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Grant denied for TCAT campus in Johnson County; searching for other funding

By Marlana Ward

Johnson County’s chances for a technical training school became slimmer recently when the Tennessee Higher Education Commission denied a grant request that would have been used to open a Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) campus in the county.  County officials and TCAT administration had worked together and made plans for the satellite campus if funding had been approved, but now plans are on hold in hopes that funds can be obtained through other avenues.
TCAT offers training in occupational technologies that can mean higher paying jobs and more job opportunities for students who wish to pursue a vocation after high school.  The school prides itself on providing affordable education opportunities for people who wish to learn a new skill as well as providing training to allow for job advancement for people already employed in certain industrial fields.
“Not every student that graduates from the high school has the means or opportunity to go to a four year college,” explained Johnson County Mayor Larry Potter.  “This technical school could give those students the chance they need for better jobs or to start their own business.”
For some students, the cost of college tuition is not the only concern when considering further education possibilities.  “As a parent, you worry when your child has to travel around the lake in winter weather to go to school,” said Potter. “Students here are at a logistical disadvantage.  They shouldn’t have to travel a far distance in bad weather to go to school.”
The proposed school would have been located in the Industrial Park on Highway 67W.  The County Commission had approved for the former TVA spec building to be renovated to house the TCAT campus using the funds given had the grant been approved.  “A school in that building would have been a great investment for the county,” expounded Potter.  “It would have been an investment in our county, in our children, and in our business infrastructure.”
Now that the grant possibility has passed the county by, the county’s hope for obtaining a local TCAT school rests in the state’s appropriating of revenue funds to Johnson County.  Recent figures released by the state’s finance administration office showed a continued growth in revenue made by the state in general revenues, motor vehicle registrations, and other tax revenues collected.  “These increased revenue funds should be invested in the youth of the state to ensure opportunities for continued growth,” expressed Potter.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.