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VOL. 133 | NO. 29 | Thursday, February 8, 2018

Daily Digest

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MATA Ending Bus Service To West Memphis

The Memphis Area Transit Authority is ending service to West Memphis, Arkansas, on March 31, citing a lack of funding.

MATA and the city of West Memphis announced Tuesday, Feb. 6, the 77-West Memphis and 98-West Memphis Express routes would end, along with West Memphis MATAplus service.

The routes were most recently funded by Job Access Reverse Commute grants, but the last time JARC funds were apportioned for West Memphis was in 2012. After that, the city received small allotments of unobligated JARC funding left over from previous years. The city of West Memphis was able to stretch the money out for an additional five years of service, thanks to partnerships formed with MATA, the Arkansas Department of Transportation, and the West Memphis Advertising and Promotions Committee.

However, the lack of funding caused a reduction in service, which in turn resulted in a decline in the ridership from a high of 280,386 passengers in 2009 to 76,000 customers in 2017.

When the JARC funds completely ran out in August, some routes had to be modified, which caused ridership to drop even further.

Paul Luker, director of planning and development for the city of West Memphis, said the MATA service gave some of West Memphis’ most vulnerable populations much-needed access to school, work, grocery stores and banks.

“Unfortunately, funding for transportation has decreased, which has left us in a powerless situation.” Luker said in a statement.

– Patrick Lantrip

Risk Management Firm To Study Beale Crowd Control

Memphis City Council members approved up to $50,000 Tuesday, Jan. 6, for Event Risk Management Solutions to study and recommend crowd control methods for the Beale Street Entertainment District.

ERMS is a Boise, Idaho-based firm that recommends risk management methods for festivals and similar events. Peter Ashwin, a former Australian Army Special Forces offices, leads ERMS and has been a consultant to six Olympic games as well as the G8 Summit in 2010. He has also provided support to the Memphis In May International Festival.

The study will be overseen by the Downtown Memphis Commission, which runs the entertainment district on a day-to-day basis for the city of Memphis.

The funding comes from the $257,779 in cover fees collected with and without the Beale Street Bucks program. The original bucks program charged a $10 cover to get on Beale Street after 10 p.m. on Saturday nights during the spring and summer. It included rebate coupons worth $8 in Beale Street businesses.

Last summer, the council cut the cover charge to $5 and did away with the rebate coupons. The council voted still later last year to do away with the cover charge altogether.

– Bill Dries

SCO Reports 100 Percent Optometry Board Passage

Every student in the Southern College of Optometry’s most recent graduating class passed the National Board optometry exam, making the Memphis college the only one in the nation with 100 percent passage rate.

This year marks the first time the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry has published the pass rates on the national board exams.

There are 21 accredited colleges of optometry across the nation, with Southern College of Optometry being the only one in the state of Tennessee. Among all schools, the average board passage rate was 90.9 percent. The median, with a low rate of 68.42 percent, is 94.59 percent..

“Our board passage rates have always been a point of pride for SCO, but seeing our performance stack up among our peers is truly an indication that what we’re doing works,” SCO president Dr. Lewis Reich said in a statement. “We consistently bring in the best and brightest students – ranking among the top in entrance exam scores and undergraduate GPA among all optometry schools, and they continue that impressive performance into their careers.”

Since 2011, SCO has annually provided more than $1 million in uncompensated optometric care to those who need it most. In 2016, the figure was more than $1.8 million across its four clinics and its mobile vision care unit, MobilEYES. SCO optometrists and optometrists-in-training treat nearly 60,000 patients each year through its clinical programs.

SCO consistently ranks near the top among its peers in entrance exam scores, board passage rates and student loan repayment, according to the college.

– Daily News staff

First Tennessee Bank Wins 23 Greenwich Awards

First Tennessee Bank has won 23 awards for outstanding service for business banking from Greenwich Associates as part of the group’s 2017 Greenwich Excellence Awards.

In evaluating more than 600 banks, Greenwich Associates identified a select group of banks that performed at differentiated levels compared to peer institutions at the national and regional levels. First Tennessee won 19 national awards and four regional awards.

“We appreciate our business customers and we are honored by the outstanding level of approval they have shown for our capability and service,” said David Popwell, president of banking for First Tennessee’s parent company, First Horizon National Corp.

In the Middle Market Banking category, First Tennessee received eight national awards, for Overall Satisfaction and Likelihood to Recommend.

In Cash Management, First Tennessee won awards for Overall Satisfaction, Accuracy of Operations, Customer Service, Ease of Product Implementation, Online Banking Functionality and Product Capabilities.

In the Small Business Banking category, First Tennessee received 11 national awards in the categories of Overall Satisfaction, Proactively Provides Advice, Branch Satisfaction, Industry Expertise, Likelihood to Recommend and Overall Satisfaction with Relationship Manager.

In Cash Management, the awards were Overall Satisfaction, Accuracy of Operations, Customer Service, Ease of Product Implementation and Product Capabilities.

First Tennessee also received four Regional (South) awards: Overall Satisfaction, Proactively Provides Advice, Likelihood to Recommend, and Overall Satisfaction in Cash Management.

– Andy Meek

BankTennessee Adds Lender, Universal Banker

BankTennessee has added a new senior lender and promoted another employee to its “universal banker” designation.

The Collierville-based bank has hired Brian Lowery as senior lender and senior vice president, working out of its Downtown Memphis office. Lowery has more than 25 years of banking experience, and prior to joining BankTennessee, he served as chief credit officer and senior lender at Highlands Union Bank in Abingdon, Virginia.

Meanwhile, BankTennessee also has promoted Britt Jernigan to the position of universal banker.

Previously a teller at the main office in Collierville since his hiring in 2010, he now works at BankTennessee in Germantown, at 2915 Forest Hill-Irene Road.

– Andy Meek

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