VOL. 10 | NO. 8 | Saturday, February 18, 2017
North Memphis Effort Gets $1 Million SPARCC Grant
A national organization focused on local neighborhood revitalization efforts is awarding a group working in North Memphis a $1 million planning and technical assistance grant over three years.
The Strong, Prosperous, and Resilient Communities Challenge, or SPARCC, announced Wednesday, Feb. 15, the grant to Memphis Partners for Resilient Communities as part of a three-year, $90 million nationwide initiative to bolster communities.
Memphis is one of six cities where SPARCC awarded the planning and technical assistance grants. The other initial SPARCC sites include Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; and Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area, California.
Memphis Partners for Resilient Communities is a coalition of North Memphis groups formed specifically to pursue the SPARCC funding and to ensure that recent large developments in the area, including Crosstown Concourse, benefit the area’s existing African-American population.
– Bill Dries
Cohen Introduces Tax Preparer Fraud Bill
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis has introduced federal legislation that would allow the Internal Revenue Service to take steps to ensure paid tax preparers are trained and abide by high standards of integrity.
Cohen introduced the bill, called the Tax Return Preparer Accountability Act, as taxpayers, accountants and tax preparation firms approach the April deadline to file federal tax returns.
Cohen was a vocal critic of Mo’ Money Taxes, a Memphis-based tax preparation firm that was closed after complaints of fraud and an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.
Mo’ Money was banned by federal court order from preparing tax returns for others, and its owners were barred from ever owning or operating another tax preparation business. Three tax preparers at the company were indicted in 2015 on conspiracy charges for the fraud.
“I’m glad that the Department of Justice shut them down so they can’t prey on Memphians anymore,” Cohen said in a Thursday, Feb. 16, statement announcing the legislation. “But there could be other fly-by-night tax preparers just like them that trick hardworking Americans out of their refunds and rarely face any consequences.”
– Bill Dries
Thompson Proposes State Certificate of Employability
The first bill proposed in the Tennessee Legislature by Democratic state Rep. Dwayne Thompson of Cordova would create an alternative to the $450 expungement fee now required by state law to clear the record of those convicted of nonviolent felonies who have not been in trouble for five years after serving their sentences.
Thompson’s bill, which cleared a House subcommittee Tuesday in Nashville, would allow nonviolent felons who was qualify for the expungement process to be able to get a “certificate of employability” from the state that would permit them to apply for occupational licenses granted by the state.
“Legislation such as this helps nonviolent ex-felons to become productive citizens, reduces the chances of recidivism, reduces the high costs of incarceration and makes our communities a little safer from crime,” Thompson said in a written statement.
The Senate sponsor is Senate Democratic leader Lee Harris of Memphis.
A bill by Memphis Democrat Raumesh Akbari that also is pending would reduce the expungement fee to $180 – keeping the part of the fee that goes to district attorneys general in each county, whose offices conduct the background checks for those applying for expungement.
Thompson’s bill is on its way to the House Criminal Justice Committee.
– Bill Dries
Brewery District Developer Pulls $1.1M Building Permit
Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC has filed a $1.1 million building permit application with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for tenant buildout in the former Tennessee Brewery, located at 495 Tennessee St.
Tower Ventures, of which Brewery District co-developer Billy Orgel is the president and CEO, is listed as both the owner and tenant on the application. LRK is listed as the project’s architect.
Last March, Montgomery Martin filed more than $20 million in building permits to begin renovations on the former Tennessee Brewery.
Of the $20.6 million total amount, $18.8 million was allotted for the historic brewery’s renovation and for the construction of a new six-story metal frame to support 58 units.
The other $1.8 million went toward the construction of the four-story, wood-frame Wash House building at 500 Tennessee St., which will have an additional 90 units.
Montgomery Martin sought a $4.5 million construction permit in February 2016 for a four-story parking garage at 502 Tennessee St. that will have 358 spaces and serve the public as well as residents of the Brewery District’s four residential buildings.
– Patrick Lantrip
West Cancer Center Awards Grants for Cancer Research
West Cancer Center has awarded four intramural grants for cancer research.
The grants, each valued at $50,000, were among the almost 20 proposals received by West Cancer Center for its annual grant awarding process.
This year’s proposals represent a cross-section of oncology today, with projects ranging from new therapies for treating ovarian cancer and radiotherapy technology to translating laboratory findings into more effective treatment protocol for aggressive cancer types, such as Triple-Negative Breast Cancer and Glioblastoma.
This year’s recipients and projects include:
• Dr. Matthew Ballo and Dr. Enrique Izaguirre, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center – for their project titled “Novel 3-D Printed Applicators for Advance Skin Cancer Brachytherapy.”
• Dr. Gustavo A. Miranda-Carboni, Division of Hematology/Oncology, UTHSC – for his research in the study of “Monoterpene Natural Products Against TNBC.”
• Dr. Lawrence M. Pfeffer, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UTHSC – for his research proposal titled “The Role of APELA in Glioblastoma.”
• Dr. Junming Yue, Department of Pathology, UTHSC – for his research testing MTF1 as a new drug target in treating ovarian cancer.
– Andy Meek
Step Ahead Accepting Scholarship Applications
The Step Ahead Scholarship program is accepting applications through April 1.
The fourth annual collaboration between A Step Ahead Foundation, Girls Inc. of Memphis and Tri-State Bank Memphis awards $100,000 in scholarships to girls and young women who plan to pursue a post-secondary education.
“Being able to attend and complete college is so important to the women in our community,” said A Step Ahead CEO Claudia Haltom in a statement. “We want to empower all women to achieve their hopes and dreams.”
Scholarships of at least $2,000 from the $100,000 fund will be awarded to multiple young women.
Since the scholarship is a one-time award, recipients are encouraged to reapply each year as needed.
The program is open to all female Shelby County residents from 17 to 30 years of age who are planning on attending any accredited university, college or technical school.
Preference will be given to applicants who intend to use their education to help the community and who express a desire to lower rates of teen and unplanned pregnancy in the greater Memphis area.
– Patrick Lantrip
2 Memphis Football Players Invited to NFL Combine
The University of Memphis has a pair of players invited to participate in the NFL Combine in Indianapolis as the full list of 330 invitees was announced this week. Kicker Jake Elliott and defensive back Arthur Maulet will participate in the process in front of NFL scouts from Feb. 28 to March 6.
Elliott finished his Memphis career as the first player in American Athletic Conference history to earn first team all-conference honors and leaves as the program’s record holder in points scored (445), consecutive PATs made (202), field goals made (82) and with six of the seven longest field goals in program history to his name, including a 56-yarder in the Miami Beach Bowl.
A two-time American Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Year, Elliott was a 2015 finalist for the Lou Groza Award and in 2016 was named a CoSIDA Academic All-American.
Elliott will participate in the Group 1 invitees at the combine from Feb. 28 to March 2.
Maulet was invited to the combine after playing in both the NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl and earning a late invitation to play in the Senior Bowl. In his two-year career at Memphis, Maulet helped the Tigers to a 17-9 record and to back-to-back bowl appearances.
As part of the Memphis secondary, he recorded 111 total tackles, including 92 solos, adding 7.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 24 pass breakups, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one interception. As a senior in 2016, he led the team with 13 pass breakups and his 72 total tackles ranked fifth on the team. He also helped Memphis execute a fake punt, catching a pass from punter Spencer Smith to convert a first down in the third quarter at Ole Miss.
The defensive backs will be at the combine starting March 3, with the on-field workout scheduled for March 6.
– Don Wade
SCS Names New Chief Of Business Operations
Shelby County Schools has hired Beth Phalen as its new chief of business operations.
Phalen comes to the school system from being executive vice president of strategy and operations at ISS Facility Services, and before that she was vice president of business operations for ServiceMaster Co.
She fills a position in SCS superintendent Dorsey Hopson’s cabinet that has been vacant since July 2015 with interim leadership by Cerita Butler, the director of business operations and procurement for the school system.
Her hiring completes Hopson’s executive cabinet.
“She has a reputation of delivering in challenging environments and her cross-functional knowledge will help us greatly in managing our district’s vast business interests,” Hopson said in a statement.
– Bill Dries
Farm and Fries Restaurant Gets OK for Construction
The Germantown Board of Mayor and Aldermen has voted to approve a development agreement for MW Ventures to move forward with the construction of a restaurant called Farm and Fries.
Mark and Marie Waugh, the owners of both Farm and Fries and MW Ventures, plan to build a 2,639-square-foot restaurant at 7724 Poplar Pike in Old Germantown.
Last July, the Germantown Design Review Commission approved a change of use on the property from residential to restaurant use.
Then in early October, the Germantown Board of Zoning Appeals OK’d a variance on the property, and two weeks later the DRC approved the building elevations and site plan for Farm and Fries.
Now that the Project Development Contract has been approved, Farm and Fries will be able to move forward with construction plans for the actual development of the project.
– Patrick Lantrip
Lawmakers File Bills To Protect Memphis Aquifer
State Sens. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, and Lee Harris, D-Memphis, have filed legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly that would set up a Memphis Sands Aquifer Regional Development Board to protect water supplies in West Tennessee.
The Senate bill also would require board approval to pump more than 10,000 gallons of water from the aquifer to ensure its long-term viability.
The legislation is sponsored in the state House by Rep. Ron Lollar, R-Bartlett, and Rep. Curtis Halford, R-Dyer.
The action follows approval given to the Tennessee Valley Authority to pump about 3.5 million gallons of aquifer water each day to cool its new power-generating plant in southwest Memphis. Under the bill, the board would have all of the powers, rights and privileges necessary to manage, conserve, preserve and protect the aquifer, and to increase the recharge of, and prevent the waste or pollution in, the aquifer.
The nine-member board would include the mayors of Shelby County and two other West Tennessee counties overlying the aquifer. The governor would appoint the remaining members, with two from the agricultural community, two from commerce, and two from the environmental-research community.
In addition, Senate Bill 886, sponsored by Harris and Kelsey, requires anyone planning to drill a well to give at least 14 days’ advance notice to the state commissioner of the Department of Environment and Conservation with the notice published on the department’s website.
– Andy Meek
Cohen Appointed To House Ethics Committee
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis has been appointed by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic Caucus to the House Committee on Ethics.
Cohen and Pelosi announced the appointment Tuesday, Feb. 14, in Washington.
It is the second high-profile appointment for Cohen, who is serving his sixth term in Congress.
Cohen was also recently appointed to the House Democratic caucus steering policy committee. The group sets priorities of Democrats in the House. Cohen’s assignment marks the first time since 1987 that a Memphis Democrat in the House has been on the influential group.
In a written statement Tuesday, Cohen said he came to Congress “to fight against the culture of corruption in Washington.”
– Bill Dries
Memphis CVB Opens Australia Outpost
The Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau is setting up shop Down Under with a sales and marketing effort aimed at Australia and New Zealand.
The Memphis CVB has hired a former leader of Tourism Australia to lead the Memphis effort.
Chris Ingram is former partnership manager of Tourism Australia, which is the Australian government agency that markets the continent to international visitors.
The CVB does similar marketing efforts in Japan and China and identified Australia and New Zealand as a feeder market for Memphis.
Australia/New Zealand ranks third among the international markets coming to Memphis for leisure travel behind Canada and the U.K.
“Representation and partnerships have existed for Memphis tourism in Europe for 25 years, resulting in Memphis as one of the premier and most-visited destinations in the southern U.S.,” said Kevin Kane, president and CEO of the Memphis CVB, in a written statement.
The new office joins Memphis CVB offices in China, Japan, Germany, France and the U.K.
– Bill Dries
Tigers Football Team Has 7 Homes Games in 2017
The 2017 University of Memphis football schedule is highlighted by seven home games, including a Saturday, Sept. 16, visit from the UCLA Bruins.
The season starts on the Thursday night before Labor Day, on Aug. 31, against Louisiana-Monroe at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
Other home games include Saturday, Sept. 23, vs. Southern Illinois; and four American Athletic Conference contests vs. Navy (Oct. 14), Tulane (Oct. 27), SMU (Nov. 18) and the season finale against East Carolina (Nov. 25).
The Tigers play a non-conference road game at Georgia State on Sept. 30 and AAC road opponents are UCF (Sept. 9), UConn (Oct. 6), Houston (Oct. 19, a Thursday) and Tulsa (Nov. 3).
There are five non-Saturday games during the season, a school record. Presently, four games are slated for some type of national TV coverage: UConn, Houston, Tulane and Tulsa.
– Don Wade
Collierville Police Offer Online Crime Mapping
Collierville Police are offering crime mapping for residents via the city’s website through the web application Tip 411.
Citizens can access the crime mapping app through the town website, www.colliervillepolice.org, by clicking on the Services tab and the “Crime Map” tab.
The LexisNexis Crime Map allows a user to put in their address and select a range of dates and types of crimes. Or it offers general information about crime including times, dates and areas, but not names associated with a particular case.
The information is based on calls to the Collierville Police Department that are fed into the crime map three times a day. There are plans to do it more often than that as officers get updated technology in their patrol cars.
– Bill Dries
First Tennessee’s Wildfire Relief Effort Tops $200,000
In response to wildfires that destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses and displaced thousands of residents in Gatlinburg and surrounding areas, the First Tennessee Foundation in November announced that it would match donations from the public to the East Tennessee Red Cross, up to a total of $50,000.
Public donations collected totaled almost $170,000, in addition to the First Tennessee Foundation’s match of $50,000, for a total of $220,000.
According to First Tennessee, since the wildfires began, more than 400 Red Cross workers from across the country have served about 39,000 meals and snacks; provided more than 3,000 overnight stays in seven emergency shelters; and provided 3,000 contacts for health services and emotional support for the victims.
– Andy Meek
Accredo to Undergo $2 Million Renovation
Accredo Health Services filed a $2 million building permit application with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for its 1610 Century Center Parkway location.
Corna Kokosing Construction Co. was listed as the contractor and Windsor at Century Center was listed as the owner.
The permit calls for renovations of an existing one-story office space, which includes “conference rooms, break rooms and general office areas.”
Memphis-based Accredo, a specialty pharmacy operating as a unit of Express Scripts, provides drugs to treat serious medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia and cancer. It also provides patients counseling on medication usage, administration and storage as well as potential side effects and adverse reactions.
Accredo’s office is located inside the Century Center Business Park, a 50,000-square-foot mixed-used office park built in 2002. Century Center sits on 5.4 acres south of Interstate 40 at the Kirby-Whitten Road exit.
– Patrick Lantrip