MECC Announces Creation of Garnett Gilliam Buccaneer Scholarship 

MECC Announces Creation of Garnett Gilliam Buccaneer Scholarship 

Garnett Gilliam

Big Stone Gap – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation is pleased to announce the creation of the Garnett Gilliam Buccaneer Scholarship honoring long-time local educator and community volunteer Garnett Gilliam.  

Garnett is widely recognized in the region as a teacher, historian and community volunteer. A life-long resident of Big Stone Gap, Gilliam’s endowed scholarship will benefit graduates of Union High School, and/or graduates of the former Powell Valley and Appalachia High Schools.  

The MECC Foundation encourages donations to the scholarship fund in Gilliam’s honor be made either online at www.meccfoundation.org/give or by mail to MECC Foundation, Attention: Garnett Gilliam Buccaneer Scholarship, 3441 Mountain Empire Road, Big Stone Gap, VA, 24219. 

“MECC students will be able to reach their educational and career goals without additional financial burden thanks to the generosity of the Gilliam family in establishing this scholarship. The MECC Foundation is honored to assist in this fitting tribute to Mr. Gilliam, who has dedicated his life to public education, community service, and historical preservation,” said Dr. Amy Greear, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at MECC and Executive Director of the MECC Foundation.  

Born in 1935, the youngest of five brothers, Garnett came to his love of history early in his schooling. After graduating from Big Stone Gap High School in 1954, Garnett earned a 4-year football scholarship to Emory and Henry College where he continued his love of the sport as well as his love of history. In 1958, he graduated with a B.A. in History and a Minor in Physical Education. 

Curious about the world and with a desire to serve his country, Garnett enlisted with the U.S. Army and was stationed in San Diego, CA before shipping out to Korea. Following his tour of duty, he returned to his beloved mountains of Southwest Virginia and began his teaching and coaching career at the former J.J. Kelly High School in Wise, VA. During this time he met Carolyn, his future wife. Together they would rear three daughters. 

In 1963, Garnett came to Powell Valley High School (now Union High School) and stayed there 35 years, teaching, coaching, serving in administration, and creating the driver’s education program. He often combined his driver’s ed lessons with local history lessons, pointing out landmarks and sharing tales as students drove the back roads of the town and valley. Garnett never stopped learning and achieved his Master of Arts in Education from Union College in KY in 1974 which, he boasted, had Colonel Sanders provide the commencement address. 

As retirement approached, Garnett’s collection of memorabilia about the county’s towns and schools had outgrown his bookshelves at home. He then opened a dedicated space in the June Tolliver House to showcase annuals, pictures, and history of the area. In 2000, the Town of Big Stone Gap recognized Garnett’s contribution  to the preservation of the area’s history by designating a “Garnett Gilliam” day. That same year, the Gap Corporation awarded him Citizen of the Year.  

As the memorabilia outgrew “The School Room” at the Tolliver House, he and other members of the community came together in 2007 to create The Lonesome Pine School and Heritage Center in a renovated Sears and Roebuck home on Clinton Avenue.  The collections continued to grow and more space was needed. In 2020, Garnett’s fellow volunteers surprised him by naming the newest addition to the Center in his honor. The Garnett Gilliam Continuing Education Center will host guest lectures, book signings, and special exhibits. 

Today, The LPS&HC houses a historical collection of past and present school memorabilia as well as thousands of pictures. It’s a research center for genealogy and a local gathering spot to learn about everything from the area’s coal mining heritage to author John Fox Jr. to the local camps of the Civilian Conservation Corps. 

Garnett has touched the lives of thousands of Wise County residents through his work as an educator and continues to do so as a historian. He hopes this scholarship will benefit those of any age who value an education but may not have the means to achieve it. “Without the help of scholarships,” Garnett says, “I would not have gone to college.” 

For more information on the Garnett Gilliam Buccaneer Scholarship, or information on creating a scholarship for MECC students, please contact the MECC Foundation at 276-523-7480 or by email to Amy Greear, agreear@mecc.edu

MECC Foundation Participates In Giving Tuesday Now Campaign

Big Stone Gap — The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation is participating in a national fundraising effort, Giving Tuesday Now, to benefit MECC’s Student Emergency Assistance Fund.

More than 84% of MECC students qualify for the highest level of federal need as determine by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Often, student have financial needs beyond tuition, including books, transportation and living expenses. An emergency financial situation can impact a student’s ability to complete their educational and career goals.

The goal of the MECC Student Emergency Assistance Fund is to support students who experience a financial emergency with a goal to help them complete college. Awards are provided to students based on their completion of an application and their academic standing. Students must have a GPA of a 2.0, must have been enrolled for at least one semester, and must have a documented financial need. Students may not receive an award of more than $700 per academic year.

For more information on MECC’s Student Emergency Assistance Fund, please contact Dr. Amy Greear, Executive Director of the MECC Foundation, or Lelia Bradshaw, Dean of Student Services, at 276-523-2400.

MECC to Host Lee County Endowed Scholarship Valentine’s Fundraiser

The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation and the Lee County Endowed Scholarship Committee will host a special Valentine’s Day Dinner on Friday, February 14, 2020 at 7 p.m., in the Goodloe Center at Mountain Empire Community College. There will be a silent auction, along with delicious locally-sourced food and beverages from North Fork Catering Company in Weber City and wine from MountainRose Vineyards and Winery in Wise. It will be an exciting event that you will not want to miss!

Patrons can support the event by purchasing tickets, sponsoring the event, or make a gift to the Lee County Endowed Scholarship. All sponsorship levels come with complimentary tickets. For more information, visit www.meccfoundation.org/lcfund or call the MECC Foundation Office at 276.523.7466.

MECC Foundation to Host Dickenson County Endowed Scholarship Fundraiser Featuring Larry Sparks

sparks

Larry Sparks

Clintwood, VA — The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation is pleased to host Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. at Clintwood’s Jettie Baker Center.

Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased at the Clintwood Town Hall or the Ralph Stanley Museum in Clintwood (cash or check purchases) as well as online at www.meccfoundation.org/dcevent.  All proceeds will benefit the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation’s Dickenson County Endowed Scholarship.

The Dickenson County Endowed Scholarship Committee is currently seeking sponsorships to support event costs. Sponsorships range from $250 to $1000 and include tickets, branding, and special recognition. For more information on becoming an event sponsor, visit www.meccfoundation.org/dcfund.

Larry Sparks is a dedicated leader for bluegrass music and is among the most widely known and respected touring musicians in bluegrass and gospel music today. Larry began his career in the mid-1960s as a guitarist with the Stanley Brothers and later became lead vocalist for Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Larry went on to form his own band in 1969, The Lonesome Ramblers. He has recorded and toured with his band for nearly 50 years, releasing over 60 albums and delighting countless fans with his soulful vocals and unparalleled musicianship.

Larry’s hits include John Deere Tractor, A Face in the Crowd, Tennessee 1949, Blue Virginia Blues, I Just Want to Thank You Lord. Love of the Mountains, Goodbye Little Darlin, You Could Have Called, Tribute to Hank Williams, Green Pastures in the Sky and more. He has performed on such world famous venues as the Grand Ole Opry, Austin City Limits television show on PBS. Song of the Mountains on PBS. He has toured the United States, Canada, and Japan.

Larry has been recognized as the International Bluegrass Music Associations Male Vocalist of the Year. He was awarded Album of the Year and Recorded Event of the Year with his album Larry Sparks 40 featuring several artists such as Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Ralph Stanley, Ricky Skaggs, Tom T. Hall and many more.

Larry has been inducted into The International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame, and the George D. Hays Hall of Fame, Founder of The Grand Ole Opry.

For more information on the MECC Foundation and the Dickenson County Scholarship, visit www.meccfoundation.org.

 

MECC Foundation to Host Diamonds and Denim Scott County Endowed Scholarship Fundraiser

MECC Foundation to Host “Diamonds and Denim” Event Supporting Scott County Scholarships

The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation is pleased to present “Diamonds and Denim,” an evening of elegance and entertainment featuring the music of the Jeff Little Trio and Wayne Henderson, at the beautiful Crooked River Farms in Hiltons, Va., Saturday, August 24.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Scott County Endowed Scholarship Fund, supporting Scott County students who wish to further their education and skill level at Mountain Empire Community College. Continued financial support is needed to assist students with tuition, book, and attendance costs.

The reception will begin at 6:30 p.m. and includes heavy hors d’oeuvres, refreshments, wine & beer, concert entertainment and a silent auction. Guests are encouraged to wear their diamonds and denim for this relaxed, semi-formal evening event. The concert will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets for the event are $65 or $125 per couple and may be purchased online at www.meccfoundation.org/scevent or at Farm Bureau Insurance located in Gate City, VA.

The Scott County Endowed Scholarship Committee is currently seeking sponsorships to support event costs. Sponsorships range from $500 to $5000 and include tickets, branding, and special recognition. For more information on becoming an event sponsor, visit www.meccfoundation.org/scfund.

With few exceptions, the piano does not play a prominent part in Appalachian or Americana music, and is rarely the lead instrument. But Jeff Little is an exception – and a remarkable one. His distinctive two-handed style, much influenced by the   mountain flat-picked guitar tradition, is breathtaking in its speed, precision and clarity. He has performed at the Smithsonian Institution, the National Folk Festival, Merlefest and has been featured on National Public Radio and PBS. In 2014, Jeff was inducted to the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame. He is a full time faculty member and artist in residents at Catawba College in Salisbury, NC.

Wayne Henderson’s top-notch finger-picking is a source of great pleasure and pride to his friends, family and neighbors in Grayson County, Virginia. His guitar playing has also been enjoyed at Carnegie Hall, in three national tours of Masters of the Steel-String Guitar, and in seven nations in Asia. In addition to his reputation as a guitarist, Henderson is a luthier of great renown. He is a recipient of a 1995 National Heritage Award presented by the National Endowment for the Arts. He produces about 20 instruments a year, mostly guitars; he is almost as well-known for the mandolins he has made.

Crooked River Farm is a 200-acre estate along the Holston River close to Seven Shoals in Hiltons, Virginia. This enchanted estate includes rolling hay fields, over a mile of river frontage, oak forests and open glades.  The view is spectacular down an open valley with Clinch Mountain on one side, rocky cliffs along the river on the other side and beautiful meadows and hay fields between. A restored 1823 timber frame lodge towers above the valley below. The power and magnetism of the river delight the eye and pull you in while the forest and glades make the outside world fall away. The heart of Crooked River is the circa-1823 Ohio Grist Mill that serves as the concert venue, featuring 12×12 oak beams and majestic lighting.

For more information, contact the MECC Foundation at 276.523.7466.

Belcher Named 2019 MECC Alumna of the Year

Alicia Belcher

Alicia Belcher

Big Stone Gap — Alicia Belcher, a resident of St. Paul and math teacher at Ridgeview High School, has been named MECC’s 2019 Alumna of the Year.

Belcher, a 2014 Summa Cum Laude graduate of MECC, earned an Associate’s Degree in Pre-Teacher Education. She began at MECC as a non-traditional college student, enrolling as a single mother in her thirties with only a high school education. After graduating from MECC, Belcher graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2015 from UVA-Wise, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences with a Concentration in Mathematics and Teaching Endorsements in PK-12, Special Education, Middle School Mathematics, and High School Mathematics.

In 2017, she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Aurora University, earning a Master’s Degree in Mathematics Education. She is currently in the dissertation sequence at Northcentral University where she will earn her PhD in Education with a specialization in Curriculum and Teaching in late 2019. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA in her graduate work.

Belcher currently teaches mathematics at Ridgeview High School in Dickenson County where she assists more than 40 at-risk youth earn high school diplomas. She is also an employee of UVA-Wise Upward Bound Program where she teaches at-risk youth in several mathematics classes and heads up several STEM projects.

Belcher formerly worked for nearly 12 years with local non-profit agencies serving at-risk youth, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and the local homeless population. Additionally, she is a GLOBE certified instructor in the areas of atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and pedosphere.

Previous years outstanding Alumni of the Year winners include, Dr. Patricia Vanhook, Faculty, East Tennessee State University; Dr. Amanda Graham, Online Instructor, Kaplan University; and Rohini Sampooman Swaminathan, United Nations Institute for Training and Research. For more information, contact the MECC Foundation at 276.523.7466 or visit www.meccfoundation.org.

 

Big prizes and golfing fun on tap at Auto World – MECC Golf Classic on May 17th to provide scholarships at MECC

Big Stone Gap – One lucky golfer will go home with a $500 prize, and other great prizes will be awarded, as well, at the Auto World – MECC Golf Classic on Friday, May 17, at Lonesome Pine Country Club to benefit scholarships at Mountain Empire Community College.

All players hitting a hole-in-one on Hole #10 will win a 2019 Jeep Renegade 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, the prize money will be divided among the winners.

Registration will begin at 8 a.m., with a shotgun start at 9:15 a.m. The tournament will be Captain’s Choice and will feature two flights and two places. There will be “most accurate drive” and “closest to the pin” prizes.

The entry fee of $100 per person includes a continental breakfast, golf shirt, cart and green fees, luncheon, goodie bag of snacks, most accurate drive and closest to the pin contests, and entrance into the drawing for the $500 cash prize to be given away at the end of the tournament. Golfers must be present to win the cash prize. Shirts for the tournament are sponsored by Glass Machinery & Excavation, Inc. of Jonesville, Virginia.

A delicious lunch will be served following the tournament. During that time, golfers may bid on unique and interesting items including art, sports memorabilia, and spa packages during the live auction. There will also be a silent auction which will begin during the continental breakfast and continue throughout the event.

Tournament Sponsorship is available at four levels – Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum for financial support in the amounts of $500, $1,000, and $2,500, and $5,000 and above respectively. All tournament sponsors will receive a complimentary team(s) and will be recognized during the tournament welcome and in the printed materials for the tournament.

Other sponsorships are available. Please visit the MECC Foundation website at www.meccfoundation.org for more information, to become a sponsor, or to register a team.

Registrations may also be faxed to 276-523-7485, e-mailed to Jeri Bledsoe at jbledsoe@mecc.edu, or completed by phone at 276-523-2400, extension 287.

Individuals or businesses who would like to sponsor the tournament, provide an item for the auction, or receive more information may contact Jeri Bledsoe, Tournament Coordinator, by telephone or e-mail as indicated in the previous paragraph.

-MECC Foundation-

MECC Foundation to Feature Ron Rash at John Fox Jr. Festival

Ron Rash

Ron Rash

Big Stone Gap, VA — The MECC Foundation, in partnership with the Lonesome Pine Regional Library and the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Project, is pleased to announce the 43rd annual John Fox, Jr. Literary Festival, featuring a presentation by guest author Ron Rash, on Wednesday, March 6 at 10 a.m. in the Goodloe Center of Phillips-Taylor Hall.

In coordination with the festival event, the MECC Foundation will host the 32nd Annual Lonesome Pine Short Story Contest and the 15th Annual Lonesome Pine Poetry Contest. The deadline for submitting entries is Wednesday, February 20 at 4:30 p.m. Entry categories include adult, high school (grades 9 through 12), and middle school (grades 5 through 8) categories.  Contest rules are available below. Winners of the contest will be announced during the Literary Festival Event.

 Ron Rash is a New York Times best-selling author, PEN/Faulkner finalist, two-time winner of the O. Henry Prize, and winner of the James Still Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. A son of Buncombe and Watauga County natives, Rash was raised in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, and his family has lived in the southern Appalachian Mountains since the mid-1700s.

Rash’s love and deep appreciation for the southern Appalachians has launched him into a spectacular literary career. He wrote three collections of poetry and two collections of short stories before transitioning to writing a series of acclaimed and award-winning novels, including The Cove, Above the Waterfall, Nothing Gold Can Stay, Serena, Burning Bright and My Father Like a River.

Books will be available to purchase and for author signing.  The John Fox, Jr. Festival will be followed by a reservation-only luncheon with the featured speaker at the John Fox, Jr. Museum in Big Stone Gap.  Tickets for the luncheon are $23 per person and reservations can be made by calling the MECC Foundation office at 276.523.7466.

The NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. The Lonesome Pine Regional Library is pleased to bring a variety of NEA Big Read programming opportunities March 6-31, 2019. For a schedule of events, visit us at http://lonesomepine.boundless.ly/.

For more information on the MECC Foundation, please visit our website at www.meccfoundation.org.

2019 Contest Rules

 

Big Read Logo

MECC Foundation to Host Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers in Clintwood

Clintwood, VA — The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation is pleased to host Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. at Clintwood’s Jettie Baker Center.

Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased at the Clintwood Town Hall or the Ralph Stanley Museum in Clintwood (cash or check purchases) as well as online at www.meccfoundation.org/dcevent.  All proceeds will benefit the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation’s Dickenson County Endowed Scholarship.

The Dickenson County Endowed Scholarship Committee is currently seeking sponsorships to support event costs. Sponsorships range from $250 to $1000 and include tickets, branding, and special recognition. For more information on becoming an event sponsor, visit www.meccfoundation.org/dcfund.

Larry Sparks

Larry Spark

Larry Sparks is a dedicated leader for bluegrass music and is among the most widely known and respected touring musicians in bluegrass and gospel music today. Larry began his career in the mid-1960s as a guitarist with the Stanley Brothers and later became lead vocalist for Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Larry went on to form his own band in 1969, The Lonesome Ramblers. He has recorded and toured with his band for nearly 50 years, releasing over 60 albums and delighting countless fans with his soulful vocals and unparalleled musicianship.

Larry’s hits include John Deere Tractor, A Face in the Crowd, Tennessee 1949, Blue Virginia Blues, I Just Want to Thank You Lord. Love of the Mountains, Goodbye Little Darlin, You Could Have Called, Tribute to Hank Williams, Green Pastures in the Sky and more. He has performed on such world famous venues as the Grand Ole Opry, Austin City Limits television show on PBS. Song of the Mountains on PBS. He has toured the United States, Canada, and Japan.

Larry has been recognized as the International Bluegrass Music Associations Male Vocalist of the Year. He was awarded Album of the Year and Recorded Event of the Year with his album Larry Sparks 40 featuring several artists such as Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Ralph Stanley, Ricky Skaggs, Tom T. Hall and many more.

Larry has been inducted into The International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame, and the George D. Hays Hall of Fame, Founder of The Grand Ole Opry.

For more information on the MECC Foundation and the Dickenson County Scholarship, visit www.meccfoundation.org.

 

-MECC Foundation-

MECC Announces New Vice President, Executive Director of Mountain Empire Community College Foundation

Amy Greear

Amy Greear, Executive Director

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College is pleased to announce that Amy Greear has been appointed as Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation.

Ms. Greear has served as MECC’s Coordinator of Community Relations since 2012 and as the college’s Interim Director of the Foundation since January of 2018. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Communications from Clinch Valley College (UVA-Wise), a Master’s degree in Educational Communications and Technology from East Tennessee State University, and is a doctoral candidate in the Leadership and Learning program at the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga.

Ms. Greear has served as an adjunct communication instructor at MECC for the last four years. She is a member of the college’s student success committee, SACS committee, and formerly served as the college liaison for the Virginia Community College System’s Professional Development Committee. She has directed the college’s international travel program, leading students to Costa Rica and Japan, with plans to lead a trip to Italy/Greece in 2019. She has served as a volunteer for multiple organizations and events on campus and in the community.

“Amy has a history of strong performance and service at MECC, serving students in multiple roles,” said MECC President Kristen Westover. “As a native of Southwest Virginia, Amy not only understands the unique strengths and challenges of our region, but she also constructs and implements creative strategies to move the Foundation, the College, and the region forward.  We are excited to be working with Amy in her new role.”

Prior to joining Mountain Empire Community College, Ms. Greear served as the Director of Community Impact for the United Way of Greater Kingsport and as the Director of Communications for Kingsport City Schools. She is a former journalist, having worked for the Kingsport-Times News, Bristol Herald Courier and the Coalfield Progress/Dickenson Star. A native of Appalachia, Ms. Greear and her husband Burke, reside in Kingsport with their daughter Maggie.

The MECC Foundation, Inc., is a non-profit organization that supports the mission of Mountain Empire Community College in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Foundation projects include scholarships, faculty and staff development and recognition programs, cultural programs and events, campus improvements, educational programs, and other projects.

The MECC Foundation holds the largest endowment of any community college in Virginia at $26.6M, distributing more than $300,000 in scholarships in 2018 as well as supporting the college’s career navigator, tutoring, and emergency assistance programs. For more information on the MECC Foundation, visit www.meccfoundation.org.

-MECC Foundation-