05/13/2005: Memphis News: The Week In Review
Short version today, since Firefox crashed and took over an hour's work along with it. Backup, people, backup!!!!
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The big thing in Memphis this weekend: The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Contest, a/k/a "The Super Bowl of Swine". Normally, you have to know someone for an entree; this year features a behind the scenes "Cooker Caravan" tour as well, and you don't need to know anyone to get in on that.
May 6: The FedEx Forum and Memphis Grizzlies appear to be strangling the Pyramid Arena; the Memphis City Council contemplates shuttering or demolishing the local landmark. As a St. Louisan in exile, I think that demolishing the Pyramid would be a pity; every river city needs some distinctive structure on its riverfront (you can tell I grew up with that big stainless steel arch in my "front yard", as it were....). Besides, if it wasn't there, we'd have never gotten this observation from a comedian of some repute:
It's so nice you built that Pyramid. It's nice to have a coloseum you can see from fuckin' Uranus.Local pilot dies in crash at DeWitt Spain Airport (a local general aviation facility). He was flying a homebuilt plane at the time.
--Robin Williams [concert in Memphis, 2002 North American Tour]
May 7: Tennessee Governor Phil "The Democrat that Republicans love" Bredeson has expressed concern over a number of legislatively approved grants which have gone to organizations which are exempt from state auditing or oversight. Not surpisingly, some of these grants have gone to organizations with ties to Memphis area State Senator John Ford. Later in the week, Tennessee state election finance watchdogs will fine Ford $10,000 for using over $15,000 of campaign funds to pay for his daughter's wedding reception. Ford admitted the use of campaign funds in a sworn written statement, but justified his conduct on the grounds that roughly 1/3 of the guests at the reception were his constituents, and that other elected officials had used campaign funds in similar ways to entertain constituents.
May 8: You'd think there's practically nothing going on to amuse a body in Memphis these days.... A substantial crowd (the CA article estimated it as "thousands") gathered in the early morning Sunday to watch the implosion of two buildings in the old Baptist Hospital downtown complex. The buildings were demolished to make room for a new building for the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy, and to provide space for the University of Tennessee-Baptist Health System Biotech Research Park.
May 9: West Memphis, Arkansas, and local arts organizations, are making a push to memorialize West Memphis's rich musical legacy. Apparently, many noteworthy musicians (including such luminaries as B.B. King and Elvis) played West Memphis on their way to stardom.
May 10: In a surprise move, the official misconduct trial of former Shelby County Juvenile Court Clerk Shep Willbun is abruptly ended with the jury panel being dismissed. Speculation is that the case will be "settled" favorably to the defendant.
Opponents of privatizing the Shelby County Correctional System have brought their concerns before the Shelby County Commission.
May 11: The American Bar Association may be ready to lower the boom on the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis. Apparently, the condition of physical facilities at the school are so abysmal that the ABA is warning the University and the law school that its ABA accreditation may be in jeopardy. Loss of ABA accreditation would make it extremely difficult for graduates of the school to seek admission to the bar. University and law school officials will attend a hearing in Omaha on June 24 to present potential solutions to the ABA.
In a bizzare turn of events, it appears that the case of the disappearance of Memphis area exotic dancer Corie Duckett (a/k/a "Ivy", the name she used dancing at The Pony, a local "gentlemen's club") may be coming to a tragic end. Memphis area exotic dancer Melissa Ferris (a co-worker of Duckett's at The Gold Club, another area gentlemen's club) was stopped driving a car on I-10 in Florida in which her boyfriend Jeffery Opp was a passenger. Ferris pulled a gun, pointed it to Opp's head, and led Florida police on a chase which ended in I-95, where Ferris shot and killed Opp before surrendering to officers on the scene. Ferris apparently told Florida investigators that she and Opp were "wanted for murder in Memphis", and gave the investigators information as to where she and Opp had dumped Duckett's body in northern Mississippi. A search for Duckett's remains based on Ferris's information has come up empty handed, however; Memphis area police are still searching.
May 13: "Sniper? What sniper?" Memphis police now doubt that there ever was a Sam Cooper Boulevard sniper. Back in August to October of last year, motorists driving on Sam Cooper reported some mysterious incidents of car windows shattering. Some evidence suggests that some shots were fired, but only three bullets were recovered, and none of them match each other or any of the 40 or so bullets ("mostly rusted") found in the area during intensive investigations in the area last year. Interest in the incidents is renewed after a couple drivers on I-40 and I-240 have reported their car windows mysteriously shattering recently as well.
The Shelby County Schools Superintendent gave his annual "State of the System" address; he reports that the school system is meeting its goals.
Len on 05.13.05 @ 08:43 AM CST