After careful consideration, the MECC Foundation is moving to postpone our August 28 Scott County Endowed Scholarship event until spring 2022. With a spike in COVID cases in our area, and with the CDC designating our service region as having a high or substantially high transmission risk, and respecting our regional health care system, we feel it is best to make the decision now to protect our community. This was not an easy decision, but we feel it is best at this time. The MECC Foundation is working with our venue and entertainment to find an appropriate date for spring. In the meantime, we are in the process of contacting our sponsors and ticket holders with options for refunds or continuation of their sponsorship to a spring event. Please continue to support us as we navigate through this process. We were so looking forward to a wonderful event. This is the right thing to do for our region at this time.
Hiltons, VA – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation will host Grammy-nominated, 2020 International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year and Grand Ole Opry Stars Sister Sadie for the 2021 Diamonds and Denim Event.
Diamonds and Denim will be held Saturday, August 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the beautiful Crooked River Farm in Hiltons, Virginia. The event, now in its third year, has raised more than $100,000 to benefit the Scott County Endowed Scholarship at Mountain Empire Community College. This year’s event will feature a dinner reception, locally sourced wine, beer and refreshments, a silent auction and entertainment.
More than 70 percent of all students in Scott County that choose to attend college in Virginia, attend MECC. The scholarship will provide opportunities for those students to reach their educational and career goals while lessening the financial burden of families.
Sister Sadie originally formed after playing a sold-out show in 2012 at the legendary Station Inn, located in Nashville, TN. In 2019, they were nominated for a Grammy for their sophomore album “Sister Sadie II” for Best Bluegrass Album. That same year, they made their debut on the Grand Ole Opry & have since been regular guests on the world-famous stage. Later that same year, they were the first all-female group to be awarded Vocal Group of The Year at IBMA. Following that up at IBMA 2020, the ladies repeated that win & were also named Entertainer of the Year. The band is featured in the “American Currents: State of the Music” exhibit through March 2022 at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville, TN. Sister Sadie is made up of world-renowned musicians and singers Tina Adair on mandolin & vocals, Gena Britt on banjo & vocals, Hasee Ciaccio on acoustic bass, Deanie Richardson on fiddle & Jaelee Roberts on guitar & vocals.
Tickets are $75 per person and $150 per couple. Tickets can be purchased at www.meccfoundation.org/scevent and at the Scott County Farm Bureau office at 378 W Jackson St, Gate City, VA 24251.
For more information on the Scott County Endowed Scholarship or to donate to this fund, call the MECC Foundation office at 276.523.7480 or visit www.meccfoundation.org.
The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation is pleased to announce the MECC – Ballad Health Golf Classic, benefitting the Lee County Endowed Scholarship, will be held on Friday, July 16, at Cedar Hill Country Club in Jonesville.
Registration for the Captain’s Choice tournament will begin at 8 a.m. with a shotgun start at 9:15 a.m. The tournament will feature two flights, putting and chipping contests, as well as “Most Accurate Drive” and “Closest to the Pin” prizes. Players who hit a hole-in-one on Hole # 5 will win a 2021 Chevrolet automobile sponsored by Freedom Chevrolet of Big Stone Gap.
The entry fee is $75 per person, or $300 per 4-person team. The entry fee includes breakfast, mulligan package, gift, goodie bag, range balls, cart fees, green fees, and lunch.
All proceeds will benefit the Lee County Endowed Scholarship and will be matched by a donor. The Lee County Endowed Scholarship was launched in 2018 by a group of community volunteers. Thanks to contributions and support generated by the golf tournament as well as gifts and other events, the scholarship was able to award its first recipient in 2019 and will award three scholarships this year.
Three levels of corporate sponsorships are available: Bronze – $500; Silver – $1,000, and Gold – $1,500 and up. Corporate sponsors receive a team(s), a hole sign, and recognition at the tournament. Hole sponsorships are available for a fully tax-deductible gift of $50 to the MECC Foundation. Signs will be placed on the golf course recognizing all hole sponsors.
Businesses or individuals needing information or wishing to be a sponsor, enter a team, or provide a prize may call Jeri Bledsoe, Tournament Coordinator, at (276) 523-9078, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Financial gifts to the Lee County Endowed Scholarship are fully tax-deductible and are always welcomed and appreciated. Gifts of any amount may be sent to MECC Foundation, Attn: Lee County Endowed Scholarship, 3441 Mountain Empire Road, Big Stone Gap, VA, 24219.
Big Stone Gap — One lucky golfer will go home with a $500 cash prize, and other great prizes will be awarded, as well, at the Auto World – MECC Golf Classic on Friday, June 4, at Lonesome Pine Country Club with proceeds benefitting the scholarship program at Mountain Empire Community College.
All players hitting a hole-in-one on Hole #10 will win a 2021 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 a Captain’s Choice Scramble 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 entry 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.
A barbeque 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 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 be faxed to 276-523-7485, e-mailed to Jeri Bledsoe at firstname.lastname@example.org, or completed by phone at 276-523-2400, extension 640287.
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 Announces Creation of Garnett Gilliam Buccaneer Scholarship
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, email@example.com.
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.
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.
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” 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.
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.