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Year of the Great Flood (and Other News)




— Sparks fly between Memphis Fire Services and its union over the department's plan to buy utility vehicles to be used for non-fire emergencies rather than traditional ladder trucks. Union members claim the decision would result in longer response times during emergencies. The union backs off later in the year, and the department purchases the utility vehicles.


— Bojo's Antique Mall on Summer, best known for the iconic red clock that sits atop the building, announces it will close May 31st. The mall is to be replaced with a dollar store.


— Loeb Properties shares plans for the redevelopment of Overton Square, focusing on an unnamed grocery store chain as the project's anchor. Later in the year, the grocery store pulls out and Loeb rethinks Overton Square as an arts and entertainment district. In December, the Memphis City Council approves a $16.5 million flood-retention basin and parking garage for the square.

— Despite months of protests by preservationists, CVS Pharmacy begins its demolition of the old Union Avenue Methodist Church to make way for another Midtown pharmacy.


— Memphis police director Larry Godwin leaves the department to take a job with the state Department of Safety. Deputy director Toney Armstrong is named as his successor.


— The Mississippi River reaches historic flood stage. News anchors donning waders, including ABC's Diane Sawyer, flock to Memphis to do live reports from puddles near the river.

— The state legislature discusses stripping local family planning organizations of Title X funding and forcing those federal funds on county health departments. Eventually, the state approves the measure. The county votes to subcontract with Christ Community Health Services. Historically, Planned Parenthood received Title X funding directly from the state.


— A pit bull named Kapone disappears after he's picked up in Cordova by Memphis animal control officer Demetria Hogan. Hogan is later charged with animal cruelty and fired from Memphis Animal Services. Thanks to a CrimeStoppers tip, Kapone is located in December at a home in Senatobia, Mississippi.


— Wharton lays off 52 city employees, a decrease from the projected 125 layoffs his administration said would be necessary for budget-cutting measures.


— The West Memphis Three — Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr. — are freed from prison after serving 18 years for the 1993 murders of three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. The three took the Alford plea, a guilty plea where the defendant does not admit the act and asserts innocence.

— Matthew Pepper resigns as director of Memphis Animal Services. Over the past year, the shelter has been wrought with controversy, due to a high euthanasia rate, the closing of the stray area for adoptions, and allegations of dog fighting among employees.


— Ghost bikes are installed at the Hi-Tone and near the corner of Cooper and Madison in memory of cyclist Chris Davidson, who was killed in August after being struck by a vehicle on his ride home from the Hi-Tone.

— Environmental court judge Larry Potter orders Nutbush gardener Adam Guerrero to tear down his residential ecosystem. But when the situation makes headlines and a petition is drawn up, Potter reverses his decision, ordering Guerrero to make only a few minor changes.


— Occupy Memphis sets up camp at Civic Center Plaza, and unlike in many cities across the country, the mayor and police director say the protesters can stay indefinitely so long as they don't violate any laws.

— Mason YMCA announces it will close on December 31st after a study reveals the building needs more than $2.6 million in repairs.


— After months of debate between cycling advocates and Madison business owners, the city opens dedicated bike lanes along the Midtown thoroughfare.

— The city's first public skate park opens. A 12-year-old boy is handcuffed and charged with criminal trespassing for not wearing a helmet despite the lack of a city helmet law. A helmet law passes a few weeks later.


— Memphis Animal Services holds a grand opening at their new state-of-the-art facility on Appling Cove.

— The Memphis City Council approves the Overton Park Conservancy, a nonprofit that will oversee and maintain Midtown's largest park.

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