Friday, July 31, 2015

MATA: On Shaky Ground.. Literally

Ground continues to swallow MATA headquarters

I pitched this story for months before finally getting the green light.  It's about MATA's headquarters slowly sinking into the ground.  It was built on an old landfill.. And the ground continually settles.  Recent studies say relocating the operations and administrative offices would top $60 million.  Making this story happen on short notice proved to be a challenge.  But the always helpful MATA public relations person eventually got me an interview with the boss and a tour of the damage.  I even did my pre-taped "look live" underneath one of the buildings, now exposed by the settling.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Deputy Honored For Saving Choking Diner

Deputy honored for saving choking diner

A spokesman for the Shelby County Sheriff's Office sent me a text about this story.  He wondered if I'd be interested.  Given all the negative news about law enforcement of late.. I jumped on the chance to do a positive story.  A woman who choked on a piece of fried zucchini at Logan's Roadhouse credits and off-duty deputy for saving her life.  He stepped in and gave her emergency aid.  My photographer went down to the criminal courthouse to interview the deputy while I was in the 4:00 newscast.  We later interviewed the woman at Logan's.  The GM even gave me some fried zucchini to use in my story.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Elderly Couple's Deaths May Be Heat-Related

Police investigate death of elderly couple inside Whitehaven home, may be heat-related

Scanner traffic first alerted us to the discovery of bodies inside a Whitehaven home.  Memphis Police didn't suspect foul play from the start.  The excessive heat became a potential contributing cause of death after it was determined that the air conditioning wasn't properly working.  Frankly, I'm surprised we haven't seen more heat-related deaths this summer.  I got some stats from the Shelby County Health Department in order to complete this story.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Teen Murdered Inside LA Fitness

Family searches for answers after teenager shot, killed inside LA Fitness

We got sent to this story just after 5:00 on a Friday.  A busy area of Memphis was even busier after police were called to reports of a shooting inside a LA Fitness health club.  Turns out, an 18 year-old recent high school graduate was murdered while playing on an indoor basketball court.  The club was filled with people at the time.  I managed to find the victim's uncle in the crowd outside and he shared a photo with me.. Along with a compelling interview featured in the above story.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Potentially Explosive Burglary In Bartlett

Dynamite, ammo stolen during Bartlett burglary

I found this story by perusing the Bartlett Police Department's Facebook page, where daily reports are posted.  I noticed dynamite and a load of ammo were among the items stolen from a homeowner's storage shed.  He didn't want to talk on camera but told me over the phone that he knew the shed wasn't properly secured.  The fact that explosives were taken alarmed some neighbors.  The owner said he used it to blow up stumps.  Many in the neighborhood have joined (a neighborhood watch site) as a result of this and other recent property crimes.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Family Marks Anniversary Of Hit & Run Death

Family marks anniversary of cold case hit and run death

The mother of a 15 year-old boy killed by a hit and run driver pledges to never give up.  She's always a compelling, emotional interview subject.  This story is the fourth one I've done with Roshonda Johnson since her son's death in 2013.  Johnson texted me last week to remind me the anniversary was approaching.  She contacted Memphis Police as well.  They made the cold case one of their "crimes of the week" in order to get some publicity.  I met Johnson and her family near the spot where Tyler Johnson died.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

8 Year-Old Recalls Armed Robbery

8 year-old recalls armed robbery

The wife of a robbery victim posted details on the crime on the WMC Action News 5 Facebook page.  A producer spotted it and emailed the post to the newsroom staff.  The woman was particularly concerned because the robber also pointed a gun at her 8 year-old son.  I asked a member of the web team to message the woman to see if she'd talk.  She later sent her contact info.  I convinced her to do an interview with the understanding that we would not reveal the family's identity.  The 8 year-old's interview proved to be the most compelling.  His mother also wanted to touch on the issue of crimes against Hispanics.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Remembering Judge D'Army Bailey

Judge D'Army Bailey has passed away

We were minutes from the 5:00 newscast on Sunday when we got word that Judge D'Army Bailey died.  We included details as breaking news and then put together a plan for 10:00 coverage.  I did a retrospective of his life.. Including information about his childhood, civic service, and work in civil rights.  Bailey was a founder of the National Civil Rights Museum.  That may be his most lasting legacy.  I knew Judge Bailey very well and often called upon him for his insight on a variety of topics.  I recall watching a 2013 KKK rally with him near the steps of the old courthouse, which stands on what was honorarily named "D'Army Bailey Avenue."

Friday, July 10, 2015

Ex Teacher Alleges TCAP Cheating

Ex teacher alleges TCAP cheating

This former teacher called the newsroom wondering how to get in touch with officials looking into possible TCAP test cheating at two Memphis schools.  I overheard a producer discussing it and requested the teacher be transferred to my desk.  I talked her into speaking on camera.  She made very serious allegations regarding fellow teachers feeding answers to students.  I got a statement from Shelby County Schools, which had not previously heard of these concerns.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

School Buildings: Sitting Ducks During Summer

The Investigators: Keeping would-be school burglars at bay during summer months

This was the first "sweeps" piece I've done in a while.  Lawyers killed the last two-parter after pressure from a business owner.  Anyway.. This one is about the number of school burglaries during the summer.  The piece was prompted by burglaries that happened in the days after the last day of school this year.  I got quick responses for data from both Shelby County Schools and MPD.  A guy we saw running past one of the schools we profiled provided great feedback on the subject.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

First Official Move To Remove Forrest Statue

Ordinance to remove Nathan Bedford Forrest being drafted

This story was the result of an email from Memphis City Council chairman Myron Lowery to fellow council members.  It informed them that a proposed ordinance had been prepared regarding the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue and gravesite.  Forrest was a Confederate general and early leader of the KKK.  His statue has stood in what is now Health Sciences Park since 1904.  The council will take up the matter during its next meeting.  But it is likely just the first step in a long process to finally resolve a decade-long debate.