VOL. 10 | NO. 2 | Saturday, January 7, 2017
Cohen Acts to Eliminate Electoral College
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis introduced Thursday, Jan. 5, in Washington a constitutional amendment that would abolish the Electoral College and make possible the direct election of the president and vice president by popular vote.
Cohen called the Electoral College “an antiquated system,” in a written statement.
“Electors were supposed to be people with good judgment who were trusted with picking a qualified president and vice president on behalf of the people,” he added. “But they have evolved into being rubber stamps.”
Among the bill’s first stops is the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, of which Cohen is the ranking member.
The amendment must be approved by a two-thirds vote in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.
It then must be ratified by the state legislatures of or state conventions in three-fourths of the states.
– Bill Dries
FedEx Ups Memphis Open Partnership for St. Jude
FedEx Corp. has expanded its commitment to the GF Sports family of events, increasing sponsorship for the Memphis Open presented by ServiceMaster with the “Advantage St. Jude delivered by FedEx” ball kid program.
With the additional sponsorship, FedEx will also make a donation to further St. Jude’s mission. The program features about 100 ball kids engaging in a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Last year the campaign generated more than $40,000 for St. Jude.
The Memphis Open will be held Feb. 11-19 at The Racquet Club of Memphis, 5111 Sanderlin Ave.
FedEx will also be sponsoring a similar program in Atlanta for the BB&T Atlanta Open, to benefit a charity of choice in that market.
The top prize for each tournament is a trip for two ball kids to participate in the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden on March 6, 2017. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the showdown will offer a new and unique format featuring the game’s top stars of yesterday, today and tomorrow; Venus Williams vs. Garbine Muguruza, Juan Martin Del Portro vs. Kei Nishikori, Jack Sock vs. Nick Kyrgios and a special legends match-up to be announced later.
Second-place fundraising efforts by the ball kids will be rewarded with a trip to participate in either the Memphis Open or BB&T Atlanta Open. The Memphis Open, Atlanta Open and BNP Paribas Showdown are owned and operated by GF Sports LLC.
The Advantage St. Jude delivered by FedEx at the Memphis Open is part of FedEx Cares, an initiative in which FedEx will invest $200 million in more than 200 communities by 2020 to create opportunities and deliver positive change around the world.
Go to fedexcares.com for more information.
– Don Wade
Cardinals Caravan Hits AutoZone Park Jan. 13
The annual Cardinals Caravan rolls into Memphis on Friday, Jan. 13, with a stop at AutoZone Park. Players scheduled to be on the caravan: outfielder Randal Grichuk, and pitchers Luke Weaver, Sam Tuivailala and Austin Gomber.
New Memphis Redbirds manager Stubby Clapp, who is both a former Redbird and St. Louis Cardinal, will be part of the caravan and so will former St. Louis starting pitcher Danny Cox.
The event starts at 6:30 p.m. and is free to the public. The first 400 attendees age 15 and under will receive a free autograph ticket, which ensures one signature from each current and former player.
For more information, call the Redbirds at 901-721-6050.
– Don Wade
Tigers’ Cheyenne Creighton Earns AAC Weekly Honor
University of Memphis forward Cheyenne Creighton has been named to the American Athletic Conference Weekly Honor Roll for the third time this season. Creighton recorded 26 points and 13 rebounds, both career highs, in the win over Vanderbilt on Dec. 28 and scored 15 points in the overtime setback to Temple in the conference opener.
This is the fifth time in her career that Creighton has been named to the Weekly Honor Roll.
Against the Commodores, Creighton went 12-for-18 from the floor, including a three-pointer, en route to scoring a career-high 26 points. The 13 rebounds she pulled down led to the fifth straight double-double of her career. Creighton then scored 15 points and snagged eight rebounds against Temple. Her averages for the week were 20.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
Creighton leads the Tigers with 15.4 points per game and 8.0 rebounds per game. She has also recorded a team-high 10 blocks this season.
– Don Wade
Boyle Insurance Adds Executive, Promotes Two
Boyle Insurance Agency’s Memphis office is growing.
The commercial property and casualty insurance company announced that Chris Poindexter was recently hired as an account executive.
Poindexter, whose specialty is in medical professional liability insurance including dentist offices and clinics, will handle personal lines of insurance including home, auto, boat and motorcycle insurance, as well as product liability.
The company also announced that Abe Plough, who specializes in personal lines of insurance including homeowners, automobile and umbrella, and Tim Treadwell, specializing in all lines of personal and business insurance including contractors, lumberyards and sawmills, have been promoted to assistant vice president.
– Patrick Lantrip
Phillips Certified as County Elections Administrator
Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips is official.
She passed the state certification exam taken last month, according to a notification from the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office Thursday, Jan. 5.
The certification involves a closed-book written test that can last up to 3 1/2 hours. The questions are based on Tennessee laws and regulations governing elections.
The exam follows training on 40 different topics in state election law.
The certification means an administrator cannot be paid less than the certified pay rate for the county in which they serve.
– Bill Dries
Greater Memphis Chamber Plans Day on Capitol Hill
The Greater Memphis Chamber’s day on Capitol Hill in Nashville next month will include the normal scheduled meetings with legislators. But it is also being billed as bringing “Memphis soul to Nashville.”
The Feb. 15 “Mem2Nash” event includes an evening reception at the B.B. King’s Blues Club in Nashville as well as Memphis music, culture and products.
– Bill Dries
Meet Downtown YMCA's New Executive Director
The Fogelman Downtown YMCA will welcome its new executive director, Angelic Graves, at a meet and greet Friday, Jan. 6, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Prior to joining the historic Fogelman YMCA, located at 245 Madison Ave., Graves worked at the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago for 16 years.
Graves’ arrival coincides with Jerry Martin officially taking over for Keith Johnson as president and CEO of YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South.
In October, Johnson announced he would retire at the end of 2016, and that Martin, who was the senior vice president of operations and development at the time, would succeed him.
– Patrick Lantrip
New Police HQ Renovations To Cost Additional $2M
The Memphis City Council approved Tuesday, Jan. 3, $2 million extra in capital funding for the renovation of 170 N. Main St., the 13-story building that was once the Donnelley J. Hill State Office Building.
The city bought the building from the state in May 2015 for $1.5 million, with another $6.2 million in city funding going to renovate the building as the Memphis Police Department’s new headquarters.
The total cost of the conversion, including the estimated cost to relocate MPD from the Criminal Justice Center, came to $8.4 million in 2015.
The largest single item on the list for the additional city funding is $1 million for new chillers on the building. A new lighting control system for all floors, repairs to the cooling tower basins and replacement of the cooling tower fan and parts are each six-figure items as well.
City Councilman Kemp Conrad recused himself from Tuesday’s council vote. Councilman Reid Hedgepeth voted against the additional funding.
The police department is to occupy the top seven floors, with other city agencies moving into the rest of the building, which is on Civic Center Plaza with City Hall. The renovations are expected to be completed by the end of March.
In planning and development items, the council approved a custom auto business at 5960 Summer Ave. at Old Munson Road by Bryon James Motorcars Inc.
And the council approved a residential rezoning of 12.8 acres at Sanga Road north of Walnut Grove Road that will be the site of a 35-lot development by Laurel Glen LLC.
The council also scheduled its annual retreat for Jan. 21 at BRIDGES USA.
– Bill Dries
Memphis Law Firm Changes its Name
Memphis-based law firm McNabb, Bragorgos & Burgess PLLC has added a name to its shingle. The new name – McNabb, Bragorgos, Burgess and Sorin PLLC – reflects two members of the firm: Richard E. Sorin, who has been with the law practice since its inception in 2002, and Marc A. Sorin, Richard’s brother, who joined the firm in 2010.
McNabb, Bragorgos, Burgess and Sorin PLLC is comprised of 15 attorneys who provide legal services in various practice areas throughout Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Kentucky. Its home office is at 81 Monroe Ave., sixth floor.
– Daily News staff
U of M Lambuth to Offer Master of Social Work
The University of Memphis Lambuth will begin offering a Master of Social Work program this fall 2017, the university announced Wednesday, Jan. 4.
Online classes as well as evening classes at the Jackson, Tennessee, campus are designed to accommodate working students. The social work program addresses a shortage of social workers in the region as noted by the federal Health Resources and Service Administration.
The master’s program also is attributed to the presence Lambuth has built in its undergraduate social work major over the last five years.
Sixty percent of all mental health services in the United States are provided by clinical social workers, according to the National Association of Social Workers. Social work is also one of the fastest-growing occupations in the nation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected employment of social workers will grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024.
Employment opportunities for social workers are being driven by a growing demand in health care and social services.
– Bill Dries
Fogelman Acquires Two Apartment Communities
Memphis-based Fogelman Properties acquired a pair of multifamily apartment communities in Georgia and South Carolina, totaling a combined 540 units.
The communities were acquired in a joint venture with Dallas, Texas-based Thackeray Partners and mark the third and fourth multifamily investments by the partnership since 2015.
The acquisitions include the Addison at Cobblestone, which is located near Atlanta in Fayetteville, Georgia, and the Polos at Hudson Corners, which is located in Greer, South Carolina, near Greenville. The 248-unit Addison at Cobblestone is 96 percent occupied, while the 292-unit Polos at Hudson Corners is 92 percent occupied.
Fogelman will provide both interior renovations and common area upgrades to the newly acquired properties.
“The local economies in both Atlanta and Greenville are quite strong, and we feel these two assets are well-positioned to benefit from the expanding employment growth taking place in the immediate areas,” Fogelman Management Group CEO Rick Fogelman said.
Fogelman Properties and its property management arm, Fogelman Management Group, manage 82 communities totaling 25,000 apartment homes throughout the Southeast, Southwest and Midwest.
– Patrick Lantrip
Homeless Alliance Seeks Help With Annual Count
The Community Alliance for the Homeless is seeking volunteers to help with its annual point-in-time count, to be held Jan. 25.
The annual count, which is required nationally by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, provides a snapshot of homelessness in Memphis and Shelby County. It also helps measure the progress of efforts to end homelessness.
Volunteer groups interview individuals using a survey tool that gathers data for further research and outreach. Each person who is interviewed receives a care package. The alliance wants to include a blanket and pair of gloves in each care bag this year. To donate blankets and gloves, email Herman Dickey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers must be 18 years old and are required to undergo a one-hour training session. The registration deadline is Jan. 19. Visit cafth.org/point-in-time for details.
– Daily News staff
Baker Donelson Completes Merger With Ober/Kaler
Memphis-based Baker Donelson and Baltimore-based Ober/Kaler have completed their previously announced merger, creating one of the 50 largest law firms in the nation.
The firm, which maintains the name of Baker Donelson, added nearly 110 attorneys and more than 100 staff members from Ober/Kaler. That brings its headcount to more than 800 attorneys and advisers, including around 380 shareholders.
Overall the combined firm has 1,600 total employees across 25 offices in 10 states and Washington, D.C. There were no layoffs at either firm as a result of the combination.
The merger created the third-largest health practice in the nation, Baker Ober Health Law which includes nearly 200 attorneys. According to Baker Donelson, the practice gives the firm a strong presence in three important markets for the nation’s health care industry: Baltimore, which is home to the headquarters of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Washington, D.C., the center for health policy and regulation; and Nashville, the nation’s center for for-profit health care.
The combination also created a predominant financial services practice, according to Baker Donelson, including enhancing the construction, litigation, tax and intellectual property practices, among others.
Ben C. Adams, Baker Donelson’s chairman and CEO, and Jennifer P. Keller, its president and chief operating officer, are maintaining their leadership positions, while members of Ober/Kaler’s leadership team have taken on various leadership roles within the firm.
“The initial integration process has gone smoothly due in large part to the similar cultures of our firms and a lot of hard work by numerous people with both firms,” Adams said in a written statement.
– Daily News staff
Memphis Police Deploy 1,219 Body Cams
Officers in all nine Memphis Police Department precincts as well as the police traffic precinct have body cameras as 2017 begins, according to a report Tuesday, Jan. 3, to City Council members.
The count of 1,219 body cameras includes only a partial rollout for officers in special operations units. That is the only part of the police department where the cameras, ordered in mid-2015, have not been implemented.
Jim Harvey of the MPD said Taser, the company providing the cameras, has upgraded equipment free of charge to the city following problems with some devices breaking as well as a problem with the transfer of video from the cameras to permanent storage.
In the process, the city has saved $420,000 in a renegotiation of the video storage space part of the agreement.
– Bill Dries
Avison Young Adds Four To Memphis Office Staff
Commercial real estate firm Avison Young has announced four new additions to its Memphis office, including Greg deWitt, who will join as vice president.
DeWitt, a 23-year veteran of the commercial real estate market in Memphis, specializes in tenant and landlord representation for office and industrial properties.
Before accepting the position with Avison Young, deWitt was a director at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank and is a former vice president and current active member of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors’ Commercial Council.
In addition to deWitt, Robert Cartwright was brought on as a senior associate specializing in capital markets, Tearris Wallace as an associate specializing in industrial and office leasing and Asha Marshi as an associate specializing in industrial and office leasing.
“We are thrilled to have these talented individuals join our firm and augment our services for our clients,” said Shane Soefker, principal in Avison Young’s Memphis office. “Our continued growth is a product of Avison Young’s successful, collaborative environment.”
Soefker, along with Jacob Biddle, opened Avison Young’s Memphis office in December 2015. Since its inception, the firm has grown from two to nine employees.
Founded in 1978, Toronto-based Avison Young is comprised of 2,400 real estate professionals in 79 offices worldwide.
– Patrick Lantrip
Carriage Crossing Adds Two Restaurants to Lineup
Carriage Crossing retail center in Collierville has added two new eateries to its roster: Frida’s Restaurante Mexicano and Buttercups Cupcakes, both of which are locally owned and family-operated.
Carriage Crossing marks the second Memphis-area location for Frida’s Restaurante Mexicano. The first location has been in Midtown since 2012. Frida’s offers a large patio for outdoor dining and several design features from Mexico, including a front door cut from a piece of steel and a 35-foot-long copper bar.
The menu includes authentic, family-style Mexican dishes and margaritas served from individually handcrafted glasses.
Meanwhile, the Collierville center will house the first physical storefront for Buttercups Cupcakes, which has been filling online orders for more than seven years. Buttercups will offer cupcakes and other treats in two dozen flavors, along with specialty coffee drinks.
Frida’s opened to the public on Jan. 2, while Buttercups opens to the public on Saturday, Jan. 7.
– Andy Meek
Izakaya Restaurant Hosts Grand Opening
Izakaya Restaurant, housed inside the 19th Century Club building at 1433 Union Ave., hosted its grand opening Jan. 1.
A Japanese-French fusion restaurant, Izakaya's menu offers a wide range of entrees from Japanese Kobe beef steaks and fusion dishes to traditional American fare. It’s set in one of Memphis' historic architectural treasures, a mansion that’s been renovated and restored to its original charm and elegance when it was built in 1906.
The interior and exterior of the restaurant were restored by the Archer Construction Co., working with Looney Ricks Kiss architectural firm.
The main dining area features two levels of fixed seating, a large round private room, and full service bars all with views of the wide-open kitchen.
– Andy Meek
Fewer Arkansas Adults Not Visiting Doctor Due to Cost
A report by a private foundation said the percentage of Arkansas adults who went without medical care because of high costs decreased last year.
The Commonwealth Fund's report released last week shows 16 percent of adults in Arkansas went without health care because of the cost in 2015, compared to 18 percent in 2014.
The report, citing information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the percentage of adults across the nation who went without health care for the same reason fell from 14 percent in 2014 to 13 percent in 2015, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
Commonwealth Fund compiled information on changes in health care access across the country since Jan. 1, 2014, when new subsidies for coverage became available under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Arkansas Center for Health Improvement director Joe Thompson said the report showed the gains that will be at stake as a Republican-controlled Congress and President-elect Donald Trump plan to go through with their promises on repealing the current health care law.
"If the Affordable Care Act is repealed without an immediate replacement strategy, these numbers will dramatically reverse and significant turmoil will be injected into the health insurance marketplace," Thompson said.
As of Sept. 30, more than 324,000 people were covered under Arkansas' expanded Medicaid program, and an additional nearly 71,000 residents were signed up as of Dec. 15 for the Affordable Care Act. The ACA makes tax-credit subsidies available through health insurance exchanges to people who don't qualify for Medicaid.
– The Associated Press
Shelby County Government Recycling Christmas Trees
Shelby County government is recycling live Christmas trees and other holiday greenery through Monday, Jan. 9.
The program, operating in an area near Agricenter International’s ShowPlace Arena at 105 S. Germantown Road, is in its 18th year and is part of the county’s Sustainable Shelby program.
Mulch made from the recycling process will be made available to citizens in the spring and fall during Earth Day and America Recycles events.
A grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation funds the program.
– Bill Dries
Operation Restart Gets Beale Bucks Grant
Operation Restart, a summer jobs program with a blight-fighting element, is the latest nonprofit to receive a grant from the Beale Street Gives Back program.
The $5,000 grant awarded by the Downtown Memphis Commission, Beale Street Merchants Association and Beale Street Management comes from a pool of $55,000 collected from the Beale Street Bucks program.
Operation Restart is the fifth recipient of the grants, which were awarded in December. Other recipients are Porter-Leath, the Blues Foundation’s Handy Artist Relief Fund (The HART Fund), Streets Ministries and the Memphis Police Department.
Beale Street Bucks are the $10 cover charge the entertainment district implemented last summer for entry into the district during late-night hours. In exchange for the cover charge, patrons got a $7 voucher to be used with businesses on Beale. The Beale Street Gives Back program is funded by excess funds from unredeemed vouchers.
– Bill Dries