State Board Committee Certifies Four Finalists for Mountain Empire Community College Presidency

RICHMOND – The State Board for Community Colleges has certified four finalists for the position of president at Mountain Empire Community College. The finalists were among more than 80 applicants from across the nation.
The four finalists are Dr. David L. Brand of Fayetteville, NC; Dr. Brian W. Van Hornof Murray, KY; Dr. Kristen A. Westover of Martinsville, VA; and Dr. Steven K. Yohoof Roswell, GA.
“The Mountain Empire Community College presidency is appealing to an impressive collection of community college leaders from around the country,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “The focus our colleges place on student success, our innovative approaches to providing short-term workforce training, and our stability make us attractive to high-performing education leaders seeking their next career step.”
     Dr. David L. Brand has worked in higher education for the last 18 years, following a 23-year career in the United States Army from which he retired at the rank of Major. Brand currently serves as the senior vice president and chief academic officer of Fayetteville Technical Community College in North Carolina, a role he has held since 2012. Prior to that, he worked as the director of the Department of Education, a senior civilian role at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, NC. He also worked as the senior military training and education analyst at the Center for Army Lessons Learned, based at Fort Leavenworth, KS. Brand previously served as the chief academic officer and dean of the college at Bauder College in Atlanta. For six years, he worked at DeVry University and the Keller Graduate School of Management in Atlanta, where he began as a director of academic operations, rose to become dean of the education center and then the regional director of operations. Brand earned a doctorate from the University of South Carolina; a master’s degree from the University of Houston, and a bachelor’s degree from Troy State University.
     Dr. Brian W. Van Horn has nearly 20 years of experience in higher education. He currently serves as the associate provost and dean of regional academic outreach at Murray State University, in Murray, KY, a position he has held since 2008. His MSU career began in 1998 when he served as an assistant professor and director of the MSU Paducah Regional Campus, and then as the university’s assistant dean of regional academic outreach in 2001. Van Horn has served as both vice president, in 2013, and president, in 2014, of the Association for Continuing Higher Education. He holds a doctorate from the University of Memphis, and both a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree from Murray State University.
     Dr. Kristen A. Westover has more than 25 years of experience in higher education. She currently serves as the vice president for academic and student services at Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville, a position she has held since 2011. Previously, she served as higher education program coordinator at the University of Texas in Austin, from 2009-2011. From 2008-2009, she served as director of technical programs for the Kansas Board of Regents. In 2016, the Aspen Institute selected Westover for inclusion in the inaugural class of its national Aspen Presidential Fellows program. She holds a doctorate from Nova Southeastern University in Florida, and both a master’s degree in instructional technology and a bachelor’s degree from Fort Hays State University in Kansas.
     Dr. Steven K. Yoho has more than 20 years of experience in higher education, intermixed with positions he has held in other industries. He currently serves as president of both the Atlanta campus and Northern Virginia campus of Argosy University, a position he has held since 2013. Yoho began his academic career in 1992 as an adjunct professor at Marietta College and Washington State Community College. He became the business chair and athletic director of Ohio Valley University in Vienna, WV in 1994. Yoho went on to become associate dean of the Lipscomb University College of Business in 1999, and later worked in the University System office of South University in Savannah, GA, for seven years as dean of the College of Business in 2007, and later as vice chancellor for academic affairs in 2008. He holds a doctorate from Ohio University; a master’s degree from West Virginia University; a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma Christian University; and an associate degree from Ohio Valley College.
The four finalists seek to succeed Dr. Scott Hamilton, the college’s sixth president, who is retiring at the end of June after serving in that role since 2010.
The finalists will each visit the campus of MECC in May, to meet with faculty, staff, students and community members.
Mountain Empire Community College, founded in 1972 and located in Big Stone Gap, VA, is a comprehensive two-year college serving approximately 3,800 credit students and more than 1,000 noncredit students annually from the counties of Lee, Scott, Wise, and Dickenson, and the city of Norton.
About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 252,000 students each year. For more information, please visit []

Mountain Empire Community College to Host 2017 Governor’s School

Big Stone Gap – Rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors are invited to participate in the 2017 Mountain Empire Community College Governor’s School to be held June 12 through June 23 on the college campus.

MECC Governor’s School is open to public and home school students in the counties of Lee, Scott, Wise, and Dickenson, and the City of Norton, who have a 3.0 GPA or higher. This two-week program features a variety of hands-on activities in one of several subject areas selected by the student. Students spend time in the field, in labs, on tours, and in the classroom with the faculty of Mountain Empire Community College. Students who complete the session will receive six college credit hours, tuition-free. In addition to classroom activities, students will participate in field trips to area colleges.

Ten academic strands will be offered this summer, including:

  • 3-D Animation/Game Design – Are you a gamer? Take your skills to the next level by learning the basic techniques of game design. Create your own 3D game from concept to implementation using traditional and computer-generated animation.
  • Art Illustration for Graphic Novels – Love a good story? Create your own narrative by learning character development and illustration techniques. Students will complete a graphic novel they design.
  • Cyber Security – The FBI anticipates that cyber-attacks will soon become one of the greatest threats to our nation’s security. Fight crime by delving into the minds of hackers. Learn how to prevent cyber-attacks while also preparing for one of the nation’s most in-demand career fields.
  • Drama – Calling all drama queens and kings! Produce your own full-length play and learn the basic components of play production, from lights to sound, set design and character study. Students will premiere a full-length production of their own creation.
  • Drones – Immerse yourself in one of the world’s most innovative new technologies. Learn to build, configure, maintain, and legally fly drones both for fun and for commercial use. An exciting career pathway for those interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
  • Engineering – Be an innovator! Use your technical and creative skills to design 3-D models and animation and solve complex engineering problems. Invent your future in engineering in this exciting field.
  • Entrepreneurship and Regional Tourism – Interested in starting your own business? Southwest Virginia’s tourism industry is dependent on small businesses. Develop your own business concept while exploring the best of our region’s assets.
  • Environmental Science – The mountains are calling. You must go! Learn about the mountains and streams of Southwest Virginia and current and potential threats to these ecosystems. Students will engage in a water quality study on the Clinch and Powell Rivers that will have a long-term positive impact on our region’s water systems.
  • Solar Energy – Want to change the world? The future of energy technology is solar power! Learn basic electrical theory while exploring solar and wind technologies in an exciting new career field.
  • Web Design – The future of technology is endless. Learn more about computer programming, application design and development, and robotic technologies. Students will explore career paths in high-paying, high-demand technological fields.

Applications to attend the 2017 Governor’s School will be accepted until May 26, 2017 or until spaces are filled. Limited space is available and students are encouraged to apply early. To view additional information or to download the 2017 application, please visit the Mountain Empire Community College Governor’s School website at or contact John Bledsoe, Governor’s School Coordinator, at (276) 523-2400 ext. 307.


MECC, Frontier Health Partner in Adoption Awareness Campaign

Big Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College, in partnership with Frontier Health, will host the Heart Gallery, a traveling photographic exhibit to promote adoption awareness.

The exhibit, on display in MECC’s Slemp Commons in Phillips-Taylor Hall from May 3-15, was created to find forever families for children in foster care. The exhibit features photographs and profiles of adoptable youth from across the Commonwealth. A special grand opening for the Heart Gallery will be held Wednesday, May 3 at 1 p.m. The public is welcome to attend. Refreshments will be served.

The state of Virginia has a high rate of youth in foster care without a permanent placement. Frontier Health and MECC’s Great Expectations program are working to change the perception of foster youth and raise awareness about the number of youth in our area that are available for adoption.

After leaving MECC, the Heart Gallery will travel to DePaul Community Resources in Abingdon, VA. The Heart Gallery is made possible by a grant awarded to Frontier Health by the Virginia Department of Social Services.

For more information on the event, contact Elizabeth McMurray, Frontier Health Post Adoption Services at or Kari Paschetto, MECC Great Expectations (


MECC Recognizes Spring 2017 Phlebotomy Students, Accepting Applications For Fall

Big Stone Gap, VA — Mountain Empire Community College is currently accepting applications for the Fall 2017 Phlebotomy cohort. Students interested in completing this two-semester, 25 credit program are encouraged to apply online at

The deadline to apply for the next phlebotomy cohort at MECC is July 15. Students who need to complete pre-requisite courses for the cohort must enroll for the Summer 2017 semester which begins this June.

MECC is pleased to announce the following students are completing the requirements for a Career Studies Certificate in Phlebotomy. The Spring 2017 Phlebotomy cohort graduates are:

Taryn Williams, Allison Williams, Caley Shearin, Asia Ramey, Kady Sowards, Sharessa Blair, Gabriela Moore, Cobye Robbins, Peyton Palmer, Jason O’Quinn, Stephanie Lamb, Channie Franklin, Rochelle Pritchett, Makayla Fields and Maria Pridemore.

For more information on MECC’s Phlebotomy program or other health science programs, contact Kim Dorton, Health Sciences Coordinator, at 276.523.7456 or by email at



Front Row (L-R): Taryn Williams, Allison Williams, Caley Shearin, Asia Ramey, Kady Sowards, Sharessa Blair, Gabriela Moore

 Back row (L-R) Cobye Robbins, Peyton Palmer, Jason O’Quinn, Stephanie Lamb, Channie Franklin, Rochelle Pritchett

 Not pictured: Makayla Fields, Maria Pridemore






MECC Offers Free Trac Pipe Counterstrike Course

Big Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College will offer a Trac Pipe Counterstrike flexible gas line piping course on Wednesday, May 3, at 8:30 a.m. to noon. This free course is open to students and community members. Completion of the class is a requirement to purchase Trac Pipe supplies. Trac Pipe flexible gas piping is considered a faster and easier way to install gas line in both residential and commercial applications. Class size is limited and pre-registration is required. For more information, or to register, contact Lori Dingus at 276.523.2400 ext. 372 or by email at

MECC To Offer CNA Courses This Summer

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College will offer a Saturday-only Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) courses this summer. Classes will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Big Stone Gap campus beginning May 20 through August 19. Financial aid is available, but students should apply now. Employers will be interviewing students who successfully complete the course to fill open positions. For more information or to register, please contact Mitzi Jones at, or call 276.523.7456.

MECC to Host Welding Course for Dislocated Employees, Families of Mining and Mining-Related Industries

Big Stone Gap — Mountain Empire Community College and the Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Board will host a second intensive, 80-hour welding course for individuals who have been laid off due to mining and mining-related industry labor reductions.

A recent MECC welding class for dislocated coal industry workers, taught by Ben Kennedy of Dickenson County Schools, began in late March at Ridgeview High School in Clintwood. The response was so overwhelming that additional class nights were proposed and now a second, concurrent class has been scheduled to begin Monday, April 17. It will be held Mondays and Tuesdays from 3:45 p.m. to 9 p.m. or Mondays and Thursdays from 3:45 p.m. to 9 p.m., depending on students’ schedules and preferences.  Both MECC welding courses will run through June 1.

Laid-off coal miners, power plant workers, and other dislocated coal industry workers may qualify for free educational training supported by Mountain Empire Community College, the POWER-Resource Full National Dislocated Worker Grant (NDWG), the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA), and the Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Board.

Those interested in applying should call Stephen Mullins, Regional POWER Grant Coordinator, at 276.608.0369.





MECC Students Place in State Competition

Front Row (left to right): Christian Hale, Jessica Wells, Sierra Holmes, Andrew Kerr, James Lane Back Row (left to right): Jane Jones (adviser), Kevin Cooper, Beth Snodgrass (adviser)

Big Stone Gap — Mountain Empire Community College is pleased to announce that several students enrolled in Business and Information Technology classes recently placed in the statewide Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL) competition.

Six members of MECC’s Phi Beta Lambda chapter traveled to Richmond to complete in 11 different business categories. Five MECC students placed first and second in 8 of the 11 categories. The competition includes students from Virginia community colleges as well as four-year institutions.

Winners are:

  • Andrew Kerr – 1st place –Job Interview
  • Andrew Kerr & James Lane – 2nd place – Business Law
  • James Lane – 1st place – Desktop Publishing
  • Jessica Wells – 2nd place – Business Communications
  • Jessica Wells – 2nd place – Information Management
  • Kevin Cooper – 2nd place – Administrative Technology
  • Christian Hale – 2nd place – Future Business Educator
  • Christian Hale – 1st place – Sales Presentation
  • Sierra Holmes – participant – Principles of Accounting
  • Sierra Holmes – participant – Personal Finance
  • Kevin Cooper – participant – Marketing Concepts

Five students, Andrew Kerr, James Lane, Jessica Wells, Kevin Cooper and Christian Hale, are now eligible to compete at the national Phi Beta Lambda competition held in Anaheim, CA this summer. The competitive events are the capstone activity of their academic careers.

The Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda, Inc., the largest and oldest student business organization, is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) education association with a quarter million members and advisers in over 6,500 active middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Its mission is to bring business and education together in a positive working relationship through innovative leadership and career development programs. The association is headquartered in Reston, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. For more information, visit

For more information on MECC’s Business Programs, visit the college’s website at or contact the Business & Information Technology division at 276.523.2400 ext. 462.







MECC Hosts 2017 Job Expo 

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College will hold its 2017 Job Expo on Wednesday, April 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Goodloe Center, Phillips-Taylor Hall. More than 25 regional employers seeking qualified job applicants will participate. 
Attendees are encouraged to bring a resume and dress professionally. Employers attending this year’s event include Crutchfield, Eastman Chemical Company, Mountain States Health Alliance, Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Virginia State Police, Wallens Ridge State Prison, USP Lee, Food City, LogistiCare, and many more.
For more information on MECC’s 2017 Job Expo, contact Beth Boggs, Career and Transfer Counselor, at 276.523.2400 ext. 324 or visit

MECC to Host Auto World Golf Classic

Big Stone Gap — The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation and Auto World of Big Stone Gap will conduct the Auto World – MECC Golf Classic on Friday, April 28th at Lonesome Pine Country Club to benefit scholarships at MECC.  

Registration for the captain’s choice tournament begins at 8 a.m., with a shotgun start at 9:15 a.m. The tournament will feature two flights and will have “most accurate drive” and “closest to the pin” prizes, as well as chipping and putting contests. Mulligan packages will be available for $10 each.

All players hitting a hole-in-one on hole #10 will win a 2017 Jeep Cherokee 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, they will divide the prize money.

Following the tournament, there will be a cocktail reception featuring delicious heavy hors d’oeuvres. During that time, golfers may bid on some great items during the live auction. There will also be a silent auction which will be ongoing throughout the event.

The entry fee of $100 per person includes a continental breakfast, golf shirt, cart and green fees, post-tournament reception, most accurate drive and closest to the pin contests.

Tournament Sponsorships are available at three levels – Bronze, Silver, and Gold for financial support in the amounts of $500, $1,000, and $1,500 respectively. All tournament sponsors will receive a complimentary team and will be recognized during the tournament welcome and in the printed materials for the tournament.

Hole sponsorships are available for a $100 gift to the MECC Foundation. Hole sponsors will be recognized in the golf tournament program and by signs erected on the golf course.

Individuals or businesses who would like to sponsor the tournament in any way, provide an item for the auction, or provide a door prize may contact Jeri Bledsoe, Tournament Coordinator, by e-mail at, or by telephone at 276-523-2400, extension 287.

Registrations may also be faxed to 276-523-7485, e-mailed to Jeri Bledsoe at, or called in to Jeri at 276-523-2400, extension 287. For questions, please contact Jeri at the previously mentioned telephone number or e-mail address.

All proceeds from the event will help provide scholarships for Mountain Empire Community College students.


-MECC Foundation-

Small Business Development Center to Host SEO Workshops

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College’s Small Business Development Center will host two upcoming free workshops for small businesses on search engine optimization (SEO). “Climbing MT Google” will be held Tuesday, March 21 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Pioneer Center in Duffield. A second session will be offered on Monday, April 3 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church Bridge Meeting Room in Gate City. The workshops are designed to increase participant’s understanding of what SEO is and why it is important; how modern consumers find businesses and spend money; and how to improve your SEO and web page rankings. Seating is limited to the first ten businesses to register. To register, visit or call MECC’s Small Business Development Center at 276.523.2400 ext. 328.

MECC Offers Fitness Walking Class

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College will host a Fitness Walking for Life course this spring. PED 195 – Fitness Walking for Life is a one credit course to be offered on Tuesdays from 4:45 p.m. to 5:40 p.m., March 13 through May 5 in the Godwin Hall Fitness Center. Participants will learn how to implement and evaluate an individualized program of walking based upon their fitness level. Participants should wear comfortable shoes because they will be expected to walk during a portion of the class period. The course will be led by Instructor Jacqueline Cusano. For more information, or to enroll, contact MECC’s Enrollment Services office at 276.523.7474.

Nominations Sought for 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award

Big Stone Gap, VA – The Mountain Empire Community College Alumni & Friends Advisory Committee is seeking nominations for the MECC Distinguished Alumni Award.

The award recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions to one or more areas of society, i.e., professional, academic, and personal achievements, civic service, or service to MECC.

All living MECC alumni who have completed at least one class at MECC are eligible to be nominated and considered for the award. Self-nominations are also welcome. Current members of the MECC Local Advisory Board and the MECC Foundation Board of Directors, current faculty and staff of the college, and members of the MECC Alumni and Friends Advisory Committee are not eligible to receive the award.

The nomination form is available below. There is no limit to the number of nominations that one may submit. The deadline for nominations for the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award is Tuesday, February 28.

A subcommittee of the MECC Alumni and Friends Advisory Committee will select the winner of the award, and the winner will be announced at the annual Scholars’ Recognition Night Banquet held in April.

For questions, please contact Jeri Bledsoe in the MECC Foundation office at 276-523-2400, extension 287, or by e-mail at


MECC Offers 2018 Trip to Japan, Eastern Europe

Big Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College will host two international education travel opportunities for students and the public in the spring of 2018. The trips include an Eastern Europe tour in May 2018 and a Japan tour in June 2018.

Explore the intoxicatingly upbeat Eastern Europe on a 12-day whirlwind tour with stops in Budapest, Hungary; Krakow, Poland; Prague, Czech Republic; and Vienna, Austria. Visit fortified castles, breathtaking scenery, and humbling stops like Auschwitz and Krakow’s Jewish Quarter. Eastern Europe offers thrills and history unfiltered.

Japan is a microcosm of civilization at heart. This 11-day tour will feature stops in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Hakone. Discover a polite order to urbanization that is defined by the ancient world that remains, a seamless blending of cutting-edge technology and preserved history. Visit historic, religious, and natural monuments on this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime journey.

Both tours will be led by MECC faculty members. Current MECC students who have completed at least 12 credit hours and have maintained a 3.0 GPA are eligible for a $1,000 scholarship toward travel expenses. Current MECC students who reside in Dickenson County may be eligible for an additional scholarship.

To view the full trip itinerary or apply for a scholarship, visit  For more information, please contact MECC Community Relations Coordinator Amy Greear at (276) 523-7480 or by email at


MECC to Offer CNA Certification Course

Gate City – Mountain Empire Community College will offer a 10-week evening and weekend course in Scott County this spring to become a Certified Nurse Assistant. Students will have two options for class scheduling – Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., or Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. An informational meeting will be held at the Scott County Career and Technical Nursing Lab in Gate City on Tuesday, February 21 at 6 p.m. Those interested in enrolling in the course, or future CNA classes, are invited to attend. For more information, or to register for the course, contact Kim Dorton, MECC’s Assistant Dean of Health Science, at 276.523.7456.

Nominations Sought for MECC Distinguished Alumni Award

Big Stone Gap, VA – The Mountain Empire Community College Alumni & Friends Advisory Committee is seeking nominations for the MECC Distinguished Alumni Award.

The award recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions to one or more areas of society, i.e., professional, academic, and personal achievements, civic service, or service to MECC.

All living MECC alumni who have completed at least one class at MECC are eligible to be nominated and considered for the award. Self-nominations are also welcome. Current members of the MECC Local Advisory Board and the MECC Foundation Board of Directors, current faculty and staff of the college, and members of the MECC Alumni and Friends Advisory Committee are not eligible to receive the award.

The nomination form is available below. There is no limit to the number of nominations that one may submit. The deadline for nominations for the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award is Tuesday, February 28.

A subcommittee of the MECC Alumni and Friends Advisory Committee will select the winner of the award, and the winner will be announced at the annual Scholars’ Recognition Night Banquet held in April.

For questions, please contact Jeri Bledsoe in the MECC Foundation office at 276-523-2400, extension 287, or by e-mail at



MECC Announces fall 2016 Honors Roll

MECC is pleased to announce the following students have been recognized for their outstanding academic achievements during the fall 2016 semester. 

President’s List

The following students have been named to the Mountain Empire Community College President’s List for the fall 2016 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.


APPALACHIA: Tamara Davidson, Ernest Mabe, Hope Phillips, Chantarae Shepard, Michael Sizemore, Dylan Smith, Gayce Snyder, and Jessica Wells.

BIG STONE GAP: Jesse Blair, Madison Blanton, Ritchie Deel, Hunter Dorton, Jerry Elkins, Alecia Estep, Bryan Fannon, Collin Fields, Krystal Grimes, Kermit Hall, Colton Holcomb, Kalee Horner, Andrew Kerr, Isaiah Kinsey, Karlee Lovelace, Sheena McGraw, Marglo Osborne, Rebecca Osborne, Tracie Powers, Jonathan Robbins, Micheala Russell, Savannah Smith, Leigh Ann Underwood, Kelvin Vo, Ken Vo, and Derrick Watkins.        

BIRCHLEAF: William Sykes.

CHURCH HILL, TN:  Olivia Addington.

CLINTWOOD:  Madison Davis, Daniel Ibrahim, Samantha Johnson, Chandler Mullins, Emily Mullins, Shawn Roberts, Jason Rose, Sarah Rose, Jordan Skeen, and Lakan Vanover.

COEBURN:  David Baker, Burley Ball, Marcus Clark, Carla Deel, Hurley Hamm, Hannah Kilgore, Jordan Lawson, Alexander Pritchard, and Tyler Tibbs.

DRYDEN:  Hannah Hayes.

DUFFIELD:  Jordan Bowen, Ryan Gendron, Phillip Kerns, Vicki Pearcy, Michael Rasnic, Courtney Stidham, Lauren Tankersley, Cody Wolford, and Jamie Wolford.

DUNGANNON: Thomas Sluss.

EAST STONE GAP: Shanley Brooks.

EOLIA, KY: Michelle Brock.

EVANSVILLE, IN: Meagan Monahan.

EWING:  Cody Roberts.

FT. BLACKMORE: Olivia Green and Brandon Hall.

GATE CITY: Emily Baker, Olivia Baker, April Bradshaw, Zachary Clark, Ashlyn Hammonds, Robbie Hicks, Rachel Kilgore, Sarah Kilgore, Cade Lane, Lydia Lane, Payton Lane, Tanner McMurray, Caitlin Parks, Ethan Penley, and Linley Pierson.     

HAYSI: Chelsie Deel, Catherine McCowan, and Denisha Sluss.

HILTONS: Tiah Derrick and Chelsea Mann.

JENKINS, KY: Brandy Bates, Melanie Mullins, and Tabitha Thompson.

JONESVILLE: Taylor Alsup, Rodney Baker, Alexandra Carroll, Verity Collingsworth, Timberly Dean, Courtney Eldridge, Amanda Harber, Walter Harding, Ashley Maness, Katie McDonald, Bradley Neff, Jackson Porter, Kayla Stapleton, and Zachary Trees. 

KINGSPORT, TN: Jarrod Bowen.      

MOUNT CARMEL, TN: Sarah Carter.

NEON, KY: Thelma Slone.

NICKELSVILLE: Alisha Taylor.

NORTON: Steven Fletcher, Lilly Redman, Curt Rose, Sarah Sturgill, Elizabeth Vanover, and Nathan Ward.

PENNINGTON GAP: Destiny Butler, Cieara Davenport, Haley Fannon, Rachel Fee, Roger Garrett, Daniel Hall, Haley Huff, Joshua Mullins, Emma Poe, John Poe, and Lee Street.  

POUND: Barbara Fleming, Lori Johnson, Candace Keith, Garrick Miller, Sophie Mullins, Matthew Ollerton, Zachary Pilkenton, James Stanley, and Joy Sturgill.  

POUNDING MILL:  Robin Smith.

ROSE HILL:  Charles Cox, Brian Humphrey, Dustin Lee, Eddie Parsons, Justin Pittman, Tammy Thomas, and Tina Yates.     

ST. PAUL: Michael Grimes, Pamela Hall, Daniel Hartley, Chessie Molinary, and Jennifer Shepherd.

TAZEWELL, TN:  Dalton Brown.        

WISE: Randall Bradley, tephanie Cantrell, nthony Collins, Christopher Hamblin, Christa Holmes, Derek Holmes, Joshua Jones, Jeffrey Kilbourne, Joanne Pilkenton-Robinson, Jasmine Powers, Alexis Sexton, Kendra Sexton, Jordan Wampler, Conner Wharton, and Ryan Wright.


Merit List

The following students have been named to the Mountain Empire Community College Merit List for the fall 2016 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: Donald Barton.

APPALACHIA: Hannah Barnett, Robert Florse, Brandy Jones, Debra Light, Taylor Perry, Catherine Rainey, and Joshua Reynolds.

BEN HUR: Hannah Coleman. 

BIG STONE GAP: Shelley Arnold, Cheyenne Bartee, Stuart Barton, Tristen Blair, John Bledsoe, Cory Carlton, Chelsea Caruso, Justin Clark, Kristi Coomer, Victoria Culbertson, Kasey Dalton, Lindsey Dickenson, Andrew Dutton, Channie Franklin, Jarrod Franklin, Angela Gibson, Emily Gibson, Cameron Gill, Brenda Gilley, Colleen Gilliam, Elizabeth Gilly, Courtney Hall, Sarah Hall, Bonnie Hamilton, Chad Harkleroad, Austin Harris, Jessee Hartsock, Cassidy Holcomb, Alexis Honeycutt, Cynthia Honeycutt, Amy Hubbard, Kaitlyn Jessee, Whitney Kelly, Alexis Kilbourne, Eddie Kilbourne, Kipp Kiser, Allison Lawson, Chelsea Lawson, Kelsey Lawson, Randall Lawson, Tanner Lawson, Ashlee Lewis, Margo Lewis, Brieann Lomax, Jeffery Morgan, Sydney Needham, Jacolby Patrick, Benny Peace, Em Poff, Hannah Quillen, Matthew Rhoten, Sakorra Rivera, Paul Slayton, Stacie Smith, Ciara Staudinger, Erica Stewart, Kelsey Vernon, Annie Wagner, Haven White, and Haley Woods.

BIRCHLEAF: Michael Sutherland.

BLACKWATER: Billie Johnson.

BRISTOL, VA: Taylor Moore.

CASTLEWOOD:  Emily Slemp.

CAWOOD, KY:  Kalyn Middleton.

CHURCH HILL, TN:  Sandra Bailey, Peyton Hickman, and Logan Noe.

CLINCHCO:  Katie Bise, KayLee Fleming, Jennifer Mullins, and Chelsea Osborne.  

CLINTWOOD:  Ricky Artrip, Hannah Baker, Michelle Bolling, Justin Browning, Dakota Cantrell, Chelsea Charles, Raina Cumbo, Whitney Davis, Trenton Deel, Jacob Dotson, Jessica Ennis, Jazmine Fannin, Emily Fleming, Kenzie Fleming, Timothy Fryatt, Dakota Hill, Isabelle Johnson, Joey Justice, Roy Moore, Amanda Mullins, April Mullins, Charlotte Mullins, Dustin Mullins, Isaac Mullins, Kenneth Mullins, Noah Mullins, Haylee Phillips, Briana Rose, Gary Rose, Jessica Salyers, Kendra Stanley, Brandy Taylor, Kerri Tompkins, and MaKayla Vaughn.          

COEBURN:  Ashley Arney, Louvina Ball, Christopher Bartley, Samantha Blankenbecler, Santana Bond, Jasmine Bowen, Timothy Boyd, Megan Bright, Tyler Bright, McKenzie Clay, Adam Collins, Brianna Collins, Gabrielle Collins, Taylor Collins, Dylan Dahley, Alicia Deel, Charles Gibson, Austin Hale, Rozalynd Hamm, Erica Hayes, Joseph Hollyfield, William Hunsaker, Tanya Isbell, Briana Lawson, Katherine Lawson, Lindsay Lawson, Hunter Lunsford, Hunter Maine, Christopher Meade, Lindsey Meade, Edwina Minor, Noah Mullins, Sierra Mullins, Catherine Nixon, Brandon Perry, Hannah Perry, Lucky Powers, Phyllis Powers, Alexandria Pridemore, Drew Richards, Sheila Ricketts, Melissa Ring, Allison Rose, Heather Rose, Cameron Stanley, Kaleigh Still, Janet Stout, and Hannah Wyrick.

CUMBERLAND, KY:  John Jones.

DANTE: Brett Newton, Isaac Rasnick, and Dylan Winslow.

DRYDEN: Makayla Bentoski, Ramona Drescher, Sheridan Herron, Zachary James, Lindsay McNeil, Baylee Robinette, and Alexandra Willis.

DUFFIELD:  Santana Adams, Erin Benjamin, Courtney Bishop, Carli Cassell, Krista Collins, Gabriel Edmunds, Ryan Edwards, Chance Fannon, Jocelyn Fields, Adam Gibson, Dylan Hammonds, Randall Kluck, Leah McDavid, Matthew McMahan, Anna Proctor, Dawn Rector, Kassidy Sharpe, Cody Smith, and Angelina White.

DUNGANNON: Alec Couch, Sierra Ingraham, and Krista Powers.   

EWING: Scottie Hunley, Maria Pridemore, Austin Williams, and Shawn Williams.

FT. BLACKMORE: Callie Carter, Ethan Darnell, Taylor Darnell, Faith Lawson, Logan Lorenzo, Elizabeth Mullins, Devynn Osborne, and Carrie Shell.

GATE CITY:  Alexis Atkins, Anna Baker, Leah Baker, Makenze Baker, Charlie Bartlett, Chance Blakely, Mitchell Cassell, Richard Chapman, Alyssa Clark, Dylan Cox, Jordan Cunningham, Austin Davis, Kiondra Dingus, Tanner Dingus, Kelsey Dockery, Sydney Fields, Hannah Flanagan, Katelyn Fuller, Bradly Gibson, Jamie Gilbert, Dylan Grindstaff, Katelyn Hall, Destiny Hatfield, Bailey Hensley, Kevin Herron, Sydney Jones, Ella Kilgore, Misty Kilgore, Phebe Lane, Brandon Ledbetter, Karson Light, Quentin Mann, Matthew Martin, Louis Maya, Olivia McCarty, Matthew McConnell, Sawyer Miller, Sydney Miller, Kristel Moore, Joshua Penley, Brandi Potts, Ruth Potts, Frances Ramsey, Jonathon Ramsey, Haley Reed, Bryanna Rhoton, Robin Richards, Chynna Roberts, Trenton Robinette, Bailey Rusek, Tristan Shell, Anastasia Smith, Phoebe Smith, Brayden Stokes, McKenzie Templeton, Whitney Tipton, Landon Turner, Andrew Vaughn, Santana Vincent, Andrew Williams, Lauryn Williams, and Jessica Winters.

HAYSI: Heaven Blevins,Elizabeth Fields,Kenna Fields,Prell Honey Hackney,Jaren Owens,Lisa Rife,Caleb Stanley,Matney Sutherland,Jenna Triplett, and  Kasey Yates.

HILTONS: Madison Clark, Kobe Derrick, Nathan McDavid, Nicole McMurray, Holly Owens, Abigail Sallee, and Abby Turner.

JONESVILLE:  Rachel Adams, Claudia Alsup, Mackenzie Arney, Austin Dean, Abbie Dorman, Julia Eldridge, Jacob Garrett, Emily Graham, Taylor Hines, Velma Jerrell, Stephanie Lamb, Hannah Martin, Dayna McLaughlin, Abigayle Nighswander, Makaila Penley, Kaylin Pennington, Michael Short, Eryn Surber, Sarah Taylor, Brooklyn Warner, Hunter Watson, and Cameron White.

KEOKEE:  Aaron Begley, Tiffany Lawson, and Johnathan Stapleton.

KINGSPORT, TN: Kayla Bird, Hunter Bowen, Landon Gardner, Abbey Mullins, Tyler Page, Emma Peterson, Alexandra Pillion, and Haley Williams.         

MCCLURE:  Brayden Carty and Dustin Whisenhunt.

MOUNT CARMEL, TN: Leah Fields, Kiersan Light, and Barbara Jean Whitehead.

NICKELSVILLE: Nakeshia Boggs, Tyler Culbertson, Alyssa Ferguson, Ashlyn Lane, Jasmine McCloud, Stephen Pennington, Savanna Phillips, Chelsey Stapleton, and Leigh Ann Stapleton.

NORA:  Chasity McKinney.

NORTON:  Jailen Bailey, Clayton Baker, Shannon Ball, Tierra Bates, Jonathan Blackwell, Tony Boggs, Laura Brickey, Ethan Cates, Andrew Cavins, Candice Collins, Wendy Cooke, April Darnell, Brian Fields, Alyssa Fultz, Rosalyn Fultz, Taylor Gardner, Kimberly Gilliam, Tyler Ingle, Cassandra Isom, Cameron Jenkins, Ginger Joseph, Kelsey Kennedy, Makenna Kennedy, Bobby Kern, Amber Kiser, Jasmine Maggard, Laquiel McCurdy, Autumn Mullins, onathan Mullins, Derek Noaks, Nicholas Noble, Cassandra Page, Allison Palmer, Hannah Phelps, Brian Potter, Summer Rhodes, Cobye Robbins, Ryan Roberson, Nathaniel Robinette, arrod Ruley, Brittany Rutherford, Courtney Sargent, Isaac Shortt, Stephanie Slone, Sierra Spriggs, Tammy Stanley, Kira Sturgill, Amanda Thacker, Karli Underwood, Payton Walker, Jeffrey Ward, Jessica Ward, Robert Wells, and Savannah Wiles.

PENNINGTON GAP:  Sydney Anderson, Autumn Bishop, Loghan Dye, Gerald Fitzpatrick, Austin Hornsby, Samantha Hurd, Annalysse Parsons, Katherine Pridemore, Teresa Rhoten, and Maggie Zhang.

PIKEVILLE, KY: Caleb Godsey.

POUND:  Rebecca Blanton, Ethan Bolling, David Cantrell, McKenzie Crabtree, Justin Elkins, Dallas Eskridge, Carlie Fleming, Ashtyn Grant, Kristy Griffin, Jon Habersetzer, Sherri Holston, Alexandria Hutchison, Logan Johnson, Dawson Meade, Allison Mullins, Keyleigh Mullins, Merri Mullins, Robert Mullins, Tammy Ollerton, Chasity Phillips, Brittany Potter, April Powers, Benjamin Salyers, Hannah Stallard, Matthew Stallard, Lauren Sturgill, and Matthew Sturgill.

ROGERSVILLE:  Rachel Vaughn.

ROSE HILL:  Robin Cottrell, nna Davis, Rebekah Glass, Jordan Langley, and Nicholas Williams.

ST. CHARLES: Chelsey Stapleton, Summer Stapleton, and Alicia Stiltner.

ST. PAUL: Benjamin Broyles, Jessica Culbertson, Makayla Funk, Hunter Hall, Grace McCowan, Rachel McCowan, Melissa Meade, Jayme Salyers, and Taylor Salyers.

WEBER CITY:  Caleb Bright, Hunter Davis, John Fansler, Tyler Fields, Callie McMurray, Katalin Perry, and Casey Wood. 


WISE:  William Addington, Janna Anderson, Rachel Bailey, Sydney Bates, Christopher Bishop, Joseph Boggs, Adam Bowen, Emily Broadwater, Rebecca Bush, Jessica Caldwell, Hannah Cantrell, Andrea Church, Tucker Coffey, Stephanie Compton, Zoe Crihfield, Hunter Culbertson, Deanna DeWein, Breanna Ellis, Ashlee Fletcher, Jarrod Gardner, Coleman Gentry, Taylor Guthrie, Amanda Hall, Marc Hamilton, Benjamin Hayes, Michael Hill, Millie Hillman, Thomas Hillman, Karen Hubbard, Amanda Hughes, Kaitlyn Ingle, Ashlyn Jones, Dale Kennedy, Jessica Kennedy, Bobby Kern, Gwendolyn Kern, Rachel Lester, Emily Livingston, Gregory Maggard, Melissa McGahy, Hunter McNew, lexandria Meade, Kathryn Morris, lyssa Mullins, Angelina Mullins, Dalton Mullins, Eryk Nayagam, Rebecca O’Quinn, Elliott Owens, Brooklyn Porter, Felicia Powers, Rebecca Richardson, Mallory Shell, Cheyenne Shepherd, Angelica Shoffner, Trevor Shupe, Elijah Smith, Devin Stacy, Haley Stallard, Colyn Sturgill, Morganne Sturgill, Nathaniel Swiney, Sierra Thacker, Katelyn Tignor, Miriam Vanover, Nathan Vicars, and Joshua Webb.      


Honor’s List

The following students have been named to the Mountain Empire Community College Honor’s List for the fall 2016 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.


ABINGDON: Amanda Montgomery.

APPALACHIA:  Tanner Hall, Rose Holmes, and Robert Stidham.

BEN HUR: Nicholas Hadges.

BIG STONE GAP:  Braxton Bishop, Patrick Brooks, Sarah Chandler, Raechel Clark, Ally Connell, James Day, Richard Dishner, Evan Duncan, Madison Gibson, Tori Gibson, Donnie Guerrant, Kristy Hood-Pickell, Madison Jones, Casey McKee, Briana Meredith, Dominic Nickels, Kirsten Record, Rebecca Shupe, Jimmy Spears, Benjamin Sullivan, Gabriel Vaughan, Christopher Wampler, David Woodward, Logan Yose, and Jordan Young.           

BLACKSBURG:  Emily Hjulstrom, Jessica Eldridge, and Logan Shepard.

CASTLEWOOD:  Jeanna Finch and Elizabeth Ward. 

CLINCHPORT:  Rebecca Lane.                       

CLINTWOOD:  Rashell Barton, Kailee Cox, Makayla Horne, Christopher Neece, Amanda Phillips, Katlyn Phillips, Devin Rose, Isaac Stanley, and Montica Yates.         

COEBURN:  Tyler Adams, Laken Austin, Emily Baker, Shawn Johnson, Richard Jones, Emmitt Kellogg, Marcus Meade, Natasha Smith, Neisha Tuggle, and Herlin Vance.

DANTE:  Kelly Sykes.

DRYDEN:  Toni Flanary, Matthew Sturgill, and Alexander Wilder.  

DUFFIELD:  Katelyn Bishop, Kayla Chambers, LaShalia Dorton, Chad Fritz, Sarah Harris, Sherri Miller, Brandon Perry, Caitlin Summey, Michael Tomlinson, Samuel Wheeler, Grace White, and Holly Williams.

DUNGANNON:  Tuan Pham and Nathaniel Quillen.

EAST STONE GAP: Roscoe Sexton.

EWING: MaKayla Yeary.

FT. BLACKMORE: Keila Vaughn.

GATE CITY:  Noah Bledsoe, Adam Bowers, Gary Bradshaw, Augusta Carver, Olivia Dishner, Alexis Flanary, Briana Gilbert, Sydney Helms, Alexandra Johnson, James Lane, Kurt Lane, Austin Lussardi, Katherine Musick, Taylor Page, Peyton Palmer, Derick Robinette, and Courtney Wilson.

HAYSI:  Sarah Owens.

HILTONS:  Christopher Lewis.

JONESVILLE:  Hannah Allen, Irvin Chavarria, Charna Davis, Kaitlin Mencer, Samuel Scott, Kelsey Sexton, Makayla Sharpe, Kayla Terry, and Brandon White.

KEOKEE: Zachary Hall.

KINGSPORT, TN:  Elijah Leighton, Christian Minnick, and Caleb Tabor.

LEBANON:  Ashlie Pineda.

NICKELSVILLE:  Courtney Boggs, Brittney Duty, and Cindy White.

NORA: Tiffany Hill.

NORTON:  Victoria Adams, William Buchanan, McKenzie Dykstra, Mikala Dykstra, Bruce Gardner, Leah Gilbert, Ronald Gilliam, Nathan McFalls, Patricia Peters, and Roneil Yu.

PENNINGTON GAP:  Tamra Brewer, Joshua Calton, Allison Cochran, Katelyn Hurlock, Enrique Lopez, Shawn Napier, Jordan Robbins, Kaitlyn Robbins, Charles Smith, and Angelina Woodard.  

POUND:  Nickolas Britton, Dalten McCoy, Janet Moore, and Jacqueline Polly.

ROSE HILL:  Summer Corbin, atthew Glass, Abigail Grabeel, and Marie Hopkins.

ST. PAUL: Kayla Collins.

WEBER CITY:  Williams Bausell and Cathrine Rucker.

WISE:  Bethany Adkins, Amanda Bolling, Jordan Collins, Brett Freeman, Graysen Hale, Kaitlyn Hamilton, Kendra Hamilton, Hannah Hughes, Briana Kiser, Jason Oquinn, Rachel Porchie, and Karrie Powers.


MECC Foundation Offers Food City/Friends of Coal Scholarship

Big Stone Gap, VA — The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation is pleased to announce the availability for the Food City/Friends of Coal Scholarship for Coal Industry Impacted Students for the spring 2017 semester. 

Earlier this year, Food City and Friends of Coal of Pikeville/COA partnered to design special commemorative reusable shopping bags, sold on Earth Day 2016.  Each bag was filled with valuable Food City exclusive brand merchandise and retailed for $10.00 plus tax.  100% of the proceeds from the bag sales were presented to local colleges to provide scholarships for displaced miners, their spouse or their children wishing to continue their education. 

The total amount of funds available at Mountain Empire Community College is $5,250.00 to support seven (7) $750.00 scholarships. 

To be eligible for consideration a student must:

  • Be a Virginia resident
  • A current/former employee of the coal industry (documentation required)
  • A dependent spouse or child of a current/former employee of the coal industry (documentation required)
  • Enrolled Spring semester 2017 for credit courses
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 if enrolled prior to Spring 2017.
  • Have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Priority consideration for these scholarships will be for students enrolled full-time who need assistance with tuition and fees.

Please visit to print and complete the scholarship application. 

The deadline for consideration is Friday, February 3, 2017.  Please submit all applications and required documentation to the Financial Aid office.

For more information on the MECC Foundation visit or call 276.523.2400 ext. 466.





MECC Recognizes Fall 2016 Practical Nursing Program Cohort

Big Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College is pleased to announce the fall 2016 Practical Nursing program cohort.

Each year, more than 40 students apply to join the Practical Nursing cohort. Only 25 students are selected based on their academic performance, non-nursing courses completed, and admission testing scores. The Practical Nursing program is a three semester certificate program. Students are admitted twice a year (fall and spring).

MECC’s Fall 2016 Practical Nursing Cohort are: (front row left to right) Kari Stapleton, Lyndsay Oaks, Emily Mullins, Kayla Edwards; (middle row left to right) Hunter Smith, Laken Bryant, Allison Christian, Meghan Woodsby, Allie Carroll, and Caitlin Beverly; (back row left to right) Honey Wyatt, Maggie Begley, Latisha Clifton, and Christopher Hamblin.

For more information on MECC’s Practical Nursing program, please contact Mitzi Jones, Sabrina Cowden, or Lena Whisenhunt at 276.523.2400 ext. 456 or  






MECC Receives Grant to Launch Power Lineman Program

Big Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College has been awarded a $950,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commissions’ POWER Initiative to establish the region’s only power lineman training program.

The non-credit lineman training will enable students to earn a number of credentials to prepare them for entry into an apprenticeship program with the power distribution industry. MECC’s 14-15 week power program will incorporate a variety of competencies and certifications requested by employers, including OSHA-10 safety certification; CPR/First Aid; National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Core Basic certification; Virginia Department of Transportation Traffic Control training; Chainsaw Safety, Forklift Operator certification; Commercial Driver’s License (CDL); and NCCER Line Power Worker Certification.

The grant will help fund the start-up costs of the program, including hiring faculty, as well as purchasing vehicles and educational supplies needed for instruction.  

MECC is partnering with power industry employers to develop and implement the training curriculum that equips participants for entry-level employment as apprentice utility line workers. The Flatwoods Job Corps Center, in Coeburn, Va., will provide a training site and dormitory space for individuals who must travel to the region to participate in this intensive training. Some Flatwoods Job Corps Center students are expected to participate in the program.

MECC anticipates operating the program on a full time schedule of four 10-hour days each week, with Fridays reserved for career exploration, studying, job shadowing, and related activities.

Power utilities usually hire entry-level employees as power groundmen (or apprentice linemen). These workers participate in employer-specific training and apprenticeship programs to become journeyman linemen. This progression typically takes approximately four to five years to complete, with the salary increasing as apprentices develop the required skills to be promoted to the position of lineman.

 “The power groundman and lineman career pathway presents a rare opportunity for former coal miners to retrain for jobs with the potential to replace the high wages formerly offered by the coal industry,” said MECC President Scott Hamilton. “The demand for power line workers is largely the result of large-scale retirements of experienced linemen across the industry. Workforce demographics, combined with aging electrical transmission and distribution infrastructure and an insufficient pipeline of younger workers entering middle-skilled technical careers, have focused industry attention on the development of more linemen as a critical priority.”

For more information on the power lineman program, contact Tommy Clements, MECC Dean of Applied Science and Technology at 276.523.2400 ext. 431 or by email at



MECC to Offer Online Training in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College will offer online training in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) this spring. Individuals, municipal and regional government organizations, and public service workers interested in furthering their training in GIS are encouraged to enroll. Courses offered this spring include GIS 200 & 201 Geographic Information Systems I and II, GIS 205 GIS 3-Dimensional Analysis and GIS 210 Understanding Geographic Data. Participants can learn about geospatial technologies, applying GIS into business operations and can earn certifications in the GIS field. Classes begin January 30. For more information, or to register, contact Jake Gilly, GIS Instructor, at 276.523.2400 ext. 280, or visit


MECC to Offer Free Quick Start to College Class

Big Stone Gap – Enrollment is now open for Mountain Empire Community College’s free Quick Start to College class. The class is designed for individuals who have considered enrolling in college, but are unsure about what is required. The class will be held on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. beginning February 21 through March 23. Topics such as success skills and career options are covered. Students are also able to refresh their computer, math, and English skills with one-on-one assistance. To qualify, students must have a high school diploma or equivalent (GED). For more information on the Quick Start program, or to enroll, contact Beth Boggs, MECC Career and Transfer Counselor, at 276.523.7438 or by email at Visit the program website at





MECC Offers Music, Old Time Dance Classes This Spring

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College is offering a host of music and instrument instruction courses this spring.

The MECC campus offers day classes in beginning lead guitar. Night class offerings at the Big Stone Gap campus include: Recording Systems Services, Internship in Recording, Beginning Fiddle, Beginning Clawhammer Banjo, Beginning Mandolin, Beginning Rhythm Guitar, Intermediate Lead Guitar, Blues Guitar, 3-Finger Picking Banjo, Old Time String Band, Gospel Jam, Percussion Ensemble, Intermediate Percussion Ensemble, Advanced Percussion Ensemble, Introduction to Lyric Writing and Music & Musicians of Central Appalachia.    

Several evening courses in old-time music will be offered exclusively at Gate City High School including Old Time String Band and Beginning Upright Bass on Monday evenings from 6 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.

Online classes in Music Appreciation and the Music and Musician of Central Appalachia are also available.

For more information or to register, contact the MECC Workforce Development Center at 276.523.2400 ext. 372 or visit

MECC Offers Old Time Dance Class

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College will offer PED 195 Old Time Dance on Monday’s from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. This course will cover basic styles of traditional dance from the central and southern Appalachian region. Classes will provide an overview of solo and group dancing history, accompanied by instruction and performance of each dance. The instructor is Tyler Hughes. To enroll, call 276.523.2400 ext. 372 or register online at


MECC to Offer Coursework in Cyber Security

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College will introduce new courses this spring in cyber security. Individuals interested in obtaining a credential in cyber security are encouraged to enroll in up to five courses to be offered during day and evening hours. ITN 101-H1 Introduction to Network Concepts provides instruction in networking media, physical and logical topologies, common networking standards and popular networking protocols. The class will be offered in 8 weeks on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. beginning January 17. ITN 260-H1 Network Security Basics will provide instruction in the backs of network security. The 8 week class will be offered on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. beginning March 14. ITE 105-H1 Careers and Cyber Ethics will begin March 14 and will be held on Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. ITN 171-01 Unix 1, which instructs students on the installation, configuration and administration of the Linux operating system, will be offered as a 16-week course beginning January 16 on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:40 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. ITN 111-01, covering the installation, configuration, administration and maintenance of a server in a networked environment, will be offered as a 16-week course beginning January 16 on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. For more information, or to enroll, visit or call 276.523.2400 ext. 313.








UVa-Wise, Mountain Empire Community College Reverse Transfer Agreement Will Help Students Earn Degrees



Left to right: Dr. Scott Hamilton, MECC President and Dr. Donna Henry, Chancellor UVa-Wise

Big Stone Gap, VA – The University of Virginia’s College at Wise and Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) announced the signing of a reverse transfer agreement between the institutions during a meeting held Friday, Dec. 16.

The reverse transfer program will be available to MECC students who have transferred to UVa-Wise from MECC prior to the completion of their associate degree program. Students who have completed a minimum of 15 semester hours toward their associate degree at Mountain Empire Community College and a set number of semester hours at UVa-Wise may be eligible for the reverse transfer program. Once a student has completed the remaining coursework toward their associate degree program at UVa-Wise, they will now be able to earn their Associate’s degree at MECC.

“Most understand the process in which students take classes at community colleges and then transfer those credits toward a bachelor’s degree,” said UVa-Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry. “The agreement signed today will allow students to transfer credits toward an associates degree at MECC, which would give those students an educational boost as they work toward a four-year degree at UVa-Wise.”

The reverse transfer agreement between UVa-Wise and Mountain Empire Community College will present great opportunities for our students and represents a new partnership between the two institutions,” said Dr. Scott Hamilton, president at Mountain Empire Community College. We have a great working relationship with UVa-Wise, and this new partnership further enhances that working relationship to benefit all students.”

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise and Mountain Empire Community College have a longstanding partnership in helping students attain their baccalaureate degree through the AIMS Higher Scholarship program. The existing articulation agreement between the two schools is designed to ensure a seamless transition for students transferring from community college to a bachelor’s-level institution.

Mountain Empire Community College has existing reverse transfer agreements with King University and Lincoln Memorial University.  UVa-Wise has a reverse transfer agreement with Virginia Highlands Community College.


Public Invited to Provide Input in MECC Presidential Search

Big Stone Gap, Virginia – MECC invites the community to provide input in the selection of the college’s next president as the search to replace current President Scott Hamilton begins.

Hamilton announced this fall that he will retire July 1, 2017, following almost seven years of service at MECC. Initial stages of the search process for MECC’s new president have begun, including the launch of a survey to assist the MECC Advisory Board in the selection process.

The brief survey is located at A link to the survey is also featured below. College staff, students, and alumni are also invited to complete the survey. The goal is to collect ideas regarding the challenges and opportunities facing the college and the attributes that a new president should possess to meet future needs. The survey will be available now through January 6, 2017.

Mountain Empire Community College is a two-year, public institution of higher education with approximately 1,600 full-time and 2,000 part-time students enrolled in the Wise, Lee, Scott, and Dickenson Counties and city of Norton service region and beyond. The college’s mission is to provide quality higher education and workforce training programs and services that are financially and geographically accessible and meet individual, business, and community needs.

For more information on the search process or survey, contact the MECC Office of Community Relations at 276.523.7480.










MECC Recognizes Summer 2016 Phlebotomy Students

fall-2016-phlebotomy-cohortBig Stone Gap, VA — Mountain Empire Community College is currently accepting applications for the Summer 2017 Phlebotomy cohort. Students interested in completing this two-semester, 25 credit program are encouraged to apply online at  The deadline for applications is April 15, 2017. Students will begin class in June.

MECC is pleased to announce the following students are completing the requirements for a Career Studies Certificate in Phlebotomy. The Fall 2016 Phlebotomy cohort graduates are: Front row (L-R) Savannah Lambert, Brittany Wilder, Tiffany Farmer, Chasity McKinney; Back Row (L-R) Hannah Maness, Jennifer Graham, Ashlyn Mitchell, Kasey Dalton, Lisa Briggs, Jasmine Calhoun, Rachel Reece, Lila Gilliam, and Melissa McGahy. Not pictured: Kandace Sturgill, Jordan Kelley

For more information on MECC’s Phlebotomy program or other health science programs, contact Kim Dorton, Health Sciences Coordinator, at 276.523.7456 or by email at

MECC Foundation Hosts Fundraiser for Dickenson County Endowed Scholarship


dale-jett-and-hello-stranger2-275x300The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation will present a special evening of music with Dale Jett and “Hello Stranger” as part of its fundraising event for the Dickenson County Endowed Scholarship.

This special fundraising event will be held Tuesday, November 29 at 6 p.m. at Ridgeview High School in Clintwood. Patrons will enjoy a reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres at 6:00 p.m., followed by the concert.

Singer and musician, Dale Jett, is a native of Southwest Virginia, and is a third generation member of the legendary Carter Family. The son of Janette Carter, the grandson of A.P. and Sara Carter, Dale’s roots have been heavily steeped within the heart of his family’s musical heritage.

“Hello Stranger” provides the closest link to the music of the original Carter Family. The group includes Dale, his wife Teresa, and longtime friend Oscar Harris.

Dale and Oscar have been musical partners and friends for over twenty years. Teresa joined them a few years back and the three have been playing and recording together since.

The Carter Family influence is evident as they continue the unbroken circle of music that Dale grew up in, and that their fans demand. The group also adds an electric mixture from songwriters they admire and original tunes, resulting in a true Appalachian Americana experience.

Growing up within the Carter Family, Dale has been influenced by many musicians and styles of music. He began playing guitar in his late teens when Elizabeth Cotten taught him his first chords – left handed, upside down. Later, he added his own style of Autoharp playing to his repertoire. But, it is ultimately his voice that captures you. It is powerful and compelling, yet at the same time, delicate and haunting.

Like his grandfather, Dale is a “collector” of songs. His dedication to the preservation of traditional music, his love of Carter Family songs, and his admiration of other songwriters are evident in his performances. His performances and recordings encompass a unique combination of traditional songs blended with a mix of others that extend the boundaries of conventional country. Whether playing an original tune, or that of others, “Hello Stranger’s” music will ring true to the soul.

Their performances have included the Carter Family Fold, Barter Theater, Mountain Stage, the California Autoharp Gathering, the Smithsonian, the Marty Stuart Show, the Grand Ole Opry, Irish Arts Council of New York City, and many other venues and events across the nation and in Canada. They have also performed at festivals, concerts, colleges, workshops, private gatherings, etc. around the country and in Canada.


Tickets for the event are $30 and will cover the reception and the concert. Tickets may be purchased by contacting Doris Rife, Chair of the Event Committee, at 276.926.8745, by e-mailing Jeri Bledsoe at, or by calling Jeri at 276.523. 2400, ext. 287.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the Dickenson County Endowed Scholarship Fund may donate online at, or by mailing a check made payable to MECC Foundation to MECC Foundation, 3441 Mountain Empire Road, Big Stone Gap, VA, 24219. Please note in the memo section of the check that it is for the Dickenson County Endowed Scholarship.

For more information about the event, contact Jeri Bledsoe, MECC Foundation Annual Fund Coordinator, 276-523-2400, extension 287, or by e-mail at


MECC to Offer CNA Certification Course in Lee County

Pennington Gap – Mountain Empire Community College will offer a Spring 2017 course to become a Certified Nurse Assistant at MECC’s Pennington Gap satellite campus located in the Pennington Gap Mini-Mall. An informational meeting will be held at the Lee Nursing & Rehab Center on Thursday, December 1 at 6:30 p.m. Those interested in enrolling in the summer course, or future CNA classes, are invited to attend. For more information, or to register for the course, contact Kim Dorton, MECC’s Assistant Dean of Health Science, at 276.523.7456.

MECC Foundation Raises $9.5M in Major Gifts Campaign

2016oct12_2519-sim-labBig Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College Foundation has announced that $9.5M has been raised in a three-year capital campaign supporting increased student success and developing a highly skilled workforce for the region’s new economy.

More than 1,200 individuals participated in the “Building for the Future” Campaign, which exceeded the Foundation’s initial fundraising goal by $500,000. College faculty and staff, along with MECC Foundation Board members, celebrated the close of the campaign during an event at the college on Wednesday, November 16.

“The college thanks our generous donors, the campaign’s leaders, and all of the members of the MECC Foundation Board of Directors for making this campaign a success,” stated Dr. Scott Hamilton, President of MECC. “The new opportunities resulting from this campaign are already enhancing our student’s success and their preparation for employment.”

In January 2013, the MECC Foundation Board of Directors launched a $9 million major gifts campaign to secure current and planned gifts for MECC’S strategic priorities, including scholarships, expanded support for student success and outreach programs, and new investment in academic programs that had the potential for diversifying and strengthening the local economy.  

Bob Isaac served as Campaign Chair, and Leton H. Harding, Jr. as Vice-Chair.  Nancey Smith, one of the trustees of the C. Bascom Slemp Foundation, was named the campaign’s Honorary Chair. 

In 2014, a bequest of $4 million was received from the estate of the late Carol Buchanan that created a new unrestricted endowment. In addition, the C. Bascom Slemp Foundation provided a lead gift of $2 million to create a new unrestricted endowment, leverage other gifts, and help launch the campaign. Almost $6.7M in the gifts or pledges were made for unrestricted purposes.  An additional $2M was given or pledged for scholarships.  Over $50,000 was contributed for student success endowments. 

Campaign investments have already enabled:

  • two new full-time Career Coaches and one continuing part-time coach to serve high school students with career and post-secondary education planning;
  • the Great Expectations Program to continue supporting the success of MECC students who were formerly in foster care;
  • $1,000 incentives to be offered to adults who have completed a GED, but have not previously pursued post-secondary education;
  • a new state-of-the art health care simulation laboratory has been created, equipped, and is being used for instruction;
  • investment in the college’s manufacturing and cybersecurity training programs have increased and other funding has been leveraged;
  • the college is increasing funding for scholarships and emergency assistance now and into the future.

To achieve the goal of increasing investment in academic programs to diversify and strengthen the local economy, the MECC Foundation secured grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission ($100,000) and the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission ($442,309) to enable the college to create a health care simulation laboratory.

Wednesday’s celebration included the dedication for the health care simulation lab located in Robb Hall.  The lab will enable health care students in practical and registered nursing, respiratory therapy, physical therapy and other related programs to receive state-of-the art, real-world training in a variety of medical situations. Prior to the simulation lab addition, MECC students were required to travel to more than an hour to Virginia Highlands Community College to complete the same type of training.

For more information on the MECC Foundation visit or call 276.523.2400 ext. 466.





MECC Enrollment Goes Off-Campus with Mobile Enroll

mobile-enroll-december-2016Big Stone Gap — Mountain Empire Community College will offer off-campus enrollment, or Mobile Enroll, this fall at locations in Wise, Dickenson, Lee, and Scott County. Individuals interested in applying for admission to MECC in spring 2017, obtaining financial aid, or who want to learn more about MECC’s programs are encouraged to visit the MECC Mobile Enroll van. On Thursday, December 8, Mobile Enroll will be located at the Clintwood Sleep Inn parking lot from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and the Wise Food City parking lot from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. On Wednesday, December 14, Mobile Enroll will be at the Duffield Food Country parking lot from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and at the Pennington Gap Food City parking lot from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. On Thursday, December 15, Mobile Enroll will be at the Weber City Food City parking lot from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and at the Big Stone Gap Food City parking lot from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. For more information on MECC’s Mobile Enroll, contact MECC Recruiter Todd Clendenon at 276.523.7434 or email









MECC Offering Non-Credit Fall Courses in Crafting, First Aid/CPR This Fall

MECC To Hold Corn Shuck Doll Workshop

Big Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College will offer a corn shuck doll workshop on Saturday, Nov. 19 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Wampler Library in Robb Hall. 

Corn shuck dolls are hundreds of years old, adopted by early European settlers from Native Americans.  These dolls were made from the moistened husks or shucks of corn.  Master artisan and workshop instructor Ganell Marshall ( has had her corn shuck dolls on display in Williamsburg, the Smithsonian, and on the White House Christmas tree.  The workshop is limited to 15 participants.  The non-credit workshop fee of $25.00 includes the costs of materials.  Participants are encouraged to bring a bag lunch.  Wampler Library will furnish coffee, tea, and water.  Registration is required by noon on Friday, November 11. To register, visit or call Lori Dingus at276.523.2400, ext. 372.  


MECC To Hold Advanced First Aid Class

Big Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College will hold three upcoming Advanced First Aid classes in November. This American Heart Association certification course for Heart Saver AED will include child and adult CPR and use of AED plus required first aid recertification topics to recertify first aid training. The course will be offered Friday, November 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Saturday, November 12, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Friday, November 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost of the course is $35. To register, visit or call Lori Dingus at 276.523.2400 ext. 372.


MECC To Hold CPR Recertification Class For Health Care Providers

Big Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College will hold two upcoming CPR-BLS courses for Health Care Providers in November. The courses will be offered Saturday, November 12 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Friday, November 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Robb Hall Room 117. This American Heart Association certification course in BLS for health care providers includes modules of AED, BVM, one-person and two-person adult CPR, child and infant care CPR, and obstructed airway. The cost of the class is $35. To register, visit or call Lori Dingus at 276.523.2400 ext. 372.





MECC Highlights Youth Talent in New CD Release

youth-movementBig Stone Gap, VA — Mountain Empire Community College is highlighting the best of Southwest Virginia’s youth music and the cultivator of those talents with the release of “Youth Movement: A Tribute to Miss Ellie”.

Musician and Home Craft Days Festival Organizer Tommy Bledsoe said the CD release, which includes 28 old-time, bluegrass, gospel and early country music tracks, celebrates the 45th anniversary of the festival as well as the life of festival organizer Sue Ella Boatright-Wells and her remarkable dedication to preserving mountain music. “Youth Movement: A Tribute to Miss Ellie” features performances by Bill and the Belles, the Whitetop Mountain Band, Todd Meade and family, Empty Bottle String Band, Sam Gleaves, Kelsey Rae, The Buttermilk Girls, Brett Ratliff, Brandon Maggard, Corbin Hayslett, The Childress Girls, the Scott and Wise County JAM programs, the Mountain Music School Band, and Sycamore Hollow.

Bledsoe noted that while the establishment of Home Craft Days in 1972 brought attention to traditional music and the musicians who were playing it, the latest CD release demonstrates how that same music is being carried on and reborn through younger generations.

“In making this CD, I thought about what had changed,” said Bledsoe. “The most obvious change was the incredible number of young people who were now included in the festival, mostly due to the dedication of Sue Ella. She started Mountain Music School, helped get the Junior Appalachian Musician (JAM) programs started and created an additional stage at HCD to feature our youth musicians. As a result, dozens of new groups and individual performers had been appearing at the festival and we had a lot of good recording. In addition, some of the second and third generations of our legacy performers, like Todd Meade and his family, Martha and Kilby Spencer (Whitetop Mountain Band) and others were carrying on the music. That was our focus this year.”

Preserving mountain music was a hallmark effort of Boatright-Wells and Bledsoe added that she was able to enjoy the CD and have a hand in the musical selections before her death. Tracks include, “Darlin’ Cory,” by Corbin Hayslett (winner of the 2015 Orthophonic Joy Contest); Loretta Lynn’s “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” by Kelsey Rae and Bill and the Belles; “Skillet Good and Greasy” by Whitetop Mountain Band; and original songs, like “Grandpa’s Working Shoes” by Sam Gleaves.

Several of the musicians featured on the CD started playing at Mountain Music School and in the afterschool JAM programs, including Tyler Hughes, Beth Miller, Maggie Gatley, and the Childress Girls. Bledsoe said not only are students preserving their legacy, but they are shaping the future of our region.

“A good number of those students who started getting interested in mountain culture are going deeper, wider and with more confidence than I could have imagined 25 years ago. Once they are invested with a sense of belonging to mountain culture, everything they do is shaped or influenced by it. If mountain people don’t understand the pathway from where we have come to now, they will be easily misled in the future. And the arts are a window into that history and the ownership of it,” Bledsoe said.

“Youth Movement: A Tribute to Miss Ellie” is available for purchase at MECC’s Bookstore, located in Holton Hall, and online at All proceeds benefit the Home Craft Days festival and Mountain Music School program.





Vote Now to Help MECC Receive $25,000 Grant

state-farm-logo-assistBig Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College needs help from the community to be selected for a $25,000 grant to support a comprehensive opioid education program in Southwest Virginia, entitled Project REVIVE Appalachia.

MECC was selected as one of 200 finalists in State Farm’s Neighborhood Assist grant program, a crowd-sourced philanthropic program that empowers communities to identify issues in their neighborhoods. Individuals can vote up to ten times a day from now until midnight on Friday, November 4 by visiting  A valid email address is required for voting.

Project REVIVE Appalachia will provide education and assistance to rural EMS, First Responders, school nurses and school administrators in Southwest Virginia in responding to opioid overdoses and reducing associated deaths from opioid abuse. Funding will be used to assist in purchasing of Naloxone (Narcan), a therapy used to reverse the effects of opioids in the brain and reduce death rates from overdose. In addition, MECC staff will work directly to train EMS, First Responders and public school administrators and nurses in the administration of Naloxone (Narcan). 

MECC Practical Nursing students will provide general community awareness training of opioid issues to public schools, community colleges (students, staff, and faculty), and faith based organizations throughout the region.  Training will address how to recognize and respond to opioid use and possible overdose, dispelling common myths about how to reverse an opioid overdose, and understanding civil liability laws in reporting an overdose.

On Nov. 30, the top 40 vote-receiving causes will be announced at and a $25,000 grant will be awarded to the affiliated nonprofits.

For more information or to vote, visit or contact Nora Blankenbecler, MECC, Director, Mountain Empire Rural Health Network, at 276.523.2400 ext. 241.




MECC Student Veterans Association to Hold Basketball Tournament

2016-veterans-3on3flyerBig Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College’s Student Veterans Association is seeking teams to participate in a 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament. The tournament will be held Saturday, November 5 at 10 a.m. in the Appalachia High School Gymnasium. There is a $15 charge per team with all proceeds benefitting outreach and scholarship funds for MECC student veterans. Awards will be given to the top tournament winners and concessions will be available. For more information visit or contact Lena Grace, MECC Veterans Coordinator, at 276.523.2400, ext. 217.




MECC Foundation Hosts Alumni and Friends Reunion and Concert

kaitlynbaker_publicity5_bychansesimpsonBig Stone Gap, VA __ The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation will host the MECC Alumni and Friends Reunion to be held on Saturday, November 12, at 6 p.m. in the Goodloe Center of Phillips-Taylor Hall on the MECC campus.

“Come Home to MECC” is the theme of the evening featuring receptions and a concert by Pound, Virginia native Kaitlyn Baker, and opening band, Scratch River Telegraph Company from Wise. This free event is open to all alumni and college friends and is an opportunity to connect with friends, former classmates, and faculty.

There is no fee to attend, but guests are asked to register for the event on the MECC Foundation website, Seating for the concert is limited to 400 and once all tickets are issued on a first-come, first-served basis, the event will be sold out.

Kaitlyn Baker’s music reflects the beauty of the mountains and the ruggedness of the coal mining culture in which she was raised. Indeed, this 21-year-old singer/songwriter has been referred to as a new “coal miner’s daughter.” Kaitlyn Baker recently produced a video of her song “Heart of Appalachia,” which is being used to promote tourism and economic development in southwest Virginia. Her ballad “Coal Train,” which was inspired by her hometown, was included in the official 2015 Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards ZinePak, alongside tracks by such superstars as Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Florida-Georgia Line, Luke Bryan and others. The 2-CD compilation debuted at #4 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums Chart and remained in the Top 10 for three consecutive weeks.

Scratch River Telegraph Company will open the concert. The band performs rock ‘n’ roll music, but also draws inspiration and musical elements from blues, folk, rockabilly, and country. The band has shared the stage with acts such as The Delta Saints, The Steepwater Band, Wayne Graham, Red County Gospel, The Rickshaw Roadshow, and Folk Soul Revival, among many others. They have been a part of music festivals including the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover, the Blue Plum Festival in Johnson City, Tennessee, and the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion.

MECC is pleased to host these popular local artists for this first-ever event. Appreciation is expressed to Norton Community Hospital for helping sponsor the event receptions.

For more information about the MECC Alumni and Friends Reunion, call or e-mail Jeri Bledsoe at 276.523.2400, extension 287, or e-mail at

Mountain Empire Community College to Hold MECC PROUD Week

mecc-proudBig Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College is hosting the third annual MECC PROUD week, recognizing the college’s important contributions to higher education and regional economic development October 10-16.

MECC alumni, local businesses, MECC staff members, MECC students and community members are encouraged to display “MECC PROUD” signs in their yard, window displays, and vehicles. “MECC PROUD” signage will be distributed to local businesses by several student clubs. Signs will be available to the public in the lobby of MECC’s Godwin Hall Tuesday, Oct. 11 – Friday, Oct. 14 and at the MECC Alumni Booth during the Home Craft Days Festival, October 15 and 16. Businesses may also email a request for MECC PROUD signage to Signs are offered at no cost.

The goal of the “MECC Proud” campaign is to recognize the success and continued contributions of thousands of MECC graduates to our region and beyond, while also promoting the college’s role in providing educational opportunities and supporting economic development in Southwest Virginia since its founding in 1972.

MECC hosts an alumni recognition program with a goal to expand and update contact and career information of all graduates and former students. Alumni are encouraged to email their updated information to

The “MECC Proud” campaign will coincide with MECC’s Home Craft Days Festival, to be held Friday, October 14 through Sunday, October 16. The college will host thousands of local and out of town visitors to the campus during the festival events, creating a unique opportunity to showcase support for the college and the community.

For more information on MECC Proud week, contact the MECC Office of Community Relations at 276.523.7480.




Mountain Empire Community College to Host 45th Annual Home Craft Days Festival  

hcd-2016-2Big Stone Gap, VAMountain Empire Community College will once again welcome thousands of visitors to the campus this fall for the 45th Annual Home Craft Days Festival held Oct. 14-16.

Celebrating the rich music, culture, and artistry of Southwest Virginia, the Home Craft Days Festival features demonstrations of weaving, pottery making, grist milling, wood crafting, basket weaving, broom making, quilting, tatting and much more.

This year’s festival is dedicated to long-time festival organizer and MECC Dean of Workforce Development, Sue Ella Boatright-Wells. A free tribute concert in her honor will be held Friday night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Phillips-Taylor Hall Goodloe Center. Performers include Dan and Robin Kessinger, Bill and the Belles, Dale Jett and Hello Stranger, Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, and Kelsey Rae Copeland.

According to festival music coordinator Tommy Bledsoe, “The 45th annual festival is dedicated to Sue Ella Boatright-Wells, who helped the Home Craft Days Festival become one of the best celebrations of traditional arts, crafts and music in the mountains. She worked so hard to respect the traditions of the elders and to make a way for the youth to become invested in their culture and traditions. This festival is her gift to the local community and a promise for the future of Appalachian music and culture.”

Craft and food vendors will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday’s music schedule includes featured performers: Todd Meade, Debbie Adams, Beth Bailey/Osborne Family Band; Scott County and Wise County JAM program; Patti and Glenn Roberts; Sycamore Hollow; Bill McCall & Southern Country; Lee Sexton and Son; Bill and the Belles, Center Stage Cloggers; Kelsey Rae; Dale Jett & Hello Stranger; Scott County Boys; White Top Mountain Band; Empty Bottle String; Town Branch Bluegrass Band; Miss Ellie’s String Band; New Harvest Brothers; Angelyn DeBord; Richard Phillips, Tommy Clements, and Roger Bullock; Poor Valley Girls; Buttermilk Girls; High Test Grass; Jimmy and Ada McCown; New Circle Bluegrass; Sparky and Rhonda Rucker.

Sunday’s music schedule includes: Skin and Bonz; The Childress Girls; Rich Kirby and Nate Polly; Pam Randolph & Doug Dorschug; T.V. Barnett and his Roan Mountain Moonshiners; Center Stage Cloggers; Fred O’Quinn and the Bluegrass Travelers; Smith Family Singers; The Sheets Family Band; Crooked Road Ramblers; Jack Wright and Roger Hall; Ben’s Boys; Poplar Hill Reunion; Ben’s Boys; Brandon Maggard; Anndrena Belcher; Wolfe Brothers; Corbin Hayslett; Ron Short & the Possum Playboys and Nancy and Bill Smith.

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 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



MECC Hosts Annual Haunted Forest Event

haunted-forest-2016-picBig Stone Gap, VA –The woods around Mountain Empire Community College will soon come alive with the spirits of the “undead.”

MECC will host its annual Haunted Forest beginning Friday, October 7 from 7-11 p.m. The event will be held every Friday and Saturday until Halloween. Admission is $10. The Haunted Forest is recommended for age 10 & up. All proceeds will benefit student scholarships at MECC.

This year, Mama Lebow’s vile anger has conjured another spell. The creatures of the woods are developing a taste for two legged meat and the butcher has lost control of the animals! In the Slaughterhouse, you will be in a fight for your life against demonic animals that have taken control. No turn is safe as they hunt for their prey!

For more information, please check out the MECC Haunted Forest Facebook page at or contact Cindy Ringley at (276) 523-2400, ext. 264.






Mountain Empire Community College Offers Fall Late Start Classes

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College will offer a variety of late starting classes for students this fall. Classes start throughout October and will run through December. Topics include Armed & Unarmed Security, Accounting, Office Administration, CPR & EMT training, Healthcare, Basic Pharmacy, Business Management, Medical Terminology, Multimedia Development, Legal Assisting and more. To view the full list of fall late start courses, visit For more information, or to register, contact the MECC Office of Enrollment Services at 276.523.7474 or visit



MECC President Scott Hamilton Announces Retirement


Dr. Scott Hamilton

Big Stone Gap, VA – Dr. Scott Hamilton, president of Mountain Empire Community College, has announced his retirement effective July 1, 2017.

Dr. Hamilton joined MECC as president in 2010. He had previously served as the Dean of Instruction at Eastern Idaho Technical College in Idaho Falls, ID. A native of Illinois, Dr. Hamilton’s experience includes work in the mining industry as well as instruction and administration in high school- and community college-level career and technical education.

During his tenure at MECC, Dr. Hamilton oversaw the renovation of Dalton-Cantrell Hall, construction of new access and entrance facilities, numerous campus improvements, the development of several new career and technical programs, and the college’s SACSCOC five-year reaffirmation.

“When I came to MECC I had been told by many people that MECC had a hard-working and dedicated staff who made it their mission to help the people of Southwest Virginia,” said Hamilton. “Over the last six and a half years I have found that to be very true.  The needs are great here in Appalachia and the challenges are as steep as the mountains; but this college has always met, and will continue to meet those challenges. Thousands of lives have been changed through the hard work and commitment to students of the faculty and staff here and I am sure that tradition of service will continue.”   

Hamilton added, “It has been my privilege and honor to serve as president of this excellent college for seven years.  I will always cherish the years here at MECC as the capstone of my career.”

“We are grateful for the hard work and dedication that Scott Hamilton has given to Mountain Empire Community College and we wish him nothing but the best in retirement,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “We also look forward to working with the local college board and the college community to find Mountain Empire’s next president – someone who will continue to build on the progress and momentum the college achieved over Dr. Hamilton’s tenure.”

A search to replace Hamilton is expected to be conducted in the spring of 2017. For more information, please contact MECC’s Office of Community Relations at 276.523.2400 ext. 480.