at TPC Southwind, the Memphis Redbirds will turn AutoZone Park into an extension of the course during their Friday, June 3, game against New Orleans.
For $30, fans may purchase a theme ticket that includes a field box ticket for the Redbirds game, which begins at 7:05 p.m., and a one-day ticket to the golf tournament.
Fans are encouraged to dress up and wear golf gear to the game, and there will be unique golf games, activities and contests throughout the game. Also, the first 1,000 fans will receive a special “Hush Y’all/Loud Y’all” paddle, courtesy of the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Redbirds players and coaches will wear special golf-themed jerseys and hats, which will be auctioned after the game to benefit the Redbirds Community Fund.
In addition, the game will feature a special Friday edition of postgame fireworks.
“FedEx and St. Jude do so much for our community each and every day, and we are very excited to add some Memphis Redbirds flair and get people excited for the golf tournament,” said Redbirds president and general manager Craig Unger in a statement.
In addition, the June 3 game will feature replica Cardinals 1946 World Series Rings for the first 1,500 fans through the gate.
For more information on the 2016 Redbirds season, call 901-721-6000 or visit memphisredbirds.com.
– Don Wade
Workforce Officials Bringing Job Coaches to Frayser
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s mobile Career Coach will be at the North Frayser Community Center, 2555 St. Elmo Ave., on Tuesday, June 7, from noon to 4 p.m. Coach staff will help area residents complete online applications, create resumes and register on Jobs4TN.
The Career Coach is a mobile center that delivers workforce services to areas in Tennessee that may lack access to workforce-related services. Its mission is to assist both job seekers and employers.
The Frayser event comes as the state reports a record number of available jobs are posted on Jobs4TN.gov, a website created by the Department Labor & Workforce Development.
Nearly 200,000 jobs were posted on the Jobs4TN.gov website in April. The state’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent in April.
Middle Tennessee recorded 96,503 openings, almost half the total job openings for the state. West Tennessee had just over 60,000 openings and East Tennessee reported 42,000 job openings.
The occupations represented by these openings include health care, computer and mathematical occupations, management positions, sales jobs, transportation occupations, business and finance, food preparation and serving jobs, personal care, building/grounds cleaning and maintenance jobs. There are a variety of job openings across the state, representing a wide range of educational and skill level requirements.
– Daily News staff
MSCAA Reorganizes, Makes Staff Promotion
The Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority has promoted Angela Washington to director of Properties.
Washington most recently worked as manager of properties for the MSCAA. Her promotion is part of a reorganization at Memphis International Airport that moves the properties department to the finance and administration division.
Washington is responsible for negotiating and preparing tenant leases and rental fees as well as overseeing the day-to-day operations of MSCAA’s properties department, which manages areas such as concessions, ground transportation, public and employee parking, telephone systems and general aviation airports.
Washington will be taking over some of the responsibilities previously managed by Richard White, who resigned from his position of vice president of properties and business diversity development in March. MSCAA is seeking a director of business diversity development.
White’s resignation came at the same time George Mabon left MSCAA as vice president of human resources.
Mabon filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the airport authority in May, claiming he was wrongfully terminated because of race. Four days later, Mabon died in Baton Rouge, La., following a car crash.
Glen Thomas, public information officer for the MSCAA, said Mabon’s contract was not renewed past June 30. He declined to comment on the reason for the vacated positions, citing confidentiality of personnel issues.
“The vice president positions for properties and human resources were eliminated and director positions reinstated,” Thomas said. “These changes actually restore the previous organization structure the airport authority maintained in these areas several years ago, before the director positions were elevated to the VP level.”
– Madeline Faber
CFPB Chief to Visit Memphis for Town Hall
Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will be in Memphis next week for a town hall conversation at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
The CFPB is the agency created by the Dodd-Frank Act that Congress passed in 2010 as a response to the Great Recession.
The June 10 event, which is open to the public, begins at 11 a.m. at the law school, 1 N. Front St.
It will be hosted by Bill Bynum, CEO of HOPE (Hope Enterprise Corp. and Hope Credit Union) and Paheadra Bratton Robinson, executive director of the Coalition for a Prosperous Mississippi.
– Andy Meek
Tigers Baseball Ends Season With AAC Tourney Loss
The University of Memphis baseball team’s season ended with a 5-0 loss in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament last weekend in Clearwater, Fla.
The Tigers won three straight games for the second time this season after opening the tournament with a loss. They finished the season with 22-39 record.
Darien Tubbs led the Tigers in hitting with a .304 batting average, while Chris Carrier led the team in home runs (6) and runs batted in (38). Among starting pitchers, Colton Hathcock’s 3.94 earned run average led the team. Relief pitcher Nolan Blackwood registered seven saves.
Six seniors finished their Tiger careers at the tournament: Corey Chafin, Damo DeMatteo, Matt Ferguson, Jake Little, Trey McNickle and Jake Overbey.
– Don Wade
Medtronic Earnings Top Expectations
Medtronic reported better-than-expected financial results in the most recent quarter, as sales for its pacemakers, stents and other medical products rose.
Medtronic, whose spinal business is based in Memphis, said it also got a revenue boost from its $50 billion acquisition of surgical equipment maker Covidien. That deal closed last year.
Sales at its minimally invasive therapies group, which includes Covidien’s business, rose 3 percent in the quarter from a year ago. Sales at its cardiac and vascular business rose 5 percent.
On Tuesday, May 31, Medtronic reported fourth-quarter net income of $1.1 billion, after reporting a loss of $1 million in the same period a year earlier.
The Dublin-based company said its net income amounted to 78 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for amortization costs and to extinguish debt, came to $1.27 per share. The adjusted results topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 21 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.26 per share.
Revenue rose 3.6 percent to $7.57 billion in the period, which also topped Street forecasts. Twenty-one analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $7.48 billion.
For the year, the company reported profit of $3.54 billion, or $2.48 per share. Revenue was reported as $28.83 billion.
Medtronic expects full-year earnings in the range of $4.60 to $4.70 per share. Analysts expected earnings of $4.70 per share, according to FactSet.
– The Associated Press
US Consumer Confidence Slips for Second Month
U.S. consumer confidence fell for a second month in May to the lowest level since November.
The Conference Board said Tuesday, May 31, that its index of consumer confidence slipped to 92.6 from 94.7 in April. The May reading matched the level in November. Both months were the lowest since last July.
Conference Board economists say that consumers remain cautious about the outlook for business and job market conditions, and anticipate little change in the months ahead.
The reading from the Conference Board stands in contrast to the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment gauge, which rose in May to its highest reading in nearly a year.
Analysts said that the Michigan measure tends to be more volatile than the Conference Board survey. It is more influenced by changes in the stock market, while the Conference Board index has a greater link to job market conditions.
The Michigan survey may be giving a better read on consumers’ mood at the moment, especially in light of the fact that a separate report Tuesday showed consumers felt good enough in April to boost their spending by the largest amount in more than six years, analysts said.
“The confidence data suggest that consumers remain cautious, but if job growth keeps up and wage growth heads higher, we should see personal spending continuing to provide the muscle behind the U.S. economy,” said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.
– The Associated Press
FedEx Institute, Foundation To Host Memphis Tech Talks
The FedEx Institute of Technology will partner with the Memphis Technology Foundation to host Memphis Tech Talks, an evening of lightning talks from technology innovators, June 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the institute.
The event, which is free and open to the public, is an opportunity to meet local experts in programming languages, hardware development, emerging technologies and other technology innovations. A lightning talk is a short presentation sometimes called a data blitz.
The FedEx Institute is aiming to build a technology innovation environment in Memphis that encourages the exchange of ideas from researchers, industry professionals and individuals with a wide variety of expertise.
The event will include a light dinner for attendees. Register at http://www.meetup.com/memphis-technology-user-groups/events/230661746/.
Those with an idea for a lightning talk may submit their proposals at email@example.com.
– Don Wade
Flight Owners Opening Germantown Restaurant
Tom and Lauren Powers, the owners of Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar, are opening a new fine dining restaurant in Germantown this summer.
Their eatery, Southern Social, will be adjacent to Southern Avenue near the old Southern Railway’s historic Germantown Depot, in the space at 2285 S. Germantown Road previously occupied by Elfo’s Restaurant.
It will feature a chef-inspired menu, offering fresh seafood and prime steaks as well as specialty cocktails and award-winning wine selections.
Dinner will be served seven nights a week, and brunch will be served on Sunday.
Southern Social will also be available for private parties and banquets.
– Andy Meek
Germantown Trader Joe’s Opening Pushed to 2017
Shelby County shoppers excited about the imminent arrival of specialty grocer Trader Joe’s in Germantown, which caused a stir when the company made its plans official in September, will have to wait a little longer for the doors to open.
The store had been set to open in the third quarter at 2130 Exeter Road, where it will sit near the northeast corner of Poplar Avenue and Exeter.
A Trader Joe’s spokeswoman said this week that’s now been pushed out to the first half of 2017 as a result of construction delays.
The store will add another specialty element to the Memphis area’s bustling grocery scene.
Trader Joe’s locations carry an array of domestic and imported food and beverages, including artisan breads, Arabica bean coffees, international frozen entrees, deli items and more.
– Andy Meek
Pace Chosen to Lead Spay & Neuter Services
The Board of Directors of Mid-South Spay & Neuter Services has announced Brittany Pace as its new executive director and Janet Havel as its new clinic manager.
A graduate of Mississippi State University, Pace moved to Memphis in 2010. Pace wanted to take a more active role in the local animal welfare community, so she joined the Mid-South Spay & Neuter Services staff in 2014, most recently serving as public relations manager.
“I am excited for this new opportunity at MSNS,” Pace said in a release. “I am passionate about our mission and have seen firsthand that spay & neuter is the solution to our pet overpopulation problem and high shelter euthanasia rates.
“No pet owner should have to surrender their animal because of the inability to afford spay/neuter services, when we can offer them a high quality, low-cost option,” Pace said.
Havel came to Spay & Neuter Services in January as clinic team leader with considerable experience as a veterinary assistant. She said she is thrilled to take on more of a leadership role in an organization she strongly believes in.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland on May 20 announced that former Spay & Neuter Services executive director Alexis Pugh would lead the Memphis Animal Shelter, creating the vacancy Pace will fill.
– Daily News staff
EPE Takes Out $40 Million Loan for Graceland West
Elvis Presley Enterprises has taken on a $40 million construction loan to build Graceland West, a 46-acre development to the west of Elvis Presley Boulevard, across from the Graceland mansion. Joel Weinshanker, managing partner of Authentic Brand Group LLC and owner of Graceland’s operations, signed as grantor for the loan. Pinnacle Bank is the lender.
3674 Elvis Presley Blvd. is the real property address associated with the loan.
Two other property sales took place in conjunction with the May 27 construction loan.
Elvis Presley Enterprises sold to EPPF LLC, a related entity, a parcel at 3674 Elvis Presley Blvd. Used car dealer Hot Wheels of Memphis, now closed, used to lease the lot from EPE. The 11.2-acre parcel was transferred for $3.1 million.
Craft Manor Apartments Inc., another entity related to EPE, sold to EPPF LLC a parcel at 1094 Craft Road. The 16-acre parcel was transferred for $1.5 million.
Weinshanker signed as the managing entity for both EPPF LLC and Craft Manor Apartments Inc.
Graceland West will include a car museum, a new shelter for Elvis’ two jets, two restaurants, a soundstage, retail, a museum to be called “Elvis the Entertainer,” storage facilities, parking and significant landscape improvements.
Graceland West is the third phase in a large-scale redevelopment of the area surrounding the mansion. A new archives building opened in 2015 and a 450-room resort hotel will open this October.
– Madeline Faber
Officials Seeking Solutions To Beale Street Stampedes
Beale Street leaders can’t agree on a method to control overcrowding and violence among visitors.
Paul Morris, former manager of Beale for the Downtown Memphis Commission, tells local media that two back-to-back incidents occurred Sunday, the latest in a string of at least 18 stampedes since 2013.
The Beale Street Merchants Association and other organizations are considering Beale Street Bucks as a way to tighten admission. Visitors would have to pay a $5 or $10 admission fee to access the street.
Other options include more tightly controlling admission when the street becomes dangerously crowded, or stopping people from entering until the crowd thins out.
The Beale Street Development Corp. says they don’t agree with the Beale Street Bucks proposal, saying any fee would deny equal access to the historic area.
Meanwhile, the Beale Street Tourism Development Authority is still searching for a permanent manager for the entertainment district. A second round of RFPs was sent out and candidates have until June 24 to respond.
– The Associated Press