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VOL. 10 | NO. 26 | Saturday, June 24, 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, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

• 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, Churches Partner 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 Coverage Plans for Tenn.

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

Miss. 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

All Power Restored From June 18 Storm

Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division completed 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

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,” Patterson said.

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 Elvis' 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

Memphis Getting Help On Long-Term Crime Strategy

The city of Memphis is one of a dozen cities the U.S. Justice Department will work with to develop long-term strategies to drop violent crime rates.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday, June 20, the first 12 cities to join the National Public Safety Partnership. The Justice Department will help local authorities study crime patterns and create specially tailored plans to reduce gang and gun violence, Sessions said. Federal authorities will help cities find "data-driven, evidence-based strategies" that can be measured over time.

"This program will help communities suffering from serious violent crime problems to build up their capacity to fight crime," Sessions said, speaking at a gathering of federal and state law enforcement officials in Bethesda, Maryland.

The announcement follows Sessions’ May visit to Memphis to speak publicly with federal prosecutors. While in the city, he also held several private meetings with local elected officials who made their case for various causes, including more federal support of the Memphis Police Department.

Jackson, Tennessee, was also chosen among the first group of cities to take part in the program. The other cities are: Birmingham, Alabama; Indianapolis, Indiana; Toledo, Ohio; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Buffalo, New York; Cincinnati, Ohio; Houston, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; Lansing, Michigan; and Springfield, Illinois.

The department said it chose cities that have higher-than-average rates of violence and showed receptiveness to receiving assistance. Other jurisdictions could be targeted later for the program. In addition to developing strategies to cut crime rates, the Justice Department says it will offer "coaching" to local officials on how to form sustainable coordination with federal law enforcement and prosecutors.

Sessions has repeatedly said that helping cities combat violence is a top priority for the Justice Department, and he's called on the nation's federal prosecutors to pursue tougher punishments against most crime suspects.

Tuesday's summit gathered officials from across the country to discuss crime-lowering strategies.

– Bill Dries & The Associated Press

Sephora Hiring 400 for New Olive Branch Warehouse

Beauty retailer Sephora announced it will be looking to hire 400 workers at its distribution center in Olive Branch that is scheduled to open later this month, according to The Associated Press.

The subsidiary of French luxury goods house LVMH signed a lease for its 720,000-square-foot facility in the second quarter of 2016, according to real estate brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors’ Q2 2016 Industrial Snapshot.

The company plans to integrate the new hires over the next five years and is working with Ability Works, a division of the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation, to provide vocational assessment, job training and work experience for individuals with disabilities.

– Patrick Lantrip

Memphis Botanic Garden Adds Tamboli Sculpture

Memphis Botanic Garden has added a bronze sculpture by Memphis sculptor Roy Tamboli to its growing collection. “Destino III” is on display in the Conifer Garden via a long-term loan agreement with Tamboli, who created the piece in 2007.

Tamboli says the organic sculpture is about “transformation over time and evolving to a more meaningful reality with a greater purpose.”

A donation from Jack and Sandra Jones in honor of former MBG executive director Jim Duncan is funding the installation of “Destino III,” as well as hardscape and lighting to surround it. The sculpture will be accessible to all MBG guests and visible from Cherry Road, even at night.

– Daily News staff

UberEATS Adds McDonald’s Delivery in Memphis

UberEATS has added McDonald’s delivery in Memphis.

Now Uber customers can use the standalone UberEATS app to order a meal from McDonald’s and get it delivered straight to their door. The way it works: customer payment information is pulled from their existing Uber account. The UberEATS app lets customers tap which menu items they’d like to get delivered. The restaurant prepares it and hands it off to a nearby Uber driver, who’s hailed to deliver it to the customer.

UberEATS has been live in Memphis for a few months.

McDonald’s said in May it was significantly ramping up its partnership with the service. The UberEATS-compatible service now covers more than 1,000 restaurants.

– Andy Meek

International Paper Among Top Places to Work in IT

Online publication Computerworld has named Memphis-based International Paper Co. among the 2017 Best Places to Work in IT.

According to the rankings, IP finished 26th on the top 100 list for IT professionals in the large company category. Choosing the Top 100 companies was based on organizations that challenge their IT staffs while providing great benefits and compensation.

"I am proud of this team and really happy to see them recognized for helping International Paper become one of the most successful, sustainable and responsible companies in the world," said Bob Wenker, vice president and chief information officer at International Paper. "Being listed as one of the Best Places to Work in IT is a great achievement, made possible by a committed group of talented team members. I am extremely proud of them."

In total, International Paper has 1,400 IT team members who deliver technology support services to the company's 55,000 global team members, using information resources across 645 locations, speaking 13 languages and doing business in 44 currencies, according to Computerworld.

The list, which is an annual ranking of the top 100 work environments for technology professionals, is compiled based on a comprehensive questionnaire regarding company offerings in categories such as benefits, career development, training and retention.

– Patrick Lantrip

U of M Golfer Runner-Up At State Women’s Amateur

University of Memphis golfer Sydney Colwill lost to Abigail Heck, a Notre Dame signee, at the 85th Tennessee Women’s Amateur Championship on Friday, June 16.

The pair of amateur golfers both won three matches prior to the match-play final, which Heck, a No. 4 seed, ultimately won.

Colwill, a U of M junior, was 2 up after the fourth hole at Memphis National Golf Club, but Heck regained control of the match by winning the 11th and 12th holes, then held on for the victory.

Not to be outdone, Heck’s sister Rachel won the American Junior Golf Association Rolex Girls Invitational the same day.

– Patrick Lantrip

Memphis and Liverpool Host Songwriters Exchange

This summer, the cities of Memphis and Liverpool, England, will see their music scenes collide when Music Export Memphis and Monkey Mind Productions present “From Memphis to the Mersey,” a songwriters exchange that will select two emerging artists from each city for an immersive cultural and creative experience on both sides of the ocean.

During the exchange, the songwriters will be coached by and collaborate with mentors who include Grammy Award winner and Stax legend William Bell; Memphis singer, songwriter and producer Susan Marshall; the face and the voice of UK and international chart-topping Liverpool band The Christians; and The Christians’ band member, multi-instrumentalist, writer and producer Joey Ankrah.

From Memphis to the Mersey is made possible by support from the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau and Arts Council England.

The four selected songwriters will spend three days working in Memphis – Aug. 4-6 – and three in Liverpool from Aug. 26 to 28. Each city experience will culminate in an event featuring the performance of new songs and a curated conversation about the exchange itself and the connections between these two international music cities.

– 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.

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

Archer Malmo Wins National ADDY Awards

Memphis-based brand communications agency Archer Malmo won three national ADDY Awards at the 2017 American Advertising Awards.

The national awards are hosted by the American Advertising Federation.

Archer Malmo received 16 district ADDYs and 64 local ADDYs earlier in the year across its Memphis and Austin, Texas, offices.

National Silver ADDYs were won on behalf of the following projects:

• Illustration category, “Baby Shower Invitation”

• Advertising Industry Self-Promotion Ambient Media category, “La Tortilla Bendita”

• Advertising Industry Self-Promotion Integrated Campaign category, “La Tortilla Bendita”

The American Advertising Awards are the largest creative competition in the world with more than 40,000 local entries competing in 200 markets coast to coast.

– Andy Meek

Tennessee’s Jobless Rate Lowest Since March 2001

Tennessee’s unemployment rate dropped dramatically in May, hitting 4.0 percent, the lowest since March 2001, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The state’s unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in April.

The drop also took Tennessee’s jobless rate below the national average, which stood at 4.3 percent in May.

“While the statewide numbers look good for May, we know there are still several distressed counties across Tennessee and we need to focus on the unemployed workers in those areas,” Burns Phillips, labor and workforce commissioner, said in a statement. “I am anticipating (this week’s) county-by-county numbers to see how those parts of the state fared last month.”

Thus far in 2017, 57,500 jobs have been added to nonfarm employment in Tennessee, the department reported.

The biggest increases have come in professional/business services, trade/transportation/utilities and in mining/logging/construction.

– Daily News staff

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 19 170
BUILDING PERMITS 28 305 3,056
BANKRUPTCIES 25 98 716
BUSINESS LICENSES 4 26 302
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0