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VOL. 11 | NO. 6 | Saturday, February 10, 2018

Daily Digest

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Med-Tech Company Hooks Up With FedEx Institute

The University of Memphis has signed a memorandum of understanding that will help bring the U.S. operations of Waterloo, Canada-based medical technology company DayaMed to Memphis.

The company, a leading provider of mobile medical devices and patient-centric data analytics, will located in the university area and plans to work with the FedEx Institute of Technology’s Biologistics Research Cluster.

The partnership will allow DayaMed, among other things, to engage university faculty and graduate students in research collaboration, innovation design, market expansion and partner development activities.

DayaMed executive director of regional development Troy Parkes said the company is trying to work out a deal to lease a building on Highland Avenue that once housed a Memphis Public Library branch and expects that to be wrapped up in a few months.

– Andy Meek

Wolfchase Retail Building Sells for $2.3 Million

A 17,000-square-foot retail building near Wolfchase Galleria has sold for $2.3 million.

NAI Saig Co. executive vice president Brian Califf and vice president Bryan Evans represented the seller, Stone Gallery LLC, in the transaction.

New owners CRD Properties LLC said they plan to renovate and reuse the vacant building located at 8076 Giacosa Ave.

Stone Gallery Inc., the building’s previous occupants, signed a three-year lease for 15,000 square feet at 3345 One Place, near Memphis International Airport, effective Dec. 1, 2017.

Califf represented both the tenant and the landlord, Plaza Partners, in that deal.

Stone Gallery specializes in the remodeling of kitchens, bathrooms, cabinets and granite appliances.

– Patrick Lantrip

Homayoun to Speak About Balance in a Digital World

Ana Homayoun, author of the book “Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World,” will speak at 7 p.m. on Feb. 27 at Hutchison School.

A nationally acclaimed speaker and author, Homayoun will discuss modern parenting dilemmas in the age of the smartphone.

The event will be in the school’s Wiener Theater, 1740 Ridgeway Road, and is free and open to the public.

Homayoun will address the challenges of living and parenting in an always-on digital world. Her book explores how using digital devices affects all aspects of our lives and personal wellness, including students’ academic abilities and social well-being, as well as emotional and physical health.

Her work is grounded in research and based on more than 15 years of working with students of all ages.

– Don Wade

Union University, ASU Make Most-Affordable Lists

Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, came in at No. 20 on the 2018 list of the Most Affordable Online Colleges for doctorate degrees.

The Most Affordable Online Colleges lists are compiled annually by SR Education Group, an education research publisher founded in 2004 that has been compiling the lists since 2013. It aims to help students choose the best school for their career aspirations and budget, making objective information accessible about education, careers and college financing.

SR Education Group manually researched more than 1,000 colleges to create separate lists that highlight the 25 most cost-effective online colleges by degree level, and one overall most affordable list.

To be eligible for the overall list, which takes into account both undergraduate and graduate tuition rates, colleges have to offer at least five online bachelor's and five online master's degrees. Middle Georgia State University, the No. 1 most affordable school, offers 19 online degrees starting at an undergraduate tuition rate of $5,070 and a graduate tuition rate of $3,825.

Arkansas State University in Jonesboro ranks No. 6 on the overall list with undergraduate tuition of $7,080 and graduate tuition of $4,410. The University of Arkansas came in at No. 10 ($8,283 and $4,791).

Overall, 104 different schools are represented in the five lists, which include the top 25 colleges at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels, as well as the top 25 overall. For degree level lists, colleges were required to offer at least 10 fully online degrees at that level, with the exception of the doctoral list, for which the criteria was three fully online degrees.

Only four schools made it on three separate lists: Arkansas State University, Fort Hays State University, Missouri State University and Southeast Missouri State University.

All tuition rates represent out-of-state rates.

– Daily News staff

Luttrell Endorses Lenoir For Shelby County Mayor

Outgoing Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell has endorsed David Lenoir for county mayor.

Lenoir, who is currently county trustee, is running in the May 1 Republican primary for mayor in a field that includes County Commissioner Terry Roland and Juvenile Court Clerk Joy Touliatos.

“He understands that true leaders must be willing to roll up their sleeves to address the underlying causes of the challenges we face like blight, crime, economic growth and access to a solid education,” Luttrell said in a statement Thursday, Feb. 8.

The winner of the Republican primary will face the winner of the Democratic primary between state Sen. Lee Harris and former County Commissioner Sidney Chism on the August county general election ballot.

– Bill Dries

Appeals Court: Tennessee's DUI Fee Unconstitutional

An appeals court has ruled that it is unconstitutional for state law to require that every person convicted of DUI through a blood or breath test pay a fee that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is dependent upon to fund testing operations.

The ruling Tuesday, Feb. 6, by the Court of Criminal Appeals in Knoxville says the $250 fee violates due process and calls into question the trustworthiness of test results obtained by the bureau's forensic scientists. State law requires the money to go to the bureau's intoxicant testing fund.

The case was joined by more than 20 defendants who were charged with DUIs after they provided blood or breath samples, and each would have been subject to paying the $250 fee if convicted.

The appellate court wrote that the lower court in the main defendant's case was wrong in not dismissing the test results as evidence.

The decision said the fee system creates a monetary incentive for forensic scientists through continued employment, salaries, equipment and training.

"While we acknowledge that TBI forensic scientists could lose their jobs if they falsify test results and these falsifications are discovered, we also recognize that forensic scientists would most certainly lose their jobs if funding for their positions disappears, a result of which these forensic scientists are no doubt well aware," the opinion states.

It's unclear if prosecutors will appeal to the state Supreme Court.

According to the appeals court's decision, the defense had said it wasn't arguing that the bureau actually falsified test results, but was contending that the fee violated due-process rights because it "created the appearance of impropriety and the potential for abuse based upon financial interest."

After state lawmakers first instituted a $100 fee in 2005, they passed a bureau-backed proposal in 2010 to raise the fee to $250. The fees now bring in more than $3 million annually.

According to the ruling, TBI Director Mark Gwyn told the state Senate Judiciary Committee in 2014 that without increasing the fees in 2010, the bureau would have had to eliminate several forensic scientist positions. Gwyn also has said the fee helps the bureau avoid charging local law enforcement agencies for the testing, which they can't afford.

The order says that neither instruction to a jury nor vigorous cross-examination of the bureau's forensic scientists in court would correct that the fee system violates due process. Independent testing also isn't the answer because it would wrongly shift the burden of proof from the state to the defendant, the order adds.

"Under the scenario suggested by the State, the defendant is forced to obtain an independent test, to pay for an attorney to defend him, and to hire an expensive expert to challenge the ... result in order to do what an unbiased TBI forensic scientist should have done from the beginning," the order states.

– The Associated Press

MATA Ending Bus Service To West Memphis

The Memphis Area Transit Authority is ending service to West Memphis, Arkansas, on March 31, citing a lack of funding.

MATA and the city of West Memphis announced Tuesday, Feb. 6, it would end the 77-West Memphis and 98-West Memphis Express routes, along with West Memphis MATAplus service.

The routes were most recently funded by Job Access Reverse Commute grants, but the last time JARC funds were apportioned for West Memphis was in 2012. After that, the city received small allotments of unobligated JARC funding left over from previous years. The city of West Memphis was able to stretch the money out for an additional five years of service, thanks to partnerships formed with MATA, the Arkansas Department of Transportation, and the West Memphis Advertising and Promotions Committee.

However, the lack of funding caused a reduction in service, which in turn resulted in a decline in the ridership from a high of 280,386 passengers in 2009 to 76,000 customers in 2017.

When the JARC funds completely ran out in August, some routes had to be modified, which caused ridership to drop even further.

Paul Luker, director of planning and development for the city of West Memphis, said the MATA service gave some of West Memphis’ most vulnerable populations much-needed access to school, work, grocery stores and banks.

“Unfortunately, funding for transportation has decreased, which has left us in a powerless situation.” Luker said in a statement.

– Patrick Lantrip

SCO Reports 100 Percent Optometry Board Passage

Every student in the Southern College of Optometry’s most recent graduating class passed the National Board optometry exam, making the Memphis college the only one in the nation with 100 percent passage rate.

This year marks the first time the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry has published the pass rates on the national board exams.

There are 21 accredited colleges of optometry across the nation, with Southern College of Optometry being the only one in the state of Tennessee. Among all schools, the average board passage rate was 90.9 percent. The median, with a low rate of 68.42 percent, is 94.59 percent..

“Our board passage rates have always been a point of pride for SCO, but seeing our performance stack up among our peers is truly an indication that what we’re doing works,” SCO president Dr. Lewis Reich said in a statement. “We consistently bring in the best and brightest students – ranking among the top in entrance exam scores and undergraduate GPA among all optometry schools, and they continue that impressive performance into their careers.”

Since 2011, SCO has annually provided more than $1 million in uncompensated optometric care to those who need it most. In 2016, the figure was more than $1.8 million across its four clinics and its mobile vision care unit, MobilEYES. SCO optometrists and optometrists-in-training treat nearly 60,000 patients each year through its clinical programs.

SCO consistently ranks near the top among its peers in entrance exam scores, board passage rates and student loan repayment, according to the college.

– Daily News staff

First Tennessee Bank Wins 23 Greenwich Awards

First Tennessee Bank has won 23 awards for outstanding service for business banking from Greenwich Associates as part of the group’s 2017 Greenwich Excellence Awards.

In evaluating more than 600 banks, Greenwich Associates identified a select group of banks that performed at differentiated levels compared to peer institutions at the national and regional levels. First Tennessee won 19 national awards and four regional awards.

“We appreciate our business customers and we are honored by the outstanding level of approval they have shown for our capability and service,” said David Popwell, president of banking for First Tennessee’s parent company, First Horizon National Corp.

In the Middle Market Banking category, First Tennessee received eight national awards, for Overall Satisfaction and Likelihood to Recommend.

In Cash Management, First Tennessee won awards for Overall Satisfaction, Accuracy of Operations, Customer Service, Ease of Product Implementation, Online Banking Functionality and Product Capabilities

In the Small Business Banking category, First Tennessee received 11 national awards in the categories of Overall Satisfaction, Proactively Provides Advice, Branch Satisfaction, Industry Expertise, Likelihood to Recommend and Overall Satisfaction with Relationship Manager.

In Cash Management, the awards were Overall Satisfaction, Accuracy of Operations, Customer Service, Ease of Product Implementation and Product Capabilities.

First Tennessee also received four Regional (South) awards: Overall Satisfaction, Proactively Provides Advice, Likelihood to Recommend, and Overall Satisfaction in Cash Management.

– Andy Meek

Tobacco Corner Closing Last Location

The Tobacco Corner Ltd., which has been a mainstay at the corner of South Mendenhall Road and Poplar Avenue for more than 40 years, appears on track to close its doors in April.

That’s according to Jeff Abel, whose parents, Elliot and Sandra Abel, opened the first Tobacco Corner on the Highland Strip in 1969.

“A lot of people knew my dad – a lot of people knew that shop,” Abel said. “He started from nothing on Highland and built it up.”

The shop at 669 S. Mendenhall Road, which opened in 1972, is the last remaining Tobacco Corner.

The Abels had opened a few other locations around Memphis and also sold newspapers and magazines at the Tobacco Corner Newsroom, a separate business adjacent to several of its stores.

Jeff Abel, whose father died last year, said the Mendenhall location is in need of significant renovations. To have a successful tobacco shop in this day and age, he continued, a business like it also needs things like an upscale lounge, events, the ability to serve alcohol and coffee – basically features, he said, that would make it a destination.

“That’s what’s all over the country and really booming,” Abel said. “An old smoke-shop design doesn’t work in this day and age.”

Barring any change, the shop will be closing in April.

– Andy Meek

Mueller Income Drops In Tough Copper Industry

Memphis-based Mueller Industries Inc. reported a 67 percent drop in fourth-quarter net income and a 14 percent in full-year income as the industrial manufacturer was affected by challenges in the copper industry as well as an outage at its brass rod mill.

Mueller on Tuesday, Feb. 6, reported fourth-quarter net income of $5.7 million, or 10 cents per diluted share, compared with $17.3 million, or 30 cents per share, in Q4 2016.

For the year, the company reported net income of $85.6 million, or $1.49 per share, compared with $99.7 million, or $1.74 per share, in 2016.

Mueller specializes in copper and copper alloy goods, though it also produces items made from aluminum, steel and plastic. Its products are used in the construction, appliance, defense, energy and automotive sectors.

CEO Greg Christopher told analysts and investors on the earnings call that fourth-quarter earnings were “adversely affected by inventory impacts and, to a lesser but still important degree, the ongoing challenges in our U.S. copper tube business.”

The company said a casting outage at its brass rod mill during the fourth quarter impaired its ability to melt scrap returns, causing an excess of $38.9 million in inventory.

The line is now operational, and Mueller says it expects inventory levels to normalize this year.

The quarter also included the cost of modernizing a copper tube mill in Fulton, Mississippi, and the startup of a new mill in Cedar City, Utah.

“On a full year basis, cost overruns, startup costs, throughput constraints, quality and yield challenges, along with an associated decline in market share, impacted our copper tube earnings by over $25 million,” Christopher said.“The international markets we serve remained stable and better than anticipated in 2017, and demand in the U.S. markets continued to remain positive.”

– Bill Dries

FedEx Customer Service Building Sells for $14M

The 125,000-square-foot building that houses FedEx’s TechConnect Customer Service center in Collierville has switched hands for $14 million.

In the deal, BAP Properties sold the Class B warehouse located at 477 Distribution Parkway to Infinity Nine Collierville LLC for $14 million.

Phillip Wood of Southlake, Texas, signed the Jan. 2 warranty deed on behalf of the sellers.

Meanwhile, the new owners took out a $9.8 million mortgage on the property through San Antonio, Texas-based Security Service Federal Credit Union.

William M. Braden, also of San Antonio, signed the deed of trust on behalf of Infinity Nine.

The Shelby County Assessor appraised the 33-year-old warehouse at $5.1 million in 2017.

– Patrick Lantrip

$5M Building Permit Filed for Hotel Indigo

Atlanta-based Three P Partners has filed a $5 million building permit application with the Office of Construction Code Enforcement to construct a 118-room Hotel Indigo at the corner of North B.B. King Boulevard and Court Avenue.

New Orleans-based Expotel Hospitality will oversee the development and management of the property with Memphis-based brg3s architects handling the design work.

Developed by Holiday Inn founder Kemmons Wilson in 1957, the 200,000-plus-square-foot structure is now slated to be the city’s first Hotel Indigo.

Scheduled to open in mid-2018, the new Hotel Indigo will feature approximately 3,000 square feet of private dining, event and meeting space; a fitness center; and a renovated pool with cabana bar.

Expotel Hospitality’s development team is “in discussions with several nationally recognized, chef-driven restaurant groups with whom they will collaborate on the culinary program for the restaurant that looks onto the corner of B.B. King and Court and affords an opportunity to create a uniquely urban dining experience,” according to the company’s website.

Three P, doing business as 22 North Third LLC, bought the Econo Lodge Downtown and its garage, located at 22 N. B.B. King Blvd. and 28 N. B.B. King Blvd. respectively, from Bluff City Partners LLC for $5.9 million in a Dec. 29 warranty deed.

Mabra Holeyfield signed that deed as chief manager of Bluff City Partners.

In conjunction with that purchase, 22 North Third LLC filed a $3 million loan through State Bank and Trust Co.

Vibrant Hotels had plans in 2007 to convert the Tenoke Building at 161 Jefferson Ave. into a Hotel Indigo, but those plans were sidelined by the Great Recession.

Vibrant’s plans to brand Tenoke Building as a 155-room Aloft Hotel, a boutique brand owned by Starwood Hotel & Resorts Worldwide, was approved by the Memphis City Council in 2016.

– Patrick Lantrip

State Senate Committee OKs Repeal of Hall Tax

A proposal by state Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown to amend the Tennessee Constitution to ban the Hall income tax passed the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee Tuesday, Feb. 6, by a vote of 9-2.

Kelsey’s resolution proposes adding language to the state Constitution to eliminate state and local governments’ authority to levy taxes on income derived from stocks and bonds that are not taxed ad valorem.

“The Hall tax on interest and dividends discourages saving and investment and disproportionately impacts senior citizens on fixed incomes,” Kelsey said in a statement. “More and more citizens are relying on interest from stocks and dividends to fund their daily living expenses when they retire. Not only is the Hall tax oppressive to these seniors, but it encourages them to move out-of-state.”

Enacted in 1929, the Hall income tax is the only tax on personal income in Tennessee.

It is currently a 4 percent tax on income derived from dividends on stock or from interest on bonds after the General Assembly has made several reductions in recent years.

The Legislature voted last year to incrementally phase the tax out by January 2021, but Kelsey’s proposed amendment would constitutionally prohibit the General Assembly from ever levying or permitting any state or local tax upon income derived from stocks and bonds.

“Enshrining the Hall Tax repeal in the Tennessee Constitution is a pro-growth move that will encourage investment and reinvestment in the state, its companies and its people,” Kelsey said.

To amend the state Constitution, the proposal would need to be approved by a simple majority during the current legislative session, followed by a two-thirds vote by next year’s Legislature.

It would then be placed on the ballot for consideration by voters in the 2022 gubernatorial election and would need to be approved by a majority of votes cast in the governor’s race.

Kelsey, a Republican, represents Cordova, East Memphis and Germantown. He serves as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

– Daily News staff

Memphis College of Art Taps CW/CA for Sale

Memphis College of Art has tapped real estate brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors to handle the sale of its Midtown portfolio, including Rust Hall and a dozen other properties.

The 80-plus-year-old institution announced in October it would be shuttering its doors for good in May 2020. Proceeds from the sale of MCA’s real estate will create a reserve fund for the teach-out of the current students and retire the college’s real estate debt, according to MCA president Laura Hine.

“In the sale of the real estate assets south of Poplar, we will be mindful of our students’ educational and housing needs,” Hine said in a release. “We are committed to our students and will have them in mind during every step of the process.”

The centerpiece of the MCA portfolio is the iconic 60-year-old Rust Hall building at 1930 Poplar Ave. in Overton Park, which was designed by architect Roy Harrover.

The additional buildings, all located south of Poplar Avenue, include four art studio/office buildings on North Tucker Street; three multifamily properties; the Metz Hall and Fogelman Hall student housing buildings on North Barksdale Street; mixed-use properties on Poplar Avenue and Rembert Street; a parcel of land on North Tucker; and the Hudson House single-family home at 157 Rembert.

“We will work closely with MCA on all new ownership decisions,” CW/CA principal Matt Weathersby said. “The community significance of these properties is one we will keep top-of-mind throughout the process.”

Perspective buyers must submit their offers by March 21 at 5 p.m., at which time CW/CA will begin the reviewing the offers. Meanwhile, inquiries pertaining to the purchase of Rust Hall should be directed directly to CW/CA at 901-366-6070.

MCA announced the pending closure Oct. 24, citing declining enrollment, overwhelming real estate debt and no viable long-term plan for the financial sustainability of the institution.

“What it would really take is about a $30 million endowment. We have a draw down policy of 5 percent to fill that gap in the operating budget,” Hine told the Daily News at that time. “We certainly don’t have a sufficient endowment now. … There was just not the capacity to raise the $30 million endowment that we would need.”

Several months prior to MCA’s announcement, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art made public its intentions to leave its original 100-year-old home in Overton Park. In November, the city and Brooks formally agreed to begin to work toward a new museum on the west side of Front Street between Union and Monroe avenues Downtown, on the current site of a city fire station and parking garage.

The Brooks’ new Downtown home would open in 2022 at the earliest.

– Patrick Lantrip

Withers’ Home Will Be Dedicated as Historic Site

Photojournalist Ernest C. Withers’ southwest Memphis home is being dedicated as a historic site.

The home at 480 W. Brooks Road will be dedicated at a ceremony Saturday, Feb. 10, at 10 a.m., during which a historical marker will be unveiled.

Withers, who died in 2007 at age 85, is best known for iconic images of black Southerners during the Jim Crow era, including photos of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the trial of Emmett Till’s accused killers, the Memphis sanitation workers strike, Negro League baseball and Memphis musicians.

Withers’ work earned him a place in the Black Press Hall of Fame and an honorary doctorate from the Massachusetts College of Art.

In conjunction with the ceremony, LeMoyne-Owen College will host a historical symposium Friday, Feb. 9, at 5 p.m. in the Alma C. Hanson Memorial Student Center’s Little Theatre on the LeMoyne-Owen campus, 807 Walker Ave.

The symposium, sponsored by the Ernest C. Withers Historical Photographic Foundation, will feature Withers’ son, photographer Andrew Rome Withers; educator Pam Ali; artist and activist Mary Mudiku, who uses art as part of her activism; Wovoka Sobukwe, owner of the Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom School & Culture Center; and professor A.J. Stovall, chair of the Department of Social Science at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi.

LeMoyne-Owen and Rust College students also will participate in the symposium, which will be moderated by Tennessee state Rep. Joe Towns.

An exhibit of Withers’ photographs will be on display that day in the Dorothy Harris Lounge, also in the student center.

– Daily News staff

Jason Jenne Rejoins True Temper Sports

Jason Jenne is rejoining Memphis-based sporting goods manufacturer True Temper Sports as chief financial officer on the heels of his replacement as CFO of Fred’s Inc.

Jenne will lead the direction of True Temper’s accounting and finance functions and will oversee the company’s global information technology, legal, regulatory, insurance and risk management.

Jenne previously spent 18 years at True Temper, serving in a number of executive roles. He served as the company’s president and CEO for two years before stepping down in 2016 to join Memphis-based Fred’s as senior vice president, finance.

He was promoted to executive vice president and CFO of Fred’s in July and served less than seven months in that role before being replaced by Joseph Anto on Feb. 1.

Jenne will remain in an advisory position at Fred’s through Feb. 26, according to the retailer.

Jeremy Erspamer, president and CEO of True Temper Sports, said the company is “thrilled” to have Jenne back.

“Jason has developed strong and productive relationships during his previous tenure with the current management team, employees and customers, and has proven himself as a highly capable and well-respected leader," Erspamer said in a statement.

True Temper designs and manufactures golf, hockey and lacrosse equipment. Under the shaft brands True Temper and Project X, True Temper is the leading manufacturer of golf shafts in the world and the No. 1 shaft on professional tours globally, according to the company.

– Daily News staff

Parker Sworn In As Federal District Judge

Thomas L. Parker has been sworn in as the newest federal judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.

Parker took the oath of office at a private ceremony, Friday, Feb. 2, and will begin his official duties later this month. A public investiture ceremony will be held in April, according to the court.

Parker was appointed by President Donald Trump and unanimously confirmed by the Senate on Jan. 10. He was appointed to the position left vacant by Judge Samuel H. Mays, who took senior status in 2015.

Parker was a shareholder in the Memphis office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz P.C., where he was a civil and criminal litigator.

– Daily News staff

Wiuff Installed As 2018 MAAR President

Marx-Bensdorf Realtor Lauren Harkins Wiuff has been installed as the new president of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors’ board of directors.

Wiuff, a third-generation real estate professional, will serve a one-year term as president and says she plans to work alongside the 2018 directors to continue enhancing services and support available to MAAR members.

In addition to her new leadership role, Wiuff is a lifetime member of MAAR’s Multi Million Dollar Club.

At Marx-Bensdorf, she leads a real estate team that includes her sister, Stephanie Sheahan, and team member Ruth Herndon.

– Daily News staff

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