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VOL. 132 | NO. 153 | Thursday, August 3, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: St. Jude School, More Gannett Moves and Maida Pearson Smith

By Bill Dries

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For most, the school year starts next week. But classes are already underway at St. Jude’s new Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, an idea 15 years in the making, according to the physician who had that idea. The school is a big step in higher education in Memphis and its road to research center status.

Back to the other school year, specifically in Shelby County Schools, a group of IRIS Orchestra’s Artist Fellows, have moved into Crosstown Concourse where they will live during a 10-month fellowship working with SCS students in the arts – specifically classical music. This is the second year of the program that also trains the fellows in teaching the arts, chamber performance and orchestral playing specifically to African-American and Latino students who are underrepresented nationally in the ranks of professional orchestra musicians.

Back to the Fairgrounds -- the Strickland administration has reactivated the redevelopment planning process for the Fairgrounds after it was dormant for about two years. That’s when the Urban Land Institute sent a team of experts to the city and came up with some recommendations that contradicted most of the Wharton administration plan. We’ve written a lot about the concerns that the three tenants of the Liberty Bowl have about this and the concern is in a word parking. City Housing and Community Development Director Paul Young talked about the new push on Tiger Lane Wednesday afternoon. That was just about the time that Southern Heritage Classic founder Fred Jones had a meeting there about the JSU-TSU annual game which is about a month away.

Gannett, the company that owns The Commercial Appeal, makes more moves toward centralization that have moved the design of its Tennessee papers – including the CA – out of Nashville and to several other places that are not Tennessee. That means 88 jobs leaving Nashville, some of them belonging to CA folks who had gone to Nashville after the printing of the paper was moved to Jackson, Tennessee.

With all of this change, we have encountered a lot of questions at The Daily News about what this means for what we do. And at the recent Tennessee Press Association awards, our publisher, Eric Barnes, had something to say about that.

The Charleston apartments in Cordova at Houston Levee and Highway 64 sold for $27.9 million to Peak Capital Partners of Utah. This is the final piece of a larger deal involving four other properties too, also owned by Memphis-based Wesscorp. Closing on the Charleston was delayed until construction on it was finished.

U.S. Rep. Diane Black of Gallatin is in the Republican primary race for Governor.

Word this week that Maida Pearson Smith died last weekend at the age of 86. She was integral to the rise of the modern Republican party in Memphis and statewide – starting with the first efforts in 1964 in behalf of future U.S. Senator Howard Baker. She was one of numerous women who built the party in Shelby County by knocking on doors, organizing campaign offices, setting up flawless campaign events -- all toward the goal of turning out the vote in East Memphis and points further east in the Memphis suburbs. She was the first woman to serve as chairwoman of the Shelby County Republican Party starting in 1981 through 1985 and from there served on the Republican National Committee through 1992. Pearson-Smith was also an election monitor for the first democratic elections in Czechoslovakia at the end of the cold war. She ran for Congress in 1994 in the 7th District when it still included parts of Shelby County – the first woman to run for the seat albeit unsuccessfully. Originally from Selma, Ala., her rich Southern accent was immediately recognizable. In a very small campaign office in East Memphis last year, I heard that voice one last time in a large group of people at an event for future U.S. Rep. David Kustoff.

As promised, more on the prospects and terms for possible tax reform from Kustoff from his Tuesday event at Memphis Rotary.

And more on the incoming chairwoman of the Shelby County Commission – Heidi Shafer.

Wright Medical net sales up five percent in the second quarter.

The future of the South Memphis home where Aretha Franklin was born and lived very briefly is uncertain. But there is a plaque now at 406 Lucy Avenue by the city of Memphis that makes note of that no matter what the future holds for the house itself.

In his “View From The Hill” column, our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard on TCATs – the companions to community colleges in the state’s workforce readiness plans.

A new 75 mile-an-hour speed limit on some highways in Arkansas took effect Tuesday but state highway officials may have the last word and that word may be “no.”

PROPERTY SALES 40 220 16,417
MORTGAGES 28 85 10,172
BUILDING PERMITS 161 826 39,370
BANKRUPTCIES 29 136 7,733