Hina Okchamali

Now that the barns and livestock areas at The Fairgrounds are coming down, the Memphis City Council has moved on to other matters in the redevelopment of The Fairgrounds.

Next month the council will vote on what to call the green space to run from the East Parkway Entrance to the western edge of The Liberty Bowl.

Council member Bill Boyd sorted the names submitted by the public.

The entries included:
• Elvis Presley Greenway
• The Grasslands
• Fairlawn
• The Green Zone
• Trail of Tigers
• And Hina Okchamali, a Choctaw word meaning Green Path

But most of the suggestions involved some use of the word Tiger.

The University of Memphis football team is called the Tigers. The Tennessee State and Jackson State teams featured in the annual Southern Heritage Classic each have tigers as mascots. The AutoZone Liberty Bowl occasionally features a Tiger team.

Boyd’s recommendation after consulting with all of the tenants of the football stadium was “Tiger Park.”

But other council members had other thoughts.

“The community knows the Fairgrounds area as a big park,” Council member Barbara Swearengen Ware suggested as she amended the resolution to make the name “Tiger Lane.”

“It denotes a street,” Council member Myron Lowery countered. “People will think it’s a street.”

At its executive session, council members tentatively voted to go with Tiger Lane at least for now. The full council will vote at its first meeting in May at the advice of Council chairman Harold Collins.

“You need to sleep on it,” he said.

The split council vote in executive session is an indication there could be other names floated next month.

Tiger Woods anyone?

Tick tock, tick tock

Time is nearly out on the homebuyers tax credit.

Qualified applicants have until Friday to make an offer on a home, which could score them a chunk of change to put toward their down payments, furnish their homes or put into savings.

Under the plan, $8,000 is available for first-time homebuyers who have bought or will buy their homes between Jan. 1, 2009, and April 30. If a binding sales contract is signed by April 30, the purchase can be completed within 60 days, or by June 30, to qualify.

The repeat homebuyer tax credit of up to $6,500 applies to houses sold between Nov. 6, 2009, and April 30. Like the first-time credit, if a binding sales contract is signed by April 30, the purchase can be completed by June 30 to qualify.

The program’s success will be judged not only by home sales in April (which should be released by Chandler Reports in the first week of May) but also by sales throughout the summer. In other words, did the credit create enough of a spark for an industry that has struggled for the past two years? Or will activity drop once the promise of cash back is gone?

Rules change for FDA medical device panels

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that it is changing the way its expert panels handle public hearings on medical devices under review for premarket approval.
The changes are being made because of the increasing number of panel meetings. Read about the rule changes at:
www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm209791.htm

Girls Just Want to Have Fun – in Memphis

Cyndi Lauper came to Memphis several weeks ago to record her new album, “Memphis Blues.” Here’s some video she shot of herself Downtown. (Warning: she’s a little, ah, unsteady with the camera.)

Vasco Smith Honored With Building Renaming

The Shelby County administration building is now the Vasco A. Smith Jr. Administration Building.

The building was formally rededicated Monday morning at a ceremony honoring the longtime Shelby County commissioner and civil rights activist who died last year.

The ceremony was a gathering of fellow veterans of the civil rights era in Memphis as well as figures from the past and present of Shelby County politics.

Former County Commissioner Cleo Kirk remembered Smith, his political mentor, as “a fearless man.”

“If you wanted a good fight, threaten him,” Kirk said. “He found the injustice in things and he attacked it.”

Retired Judge Russell Sugarmon, along with Smith and others, formed the foundation of the city’s civil rights establishment in the 1950s, said Smith’s fight to form The Regional Medical Center “made the potential for a greater medical center possible.”

Former County Commissioner Charles Perkins, who worked with Smith on the creation of The MED, said it “raised the level of medical care all over.”

Smith was remembered a week after the memorial service for another civil rights icon, the Rev. Benjamin Hooks. Sugarmon said the Memphis movement “produced more leadership … than any other city in the South.”

Smith’s widow, former school board member and long time local NAACP executive secretary Maxine Smith, remembered her husband as a tough advocate who was plain spoken and blunt in his dealings with opponents.

“Maybe we did a little good when we stepped out at Memphis State,” she said referring to her attempt, with others, to enroll in and integrate what was then Memphis State University in the 1950s. She was denied admission. Smith will be presented with an honorary doctorate from what is now the University of Memphis in graduation ceremonies this spring.

“I’ve had a good life,” she said. “I’ve had a real good life thanks to Vasco.”

Dansette

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