Last Word: 'Coach Killer', Collierville's Industrial Growth and Ice Cream & Soup

By Bill Dries

Lots of discussion the day after his firing about David Fizdale’s value off the court for the city and just where that fits with whether the Grizz win or lose and who is held responsible when they lose too much. Losing too much is what the Grizz front office said caused the change and not Marc Gasol being a “coach-killer” to quote Grizz GM Chris Wallace. And this is not just a Memphis discussion. LeBron James on the Fizdale firing via CBSSports. This was before James got ejected from a game Tuesday evening for the first time in his career.

Just a few years ago, all transportation planners and related bureaucrats could talk about was Interstate 269 and its impact. There was so much talk that it caused people to tune out the at-times wholly unrealistic economic expectations being piled onto a roadway that in many places is just another number and set of signs added to an existing piece of interstate. In other places it’s both I-69 and I-269 to confuse things even more.

Some of the smoke and mirrors from that has given way as construction of the outer beltway around Memphis that is I-269 is scheduled to wrap up at about this time next year. And Collierville puts itself at the geographic midpoint of the system from Port Huron, Michigan to Brownsville, Texas. The new portions of the road here mean access to lots of industrial real estate in and around Collierville. And that industrial looks to be smaller than what is just south of the state line in Byhalia's Chickasaw Industrial Park. The first forays into that kind of development in the general area have leased up quickly.

Two affordable apartment complexes owned by ALCO are getting $8 million in renovations inside and out that comes to $36,500 per unit at Eastern Heights in Binghampton and Creekwood Apartments in Raleigh next to Kennedy Park, which is in the process of becoming a major trailhead for the Wolf River Greenway. The renovations should be completed in both areas by the end of March.

Back to Binghampton, the chef who has been making Sudanese cuisine at Caritas Village for several years, Ibtisam Salih, has started a catering business and is working toward a restaurant of her own. Salih is working through Kaleidoscope Kitchen, a Binghampton Development Corp. commercial kitchen available to entrepreneurs who can rent at reasonable rates and get small-business counseling. It was her soups that first drew notice at Caritas, which is a kind of community center on steroids with a sophisticated menu that looks to be a further contributor to a diverse Memphis food scene

Yes, one of the co-owners of Area 51 Ice Cream is a conspiracy buff. But the business plan for the locally-sourced ice cream enterprise that recently opened a new location at Crosstown Concourse is more down to earth with roots in Hernando – the land of The Dip, formally known as “Velvet Cream,” which is not connected to Area 51, except maybe spiritually and by proximity. The Area 51 story kicks off with getting laid off from a casino job and the proposition that people will wait in line for ice cream.

Doesn’t all of this food talk make you hungry for … politics? Don’t answer. I can see it in your eyes. More early filers in the May county election primary elections. Here is the rundown.

A firm schedule now for the panel discussions and keynote speeches the National Civil Rights Museum and the University of Memphis are joining together to present in April leading up to the 50th anniversary of the 1968 sanitation workers strike and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The discussions are a mix of past and present, which has been the goal of the NCRM from the outset of an effort that will bring the world to the museum’s courtyard in just a few months. These are far from the only activities going on around town that are about the passage of half a century since a defining moment in the city’s history. And with the events comes what will likely become a much more vocal debate about what’s relevant and what is not. More on that when next we meet.

An audit shows problems at two privately-run state prisons.

Atop our Memphis Newsmakers segment, Kim Heathcott, the owner of Clarion Security on the security market that comes with the city’s status as a distribution and logistics hub and the peril of working around numbers.

Forbes begins the run of year-end lists with the highest paid dead celebrities of 2017 and Elvis Presley, a perennial on this list probably since it began, comes in fourth at $35 million. He was fourth in 2016 at $27 million. Forbes cites a bottom line improved in the last year by the expansion of the Graceland campus. Presley comes in just ahead of Bob Marley and just behind Charles Schulz. Michael Jackson tops the list at $75 million which is quite a bit less than the $825 million Jackson’s estate earned in 2016. But 2016 included a one-time sale of half of his Sony ATV catalogue.

A confession as an ending… I’m kind of weary -- not to mention suspicious -- of the magazine pieces that declare us the new boom town, “it” city, etc. and then lists a bunch of places to go, throwing in the obligatory two or three secret hip places that no one has found yet even if they have found them. But I hesitate to complain because I think we are due the treatment and you just can’t throw too much of this at our once soul-sucking inferiority complex. If you stop altogether, it will grow. But my unease is that it is so transitory and you can’t really do a list of sights to see and get at what makes the city unique – us. That said, I like this piece in Southern Living. Not sure when it came out – if it is new or just recent because apparently it’s not hip to put dates on your stories. I will send the memo on this to Kate Simone and see if our arbiter of all things style -- aka THE KATE -- agrees. I suspect she won’t or will try to add hyphens.

But back on subject – what I like is how this all starts with someone tracking down the places in the city where her parents and grandparents lived their lives and it goes light on the barbecue domination.