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The Daily Memphian | The Early Word
The Early Word: Employee sues over Kroger shooting, and Marybeth Conley flips her life

Happy fall, y’all! Today is Thursday, Sept. 22, and it’s officially the first day of autumn. As if on cue, Mother Nature is delivering us some cooler temps after a couple of 100-degree days. Of course, fall means festival season in Memphis, and Jennifer Biggs has a rundown of some fest highlights you won’t want to miss in Table Talk.

Tonight, novelist and self-proclaimed “High Hoodoo of Memphis” Arthur Flowers will perform spoken word with musical accompaniment in a free show at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. 

And there’s still time to enter our Daily Memphian four-year anniversary giveaways. Go here for a shot at winning Memphis Grizzlies tickets, Tigers football and basketball tickets and passes for the Memphis Food & Wine Festival. 


Alicia Franklin appeared on “Good Morning America” a day after filing a lawsuit accusing the Memphis Police Department of failing to properly investigate a rape she reported a year ago this month. (Ben Wheeler/The Daily Memphian)

Franklin shares story on GMA: Alicia Franklin, who is suing the Memphis Police Department for negligence for the way they handled her 2021 rape case, shared her story on “Good Morning America” on Wednesday. Authorities allege Franklin was assaulted in September 2021 by the same man — Cleotha Henderson — who’s accused of abducting and murdering runner Eliza Fletcher earlier this month. Yet Franklin’s rape kit sat on a shelf for 11 months, and test results didn’t come back until after Henderson’s arrest in the Fletcher case. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says the average turnaround time for rape kit testing through its West Tennessee crime lab “ranged from approximately 33 weeks to 49 weeks’’ between last September and this August. Now community leaders, politicians and others are calling for reforms. “To put [the rape victims’ kits] all in line like you’re at McDonald’s lining up to get an Egg McMuffin is crazy,” said Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis.

Police guard the crime scene outside of a mass shooting at a Kroger in Collierville in September 2021. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian file)

Kroger employee sues over mass shooting: Nearly one year after a mass shooting at the Kroger on New Byhalia Road in Collierville, employee Mariko Jenkins, who was injured in the shooting, has filed a lawsuit against the company seeking as much as $5 million in damages. On Sept. 23, 2021, Uk Thang, a sushi chef who worked for a third-party contractor inside the Kroger store, opened fire killing one woman and injuring at least a dozen people, most of whom were employees. 

County crime and the courts: Shelby County Commission chair Mickell Lowery will form an ad hoc committee to develop a countywide crime plan, in the wake of public outrage over the abduction and murder of Eliza Fletcher and the 12-hour shooting spree that killed three people. Additionally, the commission is scheduled to fill three vacancies for judicial commissioners at its Monday, Sept. 26, session (despite an attempt on Wednesday to delay filling the vacancies by Commissioner Brandon Morrison). 

Paula Raiford poses for a portrait on the dance floor of Paula & Raiford’s Disco in June 10, 2021. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian file)

Paula Raiford’s charges dropped: A misdemeanor assault charge against the owner of Paula & Raiford’s Hollywood Disco has been dropped. The charges stemmed from a pair of altercations between Paula Raiford and acquaintance Janielle Adams at Midtown and Downtown businesses. Charges for both women were dropped after the Shelby County District Attorney’s office reviewed video evidence.

Eco-friendly incentives: Memphis is the first city in Tennessee to finalize a new federal incentive program for eco-friendly developers. On Wednesday, the EDGE board unanimously approved the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy and Resiliency incentive. Qualifying projects must focus on water conservation, resiliency, energy efficiency or renewable energy. 



University of Memphis running back Jevyon Ducker (8) listens to a coach at an Aug. 3, 2022, practice. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian file)

When Memphis Tigers running back Jevyon Ducker was playing high school football at Bellevue West, he’d often bring a whiteboard to team meetings to get a clear understanding of what the offensive linemen were expected to do in their blocking schemes. That level of focus helped Ducker set a high school state record of 110 career touchdowns. He later followed that with 1,184 rushing yards as a freshman at Northern Illinois. Now with the Tigers, Ducker recently recovered from a hamstring injury and is back to play. “He’s not a flashy guy ... but somehow, some way when he has the ball, positive things are happening,” offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey said. 



Marybeth Conley (second row, on end at left in the turquoise dress) and Rick Woodall (third from right, top row, in the maroon shirt) met as eighth-graders in Mason, Tenn. They married on Aug. 20, 50 years to the day of their first day of school that year. (Courtesy Marybeth Conley)

Marybeth Conley’s flipped her life: Longtime WREG “Live at 9” anchor Marybeth Conley quietly retired from TV three weeks ago. She’s got a new life with a new man, and how she got there is kind of a wild story (which Geoff Calkins recounts in full). Back in 2009, Conley had an idea for a television show called “Flip My Life,” which would involve renovating old homes to help people caught in the criminal justice system trying to flip their lives. But she needed to find a contractor to work with. Then, just a few years ago, Conley reconnected with an old high school crush — who was fresh out of prison and, get this, happened to be a contractor. 

SOB owners Brittany and Ed Cabigao are opening a new location in Collierville and revamping the SOBEast location. (The Daily Memphian file)

South(east) of Beale: SOB is planning a third location in Collierville in the Schilling Farms mixed-use development. The new space will likely seat about 100 inside with room for another 40 or so on the patio. SOB stands for “South of Beale,” and the original location is, indeed, South of Beale on South Main Street (perhaps the Collierville branch should be called Southeast of Beale?). Owners Ed and Brittany Cabigao also run SOB East in the former Interim restaurant, and that space is getting a fresh makeover and a greatest hits menu.

The nearly 60-year-old Mid-South Coliseum has been empty since 2006 and effectively mothballed for half a decade. (The Daily Memphian file)

Two big empties: Work is underway at the Memphis Sports and Events Center, but the neighboring Mid-South Coliseum has been mothballed for half a decade with no plan for its future. Meanwhile, in Downtown Memphis, crews are working seven days a week on a reimagined Tom Lee Park, while an under-utilized Mud Island River Park looms just upriver. What do we do about these two big empties? The Daily Memphian’s Chris Herrington weighs the possibility of a comeback for the Coliseum and Mud Island River Park (and whether or not live music should be a part of future plans).

Tigers guard Earl Timberlake (middle) drives to the basket against Houston in the AAC Championship game on Sunday, March 13, 2022. The Cougars won, 71-53. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian file)

Save the dates: The Memphis Tigers men’s basketball 2022-23 AAC conference schedule was released on Wednesday. The season kicks off with a Nov. 7 road game against Vanderbilt; AAC play opens with a home game against South Florida on Dec. 29. The Daily Memphian’s new Tigers basketball reporter Parth Upadhyaya has a breakdown of every game in the schedule. The women’s basketball schedule was also released Wednesday, and they’ll begin the season on Nov. 1, when they kick off a four-game home stand. Meanwhile, in Tigers football news, University of Missouri might be looking to back out of its planned 2023 game in Memphis.

Catherine Wiley and Connor Dunning

Marriage license mix-up: Memphis couple Connor Dunning and Catherine Wiley plan to get married this Saturday, but getting their marriage license from the Shelby County Clerk’s Office this week wasn’t easy. Dunning said he and several others called ahead to confirm that the clerk’s office was still offering marriage licenses despite its week-long closure to deal with a backlog. But when the couple arrived at the Downtown office on Tuesday, they were turned away. But lucky for the couple, they had a friend who happened to have County Clerk Wanda Halbert’s phone number.



Sorry to any Tennessee Titans fans, but like Devin Steel, I would lump them in the same category as cowboy boots and party buses. That’s Nashville stuff.

Get outside and enjoy the slightly cooler weather today! And maybe eat something with pumpkin spice.