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VOL. 131 | NO. 237 | Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Fires In the East, Corker at Trump Tower and The Toll of the Cure

By Bill Dries

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As our week here began very windy and very rainy with clouds all day Monday, there was a different kind of overcast day unfolding in East Tennessee. And by the time of this post the National Guard was patrolling parts of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge where wildfires had forced evacuations of both towns – all of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, according to the city manager of Pigeon Forge.

Just past midnight, 30 structures in Gatlinburg were on fire, according to TEMA.

The wildfires also covered 500 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

And what we had Monday was on its way to the east overnight arriving closer to 1 a.m. with high winds.

These are areas some of you have just returned from this past weekend.

Here is the ongoing Scribble update from the Knoxville News Sentinel.

U.S. Senator Bob Corker has an appointment Tuesday at Trump Tower in New York. After much traveling, the Secretary of State speculation has now once again come to light on Corker. We’ll see if it takes flight again. If Corker is Secretary of State there is lots of political fallout statewide as Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam would be making an appointment to fill the rest of Corker’s term through 2018. If not, Corker will still have plenty to say about foreign policy in his post as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Hornets over the Grizz at the Forum Monday 104-85.

A Frayser kick-off Monday evening for Mayor Jim Strickland’s move to a Memphis 3.0 plan over the next two years.

At about the same time at Shelby Farms, the Shelby County Election Commission was certifying the results of the Nov. 8 elections here in Shelby County. No changes in outcomes but the vote totals did change a bit with the absentee and provisional ballots factored in.

The Memphis Area Transit Authority has postponed the set of 29 route changes, schedule changes and other adjustments to city bus service across the city that were to hit the streets Dec. 11. No new date has been set. MATA cites the hiring of a new planner just coming on board as critical to the success at a transit authority that is starting to see some changes further down the management charts

The University of Memphis Law School has a children’s defense clinic that is finding plenty of work to do in Juvenile Court as part of the Shelby County Public Defender’s office. The clinic has six law students who so far have helped represent 22 clients. The students do a lot of investigative work that can make the difference and also make the point that the need for public defenders in Juvenile Court is also a need for attorneys who are specifically trained to represent children in a way that is different than the representation for adults.

Survivors of childhood cancer are living longer than they did three decades ago but many of those most recent survivors don’t think that the treatments that have helped them battle the cancer have helped their overall health. A new study of cancer survivors coordinated by St. Jude makes a point about the hospital’s new direction in research that has prompted some overseeing the institution to talk about a breakthrough in which chemotherapy will become a thing of the past – at least chemotherapy whose side effects can have consequences apart from the cancer they treat.

The look of leadership Democratic and Republican in the Tennessee Legislature is starting to take shape in Nashville. Before the holiday break we told you about Oak Ridge Republican Randy McNally becoming the heir apparent to Ron Ramsey – the outgoing Senate speaker and Lt. Governor. The House Democratic leadership is heavy with Memphis Democrats in caucus deliberations during the holiday.

More from MIFA CEO Sally Jones Heinz and United Way CEO Dr. Kenneth Robinson from WKNO’s “Behind The Headlines” program specifically about a new goal of ending poverty through a better use of the city’s various nonprofits and providers to the poor. There are so many organizations that without some kind of guide, someone who hits a bump in the road financially and finds themselves in trouble can get lost trying to find a first place to go to, Robinson told us during the discussion. Heinz, meanwhile, tells us the local moves to rapid rehousing for homeless families is yielding results.

A Memphis veterinarian opens a dental practice in Cordova and performs dentitstry and oral surgery on animals. Among the things we find out from Dr. Barden Greenfield, dogs have a high pain tolerance and often disguise their pain. They also have a high incidence of periodontal disease.

Federal court oversight of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services may be about to come to an end, 15 years after DCS came under court order and jurisdiction because of the state’s treatment of children in foster care.

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood are coming back to town early next year, but not to build houses. The two have been part of the Habitat for Humanity efforts in Uptown and North Memphis since last August – here both times that former President Jimmy Carter was here.

They are coming back Feb. 4 on tour with a show at the Forum, Brooks first show here in almost 20 years.

Last week in California, Joe Esposito died. Esposito didn’t have a title because when you are the road manager for Elvis Presley, an entertainer whose career was the imprint of the routine of a rock and roll artist, there aren’t any job titles at first. Esposito was part of the Memphis Mafia from the post-Army period to Presley’s death in 1977 and he was the guy who had to take on the grim business of telling those personally and professionally connected to Presley what had happened just after it had happened – an ending no one in his position wants to deliver. For that reason and others, Esposito was a different kind of member of Elvis’s inner circle.

Here is the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Joe Esposito.

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