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.