Last Word: Orlando, Rain Delay At Southwind and Church Health Center's Move

By Bill Dries

Many of us were watching the streets of our own city closely this weekend – the places where people gather for good times when the weather is warm and the sky is clear. Lately some of those places have been the settings for vivid and sudden reminders that all is not well in our city.

None of us here or elsewhere expected what happened in Orlando Sunday morning.

Yet there we were again Sunday morning, catching up to horrific events that unfolded overnight while most of us unplugged from the larger world and focused on what was closest to us.

Perhaps you took an early look around on social media just to check on Beale Street and see that it had a peaceful weekend and then found out about Orlando.

What is closest to us isn’t always limited to what is within our physical reach or what we can see with our own eyes. That’s what we discover with a painful jolt at times like this. That discovery and its endurance is reason for hope.

A large crowd gathered in front of the Gay & Lesbian Community Center in Cooper-Young Sunday evening to begin what will likely be a series of events that mark our own local period of mourning for those who died in Sunday’s violence in Orlando. Among those speaking from the front porch of the center was Mayor Jim Strickland.

This is the same front porch where about a year ago, many marked the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage across the nation. Several couples took their vows on the front porch.

Here’s a round-up of the early reaction from local officialdom.

For many Memphians the weekend began early and through Sunday they were completely focused on the annual St. Jude FedEx Golf Classic at Southwind which ran a bit late on its final day Sunday because of the weather.

For the national television audience, updates on the Orlando massacre were mixed with a look around Memphis during the rain delay that included The Commissary in Germantown and the lush scenery within the confines of Southwind.

The tournament got it all in by sunset with Daniel Berger the winner – final round 67 to finish 13 under for the tournament and three strokes ahead of Phil Mickelson.

More than a few heads turned this spring when Antony Sheehan left as president of the Church Health Center and it was attributed to philosophical differences. One theory was that it might have been the health center’s coming move to the Crosstown Concourse development.

Church Health Center founder Scott Morris tells us the difference was whether the health center should remain a faith-based program with no government ties or obligations. He believes that should remain the case. The piece leads with Morris also talking in more detail about the move to Crosstown for the health center.

The issue over whether to take government funding or not isn't a discussion that is unique to the Church Health Center either as Rick Donlon, the CEO of Resurrection Health says of that group’s recent decision to partner with Cherokee Health Systems of Knoxville.

The Land Use Control Board says no to a surface parking lot in South Main after opponents of the plan point to surface parking lots in the Pinch district and the effect they have had on development there.

The cover story of our weekly, The Memphis News, is a look at how ServiceMaster arrived at the point where the company began looking for a new headquarters and how the company’s surprising choice is a very new direction for office space in the Downtown core. Before there was the new direction for office space, there was a new direction for ServiceMaster that informed the decision.

Lehman-Roberts has been paving roads in Memphis for 77 years – longer than that if you throw in the more than 100 years of Memphis Stone & Gravel which Lehman-Roberts bought in 1971. And the business has changed a lot. No more taking up the old asphalt and being done with it.

The company has also gone beyond the surface of a road. It recently joined with Clean Memphis in Soulsville with labor and equipment worth more than $75,000 to help clean up the area and let its soul shine through.

A review of last week’s decision to close Carver High School effective this past May when Carver closed for the school year and why there will likely be more closings.

Back to Beale Street briefly, the Beale Street Tourism Development Authority continues its search for a permanent day-to-day manager of the entertainment district. As the authority talked about recent events on the street last week, it also got an update on how the RFP process is going. There is more interest than there was in the first round but it’s hard to tell if that will mean more applications by the June 24 deadline.

Nationally: By this fall, six airlines will be flying from the U.S. to Cuba for the first time in 50 years

The Memphis News Almanac: A new president for LeMoyne-Owen, Jim Kyle to the state Senate, the Ridgeway Four opens, Porter Wagoner comes to town and Poplar gets paved between Cooper and East Parkway.