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The Daily Memphian | The Early Word
The Early Word: Why we can claim our water, definitively; Mercedes has a history

Hi, friends! Good morning. Today is Tuesday, Nov. 23, and after being approved by the Bartlett Industrial Development Board last week, the suburb’s first TIF district — for the $162 million Union Depot mixed-use development — will go before the Bartlett Board of Mayor and Aldermen. 

The Town of Collierville also kicks off the holiday season, officially, today with its tree lighting at Town Square complete with hot chocolate, Kevin and Bethany Paige performing holiday music and Santa and Mrs. Claus rolling into town.

Today is also the last day to enter our Early Word sweepstakes to try and win a month-long subscription to The Daily Memphian as this newsletter becomes subscriber-only.



A longstanding case over who can claim the rights to the area’s water has been decided. (AP file photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Playing taps: Memphis Light, Gas and Water does have the right to pump water from the Middle Claiborne Aquifer, according to the United States Supreme Court. In the more than 15-year-old case, the State of Mississippi argued that DeSoto County actually held the exclusive water rights to Middle Claiborne — of which the Memphis Sand Aquifer is part — and was asking for more than $615 million in damages. But the Supremes ruled unanimously that the principle of “equitable apportionment” was at play here, which is good since we’re talking about Memphis’ famed drinking water.


In 2018, Memphis and Shelby County Planning Director Josh Whitehead (right) and senior zoning inspector Christopher Simmons used a light meter to measure the brightness of signs on Poplar Avenue after citizens complained some billboards were too bright. (Jim Weber/Daily Memphian file)

Crème de Memph: Nearly every month for more than 10 years, Josh Whitehead has been the area’s lead planning staffer for the Land Use Control Board, the Board of Adjustment, the Landmarks Commission and other government meetings where land use, special use permits and zoning have taken center stage. The 46-year-old also helped with the 2010 Unified Development Code and Memphis 3.0, both designed to help decrease sprawl in the area, in addition to writing an in-depth blog about Memphis history. Now, however, Whitehead plans to leave Memphis and Shelby County government.

Mercedes-Benz in another crime: The same car used in last week’s fatal shooting of rapper Young Dolph was also used during a double shooting in Covington earlier this month. Captain Jack Howell of the Covington Police Department identified the white Mercedes A350 as one stolen on Nov. 10; one person died as a result of their injuries from the earlier shooting.




Rev. Kathryn Kimmel is the first female senior pastor at First Baptist Church, which was founded in a log cabin by the Mississippi River in 1839. (Ziggy Mack/Special to The Daily Memphian)

In early November, Memphis’ First Baptist Church welcomed its new senior pastor to the pulpit. Rev. Kathryn “Kat” Kimmel is the congregation’s fifth senior pastor since 1951, but she is its first female senior pastor in, well, ever. Kimmel is a lifelong Baptist who grew up in North Carolina, but she’s been working for First Baptist since August. “I don’t get much pushback about being a pastor from church family anymore,” she said. “But out in the world, it still surprises a lot of people.”




The pork arepa at Sabor Caribe offers a variation on the more familiar-to-Memphis pulled pork sandwich. (Chris Herrington/The Daily Memphian)

Speaking my language: The Daily Memphian’s most recent $10 deal lands us squarely in the middle of the Edge District and the cuisine of Latin America. Sabor Caribe offers four different types of empanadas — chicken, beef, cheese and bean — each for $2.50, meaning you can sample all four for $10 (before tip). “A basket of crisp, too-hot-to-handle empanadas from Sabor Caribe” is among Chris Herrington’s favorite deals, but the restaurant’s arepas also fit the bill.

Arts recovery: As local arts organizations continue to try and recover from the pandemic, ArtsMemphis won a $500,000 American Rescue Plan grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. “As we all have tried to make the most of these last two years, we longed for the light at the end of the tunnel to appear. Now, it seems that the light has begun to grow brighter — in the form of stage lights, marquee lights, and the flashing lights that guide us to our seats,” said the organization’s president and CEO.


Brian Ueleke (middle), an alderman in Germantown, amended the proposed raise aldermen could see in the future. (Houston Cofield/The Daily Memphian file)

BMA looks to pay: The Shelby County Commission is already discussing raises for the upcoming term. Now Germantown’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen is doing the same thing. Members of the BMA haven’t seen a pay increase since 2009, so there’s support from the body — but how large the raises will be is still a question.

Local football’s all-stars: The football players taking the field during December’s AutoZone Liberty Bowl High School All-Star Game have been chosen. The local athletes selected were chosen based on character, on-field achievement and classroom performance; the two teams will be led by coaches from Briarcrest and Kingsbury.



Memphians often feel, er, passionate about “Walking in Memphis.”

So, it might interest you to know that the song recently got a redo on “Saturday Night Live” and even writer Marc Cohn was in on the fun.


That’s going to be it for us today … and the rest of the week! I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving on Thursday, and we’ll return Monday, bright and early, with our subscriber-only edition of The Early Word. 

(Yes, there’s still time to subscribe.)

Have a great one!