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VOL. 11 | NO. 37 | Saturday, September 15, 2018

Daily Digest

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Veazey, Carr Promoted In City Hall Shuffle

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced Wednesday, Sept. 12, he is appointing Chandell Carr and Kyle Veazey to each serve as deputy chief operating officers to COO Doug McGowen.

The move comes following the loss of former deputy chief operating officer, Patrice Thomas, who was recently named CAO with the administration of new Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris.

Carr comes to City Hall from being equity, diversion and inclusivity officer for the city’s division of Human Resources in a 13-year career in city government.

Veazey was deputy communications chief in Strickland’s administration before the promotion.

Carr’s duties will include day-to-day affairs of city government, along with budget and policy development.

Veazey’s role will be long-term projects of the administration, including the city’s role in economic-development initiatives.

In addition to Thomas’ vacancy, another position remains open in the city’s COO division.

– Bill Dries

Harris to Make Proposals To New Commission Sept. 19

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris plans to present the first initial proposals of his administration to the County Commission during committee meetings Wednesday, Sept. 19.

One proposal is the appointment of an education liaison, to improve communication between county government and Shelby County Schools, an idea from his county mayoral opponent David Lenoir.

Harris said the education liaison will update the commission and mayor on the what’s happening in SCS, so county government can make more informed decisions on how to assist SCS in the future.

“My goal is to identify a talent, but also identify a talent that will have credibility with the Shelby County School board,” Harris said on the WKNO/Channel 10 program “Behind the Headlines.”

“I think there are some suspicions, between county government and the SCS, about who’s to blame,” he added. “We haven’t seen enough progress fast enough, and there’s plenty of blame to go around, and we’ve got to be cognizant of that.”

Another priority for Harris is to improve the relationship between him and the county commission, which has eight new members on the 13-member body. Harris’ predecessor, Mark Luttrell, had seen his relationship with the commission become strained, especially after the opioid litigation dispute last year.

Harris, who took office after Labor Day weekend, hopes to compromise with the commission on two issues not on Sept. 19 but “soon after.” The first is resolving the ongoing legal dispute about the commission’s desire to have a separate attorney from the county mayor, and the other is combining the county mayor’s and the commission’s separate opioid lawsuits into one lawsuit.

“If I can help it, we’re not going to have two separate court cases against opioid manufacturers,” Harris said. “Instead, we will be all together in one litigation. The whole goal is to repair the relationship between the County Commission and the mayor’s office.”

Harris has made several key appointments, including Marlinee Iverson as county attorney and Patrice Thomas to serve as chief administrative officer. Thomas is the former city of Memphis deputy chief operating officer.

He said Thomas is a great hire not only because she was the most-qualified candidate but she can play a key role in improving county government’s relationship with the city of Memphis.

“I think (former mayor) Mark Luttrell had a great relationship with the city, and we want to continue to do that, because the city of Memphis, of the half-a-dozen municipalities in Shelby County, is the largest and in many ways it’s the most important,” Harris said. “That’s the message I took on the campaign trail that we’ve got to lift Memphis up if we’re going to be successful as a county, and I think wherever I was, whether I was in Collierville or south Memphis, everybody agreed about the importance of Memphis.”

– Special to The Daily News

Crosstown Concourse To Get Saucy Chicken Soon

There are signs – only signs – that indicate a chicken-themed restaurant will fill the Crosstown Concourse spot where the vegetarian-themed Mama Gaia closed earlier this month.

Two signs identifying the successor as “Saucy Chicken’’ have been erected at the space facing the Concourse dock near the West Atrium.

Inside, workers on Tuesday, Sept. 11, appeared busy getting the space ready to open, but there is still work to do. A Mama Gaia menu remained on one wall.

When a reporter asked if someone could speak about the new business, employees fetched a man who politely referred the reporter to the Obsidian Public Relations firm. The man did say the goal was to open on Monday.

An Obsidian account executive said in a text that no information could be released because “the news is embargoed until Monday.’’

– Special to The Daily News

Tigers RB Henderson Honored by AAC

Memphis junior running back Darrell Henderson has been named to the American Athletic Conference Weekly Honor Roll for his performance against Navy. Henderson rushed 13 times for a career-high 212 yards and three touchdowns in the 22-21 defeat to the Midshipmen.

The 200-yard rushing performance is the first by a Memphis Tiger since 2009, when Curtis Steele rushed for 232 yards at Tulsa. Henderson, of Batesville, Mississippi, had touchdown runs of 78, 59 and two yards.

Henderson leads the FBS with 13.09 yards per carry after the first two games. He is tied for the FBS lead with five total TD and ranks second with 205.50 all-purpose yards per game.

Memphis plays host to Georgia State on Friday, Sept. 14, at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN.

– Don Wade

Memphis Grizzlies to Hold Training Camp Sept. 25-28

The Memphis Grizzlies announced that the team will hold its 2018 training camp Sept. 25-28 at its practice facility inside FedExForum. This marks the 12th time since relocating from Vancouver in 2001 that the Grizzlies have held their training camp in Memphis. The team has also hosted camp in Barcelona, Spain (2003), Malaga, Spain (2007), Birmingham, Alabama (2009), Nashville, Tennessee (2013), San Diego, California (2014) and Santa Barbara, California (2015).

On Saturday, Sept. 29, starting at noon, the Grizzlies will host an open practice and scrimmage at FedExForum. This full-team scrimmage will be the first look at the 2018-19 Memphis Grizzlies, including fan favorites Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Dillon Brooks as well as newcomers Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr. and others.

Conducted by head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, the event will also include entertainment teams such as the Grizz Girls and Claw Crew.

The practice/scrimmage is free to the public, and fans in attendance will receive vouchers for a Grizzlies 2018 preseason game and a Memphis Hustle 2018-19 regular season game. More details will be provided at a later date.

The Grizzlies will tip-off the 2018-19 regular season on the road against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, Oct. 17, before returning to FedExForum for the home opener against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, Oct. 19.

The Grizzlies’ five-game preseason slate tips-off at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2 against the Houston Rockets at Legacy Arena in Birmingham. The team will also host exhibition games at FedExForum on Friday, Oct. 5 against the Hawks, Saturday, Oct. 6 vs. the Pacers and Friday, Oct. 12 against the Rockets, all at 7 p.m. Memphis also travels to Orlando for a preseason game on Wednesday, Oct. 10, to face the Magic.

– Don Wade

J.M. Smucker Preparing To Expand Memphis Plant

Good news for lovers of biscuits and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and possibly job-seekers, too: J.M. Smucker plans to increase production at its Memphis plant.

The Ohio-based company this month applied for a building permit to carry out a $1.5 million renovation inside its production facility at 4740 Burbank Road in southeast Memphis.

“We are coordinating improvements to our facility to accommodate increased production needs,’’ Smucker spokesman Frank Cirillo said in an email response to questions from The Memphis Daily News.

The Memphis center primarily makes Smucker’s JIF brand products.

Asked if the production expansion means more people will be hired, Cirillo said, “We are currently evaluating to determine if there will be a need for any incremental staffing.’’

About five years ago, Smucker considered closing its Memphis facility and consolidating production at an Ohio plant.

But the Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) of Memphis and Shelby County granted Smucker a tax break totaling $13 million over 15 years. In return, Smucker committed to invest $96 million at its Memphis plant and hire an additional 125 people.

– Special to The Daily News

Signature Flight Hosting Aviation Career Day

A fly-in and aviation career day is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, when Signature Flight Support and Alden Aviation Management present “Bring Your Plane to Work Day,” at Signature, 2488 Winchester Road, at Memphis International Airport.

Exhibitors will include local flight schools, Women in Aviation, Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, Air Line Pilots Association, military recruiters and aviation colleges. There also will be a sales display of light aircraft.

Organizers bill the event as an opportunity for FedEx pilots to bring their personal aircraft to Memphis International to spark interest in aviation careers.

FedEx Feeder Operations will promote its pilot development effort, Purple Runway – A FedEx Pathways Program.

Signature is donating facilities and services for the free event.

Vendor expo fees will benefit East High School’s Transportation-STEM Academy, which also will receive a donation from food sales at the Pre-Flight Café. An aviation auction/raffle will benefit the nonprofit Luke Weathers Flight Academy.

– Special to The Daily News

Bulgarian Man Sentenced For Defrauding FedEx

A Bulgarian national has been sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for a mail fraud scheme involving FedEx Corp., according to U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee D. Michael Dunavant.

According to information presented in court, Dimitar Petlechkov, 35, engaged in a scheme to defraud FedEx by fraudulently linking his FedEx shipping account to a national shipping account that had significant shipping discounts. He was not entitled to receive these discounts.

Petlechkov then offered reduced shipping rates to third-party shippers to use his FedEx account for their own shipping needs. Petlechkov offered them a better shipping rate than they could get on their own, but not the full discount he fraudulently received.

The scheme ran for almost five years, from January 2009 to April 2014, and Petlechkov made more than $300,000 in profits during that time, officials said.

In a statement, Dunavant said, “This long-term fraudulent scheme had significant financial consequences to the corporate interests of the victim, FedEx Corp., and created unfair business advantages in interstate commerce and the shipping industry. This office is committed to the protection of business and corporate interests in interstate commerce and this sentence, restitution and subsequent removal will hold the defendant accountable while providing justice for the victim.”

On Aug. 31, U.S. District Court Judge Jon P. McCalla sentenced Petlechkov to 37 months in prison and ordered him to pay restitution of $801,000 to FedEx.

Officials say Petlechkov has been in the U.S. illegally as a visa overstay since 2000 and faces deportation to Bulgaria at the conclusion of his sentence.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Pritchard prosecuted the case on the government’s behalf.

– Special to the Daily News

Memphis Colleges Rank High for Avg. Grad Salary

Memphis colleges are among the top 10 in the state with the highest average salary for graduates.

The ranking comes from SmartAsset, a New York-based financial technology company.

Christian Brothers University was No. 3 on the list, with an average starting salary for graduates of $48,800. Rhodes College was No. 5, with an average starting salary for graduates of $47,900. The University of Memphis was No. 8, with an average starting salary for graduates of $45,300.

No. 1 in the state was Vanderbilt University, with an average starting salary for graduates of $61,100.

SmartAsset looked at five factors to determine the best-value colleges and universities: tuition, student living costs (including room and board, books, supplies, transportation and other personal expenses), scholarship and grant offerings, retention rate and starting salary.

– Special to the Daily News

Tenn. Walmart Associates Receive $5.2M in Bonuses

Walmart associates in Tennessee received more than $5.2 million in second-quarter bonuses Sept. 5, the company announced.

There are about 41,000 Walmart associates in Tennessee. As of Aug. 15, Walmart reported an average wage of $13.92 for full-time hourly associates in its Tennessee discount stores, supercenters and neighborhood markets.

More than 915,000 hourly U.S. Walmart associates received a share of more than $200 million in cash bonuses, based on their store’s performance. The bonuses were included in their Sept. 6 paychecks.

The quarterly bonuses are part of an overall incentive plan the company designed to reward associates whose stores achieve sales and customer service goals.

In Q2, Walmart achieved its best performance in more than 10 years, with comp sales growth (excluding fuel) of 4.5 percent, in addition to an increase of customer traffic of more than 2 percent.

In January, the company announced plans to increase the starting wage for all hourly associates in the U.S. to at least $11, expand maternity- and parental-leave benefits and provide a one-time cash bonus for eligible associates of up to $1,000.

Walmart also recently announced a commitment to train and develop one million associates over the next five years and introduced a new education benefit, which includes free college credit for on-the-job training and options for associates to earn a college degree without incurring student loan debt.

– Special to the Daily News

AutoZone Among Most Reputable Retailers in US

Memphis-based AutoZone Inc. is one of the most reputable retailers in America, according to a new study.

Reputation Institute’s 2018 US Retail RepTrak, the largest corporate reputation study of its kind, bases its findings on almost 10,000 individual ratings from the U.S. general public and is based on an assessment of 88 nominated companies.

AutoZone ranked No. 4. The top company was Barnes & Noble, followed by Amazon and Cabela’s. Rounding out the top five was Costco.

The study measures things like the public’s willingness to purchase a company’s products, recommend the brand, invest in or work for the company.

“What you sell and stand for matters,” William Shifflett, vice president of Reputation Institute, said in a release. “Delivering on products, governance and citizenship is a priority for retail companies when creating a strong reputation foundation.”

– Special to the Daily News

Key Biologics, BCA Partner To Advance Cell Therapy

Memphis-based Key Biologics LLC and the nation’s largest blood supply network have announced an agreement to formalize their existing business relationship and work collectively to broaden support for cell therapy and regenerative medicine.

Blood Centers of America (BCA) and Key Biologics will focus on removing barriers to the supply of critical raw materials needed for pre-clinical research and for clinical manufacturing of cell-based therapies.

“Working with BCA and their extensive network, we believe we can speed patients’ access to important new therapies formulated from allogeneic and autologous raw materials that can be used to effectively treat conditions such as cancer, immune-based disorders, and inherited genetic disorders,” Dr. Edward Scott, founder of Key Biologics, said in a statement. “The ability to access BCA’s unique database of well-characterized individuals who have explicitly expressed an interest in providing blood products to support research and product development will enhance our efforts significantly.”

Key Biologics recently merged with Seattle-based Astarte Biologics, adding immunology expertise that will play a role in expanding the combined company’s cell characterization, custom cell line and assay development capabilities.

Along with the merger, Key Biologics also received a growth equity investment from Ampersand Capital Partners to continue expanding the company in the rapidly evolving cell and gene therapy markets.

– Special to the Daily News

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 139 346 19,792
MORTGAGES 141 337 22,770
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 13 2,935
BUILDING PERMITS 290 657 40,661
BANKRUPTCIES 53 155 12,641
BUSINESS LICENSES 23 56 6,430
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 31 112 7,507
MARRIAGE LICENSES 13 60 4,513