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VOL. 132 | NO. 124 | Thursday, June 22, 2017

Daily Digest

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All Power Restored From June 18 Storm

Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division was to complete full restoration of power Tuesday night, June 20, for all Shelby County residents who lost electricity in the June 18 storms.

Fewer than 50 customers remained without power on Tuesday.

Storms moved through Shelby County at 2:45 p.m. on Sunday, June 18, causing more than 42,000 MLGW customers to lose power. Since then, MLGW and 42 outside contract crews have been working around the clock to restore power.

This latest storm followed a much larger one on May 27 when 188,000 MLGW customers lost power, ten of thousands of them for several days or more. Power wasn’t restored to all customers until June 8 after that storm, dubbed the “Tom Lee Storm” by the utility because of the Tom Lee monument that was toppled in a Downtown park.

– Daily News staff

Somerville Tax Preparer Gets Three Years in Prison

A Somerville tax preparer was sentenced to three years in prison by U.S. District Judge Sheryl H. Lipman on a federal charge of stealing government funds.

Tenika Finnie-Smith, the owner of Elite Tax Service, pleaded guilty in March to a single theft count.

Finnie-Smith is a repeat felony offender who stole the identities of taxpayers. Without the knowledge or permission of the taxpayers, Smith used clients’ personal information to file 2011 and 2012 false tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service. Smith also listed false claims on tax returns and made deposits.

From 2011 and 2012, Smith deposited more than $190,000 in tax refunds into her personal bank account. She would immediately withdraw the funds to use for gambling and other personal benefits without notifying taxpayers. As a result of the theft, some taxpayers never received a refund.

– Bill Dries

Council Urges County to Keep Juvenile Court Agreement

Memphis City Council members approved a resolution Tuesday, June 20, urging county government leaders to keep in place the memorandum of agreement with the Justice Department governing conditions and due process measures at Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael and Sheriff Bill Oldham have asked U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the agreement.

In other action Tuesday, council chairman Berlin Boyd delayed for a month any vote on his resolution and ordinance, which combined would end the city’s contract with the UrbanArt Commission. The council earlier cut $350,000 in city funding to the commission for a mural program.

Boyd said he wants to preserve the funding and “bring it in-house” with a public art program run by the city’s Division of Parks and Neighborhoods that is being developed.

The delay is to give the council a chance to see what a new parks program would look like. City parks director Maria Munoz-Blanco said it would take about six months for the transition to such a plan, with existing UrbanArt Commission projects continuing during that time.

The $650,000 total in city funding to UrbanArt is combined with private contributions. The city amount represents roughly 1 percent of the city’s annual capital spending of roughly $65 million.

And the council approved accepting $500,000 in funding from the Memphis Zoo and Overton Park Conservancy to begin design work on a new parking lot for the zoo that will include 415 new spaces and take in some area on the borders of the Overton Park Greensward.

The council action follows a two-month drive by the conservancy to raise an additional $1 million to match the $1 million the zoo had already raised for parking lot construction once the design is ready. The zoo balked in April at turning over its share of the design money until the conservancy raised its entire share of the total project cost.

During the process, the council changed the size of the parking spaces from the 10-feet by 20-feet size the zoo wanted to a smaller 9-feet by 18-feet.

The goal is to end zoo overflow parking on the greensward by 2019.

– Bill Dries

Memphis Farmers Market Opening Court Square Site

Memphis Farmers Market has announced its second marketplace, MFM2 (Squared), in partnership with Downtown Memphis Commission, in Court Square Downtown. It will be open every Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. beginning June 28 through Sept. 27.

“We welcome MFM2 to the neighborhood,” Terence Patterson, president and CEO of Downtown Memphis Commission., said in a statement. “This is a great opportunity for our Downtown workforce, residents and visitors to experience fresh food shopping just steps from their offices, homes and hotels. And with the Court Square location, we hope this market becomes a regular Wednesday stop for Downtowners and Uptowners.”

Some MFM vendors will also be at MFM2 along with a host of new ones, including fresh vegetables and fruits from local farms, handmade pottery and other artisan products, floral arrangements, chicken, pork, sausages and eggs, as well as baked goods, baking mixes, soaps and food trucks with live music.

“It’s a true testament to MFM's mission of creating sustainable marketplaces for our vendors and shoppers,” says Memphis Farmers Market executive director Allison Cook. “We invite the Downtown community to join us on Wednesdays to restock their refrigerators and pantries mid-week. Grab a snack or dinner at the foods trucks and relax after work while listening to live music. Consider it your healthy happy hour.”

Both marketplaces accept SNAP benefits and are Pick Tennessee Farmers Markets, supported by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

Go to downtownmemphis.com to learn more.

– Daily News staff

Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum Honors Presley's Movie Career

The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum is marking the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death with a special exhibition, “King of the Screen,” focused on Presley’s movie career.

The exhibit features 18 original movie posters and never-before-exhibited movie memorabilia from the collection of Larry and Judy Moss, including pieces from “Charro!,” “Kid Galahad,” “Viva Las Vegas” and more. Pieces include the boxing gloves worn by Elvis in “Kid Galahad” and the guitar – now autographed – which fell, with Elvis, into the swimming pool near the conclusion of “Viva Las Vegas.”

The exhibit provides museum guests with unique facts and storylines from the 18 Elvis Presley movies featured.

The “King of the Screen” exhibit at the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum runs through Jan. 8, 2018, and is included with regular admission to the museum.

– Andy Meek

PRIZM Founder, Director Leaving for Boston

PRIZM Ensemble’s board of directors has announced that the organization’s founder and executive director, Lecolion Washington, has been named executive director of the Community Music Center of Boston, effective in September.

Roderick Vester, director of operations and educational programming for PRIZM, will take the baton as interim executive director.

The announcement comes following PRIZM Ensemble’s most successful camp and International Chamber Music Festival to date, expanded for the first time to two weeks and engaging new partner, First Baptist Church Broad Avenue.

The leadership transition will also happen at a time of growth for PRIZM, which grew its camp attendance by 77 percent from 2016 to 2017 under Washington’s leadership.

Vester joined the organization in 2016 and has led its PRIZM In The Schools program and all organizational operations. He will step into the interim executive director role as Washington exits in September and the board begins a search for a permanent replacement.

– Andy Meek

City Auto Owner Rises to NIADA President

David Andrews, owner of City Auto in Memphis and other automotive enterprises, has taken over as president of the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA) for the 2017-18 term.

He succeeds 2016-17 president Billy Threadgill of South Carolina.

At the NIADA’s 71st annual convention and expo in Las Vegas last week, Andrews urged dealers to keep pace with the rapidly changing automotive marketplace.

"We are all pioneers, we are all trailblazers and we are all visionaries,” he said. “These are times ripe with opportunities, times for making the seemingly impossible possible.”

Andrews, 65, got his start in the car business as a teenager, working at his father's dealership. He opened his own dealership at age 20 and now owns four retail dealerships — two each in Memphis and Nashville – five wholesale auctions in Tennessee and Alabama, a management company, a floor-plan company and a finance company.

– Daily News staff

PROPERTY SALES 40 220 16,417
MORTGAGES 28 85 10,172
BUILDING PERMITS 161 826 39,370
BANKRUPTCIES 29 136 7,733