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VOL. 132 | NO. 253 | Friday, December 22, 2017

Daily Digest

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Approval of MLGW Rate Hikes Postponed by City Council

Proposed increases in Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division rates for gas and electricity will be considered by the Memphis City Council at its first meeting of 2018.

The council delayed votes Wednesday, Dec. 20, on an electricity rate hike of 2.3 percent for each of the next three years and a 4.5 percent gas rate hike for each of the next two years.

The council also voted down a one-time 1 percent increase in the water rate.

The council will discuss the rates Jan. 9 starting in committee sessions before the voting meeting of the full council that afternoon.

Several council members said Wednesday MLGW leaders should have come to the council sooner than November with the rate hike proposals.

MLGW president Jerry Collins warned that a delay in approving the rate hikes and a new budget for the publicly-owned utility could have an impact on its bond rating and could be a violation of bond covenants.

Collins said, in turn, that could affect city government’s bond rating.

But Collins also said the bond rating agencies were aware of the rate hikes MLGW would propose in September.

“I’d like to bring up an ordinance so this doesn’t happen again,” said council member Philip Spinosa. “I’m beyond frustrated. We have to take action now or it’s on us. Shame on us for being here.”

Council chairman Berlin Boyd termed it “a very irresponsible way to handle a budget.”

“I think our priorities somewhere were mixed up in this thing,” he said. “As a part-time council member … you guys could not expect this body to be able to dissect the information which you guys are requesting us to approve in that short a time. I can’t vote for something that I don’t have full knowledge of.”

– Bill Dries

Tigers Hang On to Defeat Siena 70-66 at FedExForum

Jeremiah Martin and Kyvon Davenport each scored 16 points as the University of Memphis improved to 8-3 on the season with a 70-66 victory over Siena on Wednesday, Dec. 20, at FedExForum.

The Tigers won without forward Jimario Rivers, who sat out after suffering a concussion in the loss to Louisville Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

Siena (3-9) knocked down 14 shots from behind the 3-point line to keep the game close. Siena led 34-26 at halftime. After making 10 turnovers in the first half, the Tigers committed just two in the second half.

“That was the key to turning the game around,” said coach Tubby Smith.

Memphis got 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists from Raynere Thornton, who started in place of Rivers. Guard Kareem Brewton also scored 13 points. David Nickelberry scored seven points with six rebounds and three assists.

While Siena went 14-of-30 from long distance for 46.7 percent, the Tigers were 4-of-14 for 28.6 percent from deep.

Memphis returns to action at 11 a.m. Saturday at FedExForum vs. Loyola (Md.).

– Don Wade

Lukassen Joins First Tennessee In Treasury Management Role

First Tennessee Bank has tapped a financial services industry veteran to head up its treasury management sales team.

Kevin Lukassen has joined the company as senior vice president, Treasury Management head of sales. As part of his role, he’ll develop and oversee top-level sales strategies, approach and execution for treasury management across all areas of the company.

His concentration will be on building and refining teams to align with First Tennessee’s strategic priorities.

Lukassen has 30 years of experience in banking and two decades of experience in treasury management. Prior to joining First Tennessee, he held leadership positions at LaSalle Bank, Fifth Third Bank and at SunTrust Bank. He also has extensive experience as a relationship manager and as a leader of commercial banking.

– Andy Meek

Explore Bike Share Names Executive Director

With its spring 2018 launch right around the corner, Memphis native Trey Moore has been named the inaugural executive director of Explore Bike Share.

Prior to taking this job, Moore served as executive director of voluntary health organizations in Atlanta for more than 12 years.

“I watched my hometown of Memphis from afar and had grown eager to return to experience and take part in the city’s renaissance,” Moore said in a release. “Explore Bike Share’s mission and goals encourage me, and to be a part of connecting people to their city is powerful. I am ready to pick up the reins and continue this nonprofit’s innovative effort.”

Currently, Explore Bike Share’s leadership is being housed in temporary office space at 656 Madison Ave. through February that was provided by the Memphis Medical District Collaborative. Additionally, Benjamin Orgel, Billy Orgel, Adam Slovis and Tom Marsh donated warehouse space in Uptown that will be used in early 2018 for the build-out of bikes and bike stations.

Explore Bike Share is a local nonprofit organization that is working to create a 600-bike sharing program to promote transportation, tourism, health, environment, and culture in the Memphis area. The system will expand to 900 bikes by 2019.

– Patrick Lantrip

Memphis Crisis Center Seeking Volunteers for Hotline

The Memphis Crisis Center, a free, 24/7 crisis intervention hotline for nearly 50 years, is seeking volunteers to answer calls.

The center has handled more than 100,000 calls from Mid-Southerners suffering from all types of mental distress the past five years, Mike LaBonte, executive director, said in a statement. Approximately 8,000 of those were suicide calls.

And while call volume generally goes down during the holidays, the center braces for a spike right after the holidays when the excitement of the season fades.

“We’re a full-service crisis line,” LaBonte said. Calls come in from people dealing with domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and elder abuse, as well as financial and health issues.

“The vast majority of the calls we get are coming from people who are sad, lonely, or facing a life challenge, and what they really need is a compassionate listener to help them through the trouble they are going through at the time,” LaBonte said. “So we’re here providing not just crisis intervention, but emotional support services as well.”

The center is looking for mature, responsible, committed volunteers who are good listeners, he said. The center will provide approximately 40 hours of training, including classroom time and observation in the call center under the supervision of seasoned volunteers.

Volunteers are asked to work one shift every other week. Morning, afternoon, evening and overnight shifts are available.

“We really have a need for early birds (7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and night owls (11 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.),” LaBonte said. “I know those night owls and early birds are out there. This would be a perfect opportunity for them.”

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center partners with the Memphis Crisis Center. UTHSC provides its call center, training facility and administrative offices on campus.

To volunteer, contact volunteers@crisis7.org or call 901-649-8572. To reach the confidential hotline, call 901-Crisis7 or 901-274-7477.

– Daily News staff

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 97 410 20,632
MORTGAGES 116 472 23,745
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 4 38 3,048
BUILDING PERMITS 227 1,085 42,594
BANKRUPTCIES 60 300 13,180
BUSINESS LICENSES 8 81 6,622
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 19 182 7,789
MARRIAGE LICENSES 13 64 4,643