Sheila Guerrero.
Multimedia and TV Journalist 


   Music  Royalty Roll into the Mid-South - Sheila Guerrero Interviews Rapper Rick Ross

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – Rap mogul and Mississippi native, Rick Ross, expands his Wingstop franchise to the south – again.  Residents in Southaven, Mississippi can indulge on a variety of 10 sauces. The most notable flavors are the classic Lemon Pepper, Garlic Parmesan and Teriyaki. But it doesn’t matter which flavor you choose your taste buds will have you coming back for more.

The grand opening of Wingstop Southaven, located at 182 W Goodman Road, is the third restaurant associated with Ross in the Mid-South, including the Winchester and Poplar Avenue locations in Memphis.

“It’s an inspiration. I’m sitting here now seeing all the pretty little girls and little dudes with their firm handshakes – it’s a beautiful thing. I love the M (Memphis) and I love Mississippi that’s where my family is from,” said Ross.

Fans of Ross met the entertainer as well as took pictures, received autographed posters and t-shirts.  But that’s not the only thing; anyone who visited any of the Wingstop locations received five free wings compliments of the rapper turned entrepreneur.

“I came here to meet him, because I’m big fan, but for him to come in town for his grand opening, meet his fans and give away free wings means a lot and it shows a lot about who he is as a person,” said Cheryl McIntyre of Memphis.

“The business is really a great thing you know, the people are supporting us. So I see us most definitely continuing to grow and hopefully we will continue spreading and touching those cities and communities that’s what the Boss job is,” said Ross.

The Boss is indeed doing just that, he plans to open two more locations in the Memphis and metropolitan areas. One location is due to open February 2014 on Union Avenue in Memphis and another in March in Bartlett, Tennessee. You can also find Wingstop restaurants in Texas, Florida and several cities across the U.S.

“It’s a great feeling for another grand opening and seeing the hard work come into effect, but  even more fulfilling is when the people come out and you see the little kids who otherwise would have never got to see Rozay,” said Ross

                                Hard Times Hit Painted Planet: But Public lends a Helping Hand

Memphis, Tenn - Donna Bowers, owner of Painted Planet ArtSpace, can now give herself a little solace, just as she gives to others.  

Just a few days ago her business, located in the Cooper-Young neighborhood, faced a possible eviction because they fell behind in their rent.  But when her story aired on WMC-TV donations poured in from all over the city.

With an ink pen in her hand and scratch paper nearby, she adds and subtracts from the amount needed to pay the rent as people continue to call in to make donations to the gallery.

However, Painted Planet is more than just an art gallery --- it is a ministry. “I was diagnosed about nine and a half years ago of breast cancer … I had felt really uncomfortable about who I had become,” said Bowers. 

Knowing how self-conscious she felt while going through chemo, 11 years later she developed Healing Planet.  It allows women who are going through cancer and other illnesses to get pampered.

“We started doing Spa-Ah, which was meditation and prayer and facials…we had a lady that would also do wigs. Then we added massages, reflexology, personal training, yoga and nutrition,” said Bowers.

"My friend got diagnosed with cancer and she told me she wasn't going for treatment because she didn't have transportation. I took her to Painted Planet for spa night and she did a complete turnaround, a 180. She even got involved with making treats for Painted Planet," said June Hurt, president of Cooper-Young Community Association.

Although the services come at no cost to the women, it does come with a price for the business.  Painted Planet displays various artwork from artists and from each painting sold, the ministry receives a portion of the sales.  

"The artists get half of the total price and Painted Planet gets half and whatever is left after our operation expenses, goes towards the Healing Planet ministry," said Bowers. However, if nothing is sold there isn’t a profit to be made.

Bowers never took any money from the women who benefit from Healing Planet and with all the help from the public, she still feels awkward accepting donations. But she knows how much the company means to so many women.  

“Until this last crunch I never really had to take any cash,” said Bowers.

She also knows amazing things happen to some of the people who visit on the second Monday of each month.  

“We’ve got so many wonderful healings that you just wouldn’t believe where people have come in and they’ve been given death sentences pretty much,” said Bowers.

The ministry isn’t limited to breast cancer --- whether its lupus, multiple sclerosis or diabetes the door is open to all. 

“We have Muslims, Jews and Christians … we believe that everyone is welcome,” said Bowers. 

"It is just an all around great place, I think she [Bowers] is an amazing person," said Hurt.

During the interview she received another phone call. This time it was a doctor. He wanted to know if he could get enough sponsors together and pay their monthly rent. With tears in her eyes she asked for a hug. 

"You never know, I kept thinking, 'God have you abandoned me?' But he works in such amazing ways," said Bowers.      

Once everything is back on track, Bowers plan to file paperwork to become a registered non-profit organization, in hopes of helping more people who suffer from chronic diseases.


                                  Convicted Killer Receives Second Life Sentence

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Convicted murderer, Dexter Cox, gunned down a mentally handicapped woman in cold-blood after she asked him for spare change. Cox sat motionless after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder for the death Gwendolyn Cherry.

While walking down a Frayser street on the night of October 9, 2007, Cox was approached by Cherry asking for money. Cox claimed after he told her he didn’t have any change, Cherry said what he thought to be a profanity towards him.

During the time of the murder, now Police Director Toney Armstrong was the homicide detective who interviewed Cox.

“He said he was walking down the street she walked up to him and asked for change. He told her he didn’t have any. She cursed him, he said, ‘I got mad; I got a gun out of my pocket and started to shoot her.’ He said when he started to shoot her she took off running and to use his own words, he said, ‘I hunted that b**** down and continued to shoot her,”’ Armstrong told jurors.

Cherry, 45, who suffered from learning and hearing disabilities, was shot four times according to the medical examiner.  However, defense attorney, Claiborne Ferguson, described her as a homeless woman addicted to drugs and stressed Cox’s defense that he snapped and began to shoot Cherry.

During the court recess Cherry’s mother, Deloris Cherry was vocal about her daughter. “She [Cherry] was out there because she wanted to be, but she always had a place to call home. But she would never curse anyone, she was too scared,” said Mrs. Cherry.

Armstrong also told jurors Cox felt empowered when he killed. “He enjoyed the fact that when he put a gun in his hand the power that he felt, especially the power when he killed someone. When he pulled the trigger and killed someone, he got what he described as a rush,” said Armstrong.

This verdict is Cox’s second first-degree murder charge. He is currently serving a life-sentence for the 2007 murder of Herbert Wooten, who he shot while the elderly man sat on the front porch of his own home.

Photos of Cherry’s lifeless body were shown on the screen under the carport located at 3345 Riney, where she ran for safety as she tried to dodge bullet after bullet. However, Cox showed no emotion or remorse and sat stoic during each picture.

Although Cox never took the stand, his recorded statement was allowed into evidence and played for the jury to hear.

In a series of questions Armstrong asked: “Are you aware that you struck her during the shooting?” Cox replied: “At the end, yes.” Armstrong asked: “How were you aware of that?” Cox replied: “Because I looked and went over there, I looked at her and seen her gasp for air and I walked off.”

In the closing arguments prosecutor Ray LePone described Cox as a heartless killer who did not want to be disrespected.  “You don’t disrespect Dexter Cox on a street at 11 o’clock at night,” said LePone.

“She [Cherry] hasn’t done anything to him; she’s running away, she’s trying to get some cover behind a car. And every moment of her life before she collapsed even the moment when she gasps for air, she saw him standing over her with the gun,” said LePone.

As the prosecution and defense continued their closing arguments the seven men and five women jury took notes and often looked over at Cox.

“Ladies and gentlemen, just like Gwendolyn ran behind that car for cover, from the weapon he was using to render his sentence of death on her life. That’s what he’s doing right now, he’s running behind that car and he’s not dodging bullets like Gwendolyn, he’s dodging you and the law,” said LePone.

The trial was scheduled to last about a week, but ended in three days, with the State entering more than 79 exhibits of evidence against Cox and calling 11 witnesses.

“Gwendolyn Cherry didn’t get a chance to dodge the last few bullets and neither should he [Cox],” said LePone.

It took the jury less than an hour to find Cox guilty of first-degree murder.  Cox is scheduled to be sentenced on April 13 and faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 51 years.

                  Memphis City Councilmen Go on the Attack Over Taxes

Memphis, TN – Citizens of Memphis can rest a little easier knowing they will not endure an 18-cent property tax increase in order to bail-out the city’s $13 million dollar deficit.

The Memphis City Council decided not to allow the one-time property tax increase, but instead voted on opting for the resolution given by Councilman Kemp Conrad.

Before the resolution was implemented, Councilman Joe Brown weighed in by saying, “Everybody has forgotten about what people really pay taxes for?  Who is going to take care of the parks? I am not going to take away anything from the working poor…I’m not going to go along with anybody’s scheme. We’ve got a problem here…,” said Brown. 

Conrad proposed abolishing the voluntary retirement program for sanitation workers and taking about $10 million from the city’s reserve fund.  In addition, the proposal would put a halt on any hiring with exception to the Memphis Police.

However, the resolution by Conrad did not go without further opposition from fellow councilwoman, Janis Fullilove.

“We have some very elderly people on income in sanitation that needs to be at home enjoying their golden years and I would just hate for us to throw the baby out with the bath water by saying that we’re going to just abolish the voluntary retirement program,” said Fullilove.

The tax increase was created to compensate for the $40 million the city owed the Memphis City Schools. MCS informed the city that it would not open in the fall, if the city failed to pay the court ordered settlement – totaling about $68 million.

When Fullilove requested to have the idea from Conrad placed on hold, he [Conrad] replied, “The wording in here is exactly as it was proposed, I appreciate the sentiment, the answer is no,” said Conrad.

Fullilove fired back by saying, “You just don’t know what it’s like to be poor, you just really don’t know what it’s like to be poor, Kemp Conrad.  I know Kemp Conrad and unions don’t go tip toeing through the tulips, but let me ask you this, have you been in conversation with anyone from ASME, Councilman Conrad?” said Fullilove.

“First of all, I wouldn’t comment on my background because you don’t know it all, know what you’re talking about before you talk about my background,” said Conrad.

Although Fullilove had stern comments and tones with Conrad, Councilman Harold Collins applauded him [Conrad] for his proposal.

“Finding a way to close this gap is what we are suppose to do and I applaud Councilman Conrad for coming up with this solution,” said Collins.

The resolution was eventually voted on and almost passed with flying colors, except for Councilwoman Wanda Halbert, who voted against the resolution.

“I’m just not a believer of items hitting the table at the fifth hour and that’s literally what happened. I’m not even sure if the administration knew this was forthcoming, because that was the first time members of the council had an opportunity to even see or hear the issue,” said Halbert.

         People from all Walks of Life Come Together for the Cooper-Young Festival

Ballerinas twirling in the street, barefoot musicians and the smell of fresh lemons from the lemonade stands are just a few of many things this year’s Cooper-Young Festival had to offer.

There were vendors that lined the block for more than a mile, but with a crowd by the thousands there was something forever everyone.

“This year has got to be the biggest crowd to date,” said Ryan Green of Memphis. Green’s family owns 11 Lenny’s Sub Shops in the Memphis metropolitan area including the one located in the Cooper-Young neighborhood.

“I can’t wait until we get the final numbers, but I can already tell our sales will be up from this weekend alone,” said Green.

The festival was filled with people from all walks of life and to some the atmosphere couldn’t have been more inviting.  Don Elder, owner of Ole Don’s Craft Shoppe, said, “The people are very receptive, last year there was a threat of rain, but this year the turnout is even bigger.”

Many of the residents in the Cooper-Young district only had to walk a few feet from their homes to take part in the festivities. As several lined drive-ways and sat along the curb to enjoy music from local performers.

However, there were visitors like Eva Lantrip and Mary Waller who traveled from Nesbit, Mississippi to join in on the fun.  With a white plastic bag filled with purchased goodies the two laughed as they compared their items. “I purchased this blue doggie blanket for my dog name Blue,” said Waller.

“And I purchased a black vase set and black kitty from Utopia and I even had a pronto pup.  We come every year and the crowd just seems to get bigger and bigger,” said Lantrip.

The Cooper-Young Festival also brings out those people who are considering signing up for next year.  Sharon Turner, Atlanta native and business owner said, “I’m thinking about moving to Memphis and the festival will be a good benefit for networking, we can all benefit from each other.”

          Two Years Since His Death Michael Jackson Continues to Reign King

Sunflowers, roses, banners and stuffed teddy-bears from hundreds of fans as far away as Japan are just a few items that adorn the Holly Terrace lawn for the late King of Pop Michael Jackson.

Fans from all over the world gathered in front of the mausoleum, where the singer is laid to rest at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California to mark the two-year anniversary of the singer’s death.

Many of the entertainer’s most loyal fans stand in front of the mausoleum with tear-filled eyes as they placed glass framed pictures, poems and even mock Kentucky Fried Chicken for Jackson, because KFC is said to have been his favorite.

As they [fans] leave their sentimental items, some walk away with their heads hanging low in disbelief of the untimely death of Jackson on June 25, 2009.

Visiting Jackson’s resting place is the first time for some the fans, however, for many others it was their second year paying homage to the singer. Lauren Kennedy of Buffalo, New York said, “This is my second time here and I plan on coming back every year, because Michael Jackson deserves this, he deserves to be honored.”

Jackson’s nephew Anthony Jackson is among the fans as well.  He hugs, talks and takes pictures with all who approaches him.  As he leaves the mausoleum he waves goodbye to the crowd as if he was saying “thank you” to the fans for their loyalty.

While Jackson’s songs play many fans sit in groups as other stand talking about their fondest memories of him, an announcement is made for everyone to hold hands. So they can gather in a huge circle for a moment of silence at 2:26 PST, the time Jackson passed away.

During the moment silence many of the fans try to contain their emotions, but for some it was too much to bear as they begin to weep aloud.

With tears flowing down her face, Lydia Gimenez Llort of Spain says: “We have to be Michael’s voice, his arms, and legs. And continue to allow him to live through us.  We have to change the world, because it is up to us now.”

Men, women and children of all ages and ethnicities from cities south as Knoxville, Tennessee and north as Chicago, Illinois drove hours to pay their respects. As wells from countries like Germany, Italy, and China, no matter where they traveled from they all are here to join together for one man; the King of Pop Michael Jackson.



                 WWE Wrestler Jerry Lawler Tells How He Became King

Self-ordained “King” Jerry Lawler is to some the king of wrestling in Memphis, Tennessee. Lawler, who has been in the wrestling world for 41 years, shows no signs of slowing down.

He flies around the world with World Wrestle Entertainment, wrestles in front of crowds in the thousands, and does it all at the age of 61.

Although taking the role was not a planned act, Lawler borrowed the king costume from late wrestler Bobby Shane. Lawler said: “I notice him pull this long robe out of his bag and then he pulled the crown out and sat it on the table…I asked him where he got it from and he said, ‘Southern Imports in Houston, Texas…’ He let me borrow it because he would be in Australia for five weeks…”

Upon returning to Memphis Lawler presented himself as the king to the wrestling audience.  Many received Lawler well and even today he is known for his wrestling career.

However, some want to see wrestling on television again and they may get their wish.  Lawler has recently signed a contract to start wrestling on television in Memphis again. He said, “It will air on Channel 13, where it all started.”  Although some wrestling moves such as the piledriver has been banned from the WWE, to some Lawler continues to make powerful moves around the world and in his hometown of Memphis.

                  Hurtful words hit hard on The University if Memphis' campus

“Nigger,” “Oreo,” and “Saddam Breed” are just a few racist words that line a cemented wall on the campus of the University of Memphis.

It is intended to raise awareness with The Writing on the Wall Project by having a “Why Do You Hate Me Week.” The wall displays how words of hate can affect many people of different ethnicities and will be torn down on April 8 at noon by all who would like to participate.

The wall was constructed on April 4 by the Student Activities Council and according to Katherine Moses it only took a few hours to build.  Moses, freshman and SAC member, stands behind the barricades that protect the wall.  She answered the questions of people who stopped and those who wanted to know the symbolic message behind it.

When asked how she thinks Dr. King would feel about the wall she said, “I don’t know that much about Dr. King, but I know he wanted freedom, I don’t think the wall would have even been built on any campus in the 1960s.”

Although the wall stands guarded in the day, there is also security during the night.  “I think people were more violent back then, but we want to make sure no one messes with it and that is the reason for the security,” said Moses.

As Rashad Rutherford looks at the wall he laughs out loud, then says: “I am at a loss for words, but it’s pretty cruel. I have been called some of these names.”  Rutherford believes Dr. King would have approved of the wall.  “Dr. King would have wanted to break the cycle of people being called some those words,” said Rutherford.

The words on the wall seem to strike people by surprise, but there are some words that are not as familiar. Chris Dansby, junior and marketing major, says: “Wall Street? What does that mean? Some of these are funny and don’t seem serious, like ‘bitch, sit down.’”

“I would not like the wall to remain up year round, because some visitors would not understand the concept behind it,” said Dansby.

The messages on the wall are not only painted in red, yellow, blue and black, but to those affected the messages are one color, hate.

University of Memphis' coach Josh Pastner tells how motivation leads to respect on and off the court

“Motivate to respect,” said Josh Pastner, to a class of journalism majors. As the head basketball coach of the University of Memphis and coming off a Conference USA championship, Pastner spoke about key elements to building a successful program.

Although the Tigers basketball season got off to a rough start, they managed to overcome tough losses with the guidance of Coach Pastner.

One way Pastner guides his team is by having a respectful attitude toward his players.  “It’s your job as coach to love them…and to give them structure,” said Pastner.

Pastner was already a part of the team; he actually followed in the footsteps of Tigers’ previous coach John Calapari.  Although Calapari is known for his on-the-court antics, Pastner says he is not the type of coach who yells and screams during the games.

However, he doesn’t allow the team to overstep its boundaries.  When asked about transitioning from being assistant coach to head coach Pastner said:  “In my first team meeting I said: ’Gentlemen here is the deal.  I didn’t come here to be the head coach of Memphis and you didn’t come here to play for me. But you inherited me and I inherited you, this is where we are at and if any of you don’t want to be here get up and leave now.’”

The pressures of becoming the head coach of U of M’s basketball team is one only Pastner and those who came before him can describe, but to some he has taken the basketball program on a road to success.  “Proper preparation prevents poor performance,” said Pastner.

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