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The Memphis and Shelby County economic development plan is set for a 3 p.m. announcement on Monday (Nov. 24th) in the Bornblum Library at Southwest Tennessee Community College’s Macon Campus, 5983 Macon Cove. Details will be announced by co-chairs Mayor A C Wharton Jr., Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell Jr. and FedEx’s Christine Richards, along with other guests, including Nike’s Willie Gregory, and national public policy partner, Brookings Institute’s Amy Liu.Evnet

  • Written by Leah
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Funding on the way for Southbrook Mall renovation

by Tony Jones

Special to The New Tri-State Defender

A grant earmarked to assist in reviving the once-thriving Southbrook Mall in Whitehaven was announced today (Nov. 20th) at City Hall by Mayor AC Wharton Jr.

The grant would provide $2.1 million in funding to the mall’s owners – Southbrook Corporation – for “energy efficiency improvements,” which translates into much-needed repairs to the roof, lighting and heating and air conditioning infrastructure.

The funding marks the first positive news for the facility, which will be renamed Southbrook Towne Cener, for quite some time. Once buzzing with a multi-plex movie theatre, hot boutiques and consistent foot traffic, the facility has long been dormant.

After forming their non-profit corporation and winnowing down several facility studies, market surveys and renovation plans, Southbrook Properties made several unsuccessful applications for funding to the Memphis City Council. Extensive meetings kept the process alive, leading up to this week’s announcement.

The New Tri-State Defender connected with Southbrook Corporation’s Board Vice Chairman Cherry Davis prior to disclosure of the grant’s details.

“What had to occur is that we had to have a meeting of the minds to come together as a group to create fresh thinking and define our goals,” said Davis. “Our first request was for $1.5 million but we found out that our project did not qualify for the particular funding stream as it was structured. But this is expected to be what we really need to move forward. No more guessing, no more speculation.”

Davis said Southbrook’s board is looking at more than “just a retail facility. (Our) goal is to create something that will last. We had to understand what we were qualified for and where potential funding was available.”

She credits Memphis Housing and Community Development Director Robert Lipscomb as a great energizer.

Lipscomb credits Wharton’s full commitment to the process.

“We have been meeting for months with the goal to create the highest and best use of that facility for the people of Whitehaven. They deserve the best we can achieve and that is our goal,” Lipscomb said.

 “Another important aspect is that this is just a first step and there are potentially more to come in the future. Whitehaven has a lot of upsides that have not been maximized. That’s why we wanted something really nice to go with Graceland and let the people in Whitehaven know they are really important. And that includes Southland Mall as well. There’s great potential here we intend to tap.”

The award is part of the Memphis Green Communities Program launched in September 2014. The program’s aim is “investing in energy conservation building retrofit projects that show strong opportunity for environmental savings and economic gains for the community.”

Federal Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) fund the Memphis Green Communities Program. Forty-eight applications were received through “a highly competitive process,” eoyj four applications were selected for funding. The remaining three will be announced when finalized in coming weeks.

The program was offered broadly to commercial and private property owners throughout the City of Memphis.

“We are pleased to commit this investment to the Southbrook Mall project to not only improve the energy efficiency of the building, but help revitalize this important area of the Whitehaven community,” Wharton said in a statement released Thursday morning.

The building upgrades are estimated to save 30 percent in energy consumption, with the renovations expected to make the Southbrook Mall space “more attractive to tenants, creating opportunity for new job growth and economic impact in the Whitehaven area.”

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LEGACY: Timothy Lee ‘El Espada’ Matthews

Visitation Friday with services Saturday for “thinker and fine writer” that Dr. Cornel West credited with “a unique gift of bringing to life characters whom we come to know and love.”

by Wiley Henry

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“El Espada is a fascinating thinker and fine writer who has a unique gift of bringing to life characters whom we come to know and love. This grand highlighting of the rich humanity of everyday people is powerful and poignant.”

Dr. Cornel West’s endorsement of Timothy Lee Matthews’ book, “The Purple Tiger,” is also a reflection of the man whom others have touted for his writing ability – not just as El Espada, Matthews’ pseudonym, but as a gentle, unassuming personality who possessed inordinate skills and talent in other areas.

Aside from writing, Matthews was an educator, songwriter, novelist, performing artist, certified paralegal, community activist, and actor whose stage credits included “Ain’t Nothing but the Blues,” “Aida,” “Marry Christmas” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” He also released two CDs – “Songs for the Greats” and “Mistic Blues.”

Matthews recently finished another book, a memoir entitled “Confessions of a Proletarian.” The book is unpublished due to Matthews’ death on Nov. 14 at Methodist University Hospital. He’d suffered a stroke on Oct. 31. He was 66.

Writing and music fueled Matthews’ creative spirit. He had works published in “Kulture Kritic,” “Jewels Magazine,” “Chicken Bones,” and “Homespun Images: An Anthology of Black Memphis Writers.” A song he co-wrote, “I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home,” catapulted him in the blues genre.

After earning his Bachelors of Arts in creative writing from Vermont College’s Norwich University and a Masters of Fine Art from Fairfield University in Connecticut, Matthews opted to teach English at Wooddale and Raleigh-Egypt high schools.

When he died, Matthews’ family and friends still were mourning the loss of Matthews’ brother, Orlando Matthews, whom they eulogized Oct. 4 in Hernando, Miss., after he suffered a stroke.  

Maurice Walker, who befriended Matthews at Lincoln Elementary School, described him as “a good brother and solid citizen” and good for the liberation movement in Memphis.

“We grew up in Memphis where racism was the law of the land. In adulthood, we dedicated our lives to making life a little better for others,” said Walker, a resident of Dallas. “He was very focused, sharp and intelligent.”

Cornelius Chambers met Matthews in Los Angeles in 1991, where he’d spent three years “in search of stardom.” “We were roommates for about two years,” said Chambers, an entrepreneur. “He was into music and introduced me to the underground music scene. He was always writing plays…anything entertainment.”

Matthews was bodacious, too, he said, and recalls an experience he’d never forget. “We were at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, Calif., and El Espada got up on stage and did one of his blues numbers. I didn’t know if I should be embarrassed, but they gave him respect. He always believed he was a star.”

Matthews was a star in his son’s eyes. Edward Matthews III said his father taught him the pros and cons of being a black man in America. “He didn’t sugarcoat anything. He would give it to you straight. A lot of my friends would reach out to him for advice.

“He was my best friend, motivator, mover and shaker. I’m proud to carry on his legacy. He will be remembered through his music, writing and his memoir,” said Matthews, founder of Independent Artists Media Group in New York of which his father was a board member.

Another son, Tracy Matthews, followed his father’s lead as a filmmaker and schoolteacher. “While I worked at ABC News at night, I taught school during the day in New York,” he said. “He was my best friend. He gave me good instructions and I’m going to miss him dearly.”

Timothy and Carolyn Matthews were married 34 years.

“He was very perceptive of the most mundane situations to the most complex situations of life,” Carolyn Matthews said. “He saw irony in a situation and found it amusing.”

For example, while recovering in the hospital, Carolyn Matthews said her husband had texted his “mentee” a message that he’d had a stroke on Halloween.

The Matthews were a creative team.

“He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. He always rooted for me,” she said. “He never displayed envy or jealousy of someone’s ideology. If it were a spark of brilliance, he would applaud it. He would encourage it.”

The visitation is Friday, Nov. 21, from 5-7 p.m., at Christian Funeral Directors, 2615 Overton Crossing St. The body will lie in state from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 22, followed by the funeral at Morning View Baptist Church, 1626 Carnegie St.

The interment will be in Elmwood Cemetery, 824 South Dudley St. 

  • Written by Wiley Henry
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The shopper’s guide to a happy, cost-effective holiday

The Christmas Tree already is up on Beale Street – another indication that the holiday shopping season is upon us.

by Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell

Special to the New Tri-State Defender

OK, let’s face it. We’ve all done the max-out-every-credit-line approach to holiday shopping. After the New Year, we spent the next 10 months paying off the balances.

Then, it’s back on that holiday crazy train for the next year.

Gift cards can be great, except that doling them out to all the grandchildren, nieces, and nephews can get pricey. And quite frankly, that $20 gift card to Macy’s won’t go very far for your 21-year-old grandson. He’ll still have to add another $20 of his own money to get a keychain he likes.

The truth is that we, consumers, are in a power struggle with the merchants and shopkeepers. They woo us out of our hard-earned money and credit worth for what is purported to be the lowest prices for the highest-quality goods. It’s easy to be caught up in the whirlwind rapture of searching for the perfect gift for everyone we love.

We can moan all day about how Christmas has been commercialized, and that people forget that the birth of Christ is “the reason for the season.” But who doesn’t love to receive a gift, or watch the face of a loved one opening a package of that thing for which they have wished the hardest?

Alas, a solution that fits everyone’s budget, no matter how meager. Take full advantage of the virtual bonanza of bargains and specials being paraded in television ads, store mailers, discount coupons and competitor-match offers.

The amount of savings we glean this season will depend solely on the time and thought we invest in price shopping and intentional, non-impulsive buying. No matter what is budgeted for holiday shopping, we can all come out big winners in the merchant wars. Below is a guide for the smart shopper this holiday season.

Brick and mortar

The infamous Black Friday has spread its pervasive influence over the week prior to its arrival. In other words, the week leading up to the day when we’re supposed to be reflecting on how thankful we all are has been invaded with pre-Black Friday sales, early Black Friday discount announcements, and all manner of “specials” and “bargains” designed to lure us to plunging into the holiday shopping melee earlier than planned.

The usual suspects are the big-name stores, which are running pre-Black Friday sales beginning Friday, Nov. 21st. Walmart is not only jump-starting the holiday shopping season early with a pre-Black Friday sale, it is offering to match any competitor’s Black Friday prices that happen to be lower than its own.

Big-ticket items such as electronics and jewelry make it the place to shop this season. This is huge for consumers. No matter what competitors are offering to sell their merchandise for on Black Friday next week, Walmart challenges shoppers to bring in any ad specials from their competitors, and they will match those prices, beginning this Friday.

This means no buyer’s remorse next week when some item will be available for lower than you buy from Walmart this week.

Specialty shops and boutiques are also grabbing for more market share this season.

Catherine’s – Shop for the plus-size woman this Friday. Additional discounts will apply during the pre-Black Friday sale this week.

Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, and Ross – From household goods to clothing for the whole family, markdowns leading up to Black Friday next week make all three stores worth a look this weekend.

Burlington Coat Factory – Offering so much more than just coats. Holiday wear, shoes for the whole family and reduced costume jewelry make this the place to find dresses and outfits for all the holiday parties. Coats of every kind for every member of the family are half the price of any other store. Faux fur coat styles are favorites for women. Hit “The Factory” this weekend.

Victoria’s Secret – Find pretty little “intimates” for sisters, moms, cousins and girlfriends with buy-one-get-half-off and other coupon offers this year. The ads will be “leaked” prior to Black Friday, along with downloadable coupons for Angel Collection bras and panties.

Milano’s Men’s Fashions – Men’s wear on sale at great prices, but look for fine men’s watches at unheard of savings on Black Friday. Great gifts for the men you love.

Stein Mart – Quality items being offered on Black Friday at discount store prices make this a must-stop for the wise shopper: 24K jewelry under $10; ladies’ coats, 50 percent off; and 50 percent off holiday decorations.

Hickory Farms, Honey-Baked Ham, Holiday Ham – Black Friday sales on gift baskets and packages are always welcome during the holidays. Shipping options are also available for loved ones far away.

Take note!

Next week’s Black Friday shopping guide will focus on taking advantage of huge savings on unique gift ideas online. Theater packages, spa gift sets, wine memberships, the gift of travel, smoke shop items for the pipe smoker, and giving the gift of barbeque, just to name a few.

It’s the holidays. Don’t get soaked this shopping season.

Here’s to happy bargain hunting!

  • Written by Dr. Sybill C. Mitchell
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When law and mentoring intersect

Career Reception event was a bridge builder.

by Karanja A. Ajanaku

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The second annual Career Reception for law students – hosted by the City of Memphis’s Law Division – served as the intersection of interests that Carl Carter and J.B. Smiley Jr. brought to City Hall last week.

Carter, who was there on the lookout for International paper, where he is the associate general counsel, was also on hand to represent the Tennessee Bar Association, where he serves on the board of governors and represents the eighth district.

Smiley, a Memphis native, is a law student at William H. Barnes School of Law in Little Rock.

“Those of us who are professionals and who have been blessed to be successful, we need to reach back, pull up, help out, push forward or what have you,” said Carter within earshot of a nodding and mission-oriented Smiley.

“I wanted to do my best to come back home and network with professionals in the community that I want to practice in,” said Smiley.

The lawyer and the would-be lawyer both rated the gathering a success. Last year the participating students came from the University of Mississippi and the University of Memphis. This year, Vanderbilt, the Nashville School of Law and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock also sent students.

Deputy City Attorney Regina Morrison Newman said nearly every local government law office, many of Memphis’ large and small law firms, and corporations such as International Paper and TruGreen, sent representatives to speak to the students about career opportunities and internships. Also represented were Memphis Area Legal Services, Counsel on Call, Memphis Bar Association, National Bar Association and members of the local judiciary, including Circuit Court Judges Jerry Stokes and Gina Higgins.

 “The annual reception furthers the goals of the administration of Memphis Mayor AC Wharton Jr. to offer opportunities to youth and to make Memphis the City of Choice in which to live, work and recreate,” said Newman. “We look forward to growing this event in future years.”

‘New blood’

Assistant County Atty. Marlinee Iverson was there to inform and to be alert for “new blood,” which she said is important to government offices.

“I am really committed to Shelby County and the city. I’ve worked in a lot of the offices here. I’ve worked for the DA, the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We really want to get a thriving group of attorneys. The young ones just out of law school have something to offer because they have unique perspectives, different perspectives,” said Iverson.

“We’re going to get new blood in that challenges us maybe on old patterns and get us to look at things differently, resolve problems differently. That’s why I think a program like this, where we get to meet students who are just graduating and encourage them to apply for offices like ours, helps us.”

Iverson said she encountered a lot of students who were interested in “moving to Memphis or moving back to Memphis and doing work for the county or the city. What struck me is that they didn’t seem as interested in doing private sector work,” she said.

“I thought a lot of young professionals were leaving (the Memphis area), a mass exodus of young professionals. I have heard that. But in terms of these law students, I didn’t get a sense of that at all. The people who spoke here, the leaders of the community, said this is one of the best places to work, and I agree with that.”

Don’t fall for the misconception

Some 30 years ago, Carter was a law student. He knows the “tremendous benefit” derived when there is a function that serves as a networking opportunity for law students who will be graduating or law students looking for some employment to start connecting with potential employers.

“It is no secret that the jobs prospects are not what they used to be, but what I tell people is that with a little extra effort making some connections, events like this provide a tremendous benefit because they create the opportunity for you,” said Carter. “I commend the mayor and the City of Memphis’ Chief Counsel Herman Morris.”

A native Memphian, Carter attended Morehouse College and the University of Virginia School of Law.

“I was fortunate enough to be able to return to Memphis right after law school to clerk for the Honorable Odell Horton Jr. Clerking for Judge Horton, being here working downtown in the federal building was a tremendous experience.”

Carter attended Overton High School, which is known for its performing arts emphasis.

“That’s what is so fantastic about the law. There is no specific major,” said Carter, who shared that he has a daughter interested in attending a higher-education institution to perhaps become something “like the director of nursing for a hospital.”

 “I said, ‘You know what? I want you to go on and become the director of nursing because you probably ultimately (are) going to become a lawyer and be practicing in the medical malpractice area.’ I was an accounting major in undergrad.

“The misconception is that you need to major in political science, you need to be an English major,” said Carter. “The study of law is open to anyone with an undergraduate degree who is willing and who wants to take their seat at the table and do what is needed to graduate and take the bar exam.”

‘I want to be a lawyer’

Smiley went to Bolton High School, played basketball throughout college and got to his senior year and said, “I think I want to go to law school.”

The challenges included not knowing any lawyers or what he needed to do. He reasoned upon the need for a double major, hustling with a heavy course load his senior year so that he could have the double major of criminal justice and sociology.

The seed, he said upon reflection, was planted at an early age.

“When I was 10 years old I was playing basketball and the coach was helping different individuals in the community, giving them clothes, fatherly advice….I was very inquisitive at that age so I’m asking a lot of questions. I said, ‘How are you able to help everybody?’ He said, ‘Well, I am not able to help everybody but I do my best to.’ I (asked), ‘What do you do?’ He said, ‘I’m a lawyer.’

“So the seed was planted at the age of 10,” said Smiley. “I played basketball in college and (eventually) said, “I want to be a lawyer.”

Domestic abuse awareness advocate bids farewell

Farwell

As I prepare to leave the city of Memphis to venture into the next phase of my life, I am thankful to have the opportunity to publicly thank so many of you that have been part of my personal and professional journey in business and advocacy.

Walking Into A New Life, Inc. and JP Connections have been gratifying experiences for me. Sharing my story of domestic abuse and starting my own business has introduced me to a community of support that I never expected from all ages and walks of life. It has been filled with many peaks and valleys, but through it all, I have been afforded some wonderful opportunities to work with people and organizations at a local, state and national level.

THIS WEEKEND IN MEMPHIS!

Memphis

Your source of information for where to go and what to do each weekend in the Greater Memphis area.

FRIDAY

Mid-South Jewelry and Accessories Fair
10am | Memphis Cook Convention Center

* Memphis Flea Market “The Big One”
9am | Agricenter International

A model for beating the odds

Paul Hunter

Kylan Robertson has big plans for the future. “I hope to be an NBA player and an NBA game designer some day,” the 12-year-old said. “I also want to be a multi-millionaire. But it would be nice to be a billionaire.”

For a sixth-grader, Kylan seems to know what he wants – perhaps because Paul Lamar Hunter had assured Kylan and his schoolmates at St. Joseph Catholic School on Nov. 6 that their dreams could come true after relaying his personal story of triumph over adversity.

  • Written by Wiley Henry
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