Issue 559: 12 / 10 / 2014

Holiday Open House Enchantment

Southwest's 2014 Christmas Open House was whimsically enchanting on December 3. This year being President Nathan L. Essex’s last holiday celebration with his Southwest family, the planning team went all out to make it extra special. Kim Rashada and her physical plant team members transformed the venue into a magical mixture of the Arabian Nights (canopy) and an old English village (lampposts). Chef Leake and the culinary students prepared a wonderful feast of delicacies and dainties. The music, of course, was splendid.

View the 2014 Holiday Open House Photo Gallery.  


After Overcoming Hurdles, Southwest Opens Nursing School


Southwest Tennessee Community College has ...

Southwest Tennessee Community College has opened the Nursing, Natural Sciences and Biotechnology Building.

Reprinted form the Daily News
November 25
By Bill Dries

More than four years after breaking ground for a new nursing building, leaders of Southwest Tennessee Community College recently formally opened the school’s new Nursing, Natural Sciences and Biotechnology Building.

Most construction projects take about 18 months, give or take a month or two depending on the weather.

But the 61,000-square-foot nursing school at Southwest was a different kind of project for many reasons.

It was the community college’s first capital campaign undertaken when there was no political prospect of state government funding.

The site for the building was on a busy corner, Union Avenue and Myrtle Street, the site of a gas station and convenience store that its owner doggedly refused to sell.

And once he did sell and the site was leveled, the contractor found the business’ leaky underground gas tanks were a bigger environmental problem that originally thought. Then there was an issue with an easement for a billboard atop the departed convenience store.

But Southwest Tennessee Community College President Nathan Essex says the nursing school is a necessary expansion driven not only by the demand for nurses and other health care professionals in the Memphis economy. The pursuit of a larger nursing school was also driven by the large number of potential students Essex and other school administrators couldn’t enroll because there wasn’t room.

The previous nursing school was in a converted warehouse near the new facility.

“We have over 1,000 students who were eligible to be admitted to the nursing program who could not because of space limitations,” Essex said, after the dedication of the facility.

Two grants from Medtronic and FedEx totaling $3 million were crucial to the capital campaign. Once Medtronic donated $1 million, it put the effort over a hump that Essex and others thought would be a formidable hurdle.

The $2 million from FedEx is the largest donation in the college’s history.

But there was another hurdle beyond that.

“Once we got that and we made progress with pledges, with contributions, we realized that there just wasn’t going to be enough private money to get this done,” said John Farris, Southwest Tennessee Community College Foundation board member who recently ended his tenure on the Tennessee Board of Regents. Farris was the primary mover behind securing the Medtronic donation.

He went to then-Gov. Phil Bredesen and begged for state funding. It came in unused TennCare funding that was combined with $10 million raised from donors and federal funding.

A new nursing building at Southwest Tennessee wasn’t a ranked priority for the Tennessee Board of Regents. It wasn’t even on the list. When it got there, it was 16th but rose to second – behind a $135 million project at Middle Tennessee State University at the top of the list.

“The state wasn’t funding projects. There was no state funding,” Farris recalled. “We embarked on this journey to build this building with really not much hope for state money.”

Complicating that, the private donors approached had been hesitant because they historically give money for programs, not for buildings. It’s something donors at that level regard as government’s end of the bargain in higher education.

The convenience store on the corner was at an ideal, heavily traveled corner, explaining the reluctance of the owner to sell.

The state might have helped to take the property by eminent domain, but Essex didn’t want to use that because of the controversy it might cause.

The owner also had a set of leaky underground gas tanks that had caused the station to be closed by city authorities in 2002 when a large puddle of gas pooled west of the site beneath Beale Street. The gasoline traveled from the east end of Beale and puddled just feet from what was then the Pat O’Brien’s nightclub, which was scheduled to have its grand opening the evening the gas leak was discovered.

The leak that shut down the convenience store and its gas pumps was remedied over time.

But once the store was demolished to make way for the nursing school, the demolition revealed a messier environmental problem than they had anticipated.

“We knew that there would be some contamination. We didn’t know the depth of that contamination,” Essex said. “It was worse that we had imagined.”

Remediation wells were put in and delayed further work for a year.

“Then we learned there was an easement issue with the billboard,” Essex said, which meant another six months’ delay. “We finally reached a settlement by generating some funds to get it done.”

The obstacles made for an interesting story for a crowd of several hundred at the milestone for the community college, but Essex told the crowd, “None of that is really important.”

“What’s important today is that this facility will create an opportunity for our students to pursue their hopes and their dreams and their careers,” he added. “That’s the important thing.”

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Southwest Held Week-Long Veterans Celebration

Southwest veterans flanked on the ...

Southwest veterans flanked on the left and right by the Bridge Company C-6ESB Color Guards along with Birdsong (in blue,centered, first row).

Southwest’s Vet Club and Office of Veterans Affairs recently held a week-long celebration to honor Southwest’s veterans. Veteran Coordinator Tonya Birdsong said the college really wanted to show the veterans how much they are appreciated and that their concerns and voices are valued with high regard.

The climax of the celebration was the Veterans Appreciation Dinner held in the Bert Bornblum Library Art Gallery on the Macon Cove Campus. This formal affair commenced with the presentation of colors by the U.S. Marines of Bridge Company C-6ESB. Southwest Vet Club President Randall L. Hines, former U.S. Army and business administration major, served as master of ceremonies.

Hines expressed what the celebration meant to him. “For me, it is the solidarity of all the veterans, regardless of the branch of service they were in; coming out to support one another, the college,  and for hopefully the future generations that will attend here. For us, this is amazing,“ Hines stated.

Birdsong indicated that Southwest veterans had been forthright in sharing their ideas and need for services unique to their post combat status. “For us, the number one thing is the understanding of who we are, and what we’ve done. We haven’t lived the same life that people our age have lived. We experienced things that some people just don't understand. Still, a little bit of understanding and compassion for us goes a long way. We're not asking for special treatment; just understand – sometimes we’re a little different,” said Hines.

The evening’s agenda continued as Southwest Student Tina Byrd sang the national anthem, after which the assembly recited the pledge allegiance. Raymond L. Hines, U.S. Navy retired and father of Randall Hines, gave the invocation, followed by the welcome from Birdsong.

The guest speaker, Chaplain Roy Dozier, who was introduced by Southwest Vet Club Vice President Marcellus W. Lewis, former U.S. Army, discussed transitioning from the military to civilian life from his personal perspective.

Other activities for the week included: A Square Meal On Wheels Food Truck; the Grillmaster Chew Food Truck and The John Williams/A440 Band (on both Union Avenue and Macon Cove campuses); and a presentation by Arthur L. Johnson regarding the hardships and challenges veterans face as they transition from military to civilian life:

View the Veterans Celebration Dinner Photo Gallery.

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Coffee House Keeps Tradition

Coffee House patrons enjoy the ...

Coffee House patrons enjoy the spoken word performances.

If you missed the recent fall Coffee House on October 29, there is no need to worry. It will be back in the spring, so get ready to snap those fingers for National Poetry Month.  Once a semester, the Communications, Graphics and Fine Arts Department sponsors the Coffee House, an open-mic night, in the Presentation Theatre Room of the Macon Cove Campus Academic Building. It was a great turn out of students and faculty presenting pieces, including a parody of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” and other classical works, to more modern pieces by Maya Angelou. There were even a few original works preformed.

The Coffee House, reminiscent of the beatnik movement of the fifties and sixties, with such writers as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, originated on the Macon Cove Campus in 2006 by the English Department Chair Thad Cockrill, and has been carried on since by Associate Professors Jane Harris and Lisa Coleman. This tradition continues with the dedication of Instructor Sheila Hutchins Darras’ Acting I and II classes.

A special thank you to Communications, Graphics and Fine Arts Department Chair Patsy Fancher and Secretary Cathy Farr, Multimedia Services, and Starbucks on Sycamore View for continually giving the students of Southwest an opportunity to come together and share their love of the spoken word. As Christina Skyes writes in her piece, “Not Just Another Number,” published in Southwest’s Hieroglyph 2014 publication: “Take note, you do not have to be labeled by a stereotype, defined by a statistic, or even let society dictate your fate. This is your life. You’re starring in this play. Learn to take the lead. Take Control of the stage.”

View the Fall 2014 Coffee House Photo Gallery.

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Holiday shopping advice

Reprinted from The Jackson Sun
By Randy Hutchinson
President of the BBB

The holiday shopping season is upon us. Before you’re enticed into buying an item on sale, be sure it’s a good deal and that the seller is reputable.

Comparison shop ahead of time, particularly for higher priced merchandise. Read consumer reports and reviews on the product.

Take the store’s ad with you to avoid any confusion about the offer. If a competitor is advertising the item at a lower price, take that ad since some stores have meet or beat price guarantees. Legitimate meet or beat policies shouldn’t require you to jump through hoops to take advantage of them.

Be sure you understand the total price of a product, particularly when shopping online. Does it include shipping and handling?

Some sales are only offered as early bird or late owl specials, so be sure you understand the hours.

Pay attention to the terms of an ad. For example:

Read the fine print to understand if there are limited quantities of the sale item, if you have to mail in a rebate form to realize the savings, or if there are any other conditions or limitations. Be wary of asterisks tied to fine print that take away what the big print offers.

If you have to mail in a rebate form, do it quickly. Many people lose out on the savings because they miss a deadline or forget to request the rebate altogether.

Check out unfamiliar companies with the BBB, particularly online sellers. Be wary if you can’t find a physical address, customer service number, privacy policy, or refund policy on the website. Watch out for copycat websites that sell inferior or counterfeit merchandise.

If you’ve buying from a seasonal store and there’s any possibility that you’ll have to return the merchandise, be sure the store will be around after the holidays.

Understand the refund policy, including any restocking fees. Some retailers tighten up their policies during the holidays to combat fraudulent returns.

Use a credit card whenever possible, particularly for online purchases. If the sale goes bad, you may have some recourse through your card issuer that you won’t have if you pay by check or some other means.

Be sure a website is secure before providing information. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://”, which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. “Http://” is not secure.

Keep your receipt until you’re sure you won’t be returning the item and have verified that you were charged the correct amount on your credit card or bank statement. Be sure to print out a confirmation for an online order. Ask for gift receipts.

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Saluqis Defeat Columbia State on Late Three-Pointer

Johnathan Burroughs-Cook

Johnathan Burroughs-Cook

Jimario Rivers

Jimario Rivers

The Southwest men’s basketball team, ranked 10th in the National Junior College Athletic Association, defeated 18th – ranked Columbia State on December 5 by a score of 70-67, on Johnathan Burroughs-Cook’s three-point basket with 2.4 seconds remaining. The Saluqis improved their record to an outstanding 10-1 on December 6, with a 73-66 victory over Jackson State. Both games were on the road.

The Columbia State game was a defensive struggle as Southwest shot only 36.8 percent, and Columbia State shot just 33.3 percent from the field. Jimario Rivers had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Rasheed Brooks also scored 12. Bench players played an important role in the win, scoring a total of 26 points led by Lavontae Waldon with seven. Back-up point guard Jahlil Tutein added a game-high six assists and grabbed seven rebounds.

Burroughs-Cook and DeAndre McKinnie scored 18 points each to lead the team in the Jackson State win. McKinnie came off the bench to hit four straight three-pointers in the second half, and also made all six of his free throw attempts. Dominic Nelson also played well with five rebounds and five blocked shots in only 10 minutes.

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Lady Saluqis Split Two Conference Games

LaKyesha Stennis

LaKyesha Stennis

Shaqunda Durden

Shaqunda Durden

LaKyesha Stennis and Shaqunda Durden combined for nearly half of the team’s points to lead the Southwest women’s basketball team to a 64-49 win over Columbia State on December 5. In another road game on December 6, the Lady Saluqis were defeated by Jackson State 62-61.

Stennis led the team with 16 points, while Durden added 14 points and nine rebounds in the victory over Columbia State. The Lady Saluqis grabbed a season-high 59 rebounds as a team, led by Myquinice Caswell’s 11 boards. Against Jackson State, Briauna Mitchell led the team with 11 points, and Keoshia McGhee had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

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