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Monday, June 26, 2017

One Memphis area cyclist shot in May, another killed by a drunk driver in June

One Memphis area cyclist shot in May, another killed by a drunk driver in June
By:  Michael Lander

Since 2010, the Memphis area has experienced the deaths of eight cyclists.  Efforts by organizations like
Bike Walk Tennessee and Memphis City government are helping to make the streets safer for
everyone who must use, ride, or try to cross the streets to include vehicular operators, the disabled,
pedestrians, and cyclists.

Within the last month, one cyclist has been shot and another has been killed by a drunk driver in

The shooting occurred at 2:45 p.m. on Delta and Manson Rd. in
Whitehaven on Sunday, May 28, 2017.

The name of the victim, the motive, and many of the details surrounding the shooting have not yet been released because it is an active and ongoing police investigation.

What is known is that the victim was shot twice and was transported to
Regional Medical Center in critical condition. 

The cyclist told police that he had been shot by an unknown assailant and witnesses told police that they saw a four-door silver Audi speeding away from the scene after multiple shots had been fired.

The suspect is still at large and the Memphis Police Department is asking that anyone with any knowledge concerning this shooting to please come forward and to provide any details or information that may help in solving this case.

By calling
Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH (2274), individuals are eligible to receive a cash reward up to $1,000, while remaining anonymous, for any information that leads to an arrest or a grand jury indictment of a felony offender.

The other cyclist, who was killed on Thursday, June 15, 2017, at 10:40 p.m., was identified as 34-year-old Kenya Q. Matthews of 2738 Steele St.

Matthews was found on the side of Weaver Rd., 100 feet north of Raines Rd. after being struck by a
2015 Chrysler 200 Sedan that was driven by 62-year-old Melvin A. Willies.

Willies told police that Matthews had ridden his bike directly in front of him and that he could not avoid hitting him.

Willies had remained at the scene of the accident and told police that he had had a few shots of alcohol at a club prior to this incident.

Willies had slurred speech, was swaying, had watery eyes, and a strong odor of alcohol so he was administered a field sobriety test, which he failed.

He was subsequently charged with vehicular homicide that involved
driving under the influence (D.U.I.) and driving a vehicle without a valid driver’s license or car insurance.

Willies also had two prior D.U.I. convictions with one in Iowa on February 10, 2011 and one in Minnesota on October 4, 2013.

Matthews was the son of local talk radio show host and pastor of
Naked Truth Liberation and Empowerment Ministries, Thaddeus Matthews.  The two, reportedly, were estranged from one another.

The younger Matthews graduated from
Westside High School in 2002.  He was employed as a service technician at an automotive shop, and was a Dallas Cowboy’s fan.

From where he was struck and killed, he was approximately 15.9 miles away from his home.

Matthews’ death was the first of a cyclist in Memphis in 2017.  The last one was that of 49-year-old,
Archer Sims, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016.

Altogether, since 2010, the Memphis area has experienced the deaths of eight cyclists with one this year, one in 2016, 2014, 2012, and 2011, and three in 2015.

Monday, June 19, 2017

One year can forever change your life

One year can forever change your life
By:  Michael Lander

Dr. Billy McCann has had his Shapleigh's Special bicycle for about 72 years now, having purchased
it in 1945.  That was an important year in his life and in the world since that is the year that
brought an end to WWII.

The year was 1945.

It was the year that Billy Westmoreland McCann got his first bicycle and it was the same year that his life forever changed when he also gave his life over to his Lord and Savior,
Jesus Christ.

In 1945, the world was still embroiled in the
Second World War, but it was the final year of that worldwide conflict that would, by its end, take the lives of millions and completely change the world in many ways that are still being felt today.

McCann was much too young, at the time, to serve, and so, like most boys then or even now, his mind was on playing and having fun and for him that meant having a bicycle to ride.

“I remember being in our kitchen asking permission from my dad about buying a bike from a boy who lived down the street from us,” McCann recalls.

“I had a little money saved up from birthday gifts and small jobs that I had done.  It was not an easy task to convince my dad about getting this, but he finally relented and agreed to it after I told him that this was absolutely the way that I wanted to spend my savings,” McCann said.

“Because of the war, most of the materials that were produced were used for the war effort, and that left very few things like bikes in the market place and so they were in very short supply, which made it even more special to be able to have one,” he said.

Dr. Billy McCann's Shapleigh's Special has the original parts and even the original paint job on it.  An
attempt was made to donate this bike to the Bicycle Museum of America earlier this year and
McCann hopes that it will ultimately end up in a place like that.

This first bike of his was called a “
Shapleigh’s Special,” and, as hard it might be to believe, it is a bike that he still has to this very day.

He believes that the bike was produced for a hardware store by the name of Shapleigh, in St. Louis, and that it was made by Westfield Manufacturing, which was also known as Columbia.

“Except for showing its age, the bike is pretty much like it was when I bought it about 72 years ago.  The last time that I remember riding it was about 66 years ago.  Since then, my parents kept it during all the years while I was in school and while I was in the service and, for the last 50 years or so, it has been at my and my wife’s home,” McCann said.

As his family grew, McCann bought
Schwinn bicycles for all of them and he rode one of these as recently as two years ago.  And, along with his Shapleigh, he still has the other five bikes that he bought for his family back in the early 1970’s.

Even though he’s had bicycles for the better part of his life, the most important thing to him was the first steps that took place in his walk of faith back in 1945.

“I was attending a church youth week and was sitting in a crowded space, on a folding metal chair, when I felt compelled and moved by the Holy Spirit.  I was blocked in, but I pushed my way to the front of the church, knocking over several chairs along my way, to accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior,” McCann said.

Dr. Billy McCann and his wife, Betty, have been married for over 59 years.  This photo of the two of
them was taken in the cliff side village on southern Italy's Amalfi Coast in October 2016.

“I was surprised at myself for being so bold, but I will never forget how clear it was to me that I needed to enter into the teachings of Jesus and to become a true follower of His.  That, for me, was the start of a life-long journey that has meant so much to me and has brought me so much happiness,” McCann said.

Today, Dr. McCann and his wife, Betty, are members of
Trinity Baptist Church and have been since the church was established in Cordova in 1994.

“We love our church, our wonderful pastor,
Dr. Richard Hipps, and our church family at Trinity,” McCann said.

“Through our pastor’s leadership and his sermons, we are inspired to continually strive to live our lives as Jesus would want us to, to reach out to our local community and to help and to serve the spiritual needs of as many people as we can, and to support local, state, and international missions,” he said.

Dr. McCann said that his faith has played a major role in his life, supporting and guiding him through his career in dentistry, in his and his wife’s 59 years of marriage, and blessing them with many friends of faith, and giving them the chance to be the parents of three wonderful children, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

For Dr. McCann, his whole life really began in the year 1945, and he still has the bike and a faith that has carried him, supported, and forever changed him for the better since then.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A bicycle can change how you see the world and more

A bicycle can change how you see the world and more
By:  Michael Lander

For some, the bicycle is their primary mode of transportation in and around the City of Memphis to include
some of whom are homeless.

Can a bicycle help change how we see the world or, maybe, in some small way, help to change the world, itself?

The answer to that question may only rely on the degree to which any one of us is willing to allow that to happen.

bicycle, it has been said, is one of the most economical, environmentally-friendly, and the most democratic means of transport available to humanity.

Some have called it mankind’s greatest and
most perfect invention.

However we want to look at it, a bicycle can just about be anything that we want it to be.

In a more obvious and superficial way, riding a bike can change our perspective on how we see the world around us since it is a much more intimate and engaging experience than one gets from being inside a vehicle.

While some ride for fun and recreation, others prefer to have a bicycle for more utilitarian purposes.

On a bike, you see, hear, and smell the environment that you are in and you can feel the warmth of the sun, the sensation of a breeze, and so much more.

A bicycle, however, can do a lot more than just arouse your senses.

In a deeper and more meaningful way, a bicycle has the ability to provide us with an opportunity, like no other mode of transportation, in helping to take us out of our own little worlds and through and into areas where we might not otherwise go. 

A bicycle gives an opportunity to not only open our eyes and our senses to the places that we are in, and to appreciate what scenery that may appeal to us, but, perhaps, even more importantly, we have a chance to really take notice of the people there, too.

Bicycles are much more economical than motor vehicles and can help us to get out of the insulated
and enclosed worlds that most of us live in.

These days, it would seem, we live in a world that, in spite of all of the technological advances in communication and quick and easy access to more information than we have ever had in our history, many of us have, in some ways, become even more isolated, disconnected, and out of touch from one another and from the realities that exist beyond our own lives.

There is also a greater degree of divisiveness and polarization in our society today, which only serves to further divide and separate us even more.

A bicycle can give us one way to help change that.  On a bike ride, we not only become a part of where we are, but we can also connect with others who are in those places that we travel through. 

A bicycle can literally bring people together from different walks of life.  Whether it is at a cycling-related event, on the street, in a bike lane, on a bike trail, on social media, or at any place where people who love cycling happen to gather, it can help to unify us.

For most people, especially those in their cars, they may pay little attention to those they see on our
Memphis City streets, but on a bicycle, the world moves a little slower and it is almost impossible not
to see them and it should be, harder still, to ignore them.

On a bicycle, people have a way to meet, talk, come together, share, care, and even begin to seek a way to make life better not only for each of us, individually, (like for our own health, for example), but collectively as a group of people who all call Memphis their home.

In this way, bicycles can help unite a community and they can enable some of us to not just talk about our faith, but to actually act on it.

From just the simple experience of a bike ride, we can begin to expand our own world to encompass that of others.

We all already share one thing in common with one another in that we all want to live in a place where we can feel safe and secure, to have all of our basic needs met, and where we have every possibility to better ourselves.

Life in Memphis, like in any other city, is not always easy for everyone, but
the bicycle offers mobility and a way to make ends meet.  It can also give
others the inspiration to do more to help those in need.

Unfortunately, in
Memphis, and across the nation, that is not always the case.  There are millions of people around the country, and thousands within our very own city, who, as Henry David Thoreau once said, are leading lives of quiet desperation.

Many of us have long accepted that this is just the way it is, and that we cannot do anything about it, but we have the potential in each of us to help change that.

We can begin, if we are willing, to join with others in an effort to repair and renovate areas in disrepair and to do the same for those people who are broken down and in despair.

We can show love and compassion where none has been given and offer hope, a helping hand, and an ear to listen.

A bicycle, or a single cyclist, alone, may not change the entire world, but it could be a good way to start, and, if nothing else, it can open our eyes and our hearts to the world and to others around us.