VOL. 132 | NO. 242 | Thursday, December 7, 2017
Authorities Arrest, Charge Suspect in Wright’s Murder
More than seven years after former University of Memphis and Memphis Grizzlies basketball star Lorenzen Wright was shot to death, authorities announced Tuesday, Dec. 5, they have charged a suspect with first-degree murder.
The murder charge returned by the Shelby County grand jury against Billy R. Turner, 46, of Collierville was announced Tuesday by Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich.
Wright was last seen alive in July 2010; Germantown Police got a 911 call from his cellphone early the next morning that included the sounds of gunshots.
Wright’s body was found days later in a field near Hacks Cross and Winchester roads. He had been shot multiple times.
Weirich offered no information about how Turner allegedly knew Wright or evidence against him.
The case is being prosecuted by chief prosecutor Paul Hagerman and assistant district attorney Colin Campbell, both of whom are with the Multi-Agency Gang Prosecution Unit.
Weirich also confirmed that police last month found what they believe is the murder weapon in a lake near Walnut, Mississippi.
– Bill Dries
Memphis, Norvell Agree To New Five-Year Deal
Not only does it appear Mike Norvell will be on the sideline to coach the University of Memphis in the Dec. 30 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, it looks like he will be staying on afterward.
The Tigers’ second-year head coach signed a contract extension, breaking the news via his Twitter account – @Coach_Norvell – Tuesday, Dec. 5. The tweet included a picture of Norvell signing papers alongside athletic director Tom Bowen.
Norvell agreed to a new five-year contract worth $13 million that also upped the salary pool for his assistants and staff by $250,000, according to the USA Today Network.
In recent weeks, many college football programs have had openings for coaches and Norvell’s name had been associated with several potential jobs – most notably at the University of Arkansas.
Norvell led the Tigers to the American Athletic Conference West Division title this season.
They will carry a 10-2 record into the AutoZone Liberty Bowl matchup with Iowa State.
Both losses came to UCF, 40-13 in the regular season and 55-48 in double-overtime in the AAC title game. The Tigers went 8-5 in Norvell’s first season at Memphis.
Norvell’s agent is Jimmy Sexton, who is considered a major power broker in college football coaching circles.
– Don Wade
Committee Outlines MLGW Rate Hike Recommendations
Memphis City Council members paved the way Tuesday, Dec. 5, for a vote in two weeks on proposed increases to Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division electric, gas and water rates in the new year.
A council committee is recommending the following:
• Electric rates increasing by 2.3 percent each of the next three years. For the first year, the average monthly residential increase would be $2.62.
• Gas rates increasing 4.5 percent each of the next two years. The average monthly residential increase the first year would be $1.62.
• Water rates increasing 1 percent next year for a monthly residential average of 18 cents.
The water rate increase revenue would go toward better mapping of the Memphis aquifer, and specifically identifying holes or gaps in the clay layer that protects the source of the city’s water supply. The gas and electric rate revenue would go toward maintaining 90 operating days of cash on hand for the utility.
Greater Memphis Chamber vice president Kelly Rayne said MLGW business customers wanted two weeks to consider and weigh in on the rate hikes.
“The thing we hear over and over is they want stability,” she said, citing a recent wastewater fee hike. “They didn’t have the opportunity to plan for it. That was just six months ago, and now it’s happening again with the utility increases. It’s a big deal.”
That was a sentiment several council members echoed for residential customers. The impact played a role in the council committee recommending fee hikes over several years for gas and electric rates instead of all at once.
Council member Patrice Robinson said she wants the electric rate increase to go toward a more reliable system that isn’t prone to sudden outages, which she counts as the subject of most of the complaints she gets about MLGW.
She said customers can negate the impact of the rate hikes.
“If you can’t afford $4.42 a month,” Robinson said, referring to the first-year average residential increase of all three rate hikes combined – “you can cut back on kilowatt hours ... or you can not buy half an order of hot wings or you can save not going to McDonald’s once a month.”
“Oh, come on,” council member Janis Fullilove replied.
Meanwhile, as expected, council members delayed a vote Tuesday on a proposed expansion of a Frayser landfill for construction material until Dec. 19, its last meeting of the year. Councilman Frank Colvett said Memphis Wrecking, the company seeking the expansion of the landfill onto land next to Whitney Achievement Elementary School, is seeking alternative sites and might drop the proposal if it finds another location.
– Bill Dries
U of M Expands Toy Drive This Holiday Season
The University of Memphis athletics department has announced that the annual Tiger Toy Drive will be expanded to include partnerships with the city of Memphis, CW30 and iHeart Radio.
The partnership with Mayor Jim Strickland and the city of Memphis has been a long-standing effort to provide toys for those in need in the Memphis area. However, this year, the Tigers welcome two community leaders to help in the drive: CW30 and iHeart Radio.
The Tiger Toy Drive will be Dec. 9-20, with all collected toys being handed out to local families on Dec. 22. The community is encouraged to participate in this toy drive by dropping off new, unopened toys at the Tigers ticket office on Normal Street during regular business hours, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Donations also can be dropped off at FedExForum during three men’s basketball home games: Saturday, Dec. 9, vs. Bryant; Tuesday, Dec. 12, vs. Albany; and Dec. 20 vs. Siena. For each toy donated, Memphis will provide a voucher for a free ticket to a Memphis men’s basketball game.
Boxes will be located at the entrances of FedExForum, and the ticket vouchers will be given out at each of these locations.
– Don Wade
Jernigan Capital Finances Facility Near Boston
Memphis-based Jernigan Capital Inc., a real estate investment trust that provides debt and equity capital for self-storage facilities, has closed a $8.7 million investment in a proposed multistory, climate-controlled, 719-unit facility in Salem, New Hampshire, a suburb of Boston.
The proposed facility will be a ground-up, three-story project with 74,625 rentable square feet in a city that sits on the border of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Construction is expected to begin in first quarter 2018 and be completed in the fourth quarter.
The proposed project is being developed by Northwood, New Hampshire-based 603 Storage and marks the first co-investment by 603 Storage and Jernigan Capital.
– Andy Meek
Investment Group Buys Collierville Hotel
Wright Investments has purchased the Hampton Inn at 1280 W. Poplar Ave. in Collierville for $6.5 million, according to a Dec.1 warranty deed.
Wright, doing business as HIMC LLC, bought the property from Memphis-based Crews Development, which was doing business as SGR LLC.
Jason Crews, acting as chief manager, signed the deed on behalf of the sellers.
In conjunction with the acquisition, the new owners took out a $7.3 million mortgage with State Bank and Trust Co. that will mature in November 2021.
Located on West Poplar east of Shea Road, the 44,724-square-foot hotel was built in 1997 and sits on 3.6 acres.
The Shelby County Assessor of Property most recently appraised it at $4.6 million.
– Patrick Lantrip