State Board for Community Colleges to Consider 2024-25 Tuition and Fees

In accordance with Section 23.1-307 (D) of the Code of Virginia, the State Board for Community Colleges provides notice that it will consider tuition and mandatory fee increases for Virginia’s Community Colleges, effective fall 2024, at 9 a.m. on May 16, 2024, at the Virginia Community College System, System Office, 300 Arboretum Place, Richmond, VA 23236.

The State Board will consider mandatory tuition and fee increases of between  one percent and 4.9 percent for undergraduate in-state students and between 3.6 percent and 6.1 percent for out-state students, subject to budget provisions of the 2024 General Assembly. The community colleges will use revenue generated  for cost increases associated with compensation and benefit increases, contractual obligations, technology, strategic initiatives, inflationary cost impacts, debt service, and potential adjustments to student fees.

Written comments from the public will be accepted through May 15 and will be made available to the Board before action on tuition is taken. Written comments may be sent to Rose Marie Owen, Executive Assistant to the Chancellor, at rmowen@vccs.edu, or they may be mailed to the attention of Rose Marie Owen at:

Office of the Chancellor

Virginia Community College System

300 Arboretum Parkway

Richmond, Virginia 23236

MECC Foundation to Host 48th Annual John Fox, Jr. Literary Festival Featuring the Origin Project with Barbara Kingsolver and Adriana Trigiani

Big Stone Gap, VA — The MECC Foundation is pleased to announce the 48th annual John Fox, Jr. Literary Festival. The event will feature authors Adriana Trigiani and Barbara Kingsolver, Wednesday, April 17 from 10 a.m. to noon. The festival is free and open to the public.

In coordination with the festival event, the MECC Foundation will host the 37th Annual Lonesome Pine Short Story Contest and the 20th Annual Lonesome Pine Poetry Contest. The deadline for submitting entries is Tuesday, April 2 at 4:30 p.m. Entry categories include adult, high school (grades 9 through 12), and middle school (grades 5 through 8) categories. Contest rules and information about the festival is available on the MECC Foundation website at www.mecc.edu/jffestival. Winners of the contest will be announced during the Literary Festival Event. All winners will receive a cash prize.

The MECC Foundation will welcome students from the Origin Project, Trigiani’s in-school Virginia writing program, to participate in the festival. The Origin Project will unveil its 10th Anniversary Cookbook in memory of the project’s co-founder Nancy Bolmeier Fisher. The cookbook features recipes from the Origin Project’s participating students, teachers, guest authors and friends. Cookbooks will be available to purchase at the festival. All proceeds will benefit the Origin Project.

The 48th Annual John Fox, Jr. festival will have a featured discussion from both Trigiani and Kingsolver. Following the presentation, the MECC Foundation will feature a special luncheon with House at the John Fox Jr. home in Big Stone Gap beginning at 12:30 p.m. Tickets for the luncheon are $30 and can be ordered by calling the MECC Foundation office at 276-523-7466. Tickets are limited, so please reserve early for this event.

Adrienna's HeadshotAdriana Trigiani is The New York Times bestselling author of 20 books in fiction and nonfiction, including The Shoemaker’s Wife, The Good Left Undone, Don’t Sing at the Table, and Lucia, Lucia, and she is published in 38 languages around the world. She is host of the hit podcast, You Are What You Read, in conversation with the luminaries of our time about the books that built their souls. Adriana is an award-winning playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker. She wrote and directed the major motion picture adaptation of her debut novel Big Stone Gap, adapted her novel Very Valentine for television and directed Then Came You. She wrote and directed the documentary film, Queens of the Big Time, winner of the Audience Award at the Hamptons International Film Festival and Audience award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. The film was also featured at the London and Hong Kong International Film festivals. Trigiani grew up in the Big Stone Gap Virginia where she co-founded The Origin Project, an in-school writing program serving over 2,700 students in Appalachia. In 2023, she was knighted with the Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia by President Sergio Mattarella of Italy. She is proud to serve on the New York State Council on the Arts and lives in New York City with her family.

Barbara KingsloverBarbara Kingsolver is a novelist, essayist, and poet. She is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Demon Copperhead, a contemporary re-telling of David Copperfield set in Appalachia at the onset of the opioid epidemic. In addition to Demon Copperhead, her bestselling works include The Lacuna, The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, the highest honor given by the U.S. government for service through the arts, as well as the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work. Her books have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have been adopted into the core literature curriculum in high schools and colleges throughout the nation. She lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.

For more information on the MECC Foundation, please visit our website at www.meccfoundation.org.


Mountain Empire Community College Recognized in Military Times 2023 Best for Vets: Colleges Rankings

Red and Yellow Sunset Minimalist Aesthetic CD Album Cover Art

Big Stone Gap, VA. – Mountain Empire Community College is proud to announce its inclusion in the prestigious Military Times 2023 Best for Vets: College’s rankings.

 Military Times Best for Vets: Colleges is the largest and most comprehensive annual ranking of schools for military service members and veterans. Each year, schools are evaluated based on their programs for veterans. The survey results, in combination with public data from the Department of Education and Department of Veterans Affairs, contribute to this respected and unbiased annual ranking.

 The 2023 rankings can be found on the new Best for Vets website: bestforvets.com.

This year, Mountain Empire Community College joins the esteemed list of 325 schools recognized for their commitment to supporting military service members and veterans, marking a nearly 5% increase over the previous year.

 For a decade, Military Times Best for Vets: Colleges has been a trusted resource for the military community, aiding veterans in making informed decisions about their educational planning and how to leverage the education benefits earned through military service.

Mike Gruss, editor-in-chief at Sightline Media Group, the parent company of Military Times, notes that “our comprehensive survey and thoughtful methodology make our rankings best in class.”

Mountain Empire Community College is honored to be part of this prestigious list and remains dedicated to providing valuable resources and support to military service members and veterans.

Mountain Empire Community College is committed to excellence in education and serving its community with high-quality programs and resources. Visit our website for more information: https://www.mecc.edu/veterans/.

 Military Times is the trusted source for independent news and information for service members and their families. The military community relies on Air Force Times, Army Times, Marine Corps Times, and Navy Times for reporting on everything important to their lives. Military Times is owned by Sightline Media Group. To learn more, visit www.militarytimes.com.

 

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MECC To Host 52nd Annual Home Craft Days Festival

HCD Poster 2023-1Big Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College will host the college’s annual Home Craft Days Festival, October 20-22, featuring the unique music, crafts, food, and artistry of the Appalachian region.

The 52nd Home Craft Days Festival will feature two full days of concerts, craft vendors, and demonstrations of weaving, pottery making, grist milling, wood crafting, basket weaving, broom making, quilting, tatting, and more. A special free Friday night concert, with an opening reception, will also be held.

According to festival coordinator Lee Davis, “This year’s festival will feature all of the amazing vendors, music, and food options that Home Craft Days is recognized for. We will have several new vendors in all three areas – crafts, food, and demonstrations. The staff at MECC love seeing our community come out to enjoy the music, food, & crafts.”

Heading this year’s Friday night concert are Martha Spencer & the Wonderland Band; Elizabeth LaPrelle & Family; Todd Meade, Tyler Hughes, Tommy Bledsoe, and Rich Kirby. The concert will begin at 6:30 p.m. in MECC’s Phillips-Taylor Hall Goodloe Center. Guests are invited to join us for free Dough & Joe and Mr. Kettle Corn while supplies last from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Black Bear BBQ will also offer paid dinner options for guests. 

Craft and food vendors will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday only. Saturday’s music schedule includes featured performers: Todd Meade, Katie and Maddie Pearcy, Sarah Kate Morgan, Rich Kirby & Nate Polly, Angie DeBord -Mountain Tales, Ed Snodderly, Whitetop Mountain Band & the Center Stage Cloggers, Town Branch Bluegrass, Empty Bottle String Band & Square Dance, Jim Lloyd, Tommy Bledsoe & Ben Kiser, Nobody’s Business & the Center Stage Cloggers, Jack Wright, Richard Phillips & Friends, The White Brothers, Adalyn Ramey, Brandon Maggard, Anne Lough, Hillbilly Hippies, Trevor McKenzie, Jamie Colls, Richard Hood, Zach Wiles & The Mill Holler Ramblers, Blue Ridge Girls, and Sulphur Springs String Dippers.

Sunday’s performers include: Ron Carson 4-Him, George Reynolds, Doug Dorschug and Pam Randolph, Gap Civil, John Haywood, The Crooked Road Ramblers, Siegan, Smith Family Singers, Oscar Harris and Heather Pace, Danny Whited & Friends, Russell County Boys, Roxanne McDaniel, Steve and Tracey Edwards, Mountain Melody School, Bailey George & Jess Stiles, Nathan Sykes, The Childress Girls, MECC String Band, and Ron Short. 

Admission is FREE to all the festival events. MECC is located on US Route 23 just south of Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Parking and shuttles for the festival will be offered at five locations in Big Stone Gap. Shuttle rides are $1 per person, or $2 round-trip, at boarding. Locations include:

  • Union High School (formerly Powell Valley High School) – Front Parking Lot
  • Curbside, Wood Ave, in Front of Food City
  • Curbside, Municipal Parking Lot behind Post Office/Federal Building
  • Country Inn
  • Comfort Inn

For more information on the event, including a detailed schedule of vendors and musicians, visit the Home Craft Days website at www.homecraftdays.org.

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MECC Trio Director Jessica Lewis Named MEAEOPP President

JLewis

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College is pleased to announce that TRIO Director Jessica Lewis has been named as the President of the Mid-Eastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (MEAEOPP). 

 The Mid-Eastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (MEAEOPP) is the regional professional association for TRIO and educational opportunity personnel from Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

 The mission of MEAEOPP is to bring together individuals who have shared interests in and advocate for the educational and cultural development of TRIO and all underrepresented and underserved individuals.  The association offers opportunities for growth through professional development for TRIO employees and others concerned with providing equal access to education in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

 MEAEOPP is one of ten regional associations for TRIO personnel nationwide and supports thCouncil for Opportunity in Education, TRIO’s national organization that is dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students, and students with disabilities.

 Ms. Lewis has been on MECC’s TRIO Programs staff since 2011, where she has served as TRIO SSS Counselor and is now the overall Director. She holds an associate degree from Mountain Empire Community College, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise in Psychology, and a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from East Tennessee State University. This is her second year as a part of a three-year term as President-Elect, President, and Past President.

 Lewis stated, “It is the greatest honor to be able to serve the region in this role, advocating and supporting first–generation, low–income, and students with disabilities across the nation with other regional leaders. I hope to represent the great diversity of our region and continue to strengthen the legacy of our association by enhancing the opportunities for our membership to grow and advance.”

 For more information regarding MECC’s TRIO programs please visit www.mecc.edu/tutoring for the Student Support Services program or www.mecc.edu/mecc-talent-search for the Talent Search program.  All MECC’s TRIO programs are funded through grants from the US Department of Education. 

MECC Receives Appalachian Regional Commission Grant To Support Individuals Recovering from Substance Use Disorder

Project A

Pictured left to right: Kaitlyn Robinson and Tanya Fields

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College has received a $439,669 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Investments Supporting Partnerships in Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE) grant to provide training and support services for individuals identified as in recovery from addiction.

Project Amelioration Expansion, or Am-Ex, will build on an existing Project Amelioration grant which has provided free basic construction, plumbing, and masonry training for more than 30 students in Wise County since 2021. The original Project Amelioration grant was administered by the Lenowisco Planning District, with MECC serving as a sub-grantee partner.

Project Am-Ex will expand services and training locations to include Wise, Dickenson, and Lee Counties. Students will receive hands-on training along with referrals and access to legal aid services, financial education, life skills training, Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT), OSHA certification, counseling services, social services, and employment assistance.

AM-EX will continue partnering with LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, the Town of Appalachia, Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society, Frontier Health and the 30th Judicial Adult Drug Court, and expand with the assistance from Dickenson County Public Schools, Lee County Schools, Lee County Career & Technical Center, Regional Adult Education, WIOA, the Department of Social Services, and additional partners. This project will serve 120 students and 40 workers/trainees.

“Project Amelioration has served as a transformative training opportunity in Wise County,” said MECC President Kristen Westover. “We are excited to continue this important grant program that has provided training for individuals that need a second chance to become productive citizens with hands-on training and high need skill sets that benefit our entire region.”

Project Director Stephanie New said Project Amelioration has been transformative to participants. One student commented, “Project Amelioration gave me a boost of confidence that I needed. When I began, I was in Phase I of Drug Court and struggling. After acing the first test in NCCER CORE, I knew I could do this. Now I am in Phase II of Drug Court, just received my first-ever driver’s license, and I am planning on pursing my GED at the end of the Carpentry course.”

MECC is currently holding Welding/Fabrication training as a component of the Project Am-Ex grant and plans to offer Masonry and Electrical training in spring 2024. To enroll, participants must complete a Non-credit Application as well as a Workforce Grant Application, available on www.mecc.edu/workforce/ or by paper application in our offices.

In addition to the nearly $14 million INSPIRE award package, Federal ARC Co-Chair Gail Manchin also announced additional funding for a $265,607 ARISE planning grant to the Upper Cumberland Development District that will strengthen a network of SUD recovery-to-work efforts across six Appalachian states—Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. In collaboration with their state partners, the Upper Cumberland Development District will use the ARISE funding to create a multi-state employer toolkit and long-term strategy to engage individuals across Appalachia in SUD recovery into the workforce.

“At ARC, we know that substance use disorder recovery isn’t a singular event, but a continuum. Both workforce training and ending the stigma surrounding substance use disorder are equally important in providing a renewed sense of hope and purpose to Appalachians in recovery,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “These INSPIRE grantees are doing the important work to remove all barriers to entry when it comes to recovery-to-work projects across the region, ensuring that all Appalachians have a chance at a bright future.” These INSPIRE awardees will support the SUD recovery ecosystem in 11 Appalachian states by developing and deepening cross-sector recovery-focused partnerships, expanding peer recovery support networks, planning, and implementing workforce training programs, strengthening community engagement and wraparound services, and more. Additionally,

MECC is one of only two INSPIRE grants awarded in Virginia. The projects will bring INSPIRE’s impact to 60 Appalachian counties for the first time, increasing the initiative’s reach to 83% of the region. A total of nearly $42 million has been invested by ARC across 126 projects since the initiative launched in April 2021. Together, the projects will impact 349 Appalachian counties, improve 2,178 businesses, and help prepare 9,772 individuals for new opportunities in the workforce.

“In Kentucky and across the Appalachian region, we believe all of our people are entitled to healthy and happy lives,” said ARC 2023 States’ Co-Chair, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. “We want anyone battling addiction to know they are not alone, and they matter. No matter how long the road to recovery may be, Kentucky and leaders across the ARC region are here to support them.”

INSPIRE was informed by ARC’s Substance Use Disorder Advisory Council, which developed initial recommendations to address the disproportionate impact SUD had on the workforce in Appalachia compared to the rest of the country – a gap that has only widened since the COVID-19 pandemic. According to recently released CDC data featured in ARC’s report, Appalachian Diseases of Despair, overdose-related mortality rates for the region’s 25–54-year-old age group—those in their prime working years—were 72 percent higher in 2021 than for the same age group in the country’s non-Appalachian areas.

For more information on Mountain Empire Community College’s Project Am-Ex, please contact New at snew@mecc.edu or by phone at 276-523-9123.

 

ATCB Alumni, UVA-Wise, MECC Announce New Scholarship

ATCB

Left to Right: Melvin McWilliams, ATCB Alumni Association Treasurer; Valerie Lawson, UVA Wise Vice Chancellor of Advancement & Alumni Engagement; Dr. Amy Greear, MECC Vice President of Institutional Advancement; Maurice Gover, ATCB Alumni Association Executive Vice President

Mountain Empire Community College and the University of Virginia’s College at Wise are pleased to announce the creation of the ATCB Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship benefiting students in Southwest Virginia. 

The ATCB Alumni Association Scholarship Fund was established by the Alumni Association of the former Appalachia Training School, Central High School, and James Bland Schools. The organization is a 501©3 organization that endeavors to keep alive the ideals of the schools that served the alumni body. 

The ATCB Alumni Association celebrates its history and heritage in the communities of Wise and Lee Counties, and the City of Norton, Virginia. The ATCB Alumni Association organizes the ATCB School Reunion biennially and other events that raises funds to support scholarships that will benefit deserving high school and vocational students in the area, planning to or currently attending college or institutions of higher learning. 

The newly created scholarship at MECC and UVA-Wise will provide need-based awards to students who are worthy and deserving, with preference given to students who are descendants and/or relatives of students who attended Appalachia Training School, Central High School, the James Bland Schools, or other high schools in Southwest Virginia that have served student populations that were historically underrepresented in college admissions. If no student meets this criterion, the donor prefers but does not require, that scholarships be awarded to students whose gender, race, ethnicity, cultural, educational, financial, and/or national background contribute to the diversity of the student body. Scholarships are renewable. 

Representatives of MECC and UVA-Wise Foundations were on hand to announce the scholarship creation at the recent ATCB reunion event held at The Wise Inn on August 11. 

“On behalf of UVA-Wise, we extend a heartfelt thanks to the ATCB Alumni Association for investing in student potential. Once fully endowed this scholarship will assist students who might not otherwise be able to pursue a college education with priority for relatives of those who attended the ATCB schools,” said Valerie Lawson, Vice Chancellor for Advancement & Alumni Engagement. 

 “We are grateful to the ATCB Alumni organization for their support of MECC and to their commitment to removing financial barriers to obtaining a higher education for students in our region,” added Dr. Amy Greear, Executive Director of the MECC Foundation.

Pauline Martin Adams, ATCB Alumni Association President, also extended her appreciation to UVA Wise and MECC for their assistance, and to the leadership of the ATCB Legacy Committee.  “We thank UVA-Wise and MECC and the ATCB Legacy Committee led by the late Diane Brickey for all their hard work to help establish the scholarships.”  She also adds, “The ATCB Alumni Association likewise gives a huge thank you to the ATCB alums, their families, friends and supporters, whose donations and encouragement will help make the endowed scholarships a reality.”  

Gifts to the ATCB Alumni Association Scholarship at UVA Wise should be directed to the UVA-Wise Foundation, ATCB Alumni Association Scholarship or make gifts online at giving.virginia.edu/wise, noting in the “in honor of field” the ATCB Alumni Association. 

To donate to the ATCB Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship at MECC, visit the MECC Foundation webpage, www.meccfoundation.org/give. Gifts may also be mailed to MECC Foundation, 3441 Mountain Empire Road, Big Stone Gap, Virginia 24219. Please note in the memo section that the funds are for the ATCB Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship.

MECC Named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the NSA, Homeland Security

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BIG STONE GAP, Va. – Mountain Empire Community College has been accredited jointly by the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (or CAE-CD).

The accreditation is awarded only to U.S. four-year and two-year colleges that demonstrate a proven ability to deliver quality cybersecurity education to their students while meeting standards related to curricula and faculty. With this distinction, MECC becomes only one of nine Virginia community colleges (out of 23) to carry the accreditation. Of the 84 public and private colleges in Virginia, only 25 percent of them hold the accreditation.

“National Security Agency and U.S. Department of Homeland Security recognition as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense signifies that MECC has created a strong cybersecurity educational program producing the technology talent necessary to fill positions in cybersecurity within our region as well as attracting new businesses requiring this talent to the region,” said MECC President Kristen Westover.

As a CAE-CD institution, MECC is now eligible for federal funding opportunities reserved only for CAE-CD colleges. Other incentives offered include virtual student job fairs and special training seminars for faculty. Lastly, MECC’s CAE-CD status confirms a cybersecurity curriculum deemed worthy by some of the nation’s largest employers like the NSA and the U.S. Department of Defense.

MECC Assistant Professor Ritchie Deel, who serves as both the college’s cybersecurity professor and Chief Information Officer, expressed that the accreditation represents both MECC’s diligence in developing its cybersecurity program since 2016 and the overall effort by colleges in Southwest Virginia to attract technology companies to the region.

“We started our cybersecurity program back in 2016 with grant funding backed by the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, and since then, we’ve made sure to leverage that opportunity by building a program that signals that there is technology talent in Southwest Virginia for those companies that are interested in the area,” Deel said.

Since the creation of MECC’s Cybersecurity Career Studies certificate program in 2016, MECC has formed a student competition club that participates in national cybersecurity-based tournaments and has collaborated with regional colleges like the University of Virginia’s College at Wise and Southwest Virginia Community College to organize technology-themed events.

MECC offers a 10-course Cybersecurity Career Studies Certificate that can be taken on its own or paired with the college’s Computer Networking and Computer Software Specialist degrees. Those interested in learning more about the program can visit MECC’s Cybersecurity Center at www.mecc.edu/pathways/cyber-security or contact Mr. Deel at 276-523-9444 or at rdeel@mecc.edu.

MECC Bridges Digital Divide with Innovative Laptop Loan Program

Laptop Program

Big Stone Gap, Virginia — Mountain Empire Community College has launched an initiative to provide essential technologies to students who need it most. MECC’s Student Services and Student Outreach Center, in collaboration with the college’s IT department, has launched an innovative laptop loan program to ensure all students have access to the technology required for their studies.

 

Lelia Bradshaw, Dean of Student Services at Mountain Empire Community College (MECC), led the project to provide over 100 computers to students in need after the demand for loaned technology increased post-pandemic.

 

Funded through several state grants and other funding sources, the program offers laptops on loan to students at no cost. Laptops are fully equipped with the necessary software and settings by the college’s Technology Department, for those who may not have access to such technology at home. 

 

This collaborative effort between departments is not only about leveling the playing field; it reflects the college’s dedication to education, equality, and the well-being of its students. Ritchie Deel, Mountain Empire Community College’s Chief Information Officer, noted, “The IT department’s role in this program has been crucial in bridging the technological divide within our student community. Collaborating with Student Services allowed us to tailor the technology to meet our students’ unique educational needs. This is more than just providing hardware; it’s about empowering our students with the tools they need to succeed in a digital world. It’s a testament to what we can achieve when different departments come together with a shared vision, and I’m incredibly proud of the dedication to making this initiative a reality.”

 

“The laptop loan program represents what we stand for as an institution,” added Bradshaw. “It’s about recognizing the individual needs of our students and taking tangible steps to support them in their academic journey.”

 

The response from the students has been overwhelmingly positive, with many expressing gratitude and emphasizing how this initiative has enhanced their learning experience. The success of the program has led to discussions on growing and sustaining the program long-term, potentially inspiring similar initiatives in other educational institutions.

  

For those interested in learning more about the laptop loan program or who want to explore how they can support this vital initiative, please contact Lelia Bradshaw at lbradshaw@mecc.edu, (276)523-9107.

 

MECC Foundation Receives Matching Grant for Appalachia Alumni Endowed Scholarship

Appalachia Alumni

Big Stone Gap — Members of the Slemp Foundation have provided a matching gift to the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation in support of the newly established Appalachia Alumni Endowed Scholarship at Mountain Empire Community College.

The Appalachia Alumni Association raised more than $5,000 to support a scholarship for Union High School students at MECC. Their fundraising efforts were matched with a $5,000 gift by the Slemp Foundation, creating an endowment for scholarships for Union High School students.

The Slemp Foundation provides funding to improve the health, education and welfare of Lee and Wise County Virginia residents or their descendants and has awarded more than $38 million in scholarships. The MECC Foundation supports the mission of Mountain Empire Community College, raising funds to support student scholarships, programming and infrastructure, and community cultural and arts events on the MECC campus.

Angela Honeycutt, president of the Appalachia Alumni Association, noted how this gift will keep the legacy of Appalachia High School alive through future Union High School students. “On behalf of the AHS Alumni Association, we are so grateful for the matching donation by the Slemp Foundation. This Scholarship will help keep the spirit of the Appalachia Bulldogs alive while honoring our past and looking toward the future. This scholarship will benefit many students for years to come which will help carry on the legacy of Appalachia High,” Honeycutt said.

“The Slemp Foundation is pleased to be able to participate in the educational pursuits of the students of Lee and Wise Counties through the Appalachia Alumni Endowed Scholarship Fund,” said Slemp Foundation Trustee James Smith. “It is through the foresight of C. Bascom Slemp that we are able to continue to provide for the betterment of the citizens and descendants of the citizens of Lee and Wise Counties.”

The MECC Foundation is continuing to raise funds to support the Appalachia Alumni Endowed Scholarship. Gifts may be made to the MECC Foundation, 3441 Mountain Empire Road, Big Stone Gap, Virginia, 24219 or online at www.meccfoundation.org/give. Please write “Appalachia Alumni Scholarship” on the check memo. For questions or additional information, please contact the MECC Foundation office at 276-523-7466.

MECC, Slemp Foundation Announce Grant Awards for Wise, Lee K-12 Teachers, MECC Instructors

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Big Stone Gap – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation, through funding provided by the Slemp Foundation, is pleased to offer the MECC Slemp Foundation Mini-Grant Program for K-12 Teachers in Lee and Wise County as well as instructors at Mountain Empire Community College.

The goal of the program is to nurture career pathways in STEAM-H fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts/Agriculture, Mathematics, and Health) for K-12 and college students for a better understanding of post-secondary career options. Up to ten, $1,000 grants will be awarded to K-12 teachers in Wise and Lee County (10 grants available per county). Grants applications and funding will be available annually in August 2023, August 2024, and August 2025. These grants may be used to purchase equipment, educational materials, or support research that will benefit student learning.

In addition, ten $1,000 grants will be awarded to MECC faculty to support equipment and instructional supplies for existing programming. Teachers can be very creative and will be able to identify a wide array of activities and resources to meet the goals of the project. Examples may include gardening opportunities for lower elementary students, stream studies and water quality analysis for upper elementary and middle school and electrophorese studies for high school students.

According to Dr. Jack Rhoton, MECC Foundation Board Member, these grants will provide additional resources for K-14 teachers to create innovative learning environments to engage students in deep learning. Students will have opportunities to design investigations, share ideas, develop explanations, and argue using evidence. Rhoton highlighted the importance of nurturing students, beginning at an early age, in active learning and the role it plays in creating a passion for post-secondary career pathways.

“The Slemp Foundation is pleased to be able to participate in this mini-grant program,” said Slemp Foundation Trustee James Smith. “C. Bascom Slemp believed in the power of education and we are happy to provide our educators with assistance in this endeavor. We are also pleased with our long-standing partnership with Mountain Empire Community College and the many ways this partnership assists the citizens of Lee and Wise Counties.”

Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis and will be judged on their potential to design and facilitate age-appropriate career awareness and engaging activities. The application process for mini-grants will require each teacher recipient to provide at least a one or two-page description of the project, which will address the following elements:

  • What is the project’s goal or research question
  • Project abstract summary
  • Goals and deliverables/relevant literature support
  • Implementation plan
  • What data collection and/or analytic techniques will be used and how will the outcomes of the project be assessed/evaluated
  • A detailed budget

Each teacher mini-grant application should include a cover page consisting of the teacher(s) name, school name, school address, grade level/subject taught, email address, school phone, project title, and a two-hundred-word project abstract. To apply for funding, teachers are encouraged to visit www.mecc.edu/mini-grants. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, September 20, 2023. Notifications will be made to award recipients in early October.

For more information on the MECC Foundation, visit www.meccfoundation.org. For more information on the Slemp Foundation, please visit www.slempfoundation.org.

STEM Pathways in Career Education SUMMER INSTITUTE

STEM Pathways in Career Education SUMMER INSTITUTE-1

Calling all educators!  Enhance your teaching skills and empower your students with our ‘STEM Pathways in Career Education’ course. Explore diverse careers and the associated STEM content, gaining valuable insights into their requirements. Bridge the gap between STEM and your content areas, fostering an interdisciplinary approach for primary, middle, and high school students.  Open to all educational staff seeking licensure renewal courses. We have 30 spots available with funding support! Don’t miss out on this opportunity to expand your teaching toolkit. Click here to download application.

 

State Board for Community Colleges to Consider 2023-24 Tuition and Fees at July Meeting

In accordance with Section 23.1-307 (D) of the Code of Virginia, the State Board for Community Colleges provides notice that it will consider tuition and mandatory fee increases for Virginia’s Community Colleges, effective fall 2023, at 9 a.m. on July 20, 2023, at the Virginia Community College System, System Office, 300 Arboretum Place, Richmond, VA 23236.

The State Board traditionally considers tuition and fee increases during its May meeting, but the Board delayed action on the matter until after the General Assembly and Governor conclude their deliberations on the State Budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

At its July meeting, the State Board will consider mandatory tuition and fee increases of between 0percent and 4.7 percent for all undergraduate students, subject to budget provisions of the 2023 General Assembly. The maximum potential increase equates to a tuition and education and general fee rate of $161.25per credit-hour for in-state students and would result in a net annual increase of $217 for a student enrolling in thirty credit-hours during the academic year. The community colleges will use revenue generated from any increase in mandatory fees to pay for mandatory cost increases associated with compensation and benefit increases, contractual obligations, technology and strategic initiatives, inflationary cost impacts, debt service, and potential adjustments to student fees.

Written comments from the public will be accepted through July 19 and will be made available to the Board before action on tuition is taken. Written comments may be sent to Rose Marie Owen, Executive Assistant to the Chancellor, at rmowen@vccs.edu, or they may be mailed to the attention of Rose Marie Owen at:

Office of the Chancellor

Virginia Community College System

300 Arboretum Parkway

Richmond, Virginia 23236

Mountain Empire and Germanna Community Colleges Host Free Continuing Education Course for Dental Professionals.

Mountain Empire and Germanna Community Colleges are hosting a free continuing education course for dental professionals! This CE is designed to learn more about dental auxiliary options, specifically the new collaborative DA-II training offered at both campuses. This credential is open to any Virginia licensed RDH or CDA. 

The CE event will be either online via Zoom or in-person with dinner provided. Please look at the attached flyer or contact Dr. Emily Bowen (ebowen@mecc.edu) for more information.

dentalMECC

State Board for Community Colleges to Consider 2023-24 Tuition and Fees at May Meeting

Big Stone Gap, Virginia – In accordance with Section 23.1-307 (D) of the Code of Virginia, the State Board for Community Colleges provides notice that it will consider tuition and mandatory fee increases for Virginia’s Community Colleges, effective fall 2023, at 9 a.m. on May 18, 2023, at the Virginia Community College System, System Office, 300 Arboretum Place, Richmond, VA 23236. 

The State Board will consider mandatory tuition and fee increases of between 0 percent and 4.7 percent for all undergraduate students, subject to budget provisions of the 2023 General Assembly. The maximum potential increase equates to a tuition and education and general fee rate of $161.25 per credit hour for in-state students and would result in a net annual increase of $217 for a student enrolling in thirty credit hours during the academic year. The community colleges will use revenue generated from any increase in mandatory fees to pay for mandatory cost increases associated with compensation and benefit increases, contractual obligations, technology, and strategic initiatives, inflationary cost impacts, debt service, and potential adjustments to student fees.

Written comments from the public will be accepted through May 17 and will be made available to the Board before action on tuition is taken. Written comments may be sent to Rose Marie Owen, Executive Assistant to the Chancellor, at rmowen@vccs.edu.

MECC Professor Robert England recognized the need to develop stronger leadership skills in new and veteran law enforcement officers.

Big Stone Gap — Police officers are trained to serve in multiple roles – as law enforcement personnel, counselors, and supervisors.  However, most law enforcement training programs do not devote the time to train officers on how to serve as effective leaders within their organization and community.

 

Nearly 20 years ago, Mountain Empire Community College Professor Robert England recognized the need to develop stronger leadership skills in new and veteran law enforcement officers.  The Professional Leadership Academy was born.  Since 2005, hundreds of law enforcement officers have graduated from the academy, a year-long program that meets twice a month involving selected police and corrections personnel from throughout the region. Officers earn 16 college credits from Mountain Empire Community College by completing the leadership curriculum and a detailed administrative project.

 

“Most officers have been through field training that covers the basic leadership skills needed at work,” said England. “Our goal with the leadership academy was to develop leadership skills at a whole new level so that officers can find out about themselves, their personality, and leadership profile. There is a lot of focus on personal and professional leadership, ethics, motivation, and communication.”

 

Numerous academy graduates have attested to the positive changes they experienced after completing the program. Often, graduates have reorganized operations and changed the culture of their organization by implementing ideas gleaned from their experience. Academy participants are encouraged to examine their budgets, operation procedures, training programs, community engagement, and mentoring activities for possible improvements.

 

England noted that almost every law enforcement agency in Southwest Virginia has participated in the program, with Wise County Sherriff’s Office boasting over 40 graduates of the program.

 

“A criminal justice agency can only be as strong as its leadership,” added England. “The Academy has afforded the leaders and rising leaders from our local agencies the opportunity to truly develop as professionals. Participating in this academy helps officers develop the skills that our communities expect from their top law enforcement executives.  It is critical in these challenging times in law enforcement that we continue to develop strong leaders.”

 

England added that law enforcement is a challenging but rewarding career field. He has trained thousands of the region’s criminal justice professionals during his 18 years at MECC. He encourages students to learn more about career opportunities by contacting him. 

 

For more information regarding the Professional Leadership Academy or MECC’s Criminal Justice, Police Science, or Corrections training, contact Robert England at rengland@mecc.edu or 276-523-9084.

Mountain Empire Community College Foundation Announces Captain Russell E. Cooper Memorial Endowed Buccaneer Scholarship

Capt Russell

The Captain Russell E. Cooper Buccaneer Endowed Scholarship will benefit students from Wise County in any discipline. Students may be recent graduates or adults returning to college. “I believe Russell had great potential and didn’t get the opportunity to fulfill it.“ said Kyle Cooper. “Hopefully, this scholarship will help someone achieve theirs.” 

Russell was born on December 2, 1936, in Appalachia, Virginia. He was the third of eight children born to Floyd E. Cooper and Helen A. Cooper. In 1941 he and his family moved to Big Stone Gap, Virginia in the summer of 1941 and resided at 315 E. Third Street North near the lower entrance to Bullitt Park.

He began first grade at Big Stone Gap Elementary School in 1943 and graduated from Big Stone Gap High School in 1955. As indicated in the 1955 School Bell, Russell participated in many school activities and enjoyed interacting with his classmates while serving as president of his class, president of the key club and captain of the basketball team. He was awarded a Dupont academic scholarship to attend the University of Virginia.

Russell attended the University of Virginia in Charlottesville from 1955 to 1959 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Commerce degree on June 15, 1959. While at UVA, he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and the Corp of Cadets. He was also a member of the drill team (Monroe Rifles) and the honorary society of the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (Jefferson Sabers). His senior year he received the U.S. Army’s Superior Cadet Ribbon. On the same day he graduated from the University of Virginia, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army.

Cooper began his Army career at Fort Sill, Oklahoma as a member of the 44th Army Artillery.  He completed artillery and missile training while there and was then assigned to a missile site in the Los Angeles area. He next attended Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga. and completed his training in May of 1960.

He began training to be an Army pilot at Fort Rucker as his next assignment and after completing several flight schools (1960-1962) he was assigned to fly with the U. S. Army Parachute Team (The Golden Knights) and spent some time touring the country with them before being assigned to the 38th Artillery Brigade in Korea. Russell was promoted to the rank of Captain and was serving as an Adjutant to the Commanding General at the time of his death.

The Buccaneer Scholarship Fund was established by the Big Stone Gap Buccaneer Alumni Group more than a decade ago to honor notable Buccaneer alumni and teachers at Big Stone Gap High School. The fund, which started with one scholarship, has now grown to more than 16 individual scholarship and more than $1M in endowed funds.

For more information on establishing a scholarship at MECC, please visit the MECC Foundation website at www.meccfoundation.org or call Dr. Amy Greear, Executive Director, at 276-523-7480.

Located in Big Stone Gap, MECC is celebrating its 50th year serving students in Wise, Lee, Scott, and Dickenson Counties and the city of Norton. MECC serves over 1,300 full-time students and over 3,000 part-time or non-credit students in various academic and career-technical programs. Learn more about MECC’s program offerings at www.mecc.edu/pathways.

For more information on this scholarship, please contact the MECC Office of Public Relations at 276-523-2400.

 

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MECC Foundation to Host 47th Annual John Fox, Jr. Literary Festival: Featuring NY Times Best Selling Author Silas House

Silas House

Big Stone Gap, VA — The MECC Foundation is pleased to announce the 47th annual John Fox, Jr. Literary Festival, featuring New York Times bestselling author Silas House, Wednesday, March 15 from 10 a.m. to noon. The festival is free and open to the public.

In coordination with the festival event, the MECC Foundation will host the 36th Annual Lonesome Pine Short Story Contest and the 19th Annual Lonesome Pine Poetry Contest. The deadline for submitting entries is Tuesday, February 28 at 4:30 p.m. Entry categories include adult, high school (grades 9 through 12), and middle school (grades 5 through 8) categories. Contest rules and information about the festival is available on the MECC Foundation website at www.mecc.edu/jffestival. Winners of the contest will be announced during the Literary Festival Event. All winners will receive a cash prize.

The 47th Annual John Fox, Jr. festival will return to a live format in 2023, with a featured discussion on House’s latest novel, Lark Ascending. Following House’s presentation, the MECC Foundation will feature a special luncheon with House at the John Fox Jr. home in Big Stone Gap beginning at 12:30 p.m. Tickets for the luncheon are $30 and can be ordered by calling the MECC Foundation office at 276-523-7466. Tickets are limited, so please reserve early for this event.

Silas House is the New York Times bestselling author of eight books whose work frequently appears in The Atlantic and The New York Times. He is a former commentator for NPR and his work has been widely published in journals and magazines such as Time, The Advocate, Oxford American, Garden & Gun, and many others. He has lectured internationally and is widely regarded as one of the major writers of the American South.

House was born and grew up in Southeastern Kentucky. House’s first novel, Clay’s Quilt (2001), is now known as a foundational text for Appalachian Literature. Its two companion novels, A Parchment of Leaves (2003) and The Coal Tattoo (2005), were recently re-issued in new editions and are now known as The Appalachian Trilogy. House wrote Something’s Rising: Appalachians Fighting Mountaintop Removal (2009) with Jason Howard. House’s fourth novel, Eli the Good (2009) emerged as a number one bestseller on the Southern lists and received the first annual Storylines Prize from the New York Public Library system, an award given to a book for use in the ESL and literacy programs of New York City. Same Sun Here (2012), co-written with Neela Vaswani, has received more than a dozen awards including the Nautilus, the Parents Choice, the E.B. White Honor Book Award, and many others. In 2018 his novel Southernmost appeared on Best of the Year lists of many magazines and was given the Weatherford Award and long listed for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. House has also written three plays that have been produced throughout the country.

In 2020 House received the highest honor for an artist in the Commonwealth of Kentucky when he was given the Governor’s Award for the Arts. He has also won the Appalachian Book of the Year, the Judy Gaines Young Award, the Intellectual Freedom Prize, the Caritas Medal, three honorary doctorates, and many other honors. In 2021 he was chosen as the Appalachian of the Year by a poll conducted by the podcast Appodlachia.

House served as a writer-in-residence at Eastern Kentucky University in 2004 and 2005 and at Lincoln Memorial University from 2005 to 2010. At LMU he also directed the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival. In 2010 House became the NEH Chair in Appalachian Studies at Berea College. He has served on the fiction faculty at the Naslund Mann Graduate School of Writing since 2005. House is also an editor at the University Press of Kentucky’s Fireside Industries imprint.

His latest work, Lark Ascending, has received critical praise. As fires devastate most of the United States, Lark and his family secure a place on a refugee boat headed to Ireland, the last country not yet overrun by extremists and rumored to be accepting American refugees. But Lark is the only one to survive the trip, and once ashore, he doesn’t find the safe haven he’d hoped for. As he runs for his life, Lark finds an abandoned dog who becomes his closest companion, and then a woman in search of her lost son. Together they form a makeshift family and attempt to reach Glendalough, a place they believe will offer protection. But can any community provide the safety that they seek?

For readers of novels such as Station ElevenThe Dog Stars, and MigrationsLark Ascending is a moving and unforgettable story of friendship, family, and healing.

For more information on the MECC Foundation, please visit our website at www.meccfoundation.org

-MECC Foundation

MECC Foundation Announces MECC Promise Program

MECC Promise

Big Stone Gap — The MECC Foundation will launch the MECC Promise program, guaranteeing all high school graduates in our service region tuition-free community college beginning with the Class of 2023.

As part of MECC’s 50th-anniversary recognition, the MECC Advisory and Foundation Boards set a goal in 2022 to raise enough funding to support up to two -years of tuition coverage for high school graduates in Lee, Dickenson, Scott, Wise, and the city of Norton.
“The MECC Promise is intended to assist the students who have plans to enroll in community college post-high school, or those that go directly to employment,” said MECC President Dr. Kristen Westover. “While we need workers, SWVA needs skilled workers. Obtaining a skill set that leads to beyond entry-level employment is critical for our residents.”

In April 2022, the members of the Genan Foundation of Charlottesville, visited MECC to tour the campus and learn more about the college’s workforce initiative. MECC staff requested Genan Foundation’s support to raise educational attainment rates in southwest Virginia, which are about 20% below the state average.

In August 2022, the Genan Foundation announced a $750,000 gift to kick off the MECC Promise program, citing MECC’s commitment to building a skilled, trained workforce in the region. MECC President Kristen Westover and MECC Foundation Executive Director Amy Greear visited each local county’s Board of Supervisors and the Norton City Council to request additional support to secure program funding beyond 2023.

To qualify, students must:

  •  Maintain a 2.0 for each semester and cumulative GPA and be continuously enrolled, full-time
  • Meet Virginia in-state domicile requirements, reside in the service region, and able to provide proof of residency
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submit all required documentation by August 1 annually. (May 1 for Summer enrollment)
  • Complete the MECC Foundation Scholarship application by August 1 annually. (May 1 for Summer enrollment)
  • Enroll by the Fall semester immediately after high school graduation.

This is a last-dollar scholarship for tuition only – federal and state aid and additional scholarships will be applied first.

Located in Big Stone Gap, MECC is celebrating its 50th year serving students in Wise, Lee, Scott, and Dickenson Counties and the city of Norton. MECC serves more than 1,300 full-time students and more than 3,000 part-time or non-credit students in a variety of academic and career-technical programs. Learn more about MECC’s Promise Program at www.mecc.edu/promise.

For more information on the promise program, please contact the MECC Office of Public Relations, at 276-523-2400.

 

MECC Receives Grant for New Machining Program, Expansion of CDL Training

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College (MECC), in coordination with Komatsu and its manufacturing facility in Duffield, Virginia, will launch a new precision machining program thanks to a $419,732 grant from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.

The grant, which was announced in October 2022, will also provide for the expansion of the college’s existing Commercial Driver’s License program allowing more students to complete this high-demand credential. Both the machining and CDL training programs are housed at MECC’s Center for Workforce and Innovation of Appalachia (CWIA).

In response to industry demand and unfilled jobs in the region, Komatsu approached MECC with a need for skilled machinists at their Duffield manufacturing facility. MECC agreed to develop a precision machining program that would train students in advanced computerized design and lathe machinery. Komatsu agreed to help support the program with equipment and consumable needs.

The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission will provide funding to modify the CWIA to support the installation of machining equipment. The grant will also provide funding to upgrade a part-time CDL instructor to full-time, allowing for an additional four cohorts of students annually.

“We are appreciative of the Tobacco Commission in recognizing the need and providing the support that enables MECC to quickly meet the precision machining workforce needs of employers in our region,” said MECC President Kristen Westover. “Komatsu has been a strong partner with MECC in helping develop and support the precision machining program with equipment and supplies. We are excited to build the precision machining program that creates direct opportunities for graduates to work and live locally and earn family-sustaining income. We also recognize the need for trained CDL drivers in the region and are excited to support space in our program for additional students.”

“Partnering with MECC to develop this new program to train and educate upcoming generations honors Komatsu’s global commitment to the sustainability and future of our communities,” said Blaine Farmer, global director of operations for Komatsu. “Through educational initiatives such as this one, we hope that future interns and graduates will consider the good, family-sustaining jobs available at our Duffield, Virginia, manufacturing site. “

Located in Big Stone Gap, MECC is celebrating its 50th year serving students in Wise, Lee, Scott, and Dickenson Counties and the city of Norton. MECC serves more than 1,300 full time students, and more than 3,000 part-time or non-credit students in a variety of academic and career -technical programs. Learn more about MECC’s program offerings at www.mecc.edu/pathways.

For more information on the precision machining program, please contact the MECC Office of Public Relations, at 276-523-7480.

Dr. Emily Bowen Named Appalachian Leadership Institute Fellow

Emily BowenBig Stone Gap, VA — The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) named MECC Dental Assistant Program Director Dr. Emily Bowen to participate in the 2022-2023 class of the Appalachian Leadership Institute, a leadership and economic development training opportunity for individuals currently living and/or working in one of ARC’s 13 Appalachian states.

As part of her training, Dr. Bowen will complete a nine-month curriculum anchored by six multi-day seminars across the Appalachian region focusing on each of ARC’s strategic investment priorities, which aim to strengthen economic and community growth in Appalachia.

Dr. Bowen has made a tremendous difference in improving oral health and the overall wellbeing of residents in Southwest Virginia. In her current role as the Director of Mountain Empire Community College’s Dental Assistant Program., Dr. Bowen has developed and implemented a dental assistant curriculum, training a multitude of students who have more than a 90 percent job placement rate in their field. MECC’s program recently expanded to include an advanced DA-II training through a collaborative agreement with Germanna Community College.

She served as one of the primary organizers of the SWVA Oral Health Summit held in 2021, serves on the Lenowisco Oral Health Partnership as a Coalition Member and Planning Committee Co-Chair and serves on the University of Virginia’s Cancer Center Without Walls Community Advisory Board, working to prevent HPV. Through her efforts working with Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Dentistry, Virginia Health Catalyst, and the Virginia Dental Association, Emily has increased awareness of dental education and improving dental health in SWVA/NETN. She is an outstanding leader in her community and in her professional field.

“I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity to represent both SWVA and Mountain Empire,” said Dr. Bowen. “The ARC has a tremendous presence in our region and being able to collaborate with this organization to highlight both oral health issues and dental workforce needs in our area is exciting. I am looking forward to the improvements and positive impact we can make for the residents of Appalachia.”

ARC’s Leadership Institute focuses on skill-building seminars and best practice reviews to prepare fellows to:

· Design effective economic development project proposals

· Integrate community assets into long-term economic development strategies

· Identify resources available to spark economic and community development

· Locate and access investment capital from a variety of public and private sources

· Prepare competitive applications for public grant opportunities

· Use expanded connections and leadership skills to create strong regional partnerships

“Congratulations to the incoming 2022-2023 class of Appalachian Leadership Institute fellows! These leaders are already growing their Appalachian communities and will be even better equipped to drive positive change after their work with this program,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “I am eager to see this class of fellows collaborate across state lines to set big goals that will help the entire Appalachian region thrive.”

Appalachian Leadership Institute fellows were selected via a competitive application process to reflect the Appalachian region’s wide range of economic development challenges, opportunities, and strategies.

Upon completion of the program, Dr. Bowen will automatically become part of the Appalachian Leadership Institute Alumni Network, a peer-to-peer working group of experts helping foster collaborative solutions that will build a stronger future for Appalachia.

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MECC Hosts 51st Annual Home Craft Days Festival

hcd 2022Big Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College will host the college’s annual Home Craft Days Festival, October 21-23, featuring the unique music, crafts, food, and artistry of the Appalachian region.

The 51st Home Craft Days Festival will feature two full days of concerts, craft vendors, and demonstrations of weaving, pottery making, grist milling, wood crafting, basket weaving, broom making, quilting, tatting and more. A special free Friday night concert, with opening reception, will also be held.

Heading this year’s Friday night concert are Tommy Bledsoe, Rich Kirby, Tyler Hughes, and Todd Meade; the New River Railsplitters, and Tim O’Brien with Jan Fabricius. The concert will begin at 6:30 p.m. in MECC’s Phillips-Taylor Hall Goodloe Center. Guests are invited to join us for free Dough & Joe and Kettlecorn while supplies last from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Back Draft Bar-B-Q will also offer a paid dinner options for guests. Mountain Rose Vineyard’s wine selections will also be available as a paid beverage option.

According to festival coordinator Lee Davis, “This year’s festival should be more exciting than ever. We have several new vendors in all three areas – crafts, food, and demonstrations. The staff at MECC love seeing our community come out to enjoy the music, food, & crafts.”
Craft and food vendors will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday only. Saturday’s music schedule includes featured performers: Todd Meade and Family, Tommy & Ben, John Haywood, Empty Bottle String Band with the Center Stage Cloggers, Sarah Kate Morgan, Town Branch Bluegrass, Four State Ramblers, Scott County Boys, Whitetop Mountain Band with Center Stage Cloggers, Bill and the Belles, Square Dance with The Crooked Road Ramblers, Trinity Valley Travelers, Wise County JAM, Trevor McKenzie, Rita Quillen, Joy Branham, Hillbilly Hippies, Joy Blair, Roxanne McDaniels, Richard Hood, Rose and Vine, Danny Whited and Friends of Bluegrass, The White Brothers, and Carol Moore.

Sunday’s performers include: Rich Kirby & Nate Polly, Blue Ridge Girls, Oscar Harris, Gap Civil, Siegan, George Reynolds, Angie DeBord, Smith Family Singers, Appalachian Trail, MECC String Band, Mountain Melody School, Brandon Maggard, Richard Phillips, The Childress Girls, Travis Kern, Sulphuric Springs String Dippers, and Kelsey Rae Copeland.

MECC will also host it’s 50th Anniversary Gala, in coordination with the Home Craft Days Festival, on Saturday, October 22, at 6:30 p.m. featuring world-renowned musician and entertainer John McCutcheon. The 50th Anniversary Gala is a black-tie optional event celebrating the half-century legacy of the college. Tickets are $50 each and can be purchased at www.meccfoundation.org or by calling MECC Foundation Annual Fund Coordinator, Megan Gibson at (276) 523-9078.

Admission is FREE to all the festival events, with the exception of the 50th Anniversary Gala. MECC is located on US Route 23 just south of Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Parking and shuttles for the festival will be offered at five locations in Big Stone Gap. Shuttle rides are $1 per person, or $2 round-trip, at boarding. Locations include:
• Union High School (formerly Powell Valley High School) – Front Parking Lot
• Curbside, Wood Ave, in Front of Food City
• Curbside, Municipal Parking Lot behind Post Office/Federal Building
• Country Inn
• Comfort Inn
For more information on the event, including a detailed schedule of vendors and musicians, visit the Home Craft Days website at www.homecraftdays.org.

 

Public Notice of Upcoming Accreditation Review Visit by the ACEN

Mountain Empire Community College wishes to announce that it will host a site visit for continuing accreditation of its associate degree nursing program by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

You are invited to meet with the site visit team and share your comments about the program in person at a meeting scheduled 3:00-4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, in room 214-215 of the Phillips-Taylor Hall located at Mountain Empire Community College, 3441 Mountain Empire Rd, Big Stone Gap VA 24219.

Written comments are also welcome and should be submitted directly to: Dr. Marsal Stoll, Chief Executive Officer

Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing 3390 Peachtree Road Northeast, Suite 1400

Atlanta, GA 30326

Or email: mstoll@acenursing.org

MECC Receives Federal Grant to launch Health Information Technology Data Analytics Certificate Program

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College has received a $887,676 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), to create and deliver a career studies certificate program in Health Information Technology (HIT) Data Analytics.

The HIT Data Analytics program is designed for health professionals such as health information management (HIM) and allied health professionals to develop healthcare business data management skills through database management, change and project management strategies. Health IT Data Analyst work in hospitals, healthcare clinics, insurance companies, clinical research, consulting firms, and many other health related facilities.

The HIT data analyst program is a two-semester program, 12 credits per semester and all courses are 8 weeks in length. The program is set to begin Fall Semester 2022. The aim of this program is to provide advanced data and project management training for HIM graduates so that they may advance their careers forward and make room for entry level HIM employees to enter the HIM and HIT industry.

“We are appreciative of the resources the HRSA grant provides in supporting our offering of this new program in an in-demand, highly employable, health information management profession,” said MECC President Kristen Westover. “It allows us to create an incredible opportunity for the citizens of our region, and I encourage all who are interested to contact us.”

MECC is the only community college in Virginia to receive the HHS award, which is part of nearly $60 million federal investment to grow the healthcare workforce and increase access to quality health care in rural communities, including nearly $46 million in funding from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

The new certificate program will be led by MECC Health Information Technology Program Director and Assistant Professor Nora Blankenbecler. Blankenbecler holds a master’s degree in Business Administration specializing in healthcare administration and a graduate certificate clinical research management and is a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA). Her professional experiences include serving in organizations such as Duke University Medical Center, Cardinal Health, 3MHIS and Allscripts. Donna Owens is the program Assistant Professor, and her professional experience includes serving in organizations such as the Cleveland Clinic, Pikeville Medical Center and EPIC. Owens holds a master’s degree in Health Information Technology and Project Management.

The HRSA grant will fund faculty costs, curriculum development, and scholarships for students for a three-year period. The creation of the new career studies certificate in HIT data Analytics, and the college’s workforce training efforts in health information management, revenue cycle management and medical coding, have helped the region hire and train personnel to meet the demands of federal healthcare business reporting requirements.

The Health Information Management Program and Health Information Technology Program at MECC is committed to improving health outcomes and promoting health equity in our SWVA region. The Health Information Technology Data Analysts is currently seeking students with working experience with electronic health record data as a healthcare technologist, nurse, or HIM professionals.

For more information on the MECC Health Information Technology Data Analytics program, contact Blankenbecler at 276-523-9054 or by email at nblankenbecler@mecc.edu. Additional program information can be obtained by visiting https://www.mecc.edu/pathways/health-information-technology-analyst/.

MECC Announces Summer Semester Merit, Honor’s & President’s List

MECC announces summer semester Merit List

The following students have been named to the Mountain Empire Community College Merit List for the summer 2022 semester.  Students are eligible for the Merit List if they have at least 12 credits and a GPA of 3.2 to 3.49 during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades, and part-time students who have between 6-11 credits and a GPA of 3.2 or higher during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades.

ABINGDON: Matthew Turner and Timothy Widener.

APPALACHIA: Madison Ballard, Mason DeBoard, Dylan Grubb, Ricky Hamilton, Davis Miller, Harper Miller, Destiny Stidham, and Isabella Williams. 

BEE: Heather Owens.

BIG ROCK: Patricia McCoy.

BIG STONE GAP: Natasha Bowen, Emili Brooks, Christopher Chandler, Hannah Childress, Sophia Childress, Candace Christian, Kaylin Collins, Tamarah Davis, Jaiden Estep, Kiley Fannon, Angela Garrett, Kaylee Garrison, Preston Grimes, Chelsey Herron, Joshua Honeycutt, Kendall Lomax, Elizabeth Lovell, Jordan Mabe, Cheyenne Mitchell, Brayden Mosier, Destiny Pruitt, Hope Pruitt, Bryan Rambo, Trinity Stewart, Brennan Strong, Melinda Sullins, Mikhael Tabor, Alexis Tucker, Ashton Valdez, Jacob Villiard, and Carter Wells.

BIRCHLEAF: Jasmine Helton.

BLACKWATER: Katelyn Hobbs.

BLUEFIELD: Channing Mooney and Jonathan Tibbs.

BRISTOL: Katelin Sullivan.

CASTLEWOOD: Nathaniel Hardin, Katie Kilgore, Darla Mullins, and Mackenzie Slemp.

CEDAR BLUFF: Daniel Marney.

CHILHOWIE: Jason Shepherd.

CHURCH HILL, TN: Kevin Price.

CLINCHCO: Kristen Fleming, Kassidy Rasnick, and Kayla Taylor.   

CLINTWOOD: Julia Mcfall, Amy Mullins, Colten Mullins, Lakin Phipps, Kevin Rose, Madison Shortt, Ethan Smith, Trevor Smith, Abigail Stanley, and Savannah Zetino.

CLOSPLINT, KY: Amber Kelly.

COEBURN: Kayla Barnette, Hallie Blevins, Abbie Crutchfield, Adam Ketron, Amanda Love, Kadence Mullis, Taylor Owens, Tyler Ramos, Kayla Rose, Isaiah Sexton, Melanie Stevens, and Alexis Stidham.

DANTE: Rebecca Powers.

DRYDEN: Gavin Bledsoe, Gabriel Chester, Randy Kennedy, Kenneth Meade, Caitlyn Mitchell, Haylee Tignor, Mckenize Tyree, and Larry Yose.

DUFFIELD: Emilee Carlson, Dale Edwards, Randall Gunter, Kiarah Hamilton, Leylah Hamilton, Anna McCarthy, Preston McElyea, Oliver O’Hara, Grace Rhoton, Aaron Russell, Lindsey Seay, Kaleigh Sloan, Carson Stephens, and Sara Vincent.

EAST STONE GAP: Wesley Harris.

ELIZABETHTON, TN: Jonathan Pleasant.

EWING: Chelsea Wiggins.

FAIRMOUNT, GA: Kevin King.

FRONT ROYAL: Matthew Blacklock.

GALAX: Jeremiah Criner. 

GATE CITY: Megan Atwell, Jason Cox, Hannah Davidson, Amanda Faulkner, Anna-Grace Fraley, Madison Lane, Mariah Lane, Abigail McCully, Jonathan McDivitt, Scarlet Mcdivitt , Charles Oaks, Courtney Strong, Lauryn Thomas, and Sarah White.

HAYSI: Hunter Souleyrette, Lauren Woods, and Daniel Yates. 

HILTONS: Lydia Repko. 

JONESVILLE: Kelley Aldridge, Crystal Clawson, Alex Dean, Heriberto Donato, Billie Fleenor, Emma Fortner, Jordan Hampton, Brittany Jarnagin, Emma Morris, Michael Munsey, Madelyn Myers, Isabella Schwartz, Verda Skidmore, Jacob Stewart, Sara Thomas, Shonda Vaughn, and Chloe Willis. 

KINGSPORT, TN: Joseph Redmon and Ryan Mumpower.

MARION: Mariah Medina. 

McCLURE: Amy Thacker.

NICKELSVILLE: Amanda Compton and Corey Blodgett.

NORTON: Cameron Absher, Madison Adair, Shasta Adams, Carter Addison, Emily Campbell, David Castle, Madison Cox, Blake Hammonds, Michael Mullins, Maleeah Peters, Elizabeth Reynolds, Makayla Robinson, Jacqueline Rose, Christen Stallard, Victoria Stewart, Kylee Sturgill, and Jacey Taylor.

PENNINGTON GAP: Joshua Bishop, Parker Edgar, Lexie Fritz, Kristy Kilbourne, Cera Kimberlin, Preston McKnight, Rhett Robbins, Rebekah Tabor, Kelsie Vandergriff, Willow Wilder, and Austin Wells.   

PINEY FLATS, TN: Kayla Nichols. 

POUND: Logan Boggs, Vidhya Boggs, Drake Brock, Randall Carter, Joshua Hayes, Bethani Kiser, Ashley Moore, and Lindsey Strange.

POUNDING MILL: Brian Triplett. 

PULASKI: Kaitlin Smith.

ROSE HILL: Rachel Glass, Hunter Graham, Britney Hensley, Zander Lowe, Danton Saylor, and Shannon Saylor.

ROWE: Joseph Boyd.

ST. PAUL: Zoe Gullett and Anna Robinson.

TAZEWELL: Michelle Alley.

VANSANT: Andrea Oquinn.

WEBER CITY: Brooke-Lynn Cooper, Abbigale Hammonds, and Matthew Stewart. 

WINCHESTER: Jay Perry. 

WISE: Keely Balthis , Buffy Bell, Peyton Bennett, Nathan Carter, Angela Clark, Kenley Eisenmenger, JoAnna Hayes, Jacob Hughes, Veronica Hylton, Tyler Kegley, Emily Kirk, Grace Ludwikowski, Austin Miller, Courtney Miniard, Aaron Mullins, Melody Mullins, Waleed Pathan, Ethan Presley, Raven Rhodes, Billy Sparks, Nicole Sturgill, Brandon Turner, Ashleigh Wampler, and Stephanie Whitfield.


MECC announces summer semester Honor’s List

The following students have been named to the Mountain Empire Community College Honor’s List for the summer 2022 semester.  Students are eligible for the Honor’s List if they have at least 12 credits and a GPA of 3.5 to 3.79 during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades.

 

APPALACHIA:  Mark Thompson and Gracee Mabe.      

CLINTWOOD:  Dustin Hammons and Jonathan Isom.

COEBURN:  Jacob Greear and Sadie Hammond. 

DRYDEN:  Christopher Arnold, Tanner Begley, and Joseph Parsons.   

ST. CHARLES: Emily Webb.


MECC announces summer semester President’s List

The following students have been named to the Mountain Empire Community College President’s List for the summer 2022 semester.  Students are eligible for the President’s List if they have at least 12 credits and a GPA of 3.8 or higher during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades.

 

BIG STONE GAP: Brendan Kern, Dakota Parsons, Fallon Fox, and Michael Hughes.

CASTLEWOOD: Peyton Couch and Hunter Hicks.

CLINTWOOD: Matthew Boggs and Kelly McPeek. 

COEBURN: Kathryn Justice, Hayden Lawson, Konstance Miller, and Chloe Powers.          

DRYDEN: Haley Skidmore.

DUFFIELD: Courtney Napier.

GATE CITY: Francisco Cabrera, Isaac Quillen, Luke Reed, and Hiram Ward.       

HAYSI: Ashton Counts.

JONESVILLE: Brennon Chance.              

MARTINSVILLE: Mandy Muse..             

NORA: Troy Mullins.

NORTON: Kelsey Lawson 

PENNINGTON GAP: Keaston Bishop and Zane Eisenmenger.

ROSE HILL: Justin Pittman.

ST. PAUL: Christopher Carlos.

WISE: Alysa Crabtree, Matthew Rasnick, and Cody Thacker. 

UVA Wise and MECC Partner to Expand College Access

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise and Mountain Empire Community College) have partnered to help students bridge the gap from high school diplomas to college degrees in an effort to raise the educational attainment rate in Southwest Virginia.

A $75,000, two-year grant will fund research needed to launch new pilot programs geared for improving access for rural students to attain higher education success. This summer begins the year-long data analysis and pilot development phase. In fall 2023, the colleges will implement pilot programs.

“Our goal is to strengthen the pathways from MECC to UVA Wise and increase equity in education. The ultimate goal is to have more people in this region with degrees. We believe there are several different paths for success,” UVA Wise Provost Trisha Folds-Bennett said.

“A significant number of students from our region come to MECC as their first step toward attainment of a bachelor’s degree,” Mountain Empire Community College President Kristen Westover said. “Building on the strong foundation that the AIMS program provides, the data captured from this research will assist MECC and UVA Wise in identifying and removing barriers to success, empowering us to enhance the student experience, and ultimately increasing the success of those students in our region who desire to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.”

The grant also hopes to explore ways to improve student success in earning business and technology degrees because the job opportunities in these areas are predicted to expand exponentially in the next five to 10 years. Another focus of the project is helping address the critical shortage in nurses and teachers by making it easier for students to earn bachelor’s degrees in those areas. For some careers, an associate’s degree is the right choice but for others a bachelor’s degree is a better fit, Folds-Bennett said.

“Having more people with bachelor’s degrees will help us build a stronger workforce, attract more businesses, and encourage students to stay in the region for education and work. It will help us create an engine for economic vitality in the region,” Folds-Bennett said.

The grant hopes to address the commonwealth’s goal of reaching 70% of Virginians, ages 25 to 64, who attain an undergraduate degree.

The 2020 U.S. Census indicated that in Wise County only 15% of adults had obtained a bachelor’s degree. Only 11% of the entire region’s population holds a bachelor’s degree, according to the GO Virginia Region 1 Growth and Diversification plan released last December.

“This research will be a study of the students in this region, acknowledging that if we are going to close the education gap, we have to do it in partnership. We believe MECC is a key partner,” Folds-Bennett said. “We think both institutions will thrive through a stronger partnership and together we can meet the needs of the region even more.”

To build that collaboration, the schools are conducting in-depth data analysis on a longstanding project targeted at transitioning high school students to college graduates—the Appalachian Inter-Mountain Scholars (AIMS) Scholarship program.

“The AIMS Scholar program was a natural fit. Those students are primarily recruited to MECC with the intention of attending a four-year college, but they aren’t required to do so. This data analysis will help us address what’s working and what isn’t. We want to find out how we can bridge that gap,” Folds-Bennett said. “Both schools will be using the same metrics and measures to better understand what encourages these students to continue on to a bachelor’s degree or what doesn’t.”

Established in 2003 at, AIMS scholars are recruited as high school students who earn “C” or better grades, have 95% attendance and no out-of-school suspensions. Only students from Lee, Scott, Wise, Dickenson counties and the City of Norton high schools are eligible.

AIMS Scholars receive full tuition at MECC for up to three years, 72 credit hours, or completion of their first associate’s degree. They must maintain a 2.25 GPA or higher until degree completion. 

For those students who earn an associate degree from MECC and wish to obtain a bachelor’s degree at UVA Wise, they receive an additional three-year, full-tuition scholarship.

Leadership at both institutions are exploring ways to increase student success by sharing dual admissions and recruitment through advising staff, courses, immersive learning and campus activities. They are also working to improve access to both two-year and four-year programs offered by MECC and UVA Wise.

This summer, both colleges will start institutional research and data analysis which is expected to continue through January 2023.

This grant project will complete a thorough analysis of the success of AIMS Scholars in attaining a bachelor’s degree relative to other students (non-AIMS students) who transfer to UVA Wise from MECC. Data from 2009-2018 will be used in the project from both schools.

The analysis will include figuring out the success rate of AIMS scholars who graduate with a college degree including factors of timely graduation, maintained 2.25 GPA, and the rate at which UVA Wise students maintain full-time status after transferring from MECC.

Once the full analysis is finished, UVA Wise and MECC will develop pilot programs to build on the most successful aspects of the AIMS Scholar program to further improve every student’s success at both colleges. They will work to find new ways to propel students to finishing their degree, including the possibility of shared coursework and expedited pathways. They also will create ways to expand the program to a broader group of MECC students.

MECC, Rapha Foundation Announce $500,000 Amphitheater Investment

Rapha Foundation Gift

Pictured in photo: Dr. Amy Greear, Executive Director MECC Foundation and Mark Vanover, Executive Director of the Rapha Foundation

Big Stone Gap — The Rapha Foundation of Norton has pledged $500,000 to support a community outdoor amphitheater on the campus of Mountain Empire Community College.  

More than $2M in funding has been gifted to support the project, with the design and engineering phase of the amphitheater expected to begin this summer.
“MECC is grateful for the support of the RAPHA Foundation in bringing a needed venue to campus that will provide educational and cultural opportunities on MECC’s campus far into the future. We are excited about what the addition will provide to our campus and community,” said MECC President Kristen Westover.  

“The Rapha Foundation Board is pleased to be able to play a role in bringing this important project to reality.  A venue like this will not only provide an educational resource to MECC students, but to students and others across the coalfields.  It is our hope that this facility will play a significant role in advancing Arts education in our region,” added Rapha Foundation Executive Director Mark Vanover. 

The outdoor amphitheater project is the first major infrastructure addition to the MECC campus in more than a decade. The projected cost of the project is expected to land between $1.5M – $5M depending on the scale of additions such as public restrooms, covered seating areas, and sound and lighting equipment.  

 In 2021, the Slemp Foundation pledged $1.5M to support the project, with a request to provide a $500,000 match in additional fundraising for the project. The Rapha Foundation’s gift will fully meet the requested fundraising match and will allow project development to begin this summer.  

The Rapha Foundation gift also follows the announcement of a $50,000 grant award from Opportunity Appalachia to support engineering and design services for the outdoor amphitheater project. Opportunity Appalachia is supported by the Appalachian Regional Commission, the US Department of Treasury CDFI Fund, Truist, Goldman Sachs, and the Dogwood Health Trust. The grant will provide technical assistance to support structuring of project financing and architectural/engineering design. 

The amphitheater is expected to be constructed in the field adjoining Phillips-Taylor Hall’s Goodloe Center, with the Powell Mountain visible in the background. The college expects to hold graduation, outdoor classroom learning opportunities, Home Craft Days and Mountain Music School events, as well as partner with the Town of Big Stone Gap, Wise County, Pro-Art, the Crooked Road, the Barter Theater, and other municipal and non-profit entities to host community events at the facility. 

 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of Mountain Empire Community College (1972-2022). The MECC Foundation has set a goal to raise $2M to support scholarships, infrastructure, and unrestricted needs at the college to celebrate the college’s milestone. MECC will host a 50th anniversary gala October 22 to close the college’s year-long anniversary celebration.  

 “The amphitheater project is an incredible opportunity for MECC and our community to host large-scale learning events, festivals, and music and cultural heritage events on campus. This will be a wonderful addition to the venue offerings in Southwest Virginia, supporting economic development and community engagement in our region. We are grateful to the Rapha Foundation for their support of our college, our students, and our community,” said Dr. Amy Greear, Executive Director of the MECC Foundation. 

 The Rapha Foundation was formed in 2019 following the merger of Ballad Health and Norton Community Hospital. The Community Healthcare Foundation, which received its federal nonprofit status in 2001, became The Rapha Foundation, a registered nonprofit organization dedicated to “improving population health and access to education in Southwest Virginia.” 

 The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation supports the mission of Mountain Empire Community College by providing scholarships and funding for student success programs, professional development for faculty, and cultural programs for the community. The Foundation supports more than $800,000 in scholarships annually. For information on the college’s 50th anniversary, visit www.mecc.edu/mecc50. To give to the MECC Foundation, visit www.meccfoundation.org/give. For more information regarding scholarships or to establish a scholarship, please contact the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation at 276.523.7466 or visit www.meccfoundation.org. 

MECC announces spring semester Merit, Honor & President’s List

MECC announces spring semester Merit List

The following students have been named to the Mountain Empire Community College Merit List for the spring 2022 semester. Students are eligible for the Merit List if they have at least 12 credits and a GPA of 3.2 to 3.49 during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades, and part-time students who have between 6-11 credits and a GPA of 3.2 or higher during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades.

 

APPALACHIA: Brittany Ashley, Charlee Calhoun, Avril Givens, David Harding, Sydney Hazlewood, Preston Joyner, Davis Miller, Harper Miller, Adam Mullins, Nathaniel Mullins, Kimberly Reed, Madison Varner, and Asher Whitt.

BANDY: Joshua Hicks.

BEE: Zachary Owens.

BIG STONE GAP: Marian Anderson, April Bailey, Destiny Bellamy, Alexander Bentley, Natasha Bowen, Farrah Bunch, Willa Campbell, Cayce Chandler, Justin Clark, Kendall Conner, Koby Crist, Sharon Dickenson, Jaiden Estep, Althea Eventide, Christian Fannon, Kiley Fannon, Brett Fields, Nikki Fields, Alison Fonseca, Stephannie Franklin, Kendyll Frye, Anngel Gallihar, Angela Garrett, Zachary Hall, Michael Horner, Andrew Kilbourne, Abbie Lane, Heather Lipps, Aslyn Litton, Mitzie Lucero, Rachael Martin, Gracyn McKinney, Devin McKnight, Stephanie Milian, Brayden Mosier, Amanda Mullins, Brianna Mullins, Hannah Mullins, Kayleigh Mullins, Samantha Owens, Sean Pan, Shelby Peace, Shealin Pruitt, Bryan Rambo, Nakita Riddle, Emile Schenck, Jordan Shuler, Lucas Slagle, Brennan Strong, Kenneth Sutphin, Haley Wagner, Hailey Walker, Reuben Weitzman, and Rileigh Parsons.

BLACKWATER: Katelyn Hobbs, Kylee Honeycutt, and Teresa Maness.

BRISTOL, VA: Tyler Goad, Isaac Rice, and Laken Vicars.

CASTLEWOOD: Mackenzie Franklin, Tinley Hamilton, Roseanne Purkey, Mackenzie Slemp, and Harley Smith.

CHESTER: Marie Hilario.

CHURCH HILL, TN: Kayli Dunn, Abigail Horton, and Braylin Steele.

CLINCHCO: Brandi Baker, Amira Perrigan, and Kayla Taylor.

CLINTWOOD: Keirstyn Brooks, Emily Browning, Margaret Buchanan, Grayson Cochran, Joshua Colley, Dustin Fannon, Isaac Greear, Charles Hill, Rachel Moore, Gary Mullins, Haley Mullins, Levi Rose, Taylor Sexton, Joey Shepherd, Madison Shortt, Kaylee Steffey, Matthew Swindall, David Vance, Gloria Witt, and Casey Wright.

COEBURN: Zachary Adams, Allyson Anderson, Michelle Beavers, Lorene Carico, Eli Castle, Keriston Culbertson, Hannah Davis, Logan Hayes, Heather Hemphill, Hayden Hickman, Kaylee Jones, Jasmine Key, Andrea Kilgore, Halee Lawson, Tonya Lawson, Alexis Love, Amanda Love, Kierstien McCarty, Julie McCoy, Larissa McCoy, Ivory Mooney, Maggie Odle, Kayla Rose, Thomas Salyer, Alyssia Sensabaugh, Seriah Sensabaugh, Destiny Stover, Landon Trent, Tanner Vance, and Lauren White.

DRYDEN: Jennifer Bishop, Gavin Bledsoe, Austin Bocock, Melinda Bradburn, Avery Bryington, Mason Bryington, Lindsey Bryson, Grace Chester, Silas Crabtree, Elizabeth Cress, Ethan Dinsmore, Annabelle Fritts, Autumn Johnson, MCKinleigh Lane, Amanda Marcum, Ryan Messer, Caitlyn Mitchell, Don Moritz, Michael Pease, Courtney Ratliff, Courtnee Rome, John Satterfield, Emily Smith, April Wampler, Alexander Wilder, and Carson Willis.

DUFFIELD: Justin Austin, Bella Bascope, Chelsea Begley, Ethan Chavez, Brayden Gilliam, Madison Gunter, Nevin Haines, Leylah Hamilton, Katherine Hammonds, Titus Homenick, Magnolia Huish, Kristin Jones, Madeline Love, Adam Lyons, Faith Miles, Harley Mosley, Owen O’Hara, Matthew Rhoton, Laken Sharpe, Amanda Smith, Keira Stephens, Matthew Tippett, Tiffani Vanzant, and Sara Vincent.

DUNGANNON: Christopher Oaks.

EAST POINT, KY: Jerry Baker.

EAST STONE GAP: Sydney Maddux.

ELIZABETHTON, TN: Jonathan Pleasant.

ELKTON: Brian Breeden.

EWING: Sarah Cupp, Rachel Engle, and Chelsea Wiggins.

FT. BLACKMORE: Megan Darnell, Amanda Hayes, and Bristyn Holder.

GALAX: Kevin Hooven.

GATE CITY: Caleb Alley, Aidan Bowen, Francisco Cabrera, Connor Calhoun, Ashley Catron, Jordin Chapman, Haven Crossnoe, Taylor Cumbow, Abby Davidson, Madison Dean, Amica Dooley, Mason Elliott, Bre’ Anna Fields, Luke Fields, Abby Hensley, Charles Hicks, Carson Jenkins, Lisa Johnson, Morghan Kinkead, Madyson Large, Preslie Larkins, John Little, Abigail McCully, Keaton McDonald, Lauren Meade, Hailey Miller, Savannah Monroe, Macey Mullins, Isaac Quillen, Eva Roach, Avery Shelton, Ashley Sizemore, Brevan Spivey, Courtney Strong, Hannah Taylor, Alexis Thacker, Emily Thompson, Daniel Wells, Sarah White, Wendell White, and Kally Wood.

GORDON, KY: Billy Sparkman.

HAYSI: Brody Counts, Alexandria Perrigan, Maggie Rose, Hunter Souleyrette, Madison Yates, and Whitney Yates.

HILTONS: Carter Babb, Brady Edwards, Jacob Hartsock, Amanda Rhoton, Shyanna Strong, and Cortney Vermillion.

JENKINS, KY: Keegan Bentley.

JOHNSON CITY, TN: Austin Caudill and Amy Maine.

JONESVILLE: Latchlon Aldridge, Tyler Bales, Tanner Bennington, Patricia Bigge, Preslei Chance, Jessica Clark, Crystal Clawson, Denise Collins, Sean Cope, Tatum Cox, Heriberto Donato, Jacob Eldridge, Aaron Flinders, Dustin Goss, Jordan Hampton, Rachel Higgins, Cameron Johnson, Nicholas Kimberlin, Cara Marshall, Alexis McKnight, Brooklyn Middleton, Andy Moore, Kadden Morelock, Lucas Parsons, Brynnen Pendergraft, Ashley Shoemaker, Wanda Short, Verda Skidmore, Olivia Spears, Kayla Stapleton, Jacob Stewart, Ashley Taylor, Sarah Taylor, Shonda Vaughn, Korey Warner, Chancelor Wilder, Chloe Willis, and Jennifer Willis.

KEOKEE: Carmella Clark and Crystal Zeppa.

KINGSPORT, TN: Lauren Castle, Kady Davidson, Lauren Fountain, Melissa Greear, Aiden Hartsock, Haley James, and Ethan Scott.

LEBANON: Ashley Lynthlin.

MARTINSVILLE: Mandy Muse.

MAYKING, KY: Casey Sexton.

McCLURE: Ashley Knoskie and Logan White.

MOUNT CARMEL, TN: Maegan Salyer and Abran White.

NICKELSVILLE: Katlin Castle, Rykiela Collins, Madelyn Edwards, Alivia Gibson, Gracie Gibson, Gracin Herron, Katie Pearcy, Nicholas Price, and Kelli Riggs.

NORA: Deanne Hill and Cadence Lee.

NORTON: Hannah Addington, Lynzee Artrip, Kenna Barker, Emily Bowen, Braeden Church, Hannah Clark, Savannah Clark, Jayla Cooper, Andrew Culbertson, Brianna Gilliam, Emily Hobbs, A’Nyah Hollinger, Mamie Jenkins, Dylan Joseph, Alexander Kennedy, Dauntae Keys, Kelsey Lawson, Andrew Leonard, Makayla McCracken, Ethan Milam, Markie Miller, Shamiyeh Noel, Melissa Parker, Landon Reed, Elizabeth Reynolds, Caelen Robinette, Isaiah Simmons, Canaan Stacy-Lawson, Christen Stallard, McKenzie Tate, Jacey Taylor, Jacob Thompson, and Crystal Wagner.

PENNINGTON GAP: Elizabeth Calton, Isabella Cecil, Ethan Fields, Shyra Hensley, Thomas Hughes, Chad Jennings, Kristy Kilbourne, Cera Kimberlin, Caroline Litton, Brittany Miller, Jackie Nickodam, Lindsey Nickodam, Adam Pendergraft, Cassidy Slusher, Ian Smith, Selena Stewart, Katlyn Tomlinson, Kelsie Vandergriff, Blake Will, and Sybella Yeary.

PIKEVILLE, KY: Latisha Roberts.

POUND: Seth Boggs, Ethan Bolling, Kali Bowman, Alyssa Bryant, Ian Cantrell, Alexis Collier, Ida Conley, Melissa Freeman, Katlyn Gentry, Shelbie Gilley, Maggie Grant, Kaitlyn Hawkins, Addison Hutchison, Emily Jett, Jaida Meade, Ashley Moore, Grace Mullins, Raelyn Paytes, Bradley Phillips, Emily Powers, Bartley Reynolds, Brittany Robinette, Aaron Salyers, Morgan Shortt, Lydia Slemp, Jenna Stallard Jordan, Lindsey Strange, Alexis Sturgill, and Isabella Sturgill.

RICHMOND: Riccardo Hytower.

ROANOKE: Max Dang.

ROSE HILL: Kevin Corbin, Britney Hensley, Zander Lowe, Nathaniel Mooney, Matthew Moore, and Tanna Whitt.

RUTHER GLEN: Victor Fischer.

ST. CHARLES: Nicholas Greer.

ST. PAUL: Alexis Austin, Juanita Collins, Nathan Hollyfield, Malik Jallow, Tatum Jones, Jennifer Shepherd, John Whited, and Katelyn Owens.

VANSANT: Michael Barton.

WAYNESBORO: Jason Campbell.

WEBER CITY: Cameron Dolan, Amber Gibson, Abbigale Hammonds, William Miller, Ian Mullins, Amanda Ratliff, Alexis Rich, Zackary Salyer, Kathryn Stallard, and Ashley Stanley.

WINCHESTER: Jay Perry.

WISE: Hunter Addington, Melissa Allen, Bayleigh Allison, Esther Babatunde, Buffy Bell, Marissa Bell, Ashton Bolling, Austin Bolling, Kristie Booth, Madison Caldwell, Brady Carter, Ethan Cloud, Baylee Collins, Gavin Collins, Dasha Cooke, Kaley Crabtree, Angela Craft, Andrea Creech, Brittany Creed, Mia Cross, Abigail Dearth, Ibrahim Ehtesham, Sidney Flanary, Cameron Foster, Brooklyn Frazier, Aiden Fultz, Karli Graham, Thomas Hillman, Veronica Hylton, Jillian Jessee, Tyler Kegley, Emily Kirk, Tanner Kiser, Kaleb Lawson, Kayley Lawson, Cassandra Masters, Braeden Mullins, Crystal Mullins, Kylee Mullins, Olivia Mullins, Eavan Muncy, Brittany Nixon, Matthew Peters, Alyssa Potter, Katherine Potter, Michael Powers, Jackson Ramey, Colton Ramsey, Charles Reevesthacker, Haley Ricketts, Crystal Robinson, Alexandra Rogers, Makenzie Rutherford, Maciana Sensabaugh, Deborah Slemp, Gabriel Stafford, Riley Taylor, Tyson Tester, Destiny Troutt, Hunter Whitaker, Emilee Williams, and Kevin Yates.


MECC announces spring semester Honor’s List

The following students have been named to the Mountain Empire Community College Honor’s List for the spring 2022 semester. Students are eligible for the Honor’s List if they have at least 12 credits and a GPA of 3.5 to 3.79 during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades.

 

APPALACHIA: Rebecca Dickenson, Dylan Grubb, Jazmyine Harrell, Dakota Morelock, and Amanda Thomas.

BIG STONE GAP: Bethani Barker, Emma Duncan, Christian Ernspiker, Donnie Guerrant, Brooke Jefferson, Hallyce McCoo, Jasmine Ramey, Alexis Tucker, Michael Watkins, and Heaven Willis.

BIRCHLEAF: Jasmine Helton.

BRISTOL, TN: Joshua Blankenbecler.

BRISTOL, VA: Katelin Sullivan and Matthew Sullivan.

CASTLEWOOD: Gavin Greer and Katie Kilgore.

CLINCHCO: Haley Collins.

CLINTWOOD: Kaytlin Osborne, Ethan Smith, and Melissa Wood.

COEBURN: Brynna Campbell, Abbie Crutchfield, Colby Farmer, Isaac Lusk, Walker Meade, Konstance Miller, Brian Rittenberry, Aaron Robinson, and Savannah VanDyke.

DRYDEN: Ethan Mabe and Tavin Stanley.

DUFFIELD: Emilee Carlson, Ethan Jones, Preston McElyea, and Katlyn White.

DUNGANNON: Kayleigh Roberts.

EWING: Heather Howard.

FT. BLACKMORE: Mikal Brickey

GATE CITY: Colton Banks, Caleb Bolling, Hunter Calhoun, Riley Cox, Hannah Davidson, Ethan Dishner, Amanda Faulkner, Elizabeth Graham, Rylee Hall, Jonathan McDivitt, Emily Meade, Hailey Musick, Timothy Oakes, and Sydney Vaughn.

HAYSI: Jenna Nowlin.

JONESVILLE: Eden Benfield, Madison Ely, Jacob Harris, Keaton McDonald, Nathaniel Mikuleza, Christian Robbins, Olivia Rutherford, Holden Welch, and Blake Willis.

KEOKEE: Devan Young.

KINGSPORT, TN: Kimberly Barr.

MARION: Mariah Medina.

MT. CARMEL, TN: Ashtin Burke.

NICKELSVILLE: Sheila Bocanegra, Anastasia Brickey, and Natalie White.

NORA: Elizabeth Young.

NORTON: Nicholas Blevins, Jaden Boggs, Tanner Boggs, Zachary Campbell, Andrew Cavins, Alexia Ingle, William Maggard, Taylor Marcum, Macie Matheison, Kevin Smith, Leah Teasley, and Kiana Vanover.

PENNINGTON GAP: Dustin Anders, Brandi Bundy, Misti Collins, Parker Edgar, Zane Eisenmenger, Lexie Fritz, Sarah Johnson, Sarah Jones, Joy Laws, Peggie Laws, Justin Taylor, Austin Wells, and Elizabeth Williams.

POUND: Drake Brock, Elias Rose, Emily Stanley, Hannah White, and Savannah Yeary.

ST. CHARLES: Angela Webb..

ST. PAUL: Zoe Gullett and Garrett Whited.

VANSANT: John McClanahan.

WASHINGTON, DC: Teralynn Hulse.

WEBER CITY: Audrey Williams.

WISE: Keely Balthis, Rhiannon Barton, Jessica Brickey, Reece Elkins, Rylee Elkins, Jansen Large, Courtney Miniard, Sara Sturgill, and Ashleigh Wampler.


MECC announces spring semester President’s List

The following students have been named to the Mountain Empire Community College President’s List for the spring 2022 semester. Students are eligible for the President’s List if they have at least 12 credits and a GPA of 3.8 or higher during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades.

 

APO, AE: Sydnee Stanley.

APPALACHIA: Ethan Bowman, Thomas Collins, and Ricky Hamilton.

BEN HUR:Jaelyn Hall.

BIG STONE GAP: Sarah Barnette, Miranda Blair, Emili Brooks, Emily Cothron, William Couch, Megan Fleenor, Fallon Fox, Jacob Gordon, Courtney Honeycutt, Brandon Kelly, Elizabeth Kinser, Aleah Litton, Keerston Lovell, Cheyenne Mitchell, Aaron Mullins, Jacob Mullins, Tina Pan, Abigail Phipps, Alex Richardson, Jessica Storie, and Rose Weitzman.

BLOUNTVILLE, TN: Victoria Howard.

CASTLEWOOD: Shakaela Ball, Nathaniel Hardin, Darla Mullins, and Taylor Perry.

CLINTWOOD: Isaiah Blansett, Hannah Dotson, Johnny Fletcher, Jonathan Isom, Olivia Lambert, Leah Newberry, Lorin Phipps, Ashley Ramey, Kevin Rose, Trevor Smith, Abigail Stanley, Addison Vanover, and Savannah Zetino.

COEBURN: Tiffany Adams, Andromeda Barnette, Alexander Bentley, Joshua Crabtree, Sadie Hammond, Kathryn Justice, Kaci Lawson, Tyler Ramos, Nicolby Rose, Savannah Stanley, Zachary Stanley, and Alexis Stidham.

DANTE: Taylor Crabtree and Anthony Kiser.

DRYDEN: Christopher Arnold, Gabriel Chester, Matthew Meade, Ira Middleton, Cameron Moore, Corey Moore, Haley Skidmore, and Tori Travis.

DUFFIELD: Jacob Crouse, Colby Dillon, Molly Dockery, Christen Edmonds, Derek Edmonds, Randall Gunter, Anna McCarthy, Oliver O’Hara, Lindsey Seay, Alyssa Sowerby, and Kennedy Taylor.

DUNGANNON: Jacob Dooley.

EAST STONE GAP: Noa Godsey and Haley Zirkle.

ERMINE, KY: Grace Campbell.

FT. BLACKMORE: Kimberly Babb, Kolton Helms, and John Lane.

FREDERICKSBURG: Keagan Jessee.

FRONT ROYAL: Matthew Blacklock.

GATE CITY: Preston Babb, Cheyenne Bowey, Brittney Claybaker, Logan Davidson, Victoria Fansler, Morgan Flanary, Ethan Fleming, Anna-Grace Fraley, Kennedy Garrett, Adyson Gibson, Abbie Griffis, Jaden Hagy, Riley Houseright, Christina Hurd, Noah Johnson, Aden Lane, Evan Lane, Mariah Lane, Scarlet Mcdivitt, Ryland Mullins, Jack Pierson, Kierra Ramsey, Amber Roberts, Seth Smith, and Luke Stokes.

HAYSI: Jordan Jones, Hailey Sutherland, Lauren Woods, and Daniel Yates.

HILTONS: Isabel Sallee and Cole Speaks.

JONESVILLE: Ryan Bales, Kamrin Bishop, Kaden Broadhuhn, Rylee Cox, Alex Dean, Tanner Fee, Trevor Fee, Emma Fortner, Jonah Hilton, Grayson Huff, Jacqueline Hurd, Brittany Jarnagin, Emma Morris, Michael Munsey, Madelyn Myers, Lane Newman, Jacob Scott, and Emily Vaughn.

KINGSPORT, TN: Kaylynn Baker, Kelly Carrier, Brendan Cassidy, Alexis Ervin, Jacob Hartgrove, Courtney Rupert, and Madeline Smith.

NICKELSVILLE: Jared Helbert, Daniel Mann, Aaron Shelton, and Hunter White.

NORTON: Shasta Adams, Carter Addison, Lucas Addison, Jaymen Buchanan, David Castle, Madison Cox, Robert Emershaw, Karly Hamilton, Clay Hart, Alyssa Hurley, Breanna Motz, Maleeah Peters, Nathaniel Ramey, Sareena Sergent, Garrison Sheppard, Isaiah Sturgill, Carly Tomko, and Haley Williams.

PENNINGTON GAP: Dylan Fannon, Tyler Fannon, Stacey Lundy, Michael Martin, Abigail Middleton, Emily Parks, Curtis Reece, and Rebekah Tabor.

POUND: Bryson Boggs, Vidhya Boggs, Chase Brock, Tiffany Combs, Elijah Cox, Ridley Elkins, Ashley Meade, Elijah Mills, Emilee Mullins, and Qing Yang.

ROSE HILL: Tristan Cline and Hunter Graham.

ST. CHARLES: Emily Webb.

ST. PAUL: Aaron Duty, Taylor Edwards, Ciara Hollyfield, Svetlana Kulik, and Anna Robinson.

VANSANT: Kylie Bostic.

WEBER CITY: Jordan Mullins, Kevin Ni, and Adam Stapleton.

WISE: Brianna Aldridge, Colton Arney, Dennis Asbury, Emma Baker, Ethan Barker, Zoey Barker, Noah Bolling, Mackenzie Carter, Angela Clark, Gabriella Collins, Abigail Crabtree, Casey Dotson, Emily Duff, Kenley Eisenmenger, Jackson England, Brandon Freeman, Jacob Freeman, Angela Gorman, Greggory Grigsby, Emily Hall, Katherine Hopkins, Dennis Hunley, Graham Kennedy, Sebastian Massie, Logan Mullins, Melody Mullins, Cindy Powers, Peyton Rogers, Cameron Sergent, Billy Sparks, Montana Stafford, Ashton Steadman, Noah Stevenson, Jillian Sturgill, Nicole Sturgill, Noah Sturgill, Brandon Turner, Logan Williams, and Sean Woods

State Board for Community Colleges may Consider 2022-23 Tuition and Fees at July Meeting

In accordance with Section 23.1-307 (D) of the Code of Virginia, the State Board for Community Colleges provides notice that it may consider tuition and mandatory fee increases for Virginia’s Community Colleges, effective fall 2022, at 9 a.m. on July 21, 2022, at the Virginia Community College System, System Office, 300 Arboretum Place, Richmond, VA 23236.

The State Board may consider mandatory tuition and fee increases of between 0 percent and 4.0 percent for all undergraduate students, subject to budget provisions of the 2022 General Assembly special session. The maximum potential increase equates to a base tuition rate of $160.15 per credit-hour for in-state students and would result in a net annual increase of $184.50 for a student enrolling in thirty credit-hours during the academic year. The community colleges will use revenue generated from any increase in mandatory fees to pay for mandatory cost increases associated with compensation and benefit increases, contractual obligations, technology and strategic initiatives, inflationary cost impacts, debt service, and potential adjustments to student fees.

Written comments from the public will be accepted through July 20 and will be made available to the Board before action on tuition is taken. Written comments may be sent to Rose Marie Owen, Executive Assistant to the Chancellor, at rmowen@vccs.edu, or they may be mailed to the attention of Rose Marie Owen at:

Office of the Chancellor

Virginia Community College System

300 Arboretum Parkway

Richmond, Virginia 23236.

MECC to Offer Summer Teacher Institute

STEM PathwaysBig Stone Gap — MECC will offer a continuing education course for area teachers in STEM Career Education this summer. EDU 295 will be held July 18-21 as an in-person course and is available at no cost to all regional educators. The course provides an understanding of STEM pathways in career education, through an exploration of careers in business and information technology, health sciences, industrial technology, and workforce/early education. Registration is limited to 30 applicants. For more information, or to register, please contact Matthew Rose, Dean of Industrial Technologies, at (276)523-7431 or by email at mwrose@mecc.edu.

MECC to Host FREE 50th Anniversary Community Concert Featuring Darrell Scott’s Electrifying Trio & If Birds Could Fly

Big Stone Gap — Mountain Empire Community College, in partnership with VFP of Duffield and the Town of Big Stone Gap, will host a free 50th Anniversary Community Concert featuring Grammy©-nominated, multi-instrumentalist and Singer-Songwriter Darrell Scott and the Darrell Scott Electrifying Trio, with local favorites If Birds Could Fly on Saturday, May 14 on the college’s campus.

This special free community event will celebrate MECC’s 50th year of serving the region. Students, alumni, faculty, staff, retirees, and the public are invited to attend. Food and beverage vendors will be on site, along with a beer garden provided by the Town of Big Stone Gap. VFP of Duffield, a communications shelter manufacturer in the Southwest Virginia region, is the major sponsor for this event. The event will begin under the tent on MECC’s campus at 6 p.m., with If Birds Could Fly scheduled to perform at 7 p.m., followed by Darrell Scott at 8 p.m.

For almost half a century, Mountain Empire Community College has served as the primary career training center for residents of Wise, Lee, Scott, and Dickenson County and the City of Norton. Thousands of students have furthered their education and skillsets to provide a better life for their family and community by earning credentials at MECC. 

From humble beginnings, MECC first opened in 1972. Today, more than 1,300 students are enrolled full-time, and more than 3,000 students are enrolled part-time at MECC. The Big Stone Gap campus has expanded to include five buildings accommodating more than 100 academic programs of study in traditional classroom formats, as well as online and hybrid offerings. In 2019, MECC opened the Center for Workforce and Innovation of Appalachia (CWIA) in Appalachia to house its power lineman, commercial driving license, smart farming, advanced manufacturing, and dental assisting programs.

MECC is celebrating its 50th anniversary October 2021 – December 2022. Activities and events are planned throughout the year. Additional scheduled events include the 50th Anniversary Gala October 22, 2022, featuring John McCutcheon. The MECC Foundation, which exists to support the mission of the college, has set a goal to raise $2M to support scholarships, infrastructure improvements, and other needs to commemorate this special anniversary. In lieu of ticket sales for the concert event, the MECC Foundation encourages donations to its 50th Anniversary Fund to support scholarships, infrastructure development, and unrestricted needs at www.meccfoundation.org/give.

Founded in 1965 VFP Inc. develops customized enclosure solutions for protecting critical communication components that can withstand a wide range of environmental and physical extremes. The company’s products include concrete and metal shelters.  VFP is an employee-owned company with over 200 employee owners.

DS Electrifying Trio Floyd StageAward winning and successful touring Nashville songwriter, the multi-talented Scott brings a brand-new trio. Darrell’s best-known songs include “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive”, “It’s A Great Day To Be Alive” and “Long Time Gone” – all hits familiar to music fans. Besides touring solo and with his bands for more than 25 years, Scott has opened and been a member of Zac Brown Band and Robert Plant’s Band Of Joy. It’s not unusual for Darrell to plug in, but he’s never had a band devoted to playing his music in this way. This newly formed trio consists of Bryn Davies on bass and Jeff Sipe on drums. Bryn is a talented bassist and long time collaborator with Darrell. She has also toured with Peter Rowan, Tony Rice, and Guy Clark. Jeff Sipe brings a new and exciting interpretation to Darrell’s music. Sipe, who lives in Brevard North Carolina is known to many as a founding member of Aquarium Rescue Unit and has toured with Jimmy Herring, Warren Haynes and Trey Anastasio.

 

If Birds Could FlyIf Birds Could Fly is a band for people that like real country music. They are not a product of the over produced contemporary country scene. Instead, they represent the kind of soul-driven authentic country music that drives a genre. The lead vocals, provided by Brittany Carter, are in a class all of their own. Their music presents a mixture of classic country sounds and top-of-the-class female lead vocals. 

Approximately 600 covered seats will be available for this event. Attendees may also bring lawn chairs if preferred. Attendees are restricted from bringing food and drink to the venue. No firearms are allowed on campus.

For more information on MECC’s 50th anniversary, please visit www.mecc.edu/mecc50.

-MECC-

State Board for Community Colleges to Consider 2022-23 Tuition and Fees at May Meeting

In accordance with Section 23.1-307 (D) of the Code of Virginia, the State Board for Community Colleges provides notice that it will consider tuition and mandatory fee increases for Virginia’s Community Colleges, effective fall 2022, at 9 a.m. on May 19, 2022, at the Virginia Community College System, System Office, 300 Arboretum Place, Richmond, VA 23236.

The State Board will consider mandatory tuition and feeincreases of between 0 percent and 4.0 percent for all undergraduate students, subject to budget provisions of the 2022General Assembly special session. The maximum potential increase equates to a base tuition rate of $160.15 per credit-hour for in-state students and would result in a net annual increase of$184.50 for a student enrolling in thirty credit-hours during the academic year. The community colleges will use revenue generated from any increase in mandatory fees to pay formandatory cost increases associated with compensation and benefit increases, contractual obligations, technology and strategic initiatives, inflationary cost impacts, debt service, and potential adjustments to student fees.

Written comments from the public will be accepted through May 18 and will be made available to the Board before action on tuition is taken. Written comments may be sent to Rose Marie Owen, Executive Assistant to the Chancellor, at rmowen@vccs.edu, or they may be mailed to the attention of Rose Marie Owen at:

Office of the Chancellor

Virginia Community College System

300 Arboretum Parkway

Richmond, Virginia 23236.

 

 

MECC Student Fallon Fox Earns Top Score, National Scholarship

Fallon FoxBig Stone Gap — Mountain Empire Community College is proud to announce that student Fallon Fox has been named the 2022 New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar for Virginia. Fallon was the top scoring student in the All-USA Academic Team Competition for the Commonwealth.

This special award, which includes a $1,250 scholarship is sponsored by the Coca-Cola Foundation through Phi Theta Kappa, is given to one student in each state. Fallon, of Big Stone Gap, is currently enrolled in Medical Office Coding in Procedures program at MECC and has plans to pursue an Administrative Technology Associate degree.  She is a member of MECC’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and served as a member of the college’s All-Virginia Academic Team.

Fallon is a first-generation college student, who has overcome several obstacles during her life to reach her educational and career goals, including homelessness, addiction, and a learning disability. She is involved in MECC’s Great Expectations program, which serves students who are involved in Virginia’s foster care system. Fallon was named the 2022 Great Expectations Student Leader and was honored to receive the Virginia Foundation for Community College’s Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship.

“I have not had it easy, and you could say that I was dealt a ‘bad hand,” said Fallon. “But I have taken my past and tried to change my life in more positive ways … I’m trying to change for the better.”

“We are so proud of Fallon and her amazing accomplishments. She is an incredible example of resiliency and sets an example for all students that you can achieve much with the right attitude and support,” said MECC President Kristen Westover.

The 2022 New Century Workforce Pathway Scholarship is the first of its kind to support students at associate degree-granting institutions on a national scale as they plan to enter the workforce upon the completion of a degree or certificate. New Century Workforce Scholars are selected based on their academic accomplishments, leadership, activities, and how they extend their intellectual talents beyond the classroom. Over 2,200 students were nominated from more than 1,200 college campuses across the country. Only one New Century Workforce Scholar was selected from each state.

“We congratulate Fallon for receiving this prestigious scholarship, and we are honored to partner with The Coca-Cola Foundation to recognize her outstanding achievements,” said Phi Theta Kappa’s President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner. “Scholarship programs like this are integral for creating opportunities for students to succeed as they prepare to enter the workforce and for putting college completion within reach.”

The Coca-Cola Foundation is the global philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company. Since its inception in 1984, the Foundation has awarded more than $1 billion in grants to support sustainable community initiatives around the world. Phi Theta Kappa is the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree-granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. The Society is made up of more than 3.8 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 11 countries, with approximately 240,000 active members in the nation’s colleges.

Mountain Empire Community College is a two-year public college serving Wise, Lee, Scott, and Dickenson County as well as the city of Norton. For more information on MECC’s programs, or student organizations, visit www.mecc.edu or call (276) 523-2400.

-MECC-

 

MECC To Host 17th Annual Mountain Music School

MMSC 2022Big Stone Gap, VA – MECC is now seeking applications for the 17th Annual Mountain Music School to be held July 25-29 at MECC’s Center for Workforce and Innovation of Appalachia.

MECC’s Mountain Music School is a week-long event dedicated to the preservation and continuation of Appalachian music and culture. Students from age 10 and up learn to play an instrument of their choice, including beginning and advanced options in “old-time” fiddle, claw-hammer banjo, autoharp, guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, and doghouse bass. In addition, a string-band class for intermediate/advanced musicians is offered for students who want to expand their skills in a group setting. A special course in building and playing a ukulele will also be offered.  Instruments are available to loan during the week.

The cost to attend is $150 for the week for ages 18 and up and $25 for students under 18. The cost includes instruction and meals each day. Students under 18 are encouraged to apply for scholarships. To register and to apply for a scholarship, visit www.mountainmusicschool.org.

For more information about MECC’s Mountain Music School visit the Mountain Music School website at www.mountainmusicschool.org or call 276.523.7479.

 

MECC Foundation To Host Annual Scott County Scholarship Fundraiser

SisterSadieHiltons, VA – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation will host Grammy-nominated, 2021 International Bluegrass Music Association’s Vocal Group of the Year and Grand Ole Opry Stars, Sister Sadie, for the 2022 Diamonds and Denim Event.

Diamonds and Denim will be held Saturday, April 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the beautiful Crooked River Farm in Hiltons, Virginia. Originally scheduled for August of 2021, the event was cancelled due to COVID-19. All paid tickets from the August event will be honored in full.

Now in its third year, Diamonds and Denim has raised more than $100,000 to benefit the Scott County Endowed Scholarship at Mountain Empire Community College. This year’s event will feature a dinner reception, locally sourced wine, beer and refreshments, a silent auction and entertainment.

More than 70 percent of all students in Scott County that choose to attend college in Virginia, attend MECC. The scholarship will provide opportunities for those students to reach their educational and career goals while lessening the financial burden of families.

This award-winning group originally formed after playing a sold-out show in 2012 at the legendary Station Inn, located in Nashville, Tennessee. In the group’s nine years as a band, they have gained many accolades. In 2018, their sophomore album “Sister Sadie – II” debuted at #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass Charts and was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Bluegrass Album category in 2019. In March of 2019, they made their debut on the Grand Ole Opry and have been regular guests on the world-famous stage since. Sister Sadie became the first all-female group to be awarded Vocal Group of the Year at the 2019 IBMA Awards. In 2020, they repeated that award plus took home the Entertainer of the Year Award. The band is also featured in the “American Currents: State of the Music” exhibition through March 2022 at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. Most recently, the band took home, for the third consecutive year, Vocal Group of the Year at the 2021 IBMA Awards show in Raleigh, North Carolina. Sister Sadie is made up of world-renowned musicians and singers – Gena Britt on banjo, Deanie Richardson on fiddle, Hasee Ciaccio on acoustic bass, Jaelee Roberts on guitar, and Mary Meyer on mandolin.

Tickets are $75 per person and $150 per couple. Tickets can be purchased at www.meccfoundation.org/scevent, at the Scott County Farm Bureau office at 378 W Jackson St, Gate City, VA 24251.

For more information on the Scott County Endowed Scholarship or to donate to this fund, call the MECC Foundation office at 276.523.7480 or visit www.meccfoundation.org.

 

Big prizes and golfing fun on tap at Auto World – MECC Golf Classic on June 3rd to provide scholarships at MECC

Big Stone Gap — One lucky golfer will go home with a $500 cash prize, and other great prizes will be awarded at the Auto World – MECC Golf Classic on Friday, June 3, at Lonesome Pine Country Club with proceeds benefitting the scholarship program at Mountain Empire Community College.

All players hitting a hole-in-one on Hole #10 will win a 2022 Jeep Renegade sponsored by Auto World of Big Stone Gap. There is also a prize of $1,000 for hitting to within 12 inches of the pin on Hole #10. If more than one player accomplishes this feat, the prize money will be divided among the winners.

Registration will begin at 8 a.m., with a shotgun start at 9:15 a.m. The tournament will be a Captain’s Choice Scramble and will feature two flights and two places. There will be “most accurate drive” and “closest to the pin” prizes.

The entry fee of $100 per person includes a continental breakfast, golf shirt, cart and green fees, luncheon, goodie bag of snacks, most accurate drive and closest to the pin contests, and entry into the drawing for the $500 cash prize to be given away at the end of the tournament. Golfers must be present to win the cash prize.

A barbeque lunch will be served following the tournament. During that time, golfers may bid on unique and interesting items including art, sports memorabilia, and spa packages during the live auction. There will also be a silent auction which will begin during the breakfast and continue throughout the event.

Tournament Sponsorship is available at four levels – Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum for financial support in the amounts of $500, $1,000, and $2,500, and $5,000 and above respectively. All tournament sponsors will receive a complimentary team(s) and will be recognized during the tournament welcome and in the printed materials for the tournament.

Registrations may be faxed to 276-523-7485, e-mailed to Megan Gibson at mgibson@mecc.edu, or completed by phone at 276-523-2400, extension 647466.

Individuals or businesses who would like to sponsor the tournament, provide an item for the auction, or receive more information may contact Megan Gibson, Tournament Coordinator, by telephone or e-mail as indicated in the previous paragraph.

-MECC Foundation-

MECC Announces $1.5M Slemp Foundation Gift for Outdoor Amphitheater

Big Stone Gap — The C. Bascom Slemp Foundation will provide a $1.5M gift to construct a 1000-seat outdoor amphitheater on the campus of Mountain Empire Community College for campus and community events.

The gift comes as the MECC Foundation launches a campaign to raise $2M as part of the college’s 50th anniversary. Fundraising will support three priorities as defined by the MECC Foundation – scholarships, infrastructure needs, and unrestricted giving. The college commemorated the 50th anniversary of its groundbreaking with a community picnic held on Friday, October 1, 2021. Additional events, including a community concert featuring country artist Darrell Scott and local band If Birds Could Fly is scheduled for Saturday, May 14, 2022 and a 50th Anniversary Gala on Saturday, October 15, 2022.

“MECC is appreciative of the Slemp Foundation’s generous gift honoring our 50th anniversary as well as their investment in providing an amazing outdoor venue for student and community cultural opportunities on MECC’s campus,” said MECC President Kristen Westover.

The outdoor amphitheater project is the first major infrastructure addition to the MECC campus in more than a decade and has been included in the college’s Master Facilities Plan for many years. The projected cost of the project is expected to land between $1.5M – $5M depending on the scale of additions such as public restrooms, covered seating areas, and sound and lighting equipment. The Slemp Foundation has requested a $500,000 match in additional fundraising for the project.

The amphitheater is expected to be constructed in the field adjoining Phillips-Taylor Hall’s Goodloe Center, with the Powell Mountain visible in the background. The college expects to hold graduation, outdoor classroom learning opportunities, Home Craft Days and Mountain Music School events, as well as partner with Pro-Art, the Crooked Road, the Barter Theater, and other municipal and non-profit entities to host community events at the facility.

“The Slemp Foundation is pleased to be able to participate in this project and value the long-term impact that it will have in these communities,” said Nancey Edmonds Smith, Co-Trustee.

When Mountain Empire Community College was established fifty years ago, Virginia Community College Chancellor Dana Hamel proclaimed, ‘It’s a Great Day to be alive in the Commonwealth’ and the late Big Stone Gap native Governor Linwood Holton claimed ‘It’s Opportunity Time.’ The late Governor Holton and Chancellor Hamel were correct 50 years ago … and today. In this 50th anniversary year, and beyond, we can make every day a Great Day and Opportunity Time at Mountain Empire Community College,” said MECC Foundation Chair Mark Musick.

“This is an incredible opportunity for not only the college but our community to host large-scale learning events, festivals, and music and cultural heritage events on campus. This will be a wonderful addition to the venue offerings in Southwest Virginia, supporting economic development and community engagement in our region. We are grateful to the Slemp Foundation for their continued support of MECC, our students, and our entire community,” said Dr. Amy Greear, Executive Director of the MECC Foundation.

The Slemp Foundation is a private foundation established through the will of the late Campbell Bascom Slemp, U.S. Congressman from Virginia. The Slemp Foundation has awarded over $34 million in scholarships, pledges and charitable grants since its inception in 1946. With the growth of this Foundation, virtually every aspect of life in Lee and Wise Counties has been influenced.

The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation supports the mission of Mountain Empire Community College by providing scholarships and funding for student success programs, professional development for faculty, and cultural programs for the community. The Foundation supports more than $800,000 in scholarships annually. For information on the college’s 50th anniversary, visit www.mecc.edu/mecc50. To give to the MECC Foundation, visit www.meccfoundation.org/give. For more information regarding scholarships or to establish a scholarship, please contact the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation at 276.523.7466 or visit www.meccfoundation.org.

MECC Foundation Announces Robert and Dorothy S. Isaac Scholarship

Bob and Dorothy IsaacThe MECC Foundation has opened a new scholarship in memory of longtime MECC Foundation and MECC Advisory Board Member Bob Isaac. Isaac passed away August 14, 2021.  

Bob Isaac was one of Mountain Empire Community College’s strongest supporters for over three decades. He was elected to the MECC Foundation Board of Directors in 1982 and served on the board continuously since that time. He was named an Emeritus Board Member in July 2021. From 1991 to 1993, and from 1996 to 2006, he served as board Chair. Because of his long and distinguished history of service to MECC, Bob received the Virginia Community College System’s Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy and was named as the 2007 MECC Hall of Honor Recipient.  

The son of Dave and Julia Tamer Isaac, Bob grew up in Appalachia and graduated from Appalachia High School in 1950 and later graduated with a degree in Business Administration from Virginia Tech. He then served two years in the Air Force as a Finance Officer at Otis Air Force Base, Falmouth Mass. and was discharged from the Reserves as a Captain. 

In June 1958 he married Dorothy Skorupa Isaac and remained happily married 63 years until his death. Bob and Dorothy had three children, Kimberly Isaac DeHart, Robert Isaac Jr., and Michael Kevin Isaac, along with eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. They lived to Norton and owned and operated Dave’s Department Store from 1959 until 1994 and had a store in Coeburn from 1979 until 1984. 

After his retirement, his new job for more than two decades was a volunteer at the Southwest Virginia Cancer Center, a day he looked forward to and did whatever he could do whether it be a warm blanket, push a wheelchair, obtain food for chemo patients from all local eateries or just a chat or smile to the patients. Bob served on a number of local boards and initiatives. His volunteer spirit was endless.  

Following Bob’s death, Dorothy Isaac established the Robert and Dorothy S. Isaac Scholarship at Mountain Empire Community College. Individuals may donate to the scholarship at www.meccfoundation.org/give or by sending a check to the MECC Foundation, Attn: Bob and Dorothy Isaac Scholarship, 3441 Mountain Empire Road, Big Stone Gap, VA, 24219.  

MECC would like to announce our upcoming Home Craft Days Festival, October 15-17, and new and special offerings for this year’s 50th Anniversary festival!

HD 2021 Header LogoMECC would like to announce our upcoming Home Craft Days Festival, October 15-17, and new and special offerings for this year’s 50th Anniversary festival!

The college has worked with the Lenowisco Health District to implement safety precautions for COVID-19. Masks will be required for this event both in indoor and outdoor settings with the exception of eating areas. Our regular dining tent in the food court area has been modified to separate tables spaced throughout the campus for families to eat and socially distance. Masks will be required on shuttles, no exception.

The Home Craft Days annual Friday night reception and Saturday morning Donor Recognition Breakfast has also been modified due to COVID-19 concerns.

The annual donor breakfast has been cancelled due to the inability to host the early morning event in an outdoor setting. However, the Friday night reception will be held, with food vending to be offered outdoors.

MECC will host Dough and Joe of Big Stone Gap and Mr. Kettle Corn of Wirtz in the field adjacent to the Goodloe Center. Free popcorn, donuts, and coffee drinks will be provided from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. In addition, Backdraft BBQ of Gate City will also be on site, as a dinner option for paying customers. Please join us Friday night for music from the McLain family, the Blue Ridge Girls, and more, beginning at 6 p.m. All attendees are invited to enjoy free coffee, donuts, and popcorn in our outdoor seating areas. Masks will be required in the Goodloe Center during the concert. The concert schedule is below.

For the first time ever, MECC is partnering with the Trail of the Lonesome Pine Drama to offer two free, special performances of the Trail of the Lonesome Pine Outdoor Drama on Saturday, October 16 at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. at the June Tolliver Playhouse in Big Stone Gap. A shuttle will be available from the college to the June Tolliver Playhouse on Saturday, all day. We hope patrons will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity!

HCD campus mapFestival vending will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On campus parking is limited (see parking diagram below) and attendees are encouraged to use the free shuttle service at the following locations:

  • Union High School — front parking lot
  • Curbside Wood Ave — in front of Food City
  • Curbside Municipal Parking Lot — behind Post Office/Federal Building
  • Country Inn
  • Quality Inn

We hope to see you next weekend at this very special 50th anniversary Home Craft Days festival! For more information, please visit www.homecraftdays.org.

MECC is making a few changes to our Home Craft Days annual Friday night reception and Saturday morning Donor Recognition Breakfast in light of COVID-19 concerns.

MECC is making a few changes to our Home Craft Days annual Friday night reception and Saturday morning Donor Recognition Breakfast in light of COVID-19 concerns. The annual donor breakfast has been cancelled due to COVID 19 spread and the inability to host the early morning event outdoors. However, the Friday night reception will be held with food vending to be offered outdoors. MECC will host Dough and Joe of Big Stone Gap and Mr. Kettle Corn of Wirtz in the field adjacent to the Goodloe Center. Free popcorn, donuts, and coffee drinks will be provided from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. In addition, Backdraft BBQ will also be onsite, as a dinner option for paying customers. Please join us Friday night for music from the McLain family, the Blue Ridge Girls, and more beginning at 6 p.m. All attendees are invited to enjoy free coffee, donuts, and popcorn in our outdoor seating areas. Masks will be required in the Goodloe Center during the concert.

MECC Foundation Announces Scholarship Honoring Roger Daugherty

thumbnail_Roger Daugherty photoBig Stone Gap — Roger Daugherty, a longtime MECC Foundation Board member and the originator of the Buccaneer Scholarship Fund, has been named the MECC 2021 Hall of Honor Recipient.

For the second year, MECC’s Annual Hall of Honor Gala was cancelled due to concerns of COVID-19 spread in the region. However, Daugherty is being honored with the establishment of a scholarship in his name, celebrating all that Roger has done to further education for students in southwestern Virginia through Buccaneer Scholarships.

The Roger Daugherty Hall of Honor Buccaneer Scholarship will benefit Union, and former Powell Valley, Appalachia, or East Stone Gap High School graduates that attend MECC. Roger’s portrait will hang in the Hall of Honor located in the Slemp Commons of Phillips-Taylor Hall on MECC’s campus. 

“Roger Daugherty is to be commended for his tireless work to promote scholarships for MECC students,” said MECC Foundation Executive Director Amy Greear “Although he no longer resides in Big Stone Gap, Roger has never forgotten his roots. He is dedicated to creating educational opportunities for students in our region and has created a legacy that will remove barriers to obtaining a college degree for MECC students for years to come.”

 Roger graduated in 1956 from Big Stone Gap High School, where the mascot was a Buccaneer. He helped create and fund Buccaneer Scholarships through the multi-class reunion held each June. Roger spearheaded the effort and assembled a Scholarship Committee, which has administered the program since 2003. Due to the generosity of Buccaneers, enough funds were raised to award three scholarships the first year.

From those humble beginnings, the Buccaneer Scholarship endowment at MECC has grown to more than $800,000 and more than $600,000 in additional estate pledges. With the new scholarship in Roger’s honor, the total number of Buccaneer Scholarships will be sixteen. Approximately 120 students have been awarded a Buccaneer Scholarship since it inception.

The Foundation deeply appreciates Roger’s vision and passion for the Buccaneer Scholarship program, his heart for students and providing for their education, his exemplary work ethic, and his ability to arouse enthusiasm among his peers. Roger is as passionate about the Buccaneer Scholarship program today as he was in 2003.

To donate to the Roger Daugherty Hall of Honor Buccaneer Scholarship, please visit www.meccfoundation.org/give or send a check to MECC Foundation, 3441 Mountain Empire Road, Big Stone Gap, Virginia 24219. For information on making an electronic bank debit, please contact the Foundation office at 276-523-7466.

MECC Kicks Off 50th Anniversary Celebration

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College will kick off its 50th anniversary celebration on Friday, October 1 with a picnic commemorating the initial groundbreaking of the Big Stone Gap campus.

 The picnic, to be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Phillips Taylor Hall’s Goodloe Center, will feature a special video highlighting the college’s 50 years, along with guest speakers, games, and activities for all. Food will be catered by Pratt’s BBQ. The event is free and masks are required in indoor and outdoor spaces.

 “We are excited to honor the contributions and sacrifices of those who came before us and paved the way for MECC’s current and future success, and I am grateful and honored to be in a position, along with our incredible MECC Family, to recognize their contributions and lead MECC in the continuation of our transformative mission for years to come,” said MECC President Kristen Westover.

MECC’s 50th anniversary activities will continue October 2021 – December 2022. Additional scheduled events include a community concert featuring Grammy nominated singer/songwriter Darrell Scott and If Birds Could Fly in May 2022 and a 50th Anniversary Gala in October 2022. The MECC Foundation, which exists to support the mission of the college, has set a goal to raise $2M to support scholarships, infrastructure improvements, and other needs to commemorate this special anniversary.

 For almost half a century, Mountain Empire Community College has served as the primary career training center for residents of Wise, Lee, Scott, and Dickenson County and the City of Norton. Thousands of students have furthered their education and skillsets to provide a better life for their family and community by earning credentials at MECC. 

 From humble beginnings, the College first opened in 1972 with 507 students taking classes in one building at its Big Stone Gap campus. MECC was developed from a statewide initiative to increase educational attainment rates for the Commonwealth.

 In 1966, the Virginia Assembly enacted historic legislation establishing a statewide system of comprehensive community colleges. This legislation brought most post high school education below the bachelor’s level into one system and broadened the base of higher education in the state. As comprehensive institutions, community colleges endeavor to serve all segments of society and are charged with providing open access to higher education for all students.

 In Southwest Virginia, a committee comprised of local business, civic, industrial, and political leaders was appointed by the local governing bodies of Lee, Scott, Wise, and Dickenson Counties and the City of Norton for the purpose of establishing a comprehensive community college.

 In April of 1970, the college Board had its first meeting at which Judge William C. Fugate was elected chair. Funds for construction were allocated by the State Board for Community Colleges and construction began in 1971.

 Today, more than 1,300 students are enrolled full-time, and more than 3,000 students are enrolled part-time at MECC. The Big Stone Gap campus has expanded to include five buildings accommodating more than 100 academic programs of study in traditional classroom formats, as well as online and hybrid offerings. In 2019, MECC opened the Center for Workforce and Innovation of Appalachia (CWIA) in Appalachia to house its power lineman, commercial driving license, smart farming, advanced manufacturing, and dental assisting programs. Future plans include the development of culinary programming at the CWIA.

 In addition to MECC’s career training focus, the College has served as a primary resource for the preservation of the region’s rich cultural and musical heritage. For fifty years, the College has hosted the annual Home Craft Days festival every third weekend in October, highlighting Appalachian traditions.

 MECC also hosts its annual Mountain Music School, which provides students age 10 and up with the ability to learn traditional mountain music during a one-week camp the last week in July. The MECC Foundation annually hosts the John Fox Jr. Literary festival highlighting Appalachian writers with a featured poetry and short story contests for the community.

 The CWIA library will feature Appalachian archives to include collections of Melungeon records and the Wise County Historical Society. The Wampler Library on the College’s main campus houses the Slemp Gallery, featuring a rotating exhibit of regional and national art installations. 

 MECC is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The College’s Enrollment Services Division, Student Services, Business Office, Library and all other services can be reached by calling (276) 523-2400.

 For more information on MECC’s 50th anniversary, visit www.mecc.edu/mecc50. For more information on MECC’s career pathways, please visit www.mecc.edu/pathways. To enroll, please visit www.mecc.edu/apply. For information on giving to the college’s efforts to train Southwest Virginia’s workforce, please visit the MECC Foundation at www.meccfoundation.org/give.