Brinkley Heights Ministries To Expand School

     Brinkley Heights Ministries Inc., which is affiliated with Brinkley Heights Baptist Church, has applied for a $2.4 million permit to expand its school for at-risk children, Brinkley Heights Urban Academy.
     The 20,000-square-foot project has an estimated cost of $2.4 million, said Tim Cox, pastor of Brinkley Heights Baptist Church and the principal of Brinkley Heights Urban Academy. The estimated completion date is December 2009.
     The school currently goes up through the third grade, and has been in operation since 2004.
     "Our goal is to work with the children and add a grade every year all the way to the 12th grade," Cox said. "We are trying to reach at-risk children - those children who seem to be ones that kind of fall through the cracks - to provide them a high-quality Christian education."
     The school currently has an address on Rosamond Avenue, but the expansion will take the school back to Macon Road.
     "The front of the building will face Macon Road," Cox said.
     Once the expansion is complete, the current school building will become the pre-kindergarten building, and the new addition will house the rest of the grades.
     Carpenters for Christ International (CFCI), a nonprofit organization comprised of volunteers who help other organizations such as Brinkley Heights Ministries with construction of new buildings, will come in June to help build the main part of the new building.
     "They are going to bring 150 volunteers from 17 states, and they will build the 20,000-square-foot building in 10 days," Cox said. "The majority of the building will be built in 10 days, but it will take another several months to do all the finish work."
     Carpenters for Christ helped Brinkley build the first school building in 2004.

Bernanke Warns Congress Of Possible Recession

     Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday a recession is possible and policymakers are "fighting against the wind" in trying to steady a shaky economy. He would not say if further interest rate cuts are planned.
     Bernanke's testimony before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress was a more pessimistic assessment of the economy's immediate prospects than a report he delivered earlier this year. His appearance on Capitol Hill came amid a trio of economic slumps in the housing, credit and financial areas.
     "It now appears likely that gross domestic product (GDP) will not grow much, if at all, over the first half of 2008 and could even contract slightly," Bernanke told lawmakers. GDP measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States and is the best barometer of the United States' economic health. Under one rule, six straight months of declining GDP would constitute a recession.
     Bernanke said "a recession is possible" but he also said he expects more economic growth in the second half of this year and into 2009, helped by the government's $168 billion stimulus package of tax rebates for people and tax breaks for businesses, as well as the Fed's aggressive reductions to a key interest rate.
     "Much necessary economic and financial adjustment has already taken place, and monetary and fiscal policies are in train that should support a return to growth in the second half of this year and next year," Bernanke said.
     To try to limit the damage, the Federal Reserve has aggressively cut a key interest rate, now at 2.25 percent, to spur buying and investing by individuals and businesses.

Mississippi River Commission Schedules High-Water Inspection

     The Mississippi River Commission plans to conduct the Memphis District portion of its annual Mississippi River high-water inspection trip next week. The seven-member commission will hold public meetings aboard the motor vessel Mississippi, and members of the public are invited to voice their concerns and ideas about matters affecting water resources, flood control, environmental issues, recreation and navigation.
     The organization will be in Tiptonville, Tenn., Monday and in Memphis Tuesday, with the Memphis meeting at 9 a.m. at Mud Island.
     Besides the public comment period, the meetings will include a presentation by the president of the MRC about national and regional issues affecting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and MRC projects and programs on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The district commander also will present an overview of current project issues in the district.

Factory Orders Fall For Second Straight Month

     Orders to U.S. factories fell for a second straight month, a worse-than-expected performance that provides further evidence that a housing slowdown and credit crunch are raising risks of a recession.
     The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that factory orders dropped by 1.3 percent in February, about double the downturn that economists had been expecting. Orders had fallen an even bigger 2.3 percent in January, the largest decline in five months.
     The falloff in demand was widespread, with steep declines in orders for motor vehicles, various types of heavy machinery and demand for iron and steel.
     Many economists believe the country already has been pushed into a recession. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, testifying before the Joint Economic Committee on Wednesday, said that the economy could shrink over the first half of this year, his most pessimistic assessment to date.
     The report on factory orders showed demand falling by 1.1 percent for durable goods, items expected to last at least three years, while orders for non-durable goods, products such as oil and chemicals, fell by 1.5 percent.

Belafonte to Join Cohen In Town Hall Meeting

     U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, is hosting a special 9th Congressional District town hall meeting Saturday in remembrance of the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, which occurred April 4, 1968.
     Cohen is bringing artist and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte to Memphis to take part in the town hall meeting and to discuss issues relating to the 9th District. The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. on the lower level of the Paul Barret Jr. Library on the campus of Rhodes College at 2000 North Parkway. Among the issues that will be discussed at the meeting include youth incarceration, racial equality and criminal justice.

Education Realty Trust Closes $100M Bond Issue in Pa.

     Memphis-based Education Realty Trust Inc. and its development subsidiary, Allen & O'Hara Development Co. LLC, has closed a $100.3 million bond issue on behalf of University Student Housing LLC for new student housing on the campus of West Chester University in the Philadelphia area.
     University Student Housing LLC is a subsidiary of West Chester University Foundation, whose mission is to advance the educational purpose of West Chester University.
     Allen & O'Hara is sole project developer responsible for overseeing the entire design, financing and construction process for two new seven-story residence halls, totaling 1,197 beds, in the heart of WCU's campus, at a construction cost of roughly $80 million. Construction is under way, and the residence halls are expected to open in August 2009.
     The new on-campus student community is engineered to take advantage of the latest in green building technology, including geothermal heating and cooling systems.
     This is the first of three phases in WCU's Housing Renewal Initiative, which ultimately will replace more than 3,300 beds over multiple phases and years.

Committee Against Lower GPA for Lottery Scholarships

     An amendment to lower the cumulative grade point average needed to maintain a lottery scholarship in Tennessee has failed along party lines in the Republican-controlled Senate Education Committee.
     Goodlettsville Democrat Joe Haynes proposed the measure to a comprehensive bill sponsored by Republican chairwoman Jamie Woodson of Knoxville.
     Students currently must be enrolled full time in college, have a GPA of at least 2.75 after their freshman year and a cumulative 3.0 GPA for subsequent years to keep the merit-based scholarship.
     Haynes proposed permanently lowering the retention GPA to 2.75, as opposed to one that would lower the GPA through a student's junior year, then bump it back up to 3.0 for the senior year.