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VOL. 132 | NO. 125 | Friday, June 23, 2017

Daily Digest

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Chamber Names 2017 Young Memphian Winners

The Greater Memphis Chamber has announced its official 2017 Young Memphians list, which will be featured in the summer issue of Memphis Crossroads Magazine.

Nominations for the Young Memphians award were submitted via the chamber’s website, social media outlets and email. All nominees must be under 40 and a member of the Greater Memphis Chamber.

“These 10 young Memphians represent an inspiring group of individuals who have all found a home in Memphis and have dedicated their time toward making a meaningful impact on their community,” said Phil Trenary, chamber president and CEO. “The chamber is honored to share their story, which will hopefully motivate others to move here and engage in the growth of Memphis.”

The recipients will be featured in a full-page profile in the magazine’s next issue. The include:

• Fabiola Cervantes, public relations and digital content manager, Latino Memphis

• Sheena Freeman, patient relations/experience liaison, Regional One Health

Dustin Fulton, senior equity assurance administrator, University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Joel Katz, senior manager of youth sports partnerships, Memphis Grizzlies

Geoffrey Lewis, attorney, Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division

Michael Reynolds, marketing specialist, FedEx

Caroline Smart, regional events specialist, ALSAC/St. Jude 

• Dane Smith, senior vice president/corporate treasurer, First Horizon National Corp./First Tennessee Bank

Renee White, chief financial officer, Oak Hall

Beth Wilson, public relations manager, inferno

– Patrick Lantrip

SCS Partners With Churches On Student Achievement

Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson and the leaders of several local faith-based organizations announced a partnership Thursday, June 22, called “One Church, One School.”

The effort pairs churches with schools in programs to help student academic achievement as well as neighborhoods around schools.

Hopson’s effort to bolster a set of 19 “critical focus” schools with additional teaching help, capital improvements and school system spending is also aimed at renewing schools in neighborhoods that are losing school-age population.

The critical focus effort is aimed specifically at schools that would otherwise close without the renewal effort. The partnership with local churches follows up on Hopson’s call for people in those neighborhoods to join the effort.

– Bill Dries

Alexander Reviews Senate Draft of Health Care Bill

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee says a draft of a Senate health care bill that surfaced Thursday, June 22, would not change the federal law protecting citizens with pre-existing medical conditions, doesn’t change Medicare benefits and ups Medicaid funding at the rate of inflation.

Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in a written statement Thursday that he will continue to review the draft.

The roll-out of the bill Thursday came by Senate Republican leaders after sustained criticism from Democrats of the bill’s preparation in secret, followed by a call for a floor vote next week. Reaction from both sides of the aisle differ in the details of the general provisions.

“I’m going to see what it costs when the Congressional Budget Office gives its report,” Alexander said. “Then I’m going to stay focused on it next week as the bill goes to the Senate floor – where it will be subject to virtually unlimited amendments.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen said in a written statement that the Senate draft would make “tragically and sometimes fatally deep cuts to Medicaid, allow states to waive critical essential health benefits … and defunds Planned Parenthood.”

“Millions of people will likely lose their health insurance and many lower and middle income Americans will be forced to pay more for less coverage,” Cohen said.

– Bill Dries

Carriers Submit Health Care Coverage Plans for Tennessee

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Cigna and Oscar Health have notified the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance of their intent to offer individual health insurance coverage on and off the Federally Facilitated Marketplace when open enrollment begins for 2018 on Nov. 1.

Several approvals must occur in the weeks ahead before the companies are confirmed to participate in the 2018 market. Companies, for example, must file their rate requests to the TDCI by July 1. The department will review the requests with its actuarial team and has until Aug. 16 to approve the policy forms and rates.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will also review the filings and, after approval, companies will have until Sept. 27 to sign agreements to participate in the marketplace.

If all three providers are approved, based on their requests, every area of Tennessee would have some insurance coverage available through the marketplace.

Even if the carriers' coverage plans receive final approval, though, TDCI Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak said in a release that the market in Tennessee remains "challenged" as most consumers in the state will still face limited options and increasing premium prices.

The final deadline for approval of any proposed rates is Aug. 16. Open enrollment runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15.

– Andy Meek

Two Men Indicted In Heroin Overdose Death

Two men have been indicted on second-degree murder and drug charges for their roles in the death last year of a 28-year-old man who died of a fatal overdose of heroin and other drugs, according to Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich’s office.

Defendants Gregory Donta Blockman, 29, and Tommy Armstrong, 48, are being held on $250,000 bonds. They are scheduled to be in Criminal Court Division 2 on Monday, June 26.

An investigation showed that on Aug. 14 last year, Armstrong drove a 28-year-old friend, Christopher Holley, to the emergency room at St. Francis Hospital and told attendants Holley had taken heroin. Armstrong then drove away from the hospital when they took Holley inside the emergency room for treatment.

Holley was unconscious and soon was pronounced dead. An autopsy report listed the cause of death as acute heroin, cocaine, Fentanyl and alcohol intoxication.

An investigation showed that Armstrong drove Holley to a house on Marble Avenue near Evergreen Street in North Memphis to meet Blockman and purchase heroin. After Holley bought about $60 worth of heroin, he gave Armstrong a small amount to snort and then used the rest himself.

Armstrong told investigators that he drove Holley to the hospital when he became unconscious and would not wake up.

The case is being handled by Assistant District Attorney Chris Scruggs of the DA’s Multi-Agency Gang Unit Prosecution Team. The team handles homicide cases and other violent crimes associated with gang activity, specifically targeted gang members and special cases assigned by the district attorney general.

– Daily News staff

Six-Week AgTech Summer Work Program Launches

A new six-week summer work program with 12 participating students from Shelby County and municipal schools has launched to provide a unique learning experience, with opportunities to explore careers in agriculture and business technology.

The Memphis-Shelby County AgTech program will follow a curriculum focused on skills development and community service. It’s presented by Agricenter International and the UT-TSU Extension, and students will be treated as employees.

They’ll be paid a stipend of $12 an hour and offered transportation vouches if needed, in addition to daily lunch also being provided.

The program runs until Aug. 1. During it, students will take weekly field trips to area small businesses to gain first-hand insight into local career options. A graduation ceremony will be held at the end of the program for AgTech participants.

– Andy Meek

Mississippi River Casinos Grow in May, Coast Casinos Lag

May was a reversal of the usual story for Mississippi's casinos, with those along the Mississippi River taking a bit more from gamblers, but those along the Gulf Coast doing markedly worse.

State Revenue Department figures show gamblers lost $169 million statewide last month, down 4 percent from May 2016's $177 million.

Receipts rose less than 1 percent to $73 million at the 16 river casinos, only the 11th month to show growth since July 2012. The river casinos include those in Tunica, Mississippi, south of Memphis.

The 12 coastal casinos posted winnings of $96 million, down a sharp 7 percent from $104 million in May 2016.

Revenue is down about 3 percent statewide in the first five months of 2017, and down slightly over the last 12 months.

Numbers exclude Choctaw Indian casinos, which don't report winnings to the state.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 66 66 6,612
MORTGAGES 78 78 4,207
BUILDING PERMITS 158 158 16,073
BANKRUPTCIES 45 45 3,441