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Shelby Farms wants your help

Park supporters on the email list of Shelby Farms Park and the Shelby Farms Greenline got an email over the weekend warning that the future of one of the county’s most popular community assets might be on the line.

The County Commission, in a push led by Commissioner Terry Roland, may vote to cut some or all of the county’s funding to the park at the commission meeting Monday, June 20.

The email limits a separate request that supporters write letters to the editor of the Commercial Appeal. We at The Daily News, of course, would gladly welcome them as well.

The Shelby Farms email reads, in part:

“We know your passion for Shelby Farms Park and Shelby Farms Greenline. We urge you to show your support by letting your county commissioners hear from you about what these incredible public amenities mean to you and to Shelby County.

-We first ask that the county honor the management agreement we entered into mutually. Our public-private partnership with Shelby County was formed to better serve the community. As part of that agreement, our ten-year management contract shows that the county will continue to provide the $576,000 it was spending on maintenance for the land under county management.

-For every dollar the county gives, we raise at least four more from private sources to meet the operating needs of the Park and Greenline. We are careful stewards of the county’s investment, and we have honored our commitment.

-We assumed management of Shelby Farms Greenline, Woodland Discovery Playground and Wolf River Pedestrian Bridge and did not ask for an increase in county funding, even though the new amenities added almost $250,000 to our operating expenses.

-Shelby Farms Park and Shelby Farms Greenline are two of the popular, important and transformative features of our community, with more than 3 million visits a year by our estimation. If we lose our funding, we may not be able to continue operating Shelby Farms Park and Shelby Farms Greenline.”

Memphis’ Z-Bo: 37th Most Paid Athlete

Memphis Grizzlies player Zach Randolph has ranked as the 37th most highly paid American athlete on this year’s Sports Illustrated’s “The Fortunate 50” list.

Z-Bo’s 2011 earnings? $17.7 million, after salary, winnings endorsements and appearance fees. That’s about $172,500 per game. Not too shabby.

In all, the 2011 list features 19 NBA players, 17 baseball players, eight NFL players, three NASCAR drivers and three golfers.

Happy Birthday, Le Bonheur

I discovered this week that Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and I share a birthday, but Le Bonheur’s got a few years on me.

The Memphis area’s only comprehensive pediatric medical center this week turned 59. Wednesday’s celebration included cake, courtesy of The Le Bonheur Club, and the unveiling of a commemorative work of art near the hospital’s second-floor skybridge.

Beneath photographs of the celebration posted on Le Bonheur’s Facebook page this week, commenters shared stories about their own children and grandchildren who are alive today thanks to Le Bonheur’s staff.

Founded on June 15, 1952, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital annually treats more than 100,000 children, most of them under the age of five. Althought most patients come from a six-state referral area, they also come from all 50 states and several foreign countries.

In late December, Le Bonheur moved into its new, sustainably built $340 million, 12-story facility at 50 North Dunlap Street in the Memphis Medical District.

The new campus is 50 percent larger than the previous one, with 255 beds and room to expand. The new hospital also features cheerful, child-focused art, and brightly painted patient rooms and playrooms placed along the outer-lying areas of the building, allowing for abundant light and panoramic views of the city.

In addition, Le Bonheur has improved patient care with state-of-the-art technological improvements, including a computer-based nurse call system; a 3T intra-operative MRI that provides high-resolution images; and a 320 slice CT scanner that produces better images and emits less radiation.

“People need to understand that this is an unduplicated resource for 250 miles,” Le Bonheur President and CEO Meri Armour said when the new hospital opened. “ A 3-year-old needs a different level of care than a 30-year-old or a 70-year-old. Children’s health care is very different from adult health care, so having this kind of facility in the region is very powerful and a very positive thing for Memphis. Not every city has a children’s hospital, and kids have to go a long ways away to get special care – but you don’t here.”

Happy Birthday, Le Bonheur.

Automated Tweets: Effective or Impersonal?

In Wednesday’s daily, I talked to local PR sources about Twitter. One of the questions I asked was if they felt automated tweets were effective.

Just revert back to May 1, the day President Obama announced the U.S. had captured and killed Osama bin Laden. Although it was first broadcasted on TV, I personally – and I’m sure thousands of others – first learned the news via Twitter.

What I also found intertwined with the trending topic was random, automated tweets from various companies. Those companies stuck out like a sore thumb amid a national phenomenon.

So in order to save you from looking silly on Twitter, here’s some insight that didn’t make it into my article but are great words of wisdom nonetheless:

“If you’re driving a contest or teasing the audience to look for a big announcement I can see how using an automated service like Hoot Suite would suffice, but in the end I feel like you’re doing your circles a disservice,” said Cynthia Saatkamp, partner with Hemline Creative Marketing LLC. “Twitter is a tool, one of many in an organization’s toolbox that they can use to reach, reward and reaffirm customers. If a company says they don’t have time, they had best find the time or their competition surely will. I would rather an organization field a strong social media strategy and really set out to do something different, than to just get on Twitter because everyone else is there. You can see straight through those kinds of tweets.”

Natashia Gregoire, public relations account director with archer>malmo, echoed Saatkamp’s philosophy, adding that customers who are seeking engagement might be turned off by such one-sided communication.

“Twitter is about having a conversation and scheduling tweets does not allow you to take into consideration what others are saying,” said. “Instead of automatic tweets, develop an editorial calendar for Twitter with your team. This will give you an idea of the topics to cover each month, but will also allow you to craft these points according to what’s happening around you.”

First Horizon “needs to do a deal”

If a tree falls in the forest but no one hears it, of course we know it made a sound.

Can the same be said when a group of investors and analysts gathered for a bank industry conference talk among themselves about how a certain Memphis banking company needs to hurry up and put its capital to work to land an acquisition deal, even when that bank isn’t presenting anything at the conference?

We’ll see. For now, it’s worth noting that Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. (the parent of First Tennessee Bank) was not one of the presenting companies at the Gulf South Bank Conference last month at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New Orleans, where attendees feasted for three days on oyster, booze, bank industry insight – and rumor.

Nevertheless, one of the phrases uttered repeatedly during the conference by investors and analysts had to do with First Horizon. It was said that “Bryan needs to do a deal,” a reference to First Horizon president and CEO Bryan Jordan.

(Consider, for what it’s worth, that it was generally an unsolicited comment).

The scuttlebutt from bank sources – and those at the conference – is that the market has been waiting for First Horizon to put its war chest of capital to work and snatch up a competitor. Jordan has frequently said publicly that when the right deal presents itself, he’ll pull the trigger.

Attendees at the New Orleans conference, though, said pursuing a deal is going to get harder the longer Jordan waits. Over the last three months, the company’s stock price has dropped about 10 percent, and some industry insiders and analysts have concerns about First Horizon that include a perceived mortgage repurchase risk.

If buying isn’t an option, the conference attendees said Jordan could always consider a sale of the company. Names bandied about included PNC Financial, BB&T and SunTrust Banks Inc.

Kind of reminds me of an old saying: if you don’t have a seat at the table, chances are you could be on the menu.

Dansette

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