October 31, 2018
TCAT celebrates new extension campus coming to Mountain City
By Bob Robinson and Tamas Mondovics
Federal, state and local officials attended a groundbreaking ceremony of one story Career and Technical Education building outside the Career Technical Education Building at the Johnson County Vocational Center in Mountain City. The event included leaders who helped bring the funding for the project and was the result of a five-year effort by the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT Elizabethton) to secure funding to establish a permanent extension campus in Mountain City.
U.S. Rep. Phil Roe and Johnson County’s legislative delegation to Nashville, state Sen. John Lundberg and state Rep. Timothy Hill were all on the list. Mary Short, area director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development, was also on hand to explain the cost of and funding efforts of the project, which included a $150,000 grant. The proposed project is leveraged with a $250,000 ARC Grant as well as a $163,000 applicant contribution.
“Securing funding to establish an extension campus in Mountain City by 2019 was one of the goals in the Tennessee Board of Regents Strategic plan, TCAT Elizabethton’s governing body,” said TCAT Elizabethton President Dean Blevins, in remarks during the ceremony.
Blevins praised the efforts of Dr. Mischelle Simcox, director of schools, and the Johnson County Board of Education, for providing quality education to students for entry into the workforce. Blevins also acknowledged the support from Dr. Flora Tydings, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents. TCAT Elizabethton has been a part of the growth and job training success in Mountain City for several decades now. The growth began when TCAT Elizabethton offered classes in electricity and computer information technology at the Tennessee Department of Corrections facility and in administrative office technology, all in Mountain City.
In response to an informal job training survey of Johnson County business and industry, the new extension plans to offer a hybrid automotive and diesel program; courses in multi-skill construction trades, incl
uding residential and commercial wiring, plumbing, carpentry, HVAC, and industrial maintenance; licensed practical nursing; and administrative office technology.
“We are open to suggestions from the community on job training courses that are needed to help Johnson Countians secure employment in the region,” Blevins said. “By establishing an extension campus in Mountain City, it will allow students from Johnson County to obtain job training without having to drive to TCAT Elizabethton.”
One of the attractive features of the site is that it is adjacent to the Career Technical Education Building on the Johnson County High School campus. The extension will begin as just a single-story building but is designed so that additions can be built to meet future demand. In the past several years, more than 75 students were commuting each day from their residence in Johnson County to TCAT Elizabethton’s Main Campus, located across from the Elizabethton Municipal Airport. The commute time from Johnson County to TCAT’s Main Campus takes about one-hour, traveling 34 miles, one way, in all kinds of weather.Students must either travel Tennessee Highway 67 West, around Watauga Lake or take Ten
nessee Highway 91 through Shady Valley. Both mountainous scenic routes are two-lane with switchback curves.
“We look forward to continuing to fine-tune the working relationship with Dr. Simcox and her education team to better serve students and residents of Johnson County,” Blevins said.
Simcox was on hand to express her appreciation for the opportunity the new extension building will offer including the dual enrollment possibilities for high school students.
“Enrolment will begin in January with the plan to start the first class in August 2019,” she said.
Hill added, “This is program sets a precedent for the entire state. We are talking about a generational change in Johnson County, and it starts here today.”
Former educator and recently elected Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor emphasized the benefits of the joined effort when he said, “ This new building and TCAT extension will truly help our young students and our county to become a reliable workforce community.”
For additional information, contact TCAT Elizabethton at 423-543-0070 or visit, www.tcatcelizabethton.edu.