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VOL. 9 | NO. 48 | Saturday, November 26, 2016

Daily Digest

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Violent Crime Increase Goes Through October

The major violent crime rate in Memphis and across Shelby County remained higher year to date through October compared to the same period a year ago, according to the latest crime statistics from the Memphis-Shelby Crime Commission.

The statistics, released Tuesday, Nov. 22, show a 3 percent increase from a year ago in Memphis’ major violent crime rate, a category that consists of murders, rapes, aggravated assaults and robberies.

Countywide, the major violent crime rate increased by 4.2 percent from the first 10 months of 2015.

The rate of murders in the city and countywide were responsible for most of the increase in the overall violent crime rate. In Memphis, the 21.5 murders per 100,000 population in the city marked a 23.7 percent increase from a year ago. Countywide, the 16 murders per 100,000 population amounted to a 28.2 percent increase from a year ago.

That is expected to continue when the November figures are tallied. The city logged its 200th homicide for 2016 before Thanksgiving, ahead of the pace for 2015.

2016 began with a spike in the murder rate that has since slowed but still remains above the 2015 rate of 161. The city’s record is 213 homicides in 1993.

Meanwhile, the new numbers through October show increases in aggravated assaults and robberies year to date – up 3 percent and 4.7 percent respectively in Memphis from a year ago, and up 4.5 percent and 5 percent respectively countywide.

“Our big challenge is to develop and maintain a downward trend in our major violent crime rate,” said Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich, chair of the Operation: Safe Community anti-crime coalition, in a prepared statement.

The crime commission recently unveiled its new five-year plan for Operation: Safe Community.

Meanwhile, major property crime countywide is down 3.5 percent from the first 10 months of 2015 and down 1.7 percent citywide by the same comparison.

Motor vehicle thefts in the city spiked 14.5 percent compared to 2015 and went up 13.3 percent countywide. Burglaries dropped by 10.1 percent in the city compared to a year ago and dropped 11.4 percent countywide.

– Bill Dries

Memphis Botanic Garden Names New Director

Michael D. Allen is the new executive director of the Memphis Botanic Garden, the nonprofit institution’s board of directors announced Tuesday, Nov. 22.

Allen comes to MBG after six years as president and CEO of Catholic Charities of West Tennessee and nearly 25 years with International Paper before that. Allen also serves as director of the Memphis Land Bank.

Allen succeeds Scott McCormick, who stepped down as executive director in May. McCormick, a Shelby County Schools board member and former Memphis City Council member, became director in February 2015 following the retirement of longtime director Jim Duncan that year.

Memphis Botanic Garden features 29 specialty gardens spanning 96 acres. It hosts 232,000 visitors and serves nearly 37,000 students each year.

– Bill Dries

Morris Auction Group Adds New Services in Destin, Fla.

Six months after Memphis-based Morris Auction Group expanded into Destin, Florida, the company is expanding the scope of its services there.

Morris’ Destin branch, Luxury Estates Auction Co., has added a new arm focused on traditional real estate services. Called Luxury Estates Realty Group, the arm will focus on showcasing and selling high net worth properties in the Destin/30A area and the Northwest Florida region.

The new realty group is comprised of LEAC’s current agents – Chris Camp, Vicki Stokes and Allie Stokes – plus the addition of five Realtors across two teams.

The Jourdan team, which been in the traditional real estate business since 2008, includes former Memphians Debra Jourdan, Jeff Jourdan Sr. and Jeff Jourdan Jr.

The Jenkins team, Heather and Tyler Jenkins, has been in real estate since 2006 and specializes in the Destin, Santa Rosa Beach and 30A areas.

Founded in 2007 by Jeff Morris, Morris Auction Group sells all types of real estate – including residential, commercial, investment, industrial and agricultural – in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Florida, along with personal property on request.

– Daily News staff

Freewheel Bike Rides To Keep on Turning

Due to the success of its fall program, Freewheel, a slow-ride bicycle program that offers tours of the Memphis Medical District, announced it will return for the spring.

In September and October, more than 250 cyclists showed up for the five biweekly bike rides offered by the Memphis Medical District Collaborative and Downtown Memphis Commission.

During its inaugural season, riders from more than 20 ZIP codes in the Mid-South met at 600 Monroe Ave. to explore everything from Victorian Village to the Pinch District, cumulatively logging 1,435 miles in the process.

“By showcasing the neighborhoods by bicycle, riders can see how connected we are to Uptown, Downtown and Midtown,” program and data director of the MMDC Abby Miller said.

Freewheel is just one of the latest efforts the city has taken to enhance Memphis’ reputation as a bike-friendly metropolis.

“Since being ranked one of the worst cities for biking in 2008, Memphis’ bicycle culture has become nationally known for its diversity and growth,” Anthony Siracusa, president of Bike Walk Tennessee and leader of the Carpenter Street Bike Shop’s Freewheel fleet restoration, said in a statement. “Freewheel is both the fruit of these longstanding local efforts and a road map for the future.”

Visit facebook.com/WeFreewheel for more information about the free program.

– Patrick Lantrip

Lead Attorney Tapped For State AG’s Memphis Office

Attorney James Newsom has been tapped as lead attorney in the Memphis regional office of the Tennessee attorney general.

In his role as special counsel for the Memphis office, Newsom will assist on a range of cases. Most recently, he served as chancellor in the 30th Judicial District, which serves Shelby County.

His prior experience includes serving as special master of the Chancery Court for the 30th Judicial District as well as more than 30 years in private practice. Newsom was a member of the Memphis law firm Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh PLLC from 2005 until his appointment by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam to the Chancery bench in 2015.

– Andy Meek

Pinnacle Financial Adds To Memphis HQ Staff

Andy Watkins has joined Pinnacle Financial Partners as a financial adviser assistant, based at Pinnacle’s Memphis headquarters on Quail Hollow Road.

Watkins brings 25 years of experience to the bank. He comes from Orion Real Estate Services, where he was the senior vice president of accounting. Previous roles included serving as the director of accounting with Centaurus Investments, chief financial officer and controller of LEDIC Management Group and financial analyst with Mid-America Apartment Communities.

Frank Stallworth, Pinnacle’s commercial real estate manager, said Watkins’ experience in property management, operations and accounting will be valuable as he provides service and advice for the bank’s Small Balance Loan Program.

– Andy Meek

Jernigan Capital to Invest $12.6M in Florida Facilities

Jernigan Capital Inc. is investing $12.6 million in two storage facilities in Florida, the Memphis-based real estate investment trust has announced.

Jernigan Capital, which provides debt and equity capital for the self-storage industry, reports it committed to invest $7.5 million in a proposed 784-unit facility in east Jacksonville that is being developed by Georgia-based PLG Properties LLC.

The company also is investing $5.1 million to add 256 units to its storage facility in Ocoee, Florida, a suburb of Orlando. The facility, which is managed by CubeSmart, opened in May and is 65 percent leased. Construction is expected to begin by the first week in December.

Jernigan Capital, which reported earnings in early November, posted third-quarter net income of $5 million, or 84 cents a share. The company also raised its full-year guidance to a range of $2.40 to $2.52 per share, up from its earlier estimate of $1.93 to $2.23 per share.

– Daily News staff

Pure Passion Temporarily Closes After Violence

The owners of Pure Passion nightclub, 1849 E. Brooks Road, agreed Monday, Nov. 21, to close the business for a month after meeting with Memphis Police brass, lawyers with the city attorney’s office and prosecutors with the Shelby County district attorney general’s office.

The meeting followed three separate shootings on the property in less than a month.

The club has agreed to add new security measures by the scheduled Dec. 20 reopening, including more security cameras that will be monitored by Memphis Police in the Real Time Crime Center.

As a strip club, Pure Passion was closed by authorities in 2008 as a public nuisance under a court order. It reopened after agreeing to additional safety measures.

– Bill Dries

Medtronic Profit Surges, Revenue Misses Estimates

Medtronic PLC’s fiscal second-quarter profit more than doubled on higher sales of its heart and surgical devices. But revenue fell short of Wall Street expectations, helping to drag shares lower.

The medical device company earned $1.12 billion, or 80 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for amortization and restructuring costs, came to $1.12 per share. The results topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 18 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.11 per share.

Revenue rose 4 percent to $7.35 billion in the period, which missed Street forecasts. Seventeen analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $7.46 billion.

The revenue boost came from a broad range of divisions. Revenue from the cardiac and vascular unit, which includes implantable heart devices and valves, rose 4 percent to $2.58 billion. Revenue from minimally invasive therapies, which includes patient monitoring and surgical devices, rose 5 percent to $2.47 billion. The company’s restorative therapies unit saw revenue rise 4 percent to $1.83 billion, while the diabetes care unit saw revenue rise 3 percent to $462 million.

Medtronic expects full-year earnings in the range of $4.55 to $4.60 per share.

– The Associated Press

Memphis Infant Mortality Rate Reaches Record Low

The infant mortality rate in Memphis has hit a record low, marking an important milestone in the city’s fight to improve a key measure of its overall health.

Shelby County, which includes Memphis, last year saw its lowest rate on record of babies who died before their first birthday, the county health department reported Monday. The 2015 rate of 8.2 out of 1,000 live births represents a drop from 9.6 in 2014, and a significant reduction from 2003, when the rate was nearly 15 baby deaths per 1,000 live births.

Infant mortality rates among non-Hispanic blacks was 10.6 per 1,000 live births in 2015, down from 12.4 percent in each of the prior two years.

While the county’s infant mortality rate has improved from 13 years ago, it remains higher than the national rate of 5.8 baby deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014, according to a June 30 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experts believe infant mortality is a good indicator of a community’s general health. Risk factors include premature births, low birth weights, birth defects, accidents and other causes.

A main problem is substandard prenatal care. Other obstacles include poor long-term health care for women, smoking, alcohol use and drug abuse by expectant mothers, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

In 2003, the county’s infant mortality rate was worse than many developing nations, including French Guiana, Kuwait, Lithuania, Tonga and others.

Health and government officials, together with community leaders, faith-based groups and hospitals, have made reducing infant mortality in Shelby County a priority since 2003. They’ve sought to improve what experts call the “social determinants” of health, including education, income and living conditions. Programs target reducing teenage pregnancies and improving prenatal care, nutrition and stress management for expecting mothers.

Dr. Alisa Haushalter, head of the health department, said the community has rallied together to fight the complex issue of infant mortality. It starts with promoting healthy lifestyles and active living in children, building strong neighborhoods and improving education about family planning, she said.

In Tennessee, pregnant women are eligible to seek insurance to make sure they get pregnancy services early on. Other programs allow a woman to choose a hospital where she will receive midwifery services and access to an infant intensive care unit. Baby beds are provided for families so that infants don’t have to sleep in the bed with their parents, which can lead to suffocation deaths. An informative app also is available.

– The Associated Press

Southwest to Host Breast Cancer Summit

Southwest Tennessee Community College’s Allied Health and Nursing departments, in collaboration with University of Tennessee Health Science Center, will conduct a Breast Cancer Summit/Research event on Tuesday, Nov. 29, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Nursing, Natural Sciences and Biotechnology Building Auditorium on Southwest’s Union Avenue Campus, 737 Union Ave.

Oncologist Dr. Gregory Vidal and researcher Dr. Athena Davenport will meet to discuss current issues related to breast cancer and research. Vidal is a physician scientist with a clinical and research focus in breast cancer, and Davenport became the first African-American to receive her doctorate in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.

Women of African-American descent, between the ages of 18 to 55, will be allowed to participate in the research project. For more information, contact Dr. Osborne Burks from Southwest Tennessee Community College at 901-333-5769.

– Andy Meek

Grizzlies Offer Holiday Ticket Promotions

The Memphis Grizzlies have announced their holiday packs and promotions – including Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

This year’s six-game holiday packs, presented by Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid, will feature two plan options that go on sale on Black Friday, Nov. 25, and offer the most affordable way to see the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder. Both the “Naughty” and “Nice” six-game packs start at $90 ($15 per game) and include a Grizzmas Ugly Sweater T-shirt and a $10 gift card to Bass Pro Shops while supplies last.

Fans who purchase their six-game holiday packs during the Black Friday sale will receive a seventh bonus game for free when the Grizzlies host LeBron James and the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. The six-game packs are available in Terrace levels I, II, III and IV and can be purchased by calling 901-888-HOOP or online at grizzlies.com.

– Don Wade

Lung Cancer Screening Program Now Underway

A new initiative to help get current and former smokers screened for lung cancer is has launched in Memphis.

The program is part of a three-year project overseen by the American Cancer Society, Christ Community Health Services and West Cancer Center to develop and implement a lung cancer screening and navigation program for patients facing obstacles to care. It’s supported by a $1.3 million grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s Bridging Cancer Care initiative, which focuses on pilot projects in select southeastern U.S. states with the highest lung cancer burden.

The initiative will be implemented by Christ Community Health Services at its Orange Mound location. West Cancer Center is partnering in the effort to provide screening, navigation and treatment. The program will also include navigation for patient follow-up visits, and provide support for patients who need diagnostic and treatment services.

– Andy Meek

Baldwin Heads To NBA D-League

The Memphis Grizzlies have assigned rookie guard Wade Baldwin IV to the team’s NBA Development League affiliate, the Iowa Energy.

Baldwin has appeared in nine games (one start) for the Grizzlies and averaged 3.1 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 15.9 minutes.

The Grizzlies selected him in the first round (17th overall) of the 2016 NBA Draft. The 20-year-old Belle Mead, New Jersey, native played two seasons at Vanderbilt University, where he was named Second Team All-Southeastern Conference by the coaches as a sophomore after finishing third in the SEC in assists.

– Don Wade

Memphis Athletics Achieves New Academic Peak

For the second consecutive year, University of Memphis athletics posted an all-time high in academic success, as the NCAA released its Graduation Success Rate and Federal Graduation Rate reports.

In the reports, the U of M’s numbers remained the same as the year before, with the university graduating 85 percent of its student-athletes for the 2009 cohort and having a 61 percent federal graduation rate for the same time period (2006-09).

The FGR assesses only first-time, full-time freshmen and only counts them as an academic success if they graduate from their institution of initial enrollment within a six-year period.

The GSR differs from the FGR in that it adds transfer students, mid-year enrollees and non-scholarship students (in specific cases) to the sample.

This allows the GSR to more accurately look at student-athlete successes by taking into account the full variety of participants in NCAA Division I and tracking their individual outcomes.

Overall, the GSR for all NCAA Division I institutions was 84 percent.

Memphis’ overall 85 percent GSR ranked just outside the top half of the American Athletic Conference, coming in a point behind USF and Connecticut tied for fifth (both at 86). Regionally, Memphis’ GSR was higher than Arkansas, Auburn, Ole Miss and Tennessee.

Three Memphis teams – women’s golf, men’s tennis and women’s tennis – recorded 100 percent GSR for the 2009 cohort. Six squads improved their GSR from last year, including men’s basketball (83 percent to 91 percent), men’s tennis (89 to 100), men’s track and field (79 to 80), rifle (75 to 88), women’s soccer (91 to 93) and women’s track and field (86 to 95).

Tigers baseball (95 GSR) and men’s tennis (100) were tops in their respective sports in the American Athletic Conference. Men’s basketball (91) was second, men’s golf fourth (92) and men’s track and field fifth (80) in the league.

Among the Memphis women’s athletics programs, women’s golf (100) and women’s tennis (100) were tied at the top in their respective sports in the AAC. Volleyball (92) and women’s track and field (95) both were fourth and women’s soccer (93) fifth in the conference.

– Don Wade

Tennessee Unemployment Rate Rises to 4.8 Percent

Tennessee’s preliminary unemployment rate for October was 4.8 percent, up two-tenths of a percentage point from September’s revised rate of 4.6 percent, state Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips has announced.

The U.S. preliminary rate for October was 4.9 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month.

Over the past year, Tennessee's unemployment rate decreased from 5.6 percent to 4.8 percent while the national rate declined from 5.0 percent to 4.9 percent.

Total seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment increased 7,500 jobs from September to October.

The largest employment increases occurred in leisure/hospitality, professional/business services and education/health services.

Over the year, nonfarm employment increased 70,700 jobs. The largest increases occurred in education/health services, professional/business services and trade/transportation/utilities.

– Daily News staff

State Rep. Mark White Joins Public Strategy Firm

Tennessee State Rep. Mark White has joined the executive team at Caissa Public Strategy as a senior director.

White has more than 30 years of experience working in education, political and business circles in Memphis, and his focus at Caissa will be on complex project management and strategic planning.

Firm CEO Brian Stephens said White’s addition comes at a time when Caissa has been “growing exponentially” over the last year in terms of new clients. And White, he said, is going to lead the way in helping the team “both grow and specialize.”

– Andy Meek

Memphis Chamber Announces ‘10 to Watch’

The Greater Memphis Chamber has released its annual “10 to Watch” list, which recognizes member companies and organizations whose focus and passion have brought success in the past year and positioned them for future growth.

“These 10 organizations represent a variety of sizes and industries, but they all exemplify the essential qualities of a company on the move – innovation, anticipation and preparation,” Greater Memphis Chamber president and CEO Phil Trenary said in a written statement.

The chamber's 10 to Watch in 2017 include:

1. Landmark Training Development Co.

2. Elvis Presley Enterprises

3. UT College of Medicine

4. Signal Flow PR

5. St. Jude Children’s Hospital

6. Pinnacle Financial Partners

7. Direct Home Quote

8. Youngblood Builder’s Supply

9. Memphis Area Transit Authority

10. Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

– Daily News staff

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 23 23 1,365
MORTGAGES 21 21 1,068
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 6 6 196
BUILDING PERMITS 117 117 3,173
BANKRUPTCIES 42 42 795
BUSINESS LICENSES 2 2 331
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0