Daily Briefs

By Published: February 28, 2019 1:05 PM CT
  • Airport board OKs surveillance, parking system contracts
  • Amazon to fund computer science courses in seven Memphis area high schools
  • Graceland hiring part-time security guards
  • Jemele Hill to headline U of M first amendment lecture
  • MSCAA promotes Nathan Luce to Director of Procurement 
  • Ring Container Technologies launches barrier technology for plastic packaging 
  • Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge to hold state of court address
  • Memphis Blight Elimination Steering Team releases Top 10 code violators
  • NAI Saig moving to Poplar Towers

Airport board OKs surveillance, parking system contracts

Memphis International Airport will spend $1.1 million to replace and expand capacity of storage equipment that saves video surveillance footage of the airport.

The Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority board voted Thursday to approve a $1,149,500 contract with Schneider Electric Buildings America Inc. to replace the 8-year-old CCTV system storage unit.

The board also approved a $239,434, one-year extension of a maintenance contract for the system that controls parking access and revenue. The contract is with Scheidt & Bachmann USA Inc., which was hired in 2010 to install the system.

In addition to spending measures, the board received reports that passenger activity continues to trend upward, with boardings going up 2.9 percent in January, year over year, and a cumulative 5.1 percent since last July 1.

Cargo posted strong growth, increasing 7.1 percent from a year earlier, chiefly due to increased volume at the FedEx Express world hub. Cargo volume is up 3.6 percent since July 1.

-Wayne Risher

Amazon to fund computer science courses in seven Memphis area high schools

Amazon announced Thursday it will fund computer science courses in more than 25 schools across Tennessee, seven in the Memphis area, through its Future Engineer program.

The Memphis area schools include Trezevant, Ridgeway, Mitchell and Cordova high schools, Collegiate School of Memphis, Gateway University and Marion High School in Marion, Arkansas.

The program, a $50 million investment in computer science and STEM education, will fund courses in more than 1,000 high schools across the United States, 700 of which are Title I schools.

The funding will provide full-year courses designed to “inspire, prepare and propel students of all backgrounds to pursue a computer science education and career,” according to a release. Courses will feature “preparatory lessons, tutorials, professional development for teachers, fully sequenced and paced digital curriculum for students and live, online support every day of the week for both teachers and students.” 

All students participating in Amazon Future Engineer will receive a free membership to AWS Educate, which will provide them with free access to computing power in the AWS Cloud for coding projects and content to learn about cloud computing.

“We want to ensure that every child, especially those from underprivileged communities, has an opportunity to study computer science,” Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, said in a release. “We are excited more than 1,000 schools will now provide these courses, and look forward to adding 1,000 more schools over the coming months.”

High schools involved in the program will begin to offer the computer science courses this fall.

Schools, administrators and teachers interested in applying for the Amazon Future Engineer program can apply and learn more here

-Natalie Martin

Graceland hiring part-time security guards

Graceland will hold a hiring session for part-time licensed security guard positions Feb. 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Vernon's Smokehouse Restaurant inside Elvis Presley's Memphis.

Candidates must already have a valid security license issued by the state of Tennessee, and they must be able to pass a background check and pre-employment drug test.

Anyone interested can fill out an application at Graceland's career site, and applicants should bring a printed resume with them to the event.

Elvis Presley's Memphis is located at 3717 Elvis Presley Blvd.

-Daily Memphian Staff

Jemele Hill to headline U of M First Amendment lecture 

Jemele Hill, an Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist, will be a featured speaker at the eight annual Norm Brewer First Amendment Lecture at the University of Memphis. The event will be held at the University Center Theatre Tuesday, March 12, at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public  

Hill is the co-founder of Lodge Freeway Media and a staff writer for The Atlantic. Some of her previous roles include chief correspondent and senior columnist for The Undefeated, ESPN’s content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture, and co-anchor of SC6 with Michael & Jemele on ESPN's SportsCenter, according to a release.

Hill will debut a new podcast on Spotify called "Unbothered" on Mondays and Thursdays starting in March. The podcast will feature a rotating cast of high-profile guests, and will explore the news of the day and the intersectionality between the worlds of sports, politics, music, identity and culture. 

-Natalie Martin

MSCAA promotes Nathan Luce to director of procurement

The Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority (MSCAA) has promoted Nathan Luce as its new director of procurement.

Luce, who earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Christian Brothers University and a Master of Civil Engineering (M.C.E.) degree from North Carolina State University, has been a MSCAA employee since 2009, serving as the manager of engineering and construction.

His new role as director of procurement will include overseeing operations of the procurement department, which is responsible for managing the Airport Authority’s purchasing, bidding and contract services. Luce will fill the vacancy created by the impending June 30 retirement of current director of procurement, Mahi Chambers, according to a release.

“Nathan is an outstanding addition to our executive staff, and the ideal person to lead our procurement efforts,” Scott Brockman, MSCAA president and CEO, said in a release. “His experience in leading a number of successful contract processes and airport projects will serve him well in his new role.”

-Natalie Martin

Ring Container Technologies launches barrier technology for plastic packaging

Oakland, Tennessee-based Ring Container Technologies, one of the largest plastic container manufacturers in North America, announced Wednesday the launch of BarrierGuard, a customizable barrier technology for plastic packaging.

Ring Container, founded in 1968, currently produces bottles using BarrierGuard OxygenSmart at its newest plant in Lousiville, Kentucky. Plastic bottles using BarrierGuard OxygenSmart are “replacing other barrier technologies to provide best-in-class barrier protection,” according to a release.

“BarrierGuard represents a customer solution philosophy rooted in improved efficiency and customizable performance,” Brian Smith, senior vice president of innovation and supply chain at Ring Container, said in a release. “Ring is thrilled to grow its portfolio of innovative proprietary technologies, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with both current and prospective customers on solutions that optimize their packaging and profits.”

Initial studies show BarrierGuard OxygenSmart has blocked or absorbed up to 30 percent more oxygen versus other competitive barriers, while using 2 1/2 times less barrier material on average, the company said in the release.

BarrierGuard OxygenSmart can be customized for a variety of oxygen-sensitive applications, including tomato-based sauces, nuts, oils, baby foods, instant coffee and vegetables.

For more information on Ring Container, click here.

-Natalie Martin

Shelby County Juvenile Court judge to hold state of court address

Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael will hold his third-annual state of the court address Friday.

The address will be at 8:30 a.m. in the main auditorium at the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission, 600 Jefferson Avenue.

Judge Michael, who oversees juvenile court, has been at the center of ongoing discussions about juvenile justice reform since the U.S. Justice Department in 2012 launched an oversight investigation into due process procedures and detention practices at the facility.

Michael and other county officials, including former Mayor Mark Luttrell and former Sheriff Bill Oldham, called for the DOJ to end its supervision, which the agency abruptly did last October.

Since then, Sandra Simkins, one of the DOJ monitors hired as part of the federal oversight, has criticized in her report to county officials DOJ’s decision to end its six-year oversight.  Simkins wrote that the court has enabled a “culture of intimidation that undermines due process” and is “deeply flawed” toward African-American children at the facility.

Last month, county and juvenile court officials announced they have hired Melissa Sickmund, the head of the oldest juvenile justice research group in the country, to analyze data and offer feedback on issues related to minority children at the facility. 

In addition to the DOJ monitor reports and analyzing data, the Shelby County Commission recently approved allocating $1.3 million for the design and construction services for a new Youth Justice and Education Center. It would replace the current juvenile detention center.

-Yolanda Jones

Memphis Blight Elimination Steering Team releases Top 10 code violators

The top 10 property owners in Memphis with the most code violations in the fourth quarter of 2018 committed 228 violations, according to the latest quarterly report by the Memphis Blight Elimination Steering Team.

The list was first published in April 2018 for the first quarter of that year as an effort to raise awareness and support for systemic changes around abandoned property, absentee owners and neighborhood revitalization, according to the steering team.

The goal of the Blight Elimination Steering Team – made up of more than 30 nonprofit, government and private organizations committed to eliminating blighted properties in Memphis — is to start a conversation about what the city can do differently, as a community, to improve and preserve neighborhoods.

Many of the largest property owners in the city are out-of-state investment groups. The release notes that the No. 2 code violator in the last three months of 2018, an entity named CSMA Blt LLC, is an affiliate of Cerberus Capital, a New-York based private equity firm.

Austin Harrison, program manager with Neighborhood Preservation Inc., said Cerberus, one of the nation’s largest owners of rental homes, “almost always” nears the top of the Blight Elimination Steering Team’s lists, according to a release.  

The top 10 list for Q4 2018, with number of code violations:

Tn Harmony LLC and Wi Harmony LLC, 52; CSMA Blt LLC, 51; Your Home LLC, 23; Uph 127 LP, 19; P Fin I LLC, 18; ESS Investments LLC, 14; Eddie Brown, 13; Home Sfr Borrower LLC, 13; Equity Trust Co Cust FBO, 13; and JRC Investments LLC, 12. 

The Q4 Top 10 list was recently incorporated into an investigative piece by The Washington Post, and can be read here.

-Natalie Martin

NAI Saig moving to Poplar Towers

NAI Saig Company is moving one mile within East Memphis, from the Ridgeway Center office park to Poplar Towers.

The commercial and industrial real estate brokerage firm plans to move its office of seven employees on Feb. 28 to the bottom floor of Poplar Towers, 6263 Poplar.

NAI Saig will occupy roughly the same amount of space as it does now, just under 3,000 square feet, said Elliot Embry, vice president of the firm that is locally owned (Saig) but has a national reputation (NAI).

“We’re excited to be able to locate in one of our clients’ properties and have prime Poplar visibility and access,” Embry said. NAI Saig represents Faropoint Ventures, which purchased the 11-story Poplar Towers in fall 2017.

That 129,533-square-foot building has just undergone a renovation and experienced an increase in occupancy from 59 percent to 81 percent.

Among the sales of prominent buildings that NAI Saig has brokered include the Lipscomb and Pitts Building, 2670 Union Extended, and the Trustmark Building, 5350 Poplar.

-Tom Bailey


Juvenile Court blight Poplar Towers Ring Container Technologies MSCAA Jemele Hill U of M Amazon

Comment On This Story

Section Emails

Sign up to get the latest articles from the Metro section.