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VOL. 132 | NO. 178 | Thursday, September 7, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Back From Jury Duty, ASD Changes and Southern Heritage Classic Is Here

By Bill Dries

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Back from a very short-lived jury duty on a short week for the courts – criminal and civil. Even a slow week at the Criminal Justice Center is a learning experience about not only our criminal justice system but also the Constitutional framework that puts those notices in the U.S. mail and results in several hundred citizens at a time showing up in a jury assembly room after the adventure of trying to find parking Downtown.

It’s the parking that jury coordinator Tiffany Kimmons apologizes for when she goes over the ground rules. The rest of the process she has an explanation for in terms of how it works the way it works – but the parking is kind of a world of its own. And Criminal Court Judge Mark Ward came in to talk a bit about past methods at determining guilt other than by a jury of one’s peers like fetching a stone at the bottom of a cauldron of boiling oil. The Salem witch trials came up at another point in the process as well as a discussion in another courtroom about why a defendant cannot be compelled to testify and why a jury shouldn’t hold it against the defendant. There were also some points in there about why the judge’s desk is called a bench.

The folks at Graceland at the County Building Wednesday for committee sessions. And Joel Weinshanker, the managing partner of Graceland Holdings and the driving force behind Graceland’s Whitehaven expansion, was along for this one to say specifically that the 5,000 to 6,000 seat arena that is Graceland’s next move shouldn’t be competition for any venue in Memphis or Shelby County. But Mississippi – Landers Center – is a different matter.

Graceland had booked Landers for the August Elvis video concert that is now a regular part of Elvis week before changing its mind and booking FedExForum. Even then, Weinshanker says the new venue for Whitehaven is about 50 events a year and the first one will be a gospel music show with Memphis talent that takes the show on the road after playing Whitehaven to promote an album Graceland is working on with Sony. He sees the Whitehaven arena as a staging ground for these Memphis productions before they go around the world with Memphis talent.

The first of the horses from the old Fairgrounds Grand Carousel is back in town – on display for an event Wednesday at the new home at the Children’s Museum of Memphis for the carousel come November. And a look from the inside at the work on the surroundings for the carousel which has been undergoing restoration work in Ohio.

Fred’s has a new chairman of the board and he has been what you might call a dissident shareholder – a vocal critic of the company’s direction -- in the recent past.

Malika Anderson is leaving at the end of the month as the second superintendent of the Achievement School District and during the more than a year and a half she led the state district for low performing school turnarounds – most of which are in Memphis -- Anderson saw a lot of change in the ground rules for the ASD. Those changes are still unfolding and will certainly be a factor in who leads the ASD going forward.

The changes in the structure of public education here aren’t coming nearly as fast as they were when the ASD made its debut in the summer of 2012 with an emphasis on schools in Frayser. But there are still some changes like the first-ever charter school overseen directly by the state. It’s in Hickory Hill, which is something of a melting pot-crucible-battleground for different kinds of schools.

The on-again off-again Lake District project in Lakeland may be back on again provided the developer, Yehuda Netanel, makes a $20,000 payment to Lakeland’s Industrial Development Board by Friday. Friday is also the day the property is scheduled to be sold in foreclosure on the steps of the courthouse Downtown. It was that foreclosure notice last month that called into question the mixed-use project planned for the site of the old Belz Factory Outlet Mall. The IDB has a few more milestones for Netanel to meet beyond the Friday payment of attorneys’ fees. They include demolishing the mall by April 1.

So about the Tigers game in Orlando Saturday. No tailgating and the kickoff has been moved up to try to beat Irma to town. That said, the Tigers are tallying up their injured and learning lessons from the home opener victory in the wind and rain from Harvey.

An update to that story, Tigers senior linebacker Jackson Dillon out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury the University confirmed later in the day Wednesday.

This weekend at the Liberty Bowl should make up for the loss of tail gating privileges by some Tigers fans in Orlando. Because the Southern Heritage Classic starts Thursday and it starts Thursday morning with an epic tailgate a full two days before the Saturday game that takes in not only Tiger Lane but the Fairgrounds parking lots and Tobey Park. And after all, when Jackson State and Tennessee State play it is Tigers vs. Tigers.

At Big Orange, Jauan Jennings out indefinitely per Butch Jones.

More on this week’s first of three council votes on Confederate monuments.

And in his “View From The Hill” column, our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard talks with state Senate Democratic leader Lee Harris of Memphis about Mississippi’s court fight over its flag and what that could mean for the Memphis situation.

Before there was a Greenline, there was a trail at Agricenter International. And this week marked its completion three decades after it started and a lot of other priorities cut line ahead of the last mile. The trail is the Sunflower Trail and it connects different parts of Agricenter.

You can now register to vote on line in Tennessee. And through Wednesday, 147 citizens had voted early in the Arlington municipal elections – aldermen and school board seats. Early voting continues through Sept. 16 with election day on Sept. 21. DEMOCRACY

The Peabody marked its 148th anniversary Wednesday evening. That’s 148 years since its opening in the original location at Main and Monroe with the move to Union between Second and B.B. King coming just a bit more than 90 years ago. Just like yesterday.

Smithsonian marks the anniversary of the first Piggly Wiggly store with an article that tells the story of the Memphis institution. I’m not sure what’s “bizarre” about it, but the article includes some really good links to Clarence Saunders’ patent applications.

PROPERTY SALES 51 334 9,936
MORTGAGES 41 330 10,946
BUILDING PERMITS 348 1,216 22,173
BANKRUPTCIES 43 348 6,311