Around Town

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Metro Overdrafts on First Tennessee Park

Posted By on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 at 2:11 PM

The Nashville Sounds stadium is going to cost $10 million more than expected, with Metro officials blaming the winter weather, Nashville's booming construction market, stadium upgrades, and contaminated soil for busting the budget.

Details from the Post:

The first, he said, was that conditions at the site were worse than Metro had anticipated. A fact sheet provided by Mayor Karl Dean’s office explains it this way:

“Contaminated soil at the site required more environmental remediation than initially projected and had to be removed to an approved landfill, resulting in higher transportation costs to a more expensive landfill.”

The recent winter weather was another factor, Riebeling said.

“We’re on a schedule, we’ve got to get this thing done by April 17 so missing 10 days of work or so in the last month or two has just created some demands on overtime and budgets, so it’s stressed the budget,” he said.

Other costs, according to the administration, stem from a booming construction market and upgrades to the ballpark’s original design including the guitar-shaped scoreboard and field level suites.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Nashville Mosque to Host Lectures on Malcolm X and MLK, Jr.

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 2:47 PM

The Islamic Center of Nashville will host an open house and lecture Saturday, focused on the lives and legacies of Malcom X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The event, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of Malcolm X's assassination, will be held from 10;30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the mosque at 2515 12th Ave. S.

Lewis V. Baldwin, a Baptist minister and Vanderbilt University professor, and Amiri al-Hadid, a Muslim Tennessee State University professor, will be the event's keynote speakers. They are the authors of the book Between Cross and Crescent: Christian and Muslim Perspectives on Malcolm and Martin.

"Our dynamic speakers will lead us on an important and timely discussion," ICN President Rashed Fakhruddin said in a media release announcing the event. "And I look forward to gaining a deeper understanding of our past so that we can be better prepared to deal with the challenges we face in our society, and at the same time, appreciate how far we have advanced as a society thanks in part to the struggles and dedication of these two great men."

The event is free and open to the public.

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News You Can Use: The Brentwood Krispy Kreme is Open

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 1:20 PM

Earlier this week, you may have read the harrowing story of Ben and Dezirae Counts, the young Brentwood couple who risked it all by walking to their local Krispy Kreme in search of doughnuts.

The horror of it all was that the Counts walked a four mile round trip only to discover that, with the world freezing over, the Krispy Kreme was closed. These winter weather events can seem like fun, but they also create real danger. The Counts could have fallen! And think of the journalists in the field! Stories like these don't report themselves.

Pith felt compelled to follow up. So we just called the Krispy Kreme on Mallory Lane in Brentwood — not as brave as walking there, we confess — and, can you believe it, they're open! To the Counts, and any other needy couple in Williamson County: Go. Go get your doughnut. if you succeed, your stomachs will be full and warm, and if you fail, the shining light of your bravery will light our paths for years to come.

Or, you know, just call next time.

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Things Go From Bad To Worse at James Robertson Apartments

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2015 at 5:09 PM

Earlier this month we reported on the pending sale of the James Robertson Apartments building, which was slated to change ownership, forcing inhabitants to vacate their homes by April 21 and marking the end of a project-based Section 8 HUD contract.

In December, building management, under the administration of owner Robert Keenan of Robert A. Keenan Construction Co., informed residents of the pending sale. Since then, living conditions in the 12-story, 124-unit structure have deteriorated to a point at which residents — all of whom are age 62 or older and on low- or fixed-income rent subsidies — are scrambling to get out.

On Dec. 26, a fire damaged two elevators. Residents were instructed to call maintenance in order to use the freight elevator, but service was not dependable, leaving many individuals with no other option than to walk several flights of stairs if they wanted out of their apartments. It took more than a week for management to repair one of the elevators (at press time, the other was still broken).

The broken elevator was the straw that broke the camel's back for many of the residents, including Linda Marsden, who told the Scene horror stories of a building filled with illegal squatters, human feces in stairwell corners, and an unresponsive staff. Just as Section 8 residents must abide by rules, landlords are accordingly expected to meet criteria established through the HUD contract. For Linda and her husband Myles, they were just hoping to move out of the building as soon as possible.

This morning, Nashville Metro Social Services held a meeting with residents to assist with the moving process. That includes the distribution of tenant-based vouchers, which provide subsidized rent anywhere in the state and in the country. The Marsdens received their vouchers today, and once their chosen future home passes a HUD inspection, they'll move. They left the meeting optimistic.

And then they found out that the building's office staff — including on-site manager De Anna Horner, who also lives in the building — had just been fired.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

#MayoralChatter: Bone Opposes Swingers Club in Madison

Posted By on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 10:45 AM

A swingers club is trying to move to Madison and Charles Robert Bone isn't feeling it.

The proposed relocation of The Social Club from downtown to a new spot in Madison has some residents in a tizzy, with concerns about its proximity to a Goodpasture Christian School and fears about allowing a den of debauchery into the neighborhood. In a letter to the Planning Commission and the Metro Council, Bone said he "unequivocally" opposed the relocation and asked the two bodies to prevent it.

"As someone who attended Goodpasture from 1st grade until 12th grade and who feels strongly about the viability of, and opportunity for economic revitalization in, Madison, please understand my bias," Bone writes. "While I can appreciate the legal and zoning complexities of this matter, I just do not believe allowing a 'sexual encounter club' of this type to operate near schools, churches and residential areas in this community is appropriate or was ever intended to be permitted."

"Furthermore," Bone goes on, "this is adverse to the vision that many of us have for the revitalization of Madison and the opportunity for renewed business and community opportunities in the area."

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Friday, January 23, 2015

RIP The Amp

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 1:55 PM


The prognosis for Mayor Karl Dean's proposed bus rapid transit line hasn't been good for a year at least.

After a near-fatal beating at the state legislature last year, and with the federal budget process perpetually up in the air, its prospects for funding were looking dim. In October, Dean announced he would not be seeking state or local funding for the project this year, effectively handing it off the next mayor, although none of the candidates for the job seemed particularly eager to carry it forward. Yesterday, Metro Transit Authority CEO Stephen Bland put the thing out of its misery, recommending that design work on the project cease and the remaining funds be reallocated.

The Amp is dead.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

MTA CEO: 'We Should Not Build The Amp at This Time'

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 2:25 PM

Metro Transit Authority CEO Stephen Bland says Nashville "should not build The Amp at this time" and that design work on Mayor Karl Dean's proposed 7.1 mile bus rapid transit line should cease.

Bland made the announcement at a meeting of the MTA's board of directors, where he presented his findings and recommendations after reviewing the findings of the Citizen Advisory Committee formed by Dean last year. He said the project had provoked "an unprecedented level of public engagement, discussion, and debate regarding the future of public transit in Nashville and Middle Tennessee," but the city should not move ahead with it now.

Bland's remarks, released by the MTA Thursday afternoon, also included other recommendations such as allocating $750,000 of the remaining Amp design funds toward the MTA's strategic planning process, and continuing "to advance new products and services that provide improvements in service" for customers.

Dean told the CAC in October that his administration would not seek funding for the project in 2015.

Update 3:10 p.m.: A statement from Dean:

“I am proud that we have laid the groundwork for a future mass transit system in Nashville, and, in doing so, raised the level of discourse around transit. To continue our momentum as a city, we have to offer more efficient and reliable transportation options in this corridor and others around the city to address increasing traffic, and I am glad that work will continue. We’ve never come so far in bringing this level of mass transit to Nashville, and we have to continue the conversation to make it a reality. I encourage all citizens to get involved in the strategic plan on transit for the city and region in the coming months. We can’t do it without involvement and input from community and business members.”

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Brady Banks Named New Executive Director of The Contributor

Posted By on Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 4:35 PM

Very quietly, Tasha French Lemley stepped down as the executive director of The Contributor in August. Lemley had presided over a yearlong campaign to right the financial side of the homeless paper, pulling it back from the edge of extinction.

But the effort clearly took a toll, and Lemley, one of the organization's co-founders, was burned out.

After a few months with an interim, the paper announced yesterday that Metro Councilman Brady Banks, who had been serving as the organization's development director, will now take over for Lemley as executive director. Fittingly, Banks also serves on the Metro Homeless Commission.

Pith caught up with Banks after the Metro Council meeting last night and asked him what kind of shape the paper was in.

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Front of the Book: New Education Chief and A Safe Place To Sleep

Posted By on Fri, Jan 2, 2015 at 9:22 AM

In this week's print edition, Andrea Zelinski sits down for a minute with the state's new education commissioner, Candice McQueen, who is replacing the controversial Kevin Huffman. McQueen comes from Lipscomb, where she's been the senior vice president and dean of education.

From the Q&A:

Pre-K has been a pretty touchy subject in Tennessee lately. Will you be advocating for an expansion of pre-K?

I think early childhood is incredibly important. I'm not sure you can be a teacher and not believe that early childhood support and education [are] important to the continuum of a student. I also know there are lots of ways to improve early childhood that don't necessarily require an unbelievable amount of new funding — but some things will require funding. So I look forward to looking to see what those are.

Where do your kids go to school?

Great question. My kids are at Lipscomb Academy (a private school), and this is the school where I've been working and working with, and so they have been attending where I've worked. As a working mom, it's been fantastic to have them in a place where we're on the same schedule. ... My daughter is 11, and my son is 8.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

American Baptist College Hosts Youth Activists From Ferguson, Chicago, Nashville

Posted By on Wed, Dec 31, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Participants at American Baptist Colleges retreat for young activists
  • Steven Hale
  • Participants at American Baptist College's retreat for young activists
“There is an African traditional way of saying ‘Good morning, hello, how are you?’," said Dr. Iva Carruthers on the campus of Nashville's American Baptist College Wednesday morning, "and it is embedded in the words of, ‘How are the children doing?’”

That question — and the answer suggested by the controversial deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police in 2014 — brought youth activists from Ferguson, Missouri, Chicago, Atlanta, and Nashville to a retreat hosted at the historic black college over the past three days. The school's history as what college president Dr. Forrest E. Harris calls a "incubator of social justice" reaches back to the birth of the civil rights movement.

“We stand here supporting a trans-generational opportunity to converse, to think, to celebrate, to heal, to strategize at this historic institution embracing the spirit, the ancestral memories that are a part of the legacy of this institution as we respond to this responsibility to say the children are not doing well and we have a collective responsibility to address that,” said Carruthers, general secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and a trustee of the ABC, the organizations that partnered to host the gathering.

But the movement, Carruthers and Forrester agreed, is led by the youth, and it was the young activists' voices that dominated the discussion.

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