A two-year effort by the Tennessee College of Applied Technology to secure funding to establish a permanent extension campus in Mountain City has been successful.
TCAT Elizabethton President Dean Blevins, in remarks made at the groundbreaking ceremony at the Johnson County Vocational Center on Oct. 26, said funds had been secured to construct a one story Career and Technical Education building at the Johnson County Vocational School in Mountain City.
“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,” Blevins said.
Blevins praised the efforts of Dr. Mischelle Simcox, director of schools, and the Johnson County Board of Education, for providing a quality education to students for entry into the workforce. He also acknowledged the support from Dr. Flora Tydings, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents.
According to Blevins, TCAT Elizabethton has been a part of the growth and job training success in Mountain City for several decades now. It 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, Blevins said TCAT Elizabethton plans to offer a hybrid automotive and diesel program; courses in multi-skill construction trades, including 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. By establishing an extension campus in Mountain City, it will allow Johnson Countians to obtain job training without having to drive to TCAT Elizabethton,” Blevins said.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s goal for 55 percent of all Tennesseans to hold a certification or post-secondary credential by the year 2025 has been successful. “By establishing the Johnson County Extension Campus, it is estimated it would generate an estimated 35 percent increase in certification awarded by TCAT Elizabethton toward the Drive to 55 goals,” Blevins said.
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 Tennessee 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. For additional information, contact TCAT Elizabethton at 423-543-0070.