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City, D.A.’s Office, Grizz Team up

October 3, 2012

In an effort to encourage employees to mentor Memphis youth, the City of Memphis is partnering with the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office and the Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation to launch the Mayor’s Mentoring Initiative.

As part of the new mentoring initiative, city employees will be encouraged to serve as mentors through either the District Attorney’s Mentoring Program or with one of the organizations that participates in the Grizzlies Mentoring Alliance.

“There are goals we work toward every single day – making sure our children finish high school and go to college, keeping kids away from guns and illegal activity, breaking the chains of intergenerational poverty – and mentors increase our chances of success with each and every one of those goals,” said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. “We must tap into this city’s greatest asset: the people who live and give here. And we’re starting with our own employees.”

City divisions and departments will be urged to approve flextime to allow employees to serve as mentors during traditional work hours. City employees who sign up for the Mayor’s Mentoring Initiative will also be routinely recognized by the Mayor’s Office and the City of Memphis Division of Human Resources.

By partnering with both the District Attorney’s Office and the Grizzlies Charitable Foundation, the City hopes to provide employees with a broad range of experiences to choose from.

The District Attorney’s Mentoring Program offers an alternative to court proceedings for youth who are habitually truant. The youth essentially enter into a Court Order in which they agree to be matched with a designated mentor instead of facing prosecution.

“My office could handle truancy cases like every other crime. However, we see an opportunity in these situations to not only enforce the law but also enrich the life of a young person,” said Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich. “For a minimum investment of time, the City of Memphis employees can make an immeasurable difference in a young person’s life.”

The D.A.’s program works exclusively with middle school students, and each mentor is asked to interact with their student at least eight hours each month.

“In many instances, our children just need to hear an encouraging word or someone to explain it with a different point of view. That is mentoring,” said Memphis City Councilman Harold Collins.

The Grizzlies Mentoring Alliance includes local mentoring programs Girls, Inc., Memphis Athletic Ministries, Memphis PREP Program, Memphis City Schools’ CONNECT Mentoring, New Ballet Ensemble & School, and Youth Villages, among others. After filling out a Grizzlies TEAM UP Interest form detailing their interests and availability, volunteers are paired with the organization that best suits them. Grizzlies’ partners serve kids ages 10-18 and offer one-on-one, group, and team mentoring opportunities.

“Dozens of opportunities to mentor are found within our trusted Grizzlies Mentoring Alliance member programs. We’ll match City employees with these programs based upon their interests and availability and work with our partners to ensure they have the training and support to start mentoring,” said Jenny Koltnow, executive director of the Grizzlies Foundation. “We hope to see this initiative connect more young people with mentors and inspire individuals and organizations throughout the city to get involved with youth mentoring.”

Lone Star Demolition Begins

September 20, 2012

Downtown’s Lone Star silos have said Memphis – literally —  since 1999. But today, with the Memphis signs off the top of the buildings and the wrecking ball swinging, the city celebrated the demolition of the 14 silos.

“The river is so much more than just a stream used for barges and boats,” said Mayor Wharton. “This is connecting us to our history. This is bringing people closer to the river.”

After the demolition, the property will be converted back to green space and will become part of two miles of public land along the river. The property will also connect the new Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid to the Tom Lee Park and the Beale Street Landing.

Speakers, including City Councilman Myron Lowery and Peabody General Manager and CVB board member Doug Browne, touted the project’s economic development and overall public benefit.

“In 1985, there was nothing here. This was even before the Pyramid was built. There was no development on Mud Island to speak of. Tom Lee Park didn’t exist except for a little four-acre thing. Riverside Drive was a two-lane roller-coaster road,” said Riverfront Development Corporation executive director Benny Lendermon. “Our riverfront is becoming a very public, very usable entity. It’s a benefit to our community.”

Innovation Team Seeks Outreach and Intervention Workers

September 11, 2012

With a population of more than 675,000, Memphis is the 18th largest city in the United States. Memphis has a majority African-American population and a disproportionately high percentage of young people; nearly 27 percent of the population is under the age of 18, compared to the national norm of 23 percent.

Violent crime in the city mirrors these demographics. Memphis has a growing culture of gang and group affiliation among young black men; over 51 percent of shootings are gang-related in some way.  While there have been successful efforts to reduce crime in general across the city, the same success has not been realized with violent crime involving area youth.

The Mayor of Memphis is launching a comprehensive strategy to reduce gun violence among young people in Memphis.  To complement law enforcement activities, social intervention strategies will be employed to safeguard at-risk youth from the adverse effects of gun violence as either the victim or perpetrator, and to break the cycle of violence after a violent act has been committed.  The goal of this comprehensive strategy is to reduce the rates of gun violence among young people by at least 10 percent city wide, and by at least 20 percent in focus areas of Frayser and South Memphis.

To that goal, the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team is seeking candidates to apply for the following positions: Community Outreach Worker, Violence Intervention Specialist, and Community Violence Prevention Supervisor.

All interested applicants should e-mail their resume to:    info@innovatememphis.com  no later than September 21, 2012.  Applicants selected for interview will be contacted no later than October 1, 2012.  The expected start date for these positions is October 15, 2012.

To view the job descriptions, please continue reading. Read more…

We Will Never Forget

September 11, 2012

Gas for Guns Provides Judgment Free Zone

September 10, 2012

It will be “No Questions Asked” next Saturday, September 15th, as the City of Memphis, Mapco, and the Memphis Grizzlies offer “Gas for Guns” at the Bloomfield Baptist Church.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, the City and its partners will give citizens a $50 gas card for each gun they turn in, with a limit of three gas cards for each individual. Participants will also receive two Memphis Grizzlies tickets.  Image

“Crime, especially violent crime, is often fueled by relatively easy access to firearms,” said Mayor Wharton. “Last year, 1,600 guns were reported stolen here in Memphis. Those guns didn’t just evaporate and disappear. They ended up on the street.”

Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said the parking lot of Bloomfield Baptist Church would be a “judgment free zone” Saturday. No questions will be asked relative to any firearm turned in or any persons participating.

“In 67 percent of the aggravated assaults we’ve investigated this year, a firearm has been used to commit those crimes,” said Director Armstrong. “This is an effort for us to take guns off the street.”

“Gas for Guns” sponsors include WMC-TV, the Tri-State Defender, WDIA, K97.5, V101.1, Hallelujah 95.7, IHeartRadio, Mapco, the Bloomfield Baptist Church, and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Bloomfield Baptist Church is located at 123 S. Parkway West.

Memphis Awarded Three TDOT Grants

July 26, 2012

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam was in Memphis today, July 26th, to announce three Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) grants totaling nearly $1.5 million.

“We get 70, 80, 90 applications each year and we look statewide for the best projects,” Governor Haslam said. “Usually when we do these events, I get to say we’re happy to be here to announce a grant. We’re actually here to announce three grants for Memphis and Shelby County.” Image

The grants will provide $667,000 for the Phase 4 of the Wolf River Greenway project, $286,000 for the Highway 61 Blues Trail, and $529,000 for the first phase of the Walker Avenue Streetscape project.

The Walker Avenue project will create a pedestrian plaza area. New landscaping, park benches, and bicycle lanes and racks will also be added to create a pedestrian and cyclist-friendly environment.

The Highway 61 Blues Trail, an 11-mile section of Highway 61,  will promote The Blues and its heritage with directional and historical site designation signage, trail markers, and gateway art projects.

The newest phase of the Wolf River Greenway will add just over a mile of trail from McLean to Hollywood and will eventually link Rodney Baber Park and Douglass Park.

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An already completed portion of the Wolf River Greenway

City to Clean Up Third Street Flea Market Site

July 12, 2012

Once home to a movie theater, a flea market, and a meth lab, the blighted Southwest Twin Drive-In Theater may soon see another use.

City of Memphis and federal officials announced Wednesday, July 11th, that city crews would clean up the almost 20-acre Third Street Flea Market site within the next two to three weeks. It will then be sold.

Mayor Wharton, federal officials, and neighborhood leaders tour the blighted Third Street Flea Market site.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. said he hoped to see the property become something that is both needed by the neighborhood and is wholesome.The previous owner relinquished his rights to the property after being charged with selling illegally imported goods. That has given the federal government control of the property, but it will be managed locally while it is being prepped for sale.“We don’t want to get one bad thing out and then put another bad thing in,” he said. “As long as I’m Mayor, this won’t be a flea market.”

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