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CA layoffs, bike lanes, & bus routes

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Layoffs begin "historic transformation" at newspaper

The Commercial Appeal bled 20 jobs from its newsroom last week, a move that came almost exactly one year after Gannett Co. Inc. purchased the paper.

Reporters, editors, photographers, and "digital producers" were cut, including Michael Donahue, a CA institution, longtime sports writer Phil Stukenborg, entertainment editor Mark Richens, and more.

Newsroom staffers were also trimmed at Gannett papers in Nashville and Knoxville last week. All of it was part of a new Gannett plan to "re-secure and level-set our economic vitality to support our journalism," Laura Hollingsworth, president of The Tennessean and of the USA Today Network - Tennessee, said in an email to employees.

CA executive editor Louis Graham said it was the beginning of a "historic transformation" for the paper, noting it would better align its newsroom to work with Gannett newsrooms across the state. But he promised "coverage decisions will be made locally, in our newsroom, and the CA will maintain its strong voice in Memphis, for Memphis."

That promise came in a letter from the editor that shared the same structure, phrasing, and — in some places — the exact same words in a letter from editor to Tennessean readers published on the same day by Hollingsworth.

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Bike lanes may stripe Riverside again

City officials unveiled plans for adding bike lanes here in a series of 10 repaving projects, including a controversial move to once again put bike lanes on Riverside and slim car traffic there to two lanes.

In all, 10 projects were discussed in a public meeting here last week, but the Riverside project got the most attention. Bike lanes were tried on the street along the Mississippi River once before but were removed because of public outcry against them.

Nicholas Oyler, the city's bikeway and pedestrian program manager, said the new design for Riverside is much improved from the pilot proposal. The new plan will open both sides of the street for pedestrian, bike, and car traffic with all of it separated by the existing median.

Pedaltown headed for Broad

A "simple and unintimidating" bike shop is headed to Broad. Clark Butcher, owner of Victory Bicycle Studio, will soon open Pedaltown Bicycle Company directly next to Victory on Broad between Merton and Bingham.

Butcher said the new store is designed for more casual riders and will offer "a lower cost of entry to bicycling." Bikes at Pedaltown will average about $350, Butcher said.

New bus routes for Shelby Farms, IKEA

Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) added three new fixed bus routes last week to Shelby Farms, IKEA, and Memphis International Airport.

Those new routes and some other tweaks came with a $500,000 price tag paid for largely by federal air quality grants. MATA officials said the new routes will serve areas experiencing job growth.

Business owner racks up complaints

The Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South (BBB) alerted consumers here about a business owner who has racked up dozens of complaints linked to several of his businesses.

A BBB investigation found that businesses owned by James E. Jones, of Memphis, garnered up to 130 complaints in six years in 11 states that allege false advertising, missed appointments, and more. One customer said that workers from one business showed up to clean her air ducts with a shop vacuum and a leaf blower.

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