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VOL. 131 | NO. 61 | Friday, March 25, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: A Cleansing Breath, Urban Child Three Months In and Sugar In South Main

By Bill Dries

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Let’s all take a deep cleansing breath, away from the mounds of pollen that are amassing in the Memphis spring.
And resolve, however in vain it might be, that the word de-annexation will not be used in our presence at least until Monday – Tuesday if possible.

But before you take that breath of non-pollenated indoor and filtered air that might or might not be Memphis air depending on where you live and what the Legislature does after Easter, here’s a recap of where the de----- issue stands at week’s end.
The Cliff Notes version is that there are two distinctly different versions of the proposal to allow referendums to separate annexed areas from the city. The Senate version applies statewide. The House version applies only to five cities including Memphis.
And there are strong feelings in each chamber for the version approved by that particular chamber.

We will also be saying the D-word a lot Friday evening when our WKNO-TV program Behind the Headlines airs. The guest line up was still in flux as this goes up. But the topic is set.
So maybe another cleansing breath will be in order Friday evening.

There is plenty of other action in Nashville as the session nears its close next month to divert your attention.

The higher education restructuring proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam that you may have heard some concern about in our guest column this week from the president of Tennessee State University – has cleared the House.

And Republican state Senator Randy McNally of Oak Ridge wants to be Speaker of the Senate and Lt. Governor once Ron Ramsey leaves both positions at the end of this year.

The plans for residential and retail development in the South Main area in the last year have been a major story and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
If you needed a reminder that this area was once heavy industrial not very long ago, there is this story about the Sugar Services plant which wants to renovate and continue processing bulk sugar into liquid sugar and shipping it out in its finished form. And the plant is seeing increased truck traffic.
Not that long ago, it was one of several industrial uses in the area, virtually all of them with loading docks that also reflected the role truck traffic played in the last step to rail cars or the first step off rail cars. Now it is surrounded by condominiums and apartments.

An update on the Urban Child Institute three months into its transition to new leadership and new goals that include making $8 million in grants. That after the UCI was criticized for holding onto too much of its money.

Expedia has sent its employees with 360-degree cameras and the ability to live stream to some exotic destinations recently. And they are projecting those images of another world on the walls and floors and ceilings of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. It’s a makeshift virtual reality studio of sorts for the children at the hospital. “Dream Adventures” as they are called are full of action including dinosaur digs and underwater voyages complete with the sounds. Just the thing to ignite the vast imaginations of some of our smallest dreamers in what can be a very serious place.

A guest column from Cara Greenstein on something we’ve explored a few times in our editorials – the role of food in larger Memphis culture. This is that discussion framed in the context of SXSW in Austin where among the many areas the showcase has expanded into is food.

How much longer will it be before we have our own version of SXSW to examine our own considerable cultural impact on many fronts and find a larger context in which those elements fit? Seriously. ... and cleansing breath.

Other things to read include Deadspin on John Calipari’s use of the new NCAA rule on college basketball players declaring for the NBA draft and HuffPost Travel becomes the latest to talk about the best travel destinations for your money and again Memphis as well as Tennessee is on the list.

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