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VOL. 132 | NO. 156 | Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: The Orange Mound Way, Midtown Apartments and 'I Am A Man' Plaza

By Bill Dries

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First day of school redux on Tuesday for students in Memphis Catholic Schools and it is a half-day. The first day of classes in most of the county’s other schools Monday went smoothly. Shelby County Schools reports more than 6,000 students registered on the first day of school despite another concerted effort at numerous events to register students in advance. That’s in a school system of approximately 96,000 students.

The final enrollment numbers are still to come. And it’s not as simple as taking roll at the start of the first class. There are all kinds of classifications and qualifications that go into how you count students, especially when that count determines how much government funding – state and federal -- you get

We focused on Dunbar Elementary School in Orange Mound because it was about to be closed earlier this year before Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson reconsidered after a vocal appeal from Orange Mound parents and citizens in the Orange Mound way.

Hopson has done this before, given a community a chance to turn things around academically and in terms of enrollment. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The school system in each of those second chances has devoted resources in the way of money and individualized efforts unique to that community to see if it can work.

Dunbar is a school of more than 300 students and many of them showed up for school Monday on foot, walking from the surrounding neighborhood to a three-story school building that has seen better days. If you’ve ever been to a football game at Melrose Stadium at the corner of Park and Select Avenues, the school is what is behind the southern end zone. I don’t mean on the other side of a fence, I mean if you scored a touchdown and took a step or two out of the end zone, you would be in the school.

When you talked about apartments in Midtown not that long ago, the discussion was about aging apartment buildings along with a mix of apartments tucked away over garages or in back houses behind large single-family homes. That is changing with new apartment construction and with it comes a debate about how Midtown becomes more dense and what that means – good, bad and indifferent.

Meanwhile, more discussion about this trend in general on “Behind The Headlines” where our guests were Reid Dulberger of EDGE and Shawn Massey of The Shopping Center Group. We also talked in more detail about retail in Frayser. The retail proposed for the site of the old Treasury department store at James Road and Hollywood is the first new retail to be built in Frayser since “Free Bird” was the national anthem of Frayser -- about 30 years.

Here are the first looks at the initial design for “I Am A Man Plaza” in what is now the open lot south of Clayborn Temple. The city and UrbanArt Commission named the firms and artists it will work with Monday on the final design of the plaza to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1968 sanitation workers strike. There are some public meetings to gauge reaction and more specific ideas for the design starting Aug. 19 in New Chicago. The city is still working on other work connected to this including whether the plaza should include an existing small apartment building next to the lot. There were also early plans for an additional sculpture commemorating the strike on Second Street that was to be a kind of beacon into the area.

A short Memphis City Council agenda for Tuesday afternoon with the council talking over a new five-year contract with the University of Memphis to use the Liberty Bowl. This comes less than a week after the administration reopened the planning process for the Fairgrounds as a whole and the draft contract includes some provisions that involve that planning and its impact on parking for the Tigers home games as well as the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and the Southern Heritage Classic.

A follow-up on Jerry Collins departure from MLGW at the end of the year.

As promised, more from the weekend gathering of Memphis Democrats and the election of Corey Strong as the new leader of the reorganized Shelby County Democratic Party.

Add another contender to the Republican primary for Tennessee Governor next year. She is Kay White of Kingsport, an organizer of Tri-City Tea Party. Meanwhile, more on the campaign on the Democratic side by State Rep. Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley, the only west Tennessean in the race on either side. Former Board of Regents chancellor and state comptroller John Morgan is Fitzhugh’s treasurer.

Republican contender Randy Boyd of Knoxville kicks off a 537.3 mile run across Tennessee – Bristol to Memphis – Tuesday in Bristol and the night before rolled out more endorsements by county mayors across the state to go with Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell. The list of 21 includes nine in west Tennessee. Among them are Fayette County Mayor Skip Taylor and Dyer County Mayor Chris Young.

The Jonesboro Sun via AP on Arkansas’s wet spring and its toll on the rice crop.

The Christian Science Monitor on campus free speech policies at state schools across the country including here in Tennessee.

Lots of interest here in shipping containers as a part of restaurants and retail. When it comes to housing, Politico on why that doesn’t work at least when it comes to affordable housing under current codes.

PROPERTY SALES 69 163 12,921
MORTGAGES 35 85 8,088
BUILDING PERMITS 109 531 30,465
BANKRUPTCIES 18 85 6,149