VOL. 10 | NO. 45 | Saturday, November 4, 2017
Tigers’ Ferguson Finalist For Johnny Unitas Award
University of Memphis senior quarterback Riley Ferguson has been named one of the 10 finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm.
Ferguson is one of two quarterbacks from the American Athletic Conference as a finalist, joining USF’s Quinton Flowers.
Other finalists include: J.T. Barrett, Ohio State; Ryan Finley, North Carolina State; Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State; Kenny Hill, TCU; Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma; Trace McSorley, Penn State; Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State; and Logan Woodside, Toledo.
Ferguson has completed 191-of-320 passes for 2,583 yards and 23 touchdowns this season. His 322.9 passing yards per game is seventh in the nation and the 23 TDs tie him for the fifth-most in the FBS.
The Matthews, North Carolina, native set the Tigers' single-game record with 471 passing yards (33-of-53 passing) in a win over Houston. The 400-yard passing performance was the third of his career, a program record. It was also the 11th 300-yard passing game of his career, which is second only to Paxton Lynch’s 12.
Ferguson moved into the No. 3 spot on the Tigers all-time passing yardage chart, with 6,281 yards.
Ferguson also tied the program’s single-game record with seven passing TDs in the win over UConn. He sits in third with 55 career passing TDs. Ferguson set the single-season passing TD record with 32 last season.
Candidates for the Golden Arm Award – which has been presented at the end of each college football season since 1987 – must be college seniors or fourth-year juniors on schedule to graduate with their class.
In addition to the accomplishments on the field, candidates are judged on their character, citizenship, scholastic achievement and leadership qualities.
The 2017 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award will be presented at a ceremony on Friday, Dec. 8, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Past winners include Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997); Carson Palmer (USC, 2002); Eli Manning (Ole Miss, 2003); Brady Quinn (Notre Dame, 2006); Matt Ryan (Boston College, 2007); Colt McCoy (Texas, 2009); Andrew Luck (Stanford, 2011); Marcus Mariota (Oregon, 2014); Connor Cook (Michigan State, 2015); and last year’s winner, Deshaun Watson, Clemson.
– Don Wade
West Cancer Center Adds Integrative Oncology Unit
West Cancer Center has added an integrative oncology division headed by Dr. Sylvia Richey, who has been a dedicated medical oncologist with the center for more than 12 years.
West Cancer Center CEO Erich Mounce said the launch is one more step toward West becoming a fully comprehensive cancer center.
While continuing to see breast cancer patients at West Cancer Center’s Memphis location, Richey will be building a program that complements the center’s mission to provide “comprehensive, compassionate care” for cancer patients.
The concept of integrative oncology involves combining conventional treatments with supportive therapies. West will supplement current survivorship and palliative care services with new programs like art therapy, music therapy and acupuncture.
– Andy Meek
Writers’ Block Planning ‘Literary Pop-Up’ Dec. 2
The Writers’ Block is launching its first Literary Pop-Up Shop on Dec. 2 at the Singleton Community Center auditorium, 7266 Third Road in Bartlett.
The book fair will bring together established and new authors from Tennessee, Mississippi, and Dallas, Texas.
The Writers’ Block is the brainchild of Yvonne James, who published her first book in June 2016. Frustrated with the lack of opportunities to promote and sell her book on a consistent basis, and with paying vendor fees, she started Writers’ Block to help local authors better connect with audiences.
More than two dozen authors/exhibitors will be part of the Dec. 2 event, which runs from noon to 5 p.m. Many genres will be represented, and autographed copies of books will be available. Visit thewritersblock-tn.com for more information.
– Don Wade
Violent Crime Rate Up, But Murders Down Locally
A rise in aggravated assaults have the violent crime rates in both Memphis and Shelby County up more than 8 percent through the first three quarters of 2017, but the murder rate is down compared to a year ago.
From January through September 2017, the murder rate in Memphis is 9.7 percent lower compared to the same nine months of 2016 and is down 17.6 percent across Shelby County, according to preliminary figures from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) released by the University of Memphis Public Safety Institute and the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission.
Among all major violent crimes (murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults), the biggest jump was in the aggravated assault category during the first three quarters, with an 11.2 percent increase countywide and an 11.9 percent rise within Memphis.
The higher volume of aggravated assaults kicked up the overall violent crime rate by 8.5 percent in Shelby County and 9.4 percent in Memphis, the statistics show.
“After a tough 2016, we’ve seen a significant drop in deadly violence, which is encouraging,” Bill Gibbons, president of the crime commission and executive director of the Public Safety Institute, said in a release. “Obviously, the increase in aggravated assaults is of concern. An aggravated assault can often easily turn into a death or serious injury.”
Among all major property crimes (burglaries, auto thefts and other felony thefts), the largest increase was in the auto theft category, with a 21 percent increase in all of Shelby County and an even higher 24.8 percent increase in Memphis compared to last year.
Reported burglaries remained fairly steady, up less than 1 percent, crime commission statistics show.
The rate of reported domestic violence incidents also was higher in the first three quarters – by 6.3 percent in the entire county and 8.1 percent in Memphis.
Factoring in 54 different categories of crime tracked by the TBI, the overall crime rate was up 6.6 percent countywide and 7.7 percent in Memphis.
– Daily News staff
Tennessee Democrats Vote To Support Medical Weed
Tennessee Democrats have voted to support resolutions calling for the legalization of medical marijuana, wider health care coverage and a $15 minimum wage.
The state executive committee passed the resolutions aimed at expressing the positions of the state Democratic Party.
State lawmakers have been studying the issue of medical marijuana since the end of the last legislative session.
Executive committee member Gary Blackburn said there is a "growing body of research about the benefits" of medical marijuana, including for the treatment of chronic pain. He says changing the law could also help combat the opioid epidemic.
Executive committee member Gale Jones Carson of Memphis says raising the state's minimum wage from $7.25 an hour would help lift more Tennesseans out of poverty.
– The Associated Press
New Micro-Retail Venue Seeking Vendors
The Shab Chic Marketplace at The Edge is currently searching for vendors to occupy its new shipping-container retail village in the Medical District.
Located in the empty lot next door to the former home of Kudzu’s, the micro-retail venture has set a tentative opening of Nov. 18.
After partnering with the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, the Atlanta-based group designed the project in the spirit of the Dekalb Market in Brooklyn, New York, or London’s Shoreditch district.
“Shab Chic Marketplace is an innovative, fun and exciting opportunity for startups and small businesses and the community,” a description of the project reads in part. “It will be a unique experience; a marketplace made of articulately designed shipping containers. The business is centered on the belief of inspiring innovation and creativity, promoting music, art, and above all, the businesses that comprise the marketplace.”
Visit mdcollaborative.org/shabchic for more information.
– Patrick Lantrip
Memphis Football No. 23 In College Playoff Rankings
The University of Memphis was ranked No. 23 in the season’s first College Football Playoff rankings and was one of two American Athletic Conference teams in the top 25 of the rankings.
The University of Central Florida (8-0) was ranked No. 18. The Tigers (7-1) were just behind No. 22 Arizona and just ahead of No. 24 Michigan State.
The committee’s top four, in order, were Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson. In all, five SEC teams made the rankings. After Alabama and Georgia, Auburn was ranked 14th, Mississippi State 16th, and LSU 19th.
In 2015, when Memphis was 8-0, the Tigers were No. 13 in the first rankings and remained in the rankings for three weeks.
Memphis plays Friday, Nov. 3, at Tulsa.
– Don Wade
Money: First Tennessee State’s Best Bank in 2017
First Tennessee Bank has been chosen by Money magazine as the top bank in Tennessee for 2017.
Money’s annual list focuses on banks with no or easily waived monthly fees, as well as low or no ATM fees and above-average interest. Other factors included J.D. ¬Power customer service ratings, geographic reach within a state, and mobile app ratings in the iTunes and Google Play stores.
Money evaluated the largest 90 brick-and-mortar banks, 50 credit unions and 15 online banks in the U.S., as identified by bank consultancy firm Novantas. Bankrate.com collected data on fees, interest rates and account requirements for checking and savings accounts, and that data was used to compare more than 800 accounts and 18,000 data points.
– Andy Meek
Memphis Mulch Giveaway Begins Saturday
The city of Memphis collected and processed more than 25,000 tons of trees and branches in the past year, and now it’s giving away the mulch created from that debris.
In commemoration of America Recycles Day, the city’s Division of Public Works Solid Waste Management Department is providing free mulch for Memphis residents while supplies last.
The giveaway starts at 5 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 4-5, at 315 S. Hollywood St., between Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and the Children’s Museum of Memphis.
The event is “self-service,” so residents should bring pitchforks or shovels and be prepared to load their own mulch. Commercial businesses and non-Memphis residents are not eligible for the free mulch.
The city says that since 1995, it has recycled more 1.1 million tons of yard debris, including bagged leaves, saving more than $24 million in landfill disposal fees.
– Daily News staff
Unemployment Below 4 Pct. Across Memphis MSA
Unemployment continues to shrink across the Memphis metropolitan statistical area, with each segment of the Memphis MSA recording an unemployment rate of less than 4 percent in September, the latest figures from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development show.
In the city of Memphis, September unemployment was 3.5 percent, down from 5.7 percent a year ago and from 4.1 percent in August.
The same trend was seen across the MSA. Unemployment in each portion of the MSA except Fayette County topped 4 percent in August but had dropped below 4 percent in September, state data show.
The August to September moves by MSA sector were:
Memphis: 4.1 percent to 3.5 percent
Shelby County: 4.2 percent to 3.4 percent
Fayette County: 3.7 percent to 3.2 percent
Tipton County: 4.2 percent to 3.5 percent
Arkansas portion: 4.3 percent to 3.8 percent
Mississippi portion: 4.1 percent to 3.9 percent
Tennessee’s unemployment rate was 3 percent in September, down from 3.3 percent in August and 4.9 percent in September 2016. The U.S. unemployment rate, meanwhile, was 4.2 percent in September, down from 4.4 percent a month ago and 4.9 percent a year ago.
– Daily News staff
Walmart, Sam’s Club Raise Funds for Miracle Network
Walmart and Sam’s Club locations will continue their fundraising efforts for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, including Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, through Friday, Nov. 3, the retail chains have announced.
Money is raised primarily through a register campaign, where customers and members can donate $1 or more during the checkout process. Store associates also raise funds in other ways, such as bake sales, contests and events.
A new addition to the 2017 campaign is the ability for customers to donate directly from the screens at self-checkout kiosks. Once they have completed scanning their items, customers are prompted with an on-screen donation request before paying for their order.
Over the last 30 years, Walmart and Sam’s Club associates, customers and members have helped raise nearly $1 billion for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. That’s the largest amount ever raised by a company for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, according to the retailers.
The money raised at local stores is directed to a nearby CMN hospital, such as Le Bonheur, and is used to pay for equipment, research, charitable care and a variety of other needs children’s hospitals have.
Walmart and Sam’s Club joined the CMN Hospitals fundraising family in 1987 with Sam Walton himself being personally involved in the beginning of the relationship between the organizations.
– Daily News staff
Fed Leaves Key Rate As Is, Hints at Future Hikes
With a new Federal Reserve leader about to be announced, the Fed is keeping its key interest rate unchanged. It also hints that it’s preparing to resume raising rates as the economy shakes off the impact of recent hurricanes.
The Fed’s decision left its benchmark rate in a low range of 1 percent to 1.25 percent. It’s expected to hike rates in December.
Its statement notes the economy has been rising “at a solid rate despite hurricane-related disruptions.”
The Fed reiterated its belief that inflation will resume moving toward its 2 percent target and said it was proceeding with a program to shrink its bond portfolio – a move that could mean higher long-term rates over time.
President Donald Trump has said he will announce his choice for Fed chair on Thursday, Nov. 2. Jerome Powell, a Fed board member, is assumed to be the top contender.
“I think you will be extremely impressed by this person,” Trump said Wednesday.
The statement the Fed issued Wednesday is all but an afterthought next to Trump’s impending announcement of who will lead the central bank for the next four years.
His choice will be scrutinized for what it might mean for the direction of interest rates, and perhaps for the economy.
In selecting Powell, Trump would be deciding against offering a second term to Janet Yellen, who has drawn wide approval for her performance as chair. She would be the first Fed leader in decades not to be offered a second term after serving a full first term.
– The Associated Press
ServiceMaster Revenue Increases 5 Percent in Q3
ServiceMaster Global Holdings Inc. said Tuesday, Oct. 31, its third-quarter revenue rose 5 percent, buoyed by growth in its American Home Shield home warranty division and Franchise Services Group, along with the acquisition of Landmark Home Warranty a year ago.
The Memphis-based home and commercial services provider reported third-quarter net income of $80 million, or 59 cents per share, compared with $70 million, or 51 cents a share, during Q3 2016.
The earnings news comes as ServiceMaster prepares to spin off the AHS division in Q3 2018, which CEO Nik Varty said will allow it to focus on turning around the Terminix pest-control business while “allowing AHS to pursue its high-growth opportunities.”
American Home Shield’s third-quarter revenue increased 12 percent to $346 million compared with a year ago, while revenue for its Franchise Services Group rose 7.5 percent over the same period, reaching $55 million.
The Terminix division, meanwhile, reported quarterly revenue slightly decreased year-over-year to $395 million. The company attributed the decline in part to hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which caused the temporary closure of 53 branches in Texas and Florida, and the acquisition of Alterra Pest Control. Without those factors, Varty said, Terminix’s revenue would have grown 2 percent.
“We are continuing to focus on improving customer retention by significantly upgrading the customer experience,” he said in a written release. “We are strengthening our leadership team and driving accountability throughout the organization so that we can consistently deliver on our commitments.”
ServiceMaster reaffirmed its earlier guidance for full-year 2017, saying revenue likely would range between $2.9 billion and $2.92 billion.
– Daily News staff
County Commission OKs Emissions Fee Hike
Shelby County commissioners advanced on the first of three readings Monday, Oct. 30, an ordinance that would increase the county’s air pollution emission fee and the major and minimum source permit fees for non-automobile emissions.
The fee per ton of annual emissions would go from $48 to $53. The major source annual permit fee would go from $2,000 to $5,000, and the minimum emission fee from $1,000 to $1,500.
Third and final reading of the ordinance would be at the first commission meeting in December.
Commissioners also approved an amendment to the county’s agreement for the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy to manage Shelby Farms Park. The agreement increases what the county pays the conservancy from $585,848 to $825,848. The conservancy expands the area it maintains and operates for the county to include the operations area at Mullins Station and Raleigh Lagrange roads. And county government no longer buys, replaces or repairs the equipment the conservancy uses.
Commissioner Walter Bailey abstained in the vote on the item. He opposes county funding to the conservancy and has called for at least some of the park land to be developed.
The commission also granted a pedestrian and bicycle trail easement on the other side of Walnut Grove Road for the Wolf River Greenway project.
And it approved turning over 15.1 acres of county land at Rust Road and U.S. 51 for Shelby County Schools to build a new Woodstock K-12 school. The site is across Rust Road from the existing Woodstock Middle School in northern Shelby County.
The commission also approved two resolutions and two ordinances on first reading that begin a transformation of the Community Redevelopment Agency, putting the joint city-county agency in control of redevelopment of the Binghampton area and an expanded Uptown area.
The Memphis City Council is expected to act soon on comparable measures on its side of the transaction.
Commissioners also approved a new contract compliance committee with members that include Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, commissioner Van Turner and commission chairwoman Heidi Shafer as well as county Equal Opportunity Coordinator Carolyn Watkins and five citizens.
More citizens representing all segments of the minority business community will be appointed next month to the committee, which is an “oversight working group” on county goals to increase the percentage of county government contracts awarded to minority- and women-owned businesses.
– Bill Dries
Memphis VA Fires Two Department Heads
A week after the Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center got the federal agency’s lowest ranking – one star out of a possible five – the heads of the anesthesiology and surgery departments have been fired.
David Dunning, the new director of the Memphis center, took the action last week against Susan Calhoun, who served as head of anesthesiology, and Darryl Weiman, who was head of surgery.
Both had been reassigned during an investigation – one of several underway after several years of persistent allegations about veterans facing long wait times to see doctors or get medical attention at the Memphis center as well as problems in surgery or in the quality of care.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee also is investigating the Memphis center in a probe that began earlier this year.
– Bill Dries
Norvell: ‘No Distractions’ Related to Job Rumors
The University of Memphis football team’s 7-1 start has put them in the top 25 in both major polls and has fans looking forward to the possibility of playing for an American Athletic Conference championship. And, if that goes well, playing in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day.
But it’s also the time of year when there is much speculation about coaching changes. Florida became the first SEC school to part ways with its coach, Jim McElwain, a few days ago. Among the names that have come up as possible candidates for the Gators’ next coach is second-year Memphis head coach Mike Norvell. His name also has been linked more generally to other jobs expected to come open.
“Like I told the players – we had a quick team meeting – there are no distractions,” Norvell said after practice Monday, Oct. 30. “There are no distractions from anything on the outside. The only thing that matters to us is that every individual, player, coach, whatever, is 100 percent focused on being 1-0 this week. The only way we can get that done is by maximizing today.
“We address it, I’m open about it with our team, but we also address that we have more players doing interviews, people talking about top 25. That is a positive thing for our program. I sure don’t want to see it the other way. Our guys know that they’ve got to come out and do work, and if you don’t take care of business, you’re not going to worry about being in the top 25.”
The Tigers, who are 4-1 in the AAC, play at Tulsa Friday, Nov. 3, followed by their bye week and two home games to close out the regular season.
– Don Wade
Exeter Closes on Fifth Major Purchase in October
Pennsylvania-based real estate investment management firm Exeter Property Group made its fifth significant local investment within a month with the $13.8 million purchase of a 400,000-square-foot industrial property in southeast Memphis.
Located at 4895 Citation Drive west of Pleasant Hill Road, the 21-year-old warehouse sits on more than 21 acres and was last appraised for $13.1 million by the Shelby County Assessor.
Teresa Tsai, founder and CEO of Treeview Real Estate Advisors, signed the deed on behalf of the sellers.
This acquisition marks the fifth Memphis industrial property Exeter has bought this month, for a total investment of more than $72 million.
Last week, Exeter acquired two additional properties from New York-based Treeview for a combined $34.5 million: a 700,000-square-foot Class A warehouse at 4755 Southpoint Drive and a 500,000-square-foot warehouse at 5015 Citation.
Earlier in the month, Exeter bought two southeast Memphis properties from San Francisco-based developer Prologis Inc. for a combined $23.8 million. Those assets are at 5295 Logistics Drive and 5305 Logistics Drive,near the Citation Drive properties.
– Patrick Lantrip
Tenet Healthcare To Lay Off 1,300 Workers
The parent company of Saint Francis Hospital in Memphis and Bartlett has announced a company-wide cost reduction effort intended to lower operating expenses by $150 million and will include cutting about 1,300 positions, including contractors.
Tenet Healthcare hasn’t provided details about specific markets yet, but the initiative will consist mostly of headcount reductions and renegotiating contracts with suppliers and vendors. The company currently operates 77 general acute care hospitals, 20 short-stay surgical hospitals and about 460 outpatient centers in the U.S., as well as nine facilities in the United Kingdom.
Tenet’s executive chairman and CEO Ronald Rittenmeyer said in a statement the company is moving “quickly and decisively” to improve financial results and returns for shareholders.
“The cost reduction program … includes a number of structural changes in the way we operate, all intended to reinforce accountability, improve agility and speed decision making.”
Tenet operates two local hospitals: Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis at 5959 Park Ave. and Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett at 2986 Kate Bond Road.
– Andy Meek
Luxury Eyewear Maker Laying Off 208 in Memphis
Luxottica Retail North America Inc. has filed an official notice with the state of Tennessee saying it will permanently layoff 208 workers in Shelby County by Dec. 31.
The filing with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development affects workers at its facility at 5780 E. Shelby Drive, Suite 102.
The workers are not represented by any collective bargaining agreement.
Luxottica designs, manufactures and distributes fashion, luxury, sports and performance eyewear under such brands such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, Vogue Eyewear, Persol and Arnette, and has licensing agreements with Giorgio Armani, Chanel, Michael Kors, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co., Versace and other brands.
– Daily News staff
Redbirds’ Eversgerd To Coach for St. Louis
Bryan Eversgerd, longtime pitching coach for the Memphis Redbirds, will in 2018 work as the bullpen coach for the parent St. Louis Cardinals.
The big league club has made several staff changes of late, including firing pitching coach Derek Lilliquist and replacing him with Mike Maddux, who most recently was with the Washington Nationals.
Eversgerd has been pitching coach with the Redbirds since 2013. This season, the Redbirds won the Pacific Coast League championship, and Memphis manager Stubby Clapp relied on Eversgerd to make in-game pitching decisions.
As a player, Eversgerd pitched 12 years professionally and spent time with both the Redbirds and Cardinals. His 2017 Redbirds pitching staff led the PCL with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP.
In other coaching staff changes, former Redbirds manager Mike Shildt was moved from third base coach to bench coach, Jose Oquendo will return to manager Mike Matheny’s staff and former Cardinal Willie McGee will be a full-time staff member. Also, another former Redbirds manager, Ron “Pop” Warner, will be Matheny’s assistant field coordinator.
– Don Wade
FHN Board Approves $5.5M Bonus for CEO
The board of directors of First Tennessee Bank’s parent company has approved a $5.5 million bonus for CEO Bryan Jordan.
The compensation committee of the board at First Horizon National Corp. approved the award, the company disclosed Friday in a regulatory filing, because of the board wanting to reward Jordan “for, among other things, his leadership over the past six years and the company’s outstanding performance during that time.
“This bonus fulfills the committee’s intention, stated in (First Horizon’s) proxy statement for its 2017 annual meeting of shareholders, to deliver value commensurate with (First Horizon’s) achievements over the past six years.”
Jordan took the top executive spot at First Horizon in 2008, during the Great Recession, and took on the role of board chairman in 2012. The bank’s stock has been trading lately near its 52-week high, and the company reported a 7 percent increase in net income in the just-ended third quarter - from $63.2 million to $67.3 million year-over-year.
In the third quarter, First Tennessee had a strong efficiency ratio of 53 percent - which means, basically, it spends 53 cents to make a dollar. That’s down about 5 percent year-over-year.
– Andy Meek