MECC Foundation Raises More Than $50,000 during Scott County Endowed Scholarship Event

Hiltons, VA – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation recently raised more than $50,000 at a special event to assist Scott County students attending MECC.

The Scott County Endowed Scholarship Event was held Saturday, August 25, at Crooked River Farm in Hiltons, Va. The event featured Grammy nominated bluegrass artists Blue Highway, with catering provided by North Fork Catering in Weber City. A silent auction was also held.

Major sponsors for the event included David & Annette Templeton, owners of Crooked River Farm, and Courtesy Chevrolet. Additional sponsors include Mark & Judy Musick, Humphreys Enterprises, Campus Drive-In, Jack & Martha Rhoton, New Peoples Bank, R-Mac Realty, Eastman Credit Union, Powell Valley National Bank, Komatsu, Scott County Telephone Cooperative, the Town of Nickelsville, Thermocopy, Otis Rhoton & Food City.

Silent auction items were provided by Belk, Bristol Motor Speedway, Bruno Bikes, David J. Clapp Photography, Made by Hands Floral, Meadowview Conference, Resort & Convention Center, Paul Mitchell Systems, Roberts & Jones, Jennifer Fletcher Meade & Danny Meade, TempurPedic and Quillin Hardware.

During the event, MECC Foundation Board Member and Scott County native Mark Musick announced a major gift to the college. Joyce Tallman, 91 of Atlanta, served as assistant to the president at the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta for more than 30 years of her 50 years with the organization. She was born in Knoxville and was a former employee of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. She was the longest serving member of the SREB staff.

Ms. Tallman named the MECC Foundation as a recipient of a $25,000 matching gift as part of the Joyce Cutshaw Tallman Trust. She passed away on Saturday, September 1.

“It’s inspiring to me that a person that has never been on the campus or in the community wants to help this region’s residents receive an education. She was quite a person,” said Musick, a longtime friend and co-worker of Ms. Tallman.

Amy Greear, MECC Vice President for Institutional Advancement at MECC and Executive Director of the MECC Foundation, stated that the August 25 event doubled the amount held in the Scott County Endowed Scholarship Fund.

“We are incredibly grateful that so many rallied around this cause,” said Greear. “This scholarship will benefit Scott County students now and in the years to come. Our single purpose is to remove any financial barrier for a student to attend MECC. We want all students to be able to reach their career and educational goals in order to live and work in our region. We are closer to doing that now thanks to the generosity of this community.”

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


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

Blue Highway

Blue Highway

Crooked River Farm

Crooked River Farm

The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation is pleased to present “Diamonds and Denim,” an evening of elegance and entertainment featuring the music of Grammy-nominated artists, Blue Highway, at the beautiful Crooked River Farms in Hiltons, Va., Saturday, August 25.

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. MECC served more than 615 Scott County students in 2017-18 and awarded more than $502,000 in scholarships to Scott County residents. 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, a silent auction, concert entertainment and guest photography. 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 or at the Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance located at 1378 W. Jackson Street, Gate City.

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

Blue Highway has earned 27 collective IBMA Awards, 6 SPBGMA Awards, one Dove Award, and three Grammy nominations as a band, plus two Grammy Awards among its current members. Blue Highway’s #1 album “Original Traditional” was nominated for a 2017 GRAMMY Award for Best Bluegrass Album. The band was voted the Favorite Bluegrass Artist of All Time by the readers of Bluegrass Today in April 2016. The newest album “Original Traditional” was released Sept 2016 and to date has topped multiple National Charts at # 1.

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, call the MECC Foundation Office at 276.523.7466.

2018 John Fox Jr. Festival Contest Winners Announced

Big Stone Gap — The MECC Foundation conducted its 42nd annual John Fox, Jr. Literary Festival on Monday, April 16, featuring a presentation by author Sharyn McCrumb. The winners of the annual writing contests were also announced and recognized at the event.

Short Story winners (L to R) Noah Smith, Reece Mullins, Ben Adams, Benjamin Vicars, Amanda Bailey, Chloe Collins, McKenzie Templeton, Anthony Swindall

The 31st annual Lonesome Pine Short Story Contest winners middle school category winners include third place, Benjamin Vicars, who attends L.F. Addington Middle School; second place, Reece Mullins, who attends Coeburn Middle School; and first place, Noah Smith, who attends Smith Homeschool Academy. Winners in the high school category included third place, Ben Adams, who attends Central High School; second place, McKenzie Templeton, who attends Gate City High School; and first place, Chloe Collins, who attends Central High School. Winners in the adult category included third place, Anthony Swindall of Ben Hur, VA; second place, Jennifer Mullins of Big Stone Gap; and first place, Amanda Bailey of Mount Carmel, TN. Cash prizes awarded to the winners of the short story contest were sponsored by Lonesome Pine Arts and Crafts.

poetry winners

Poetry winners (L to R) Brittany Gentry, Morgan Graham, Kiarah Hamilton, Lauren McCoy and Alex Lon

The 14th annual Lonesome Pine Poetry Contest middle school category winners are third place, Kirsten Dixon, who attends Union Middle School; second place, Morgan Graham, who attends Flatwoods Elementary School; and first place, Kiarah Hamilton, who is a homeschool student in Big Stone Gap. Winners in the high school category included third place, Kayla Boyd, who attends A. Linwood Holton Governor’s School; second place, Lauren McCoy, who attends A. Linwood Holton Governor’s School and first place, Brittany Gentry, who attends Central High School. Winners in the adult category included third place, Stephanie Cassell of Norton, VA; second place, Donita Ratliff Kennedy of Kingsport, TN; and first place, Alexander Long of Pennington Gap, VA. Cash prizes awarded to the winners of the poetry contest were sponsored by the MECC Foundation.

To obtain information about the next John Fox, Jr. Festival and writing contests, to be held in the spring of 2019, contact the MECC Foundation at 276.523.7493.  

Caption for Pictures of contest winners (from left to right): Short Story winners (L to R) Noah Smith, Reece Mullins, Ben Adams, Benjamin Vicars, Amanda Bailey, Chloe Collins, McKenzie Templeton, Anthony Swindall

Poetry winners (L to R) Brittany Gentry, Morgan Graham, Kiarah Hamilton, Lauren McCoy and Alex Long

-MECC Foundation-

John Fox Jr. Rescheduled For Monday, April 16

The John Fox Jr. Festival, originally scheduled for March 21 at MECC, has been rescheduled for Monday, April 16 at 10 a.m. Those with luncheon tickets should contact 276.523.7466 if they cannot attend the rescheduled luncheon.

Ken and Thelma Gilley To Be Honored at 2018 Hall of Honor Gala

Ken and Thelma Gilley

Ken and Thelma Gilley

Big Stone Gap, VA – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation will honor the late Mr. Ken Gilley and Mrs. Thelma Sorah Gilley at the annual Hall of Honor Gala on Saturday evening, April 21, 2018.

The gala theme is “Music of the Mountains,” and proceeds from the event will benefit the Gilley-Sorah Hall of Honor Mountain Music School Endowed Scholarship at MECC. Mountain Music School, held annually during the summer, draws many local and out-of-state students to the one-week program that carries on the rich musical heritage of our region.

The Gilleys will be recognized for their support of Mountain Empire Community College and their service to the region. They have been strong proponents of higher education in southwest Virginia, providing financial support to MECC. The Gilleys have created two scholarships, the William Kenneth Gilley Memorial Scholarship for Mountain Music School, and the Gilley-Sorah Endowed Scholarship, which was created along with their son, Michael, and Thelma’s sister, Shirley Walborn. Additionally, Mrs. Gilley was involved in establishing the East Stone Gap Tigers Scholarship at MECC.

The Gilleys were also active in civic organizations and volunteered in the community. Mr. Gilley worked for Norfolk Southern Railway for 41 years, and was a member of the Masonic Lodge and Shriners. Mrs. Gilley worked for the Virginia Division of Mines in Big Stone Gap, the Social Security Office in Norton, and retired from the Department of Labor as supervisor of the Black Lung Office in Norton. She also served as a negotiator for the local AFL-CIO. After their retirement, the Gilleys enjoyed taking classes at MECC and especially enjoyed participating in Mountain Music School.

The evening will begin with a reception in the Slemp Commons of Phillips-Taylor Hall at 6 p.m., followed by a buffet dinner in the Goodloe Center at 6:45 p.m. A short recognition program will follow dinner, and musical entertainment by mountain music artists and bands will follow. Musicians will include Mountain Music School instructors, Chris Rose, Richard Phillips, Steve Souther, Joey O’Quinn, Sarah Kate Morgan, and Larry Mullins.  The evening will also feature some Mountain Music School students.

Event sponsorship opportunities are available. Visit for more information.

Tickets to the April 21 Gala event are $75 each and may be purchased by calling the MECC Foundation office at 276-523-7466 or by visiting the MECC Foundation website at

Tickets may also be purchased by mail by sending a check to MECC Foundation, 3441 Mountain Empire Road, Big Stone Gap, VA, 24219, Please make checks payable to MECC Foundation and indicate in the memo section of your check “Gilley-Sorah Hall of Honor Mountain Music School Scholarship.”

If you have questions, or need additional information about the event, please contact the MECC Foundation Office at 276-523-7466, or e-mail Jeri Bledsoe at

MECC Foundation to Host 42nd Annual John Fox, Jr. Literary Festival & Lonesome Pine Short-Story and Poetry Contests

Big Stone Gap, VA — The MECC Foundation is pleased to announce the 42nd annual John Fox, Jr. Literary Festival, featuring a presentation by guest author Sharyn McCrumb, on Wednesday, March 21 at 10 a.m. in the Goodloe Center of Phillips-Taylor Hall.

In coordination with the festival event, the MECC Foundation will host the 31st Annual Lonesome Pine Short Story Contest and the 14th Annual Lonesome Pine Poetry Contest. Individuals interested in obtaining guidelines for submitting short story and poetry contest entries should contact Brandi McAfee in the MECC Foundation Office at (276) 523-7466.  The deadline for submitting entries is Wednesday, February 28 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 by clicking hereWinners of the contest will be announced during the Literary Festival Event.

Sharyn McCrumb is an award-winning Southern writer, best known for her Appalachian “Ballad” novels, set in the North Carolina/Tennessee mountains, including the New York Times Best Sellers: The Ballad of Tom Dooley, She Walks These Hills and The Rosewood Casket. Her current novel The Unquiet Grave is a well-researched history of West Virginia’s Greenbrier Ghost.

In 2014, Sharyn McCrumb was awarded the Mary Frances Hobson Prize for Southern Literature by North Carolina’s Chowan University. Named a “Virginia Woman of History” in 2008 for Achievement in Literature, she was a guest author at the National Festival of the Book in Washington, D.C. in 2006. In April 2017, the national DAR named her a “Woman in the Arts” for literary achievement. In November 2017, the West Virginia Library Association presented Sharyn McCrumb with their Award of Merit for Contributions to Appalachian Literature.

McCrumb’s other honors include: AWA Outstanding Contribution to Appalachian Literature Award; the Chaffin Award for Southern Literature; the Plattner Award for Short Story; and AWA’s Best Appalachian Novel. She was named “Best Mountain Writer 2013” by Blue Ridge Country Magazine. A graduate of UNC- Chapel Hill, with an M.A. in English from Virginia Tech, McCrumb was the first writer-in-residence at King College in Tennessee. In 2005, she was honored as the Writer of the Year at Emory & Henry College.

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.

For more information, please call 276.523.7466.


Nominations Sought for 2018 MECC Outstanding Alumnus Award

The Mountain Empire Community College Alumni and Friends Advisory Committee is seeking nominations for the 2018 MECC Outstanding Alumnus Award. The award recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions to one or more areas of society, i.e., professional, academic, and personal achievements, civic service, or service to MECC.

All living MECC alumni who have completed at least one class at MECC are eligible to be nominated and considered for the award. Self-nominations are also welcome. Current members of the MECC Local Advisory Board and the MECC Foundation Board of Directors, current faculty and staff of the college, and members of the MECC Alumni and Friends Advisory Committee are not eligible to receive the award.

There is no limit to the number of nominations that one may submit. The deadline for nominations for the 2018 Outstanding Alumnus Award is January 31, 2018.

A subcommittee of the MECC Alumni and Friends Advisory Committee will select the winner of the award and the winner will be announced at the annual Scholars’ Recognition Night banquet scheduled for Wednesday, April 11, 2018.

For questions, please contact Jeri Bledsoe in the MECC Foundation office at 276-523-2400, extension 287, or by e-mail at You may access the Nomination Form HERE.




Event to Raise Funds for Scott County Endowed Scholarship

Gate City, VAThe Mountain Empire Community College Foundation will host a fundraising event for the Scott County Endowed Scholarship on Thursday, September 21 at 6:00 p.m. at the Scott County Career and Technical Center in Gate City. 

The event theme is “Mardi Gras.” Patrons will enjoy a delicious buffet dinner and entertainment by “Time Further Out,” a jazz band from the Tri-Cities area. The band’s repertoire consists mostly of jazz standards from the 1920s to the 1960s, with a few other genres mixed in.

Tickets for the event are $30 and sponsorships are available for a gift of any amount. For tickets, or to sponsor the event, contact Jeri Bledsoe in the MECC Foundation office at 276.523.2400, extension 287, or by e-mail at

Gifts to the Scott County Endowed Scholarship are fully tax-deductible. Anyone wishing to contribute to the fund may give online by going to the MECC Foundation webpage,, and clicking on the red “Make A Gift” button located at top right of the page. Gifts may also be mailed to MECC Foundation, 3441 Mountain Empire Road, Big Stone Gap, Virginia 24219. Please note in the memo section that the funds are for the Scott County Endowed Scholarship.

For more information about the event, check the MECC Foundation web page at


Foundation to Host “Southwest Virginia’s Got Talent”


The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation welcomes all alumni and friends to campus for “Southwest Virginia’s Got Talent,” the 2017 alumni and friends event on Saturday, October 14 at 6 p.m. in the Goodloe Center of Phillips-Taylor Hall on the MECC campus. The event is sponsored by Norton Community Hospital and Edward Jones Investments.

The evening will begin with delicious hors d’oeurves at the reception at 6 p.m. in the Slemp Commons,

providing patrons an opportunity to reconnect with friends, former classmates, current and former faculty. The talent show will begin at 6:45 p.m. Audience members will choose the winners of this Talent Show with each audience member receiving one voting ballot. When all acts have performed, the audience will submit their votes, then enjoy coffee and dessert while the votes are being counted.

Family-friendly performances of all types are welcome. The online Entry Form, containing the complete rules and regulations for entering the contest, is available by clicking on the button above. Entrants must e-mail a video for pre-judging. The deadline for submitting Entry Forms and videos to be considered for the show is October 7, 2017. From the video submissions, a subcommittee of the Alumni Advisory Committee will select ten acts to advance to the final contest at the event. First, second, and third place winners will be awarded with cash prizes of $500, $250, and $100 respectively.

Tickets to the event are $5 each, and guests are asked to purchase that at the link below. For questions, or for those who do not have access to a computer, please call Jeri Bledsoe, event coordinator, at 276-523-2400, extension 287, for assistance or tickets.

-MECC Foundation-

Kline Foundation Provides Scholarship Gift to Mountain Empire Community College


Big Stone Gap – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation recently received a $30,000 gift from the Kline Foundation, a long-time supporter of the college and student scholarships.

 Over its 63-year history, the Kline Foundation has made grants to primarily benefit individuals in the market area of the former Coca Cola Bottling Company of Norton, Inc.  Education has been the primary emphasis of giving throughout its history, with Mountain Empire Community College and the University of Virginia’s College at Wise receiving the largest gifts from the Kline Foundation in recent years.

 Since 1983, Mountain Empire Community College Foundation has received cumulative gifts in excess of $275,000 from the Kline Foundation primarily to support scholarships. The Kline Foundation was formally established in 1952 by Mr. Ferdinand Bert “F. B.” Kline.  Mr. Kline was a 1910 stockholder in the Norton Coca-Cola Bottling Works, and by 1917, was the President of the Kline Corporation, which operated the bottling company.  By 1942, the corporate name changed to The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Norton, Inc. at the request of the parent company.

 F. B. Kline died in 1970, and since that time, the Kline Foundation has been governed by a board of trustees, most of whom have served for many years.  The Kline Foundation’s current trustees include George Culbertson, Chair; Harold Armsey, Glenn Teasley, Charles Lawson, Stewart Spradlin, Byron Cantrell and Fred Ramey.

 In 2014, the Kline Foundation funded the MECC Foundation endowed Kline Foundation Scholarship.  The scholarship was created in memory of F. B. Kline and is restricted to benefit residents of the Virginia counties of Lee, Scott, Wise, Dickenson, Russell or the City of Norton.

 “MECC is grateful for the long partnership that MECC has enjoyed with the Kline Foundation in supporting student scholarships,” said MECC President Kris Westover. These funds will be used to assist current and future students in achieving their educational and career goals. The Kline Foundation’s faith in MECC to carry on the legacy of F.B. Kline and family in building educational opportunities for the Southwest Virginia region is recognized and much appreciated.”

 In recognition of the Kline Foundation’s many decades of support of MECC, the boardroom at MECC’s Dalton-Cantrell Hall was renamed the Kline Foundation Boardroom in 2016. The Kline Foundation Boardroom is the primary meeting space used by the college’s Advisory and Foundation Boards.  It is also used to host special guests and many outside groups.

 For more information on the MECC Foundation, or to learn more about supporting student scholarships,  please visit our website at

-MECC Foundation