MECC Foundation to Host Scott County Scholarship Event

MECC Foundation To Host Annual Scott County Scholarship Fundraiser 

 

Hiltons, VA – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation will host Grammy-nominated, 2021 International Bluegrass Music Association’s Vocal Group of the Year and Grand Ole Opry Stars, Sister Sadie, for the 2022 Diamonds and Denim Event.

Sister Sadie

Sister Sadie

Diamonds and Denim will be held Saturday, April 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the beautiful Crooked River Farm in Hiltons, Virginia. Originally scheduled for August of 2021, the event was cancelled due to COVID-19. All paid tickets from the August event will be honored in full.

Now in its third year, Diamonds and Denim 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.

This award-winning group originally formed after playing a sold-out show in 2012 at the legendary Station Inn, located in Nashville, Tennessee. In the group’s nine years as a band, they have gained many accolades.  In 2018, their sophomore album “Sister Sadie – II” debuted at #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass Charts and was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Bluegrass Album category in 2019.  In March of 2019, they made their debut on the Grand Ole Opry and have been regular guests on the world-famous stage since.  Sister Sadie became the first all-female group to be awarded Vocal Group of the Year at the 2019 IBMA Awards.  In 2020, they repeated that award plus took home the Entertainer of the Year Award.  The band is also featured in the “American Currents: State of the Music” exhibition through March 2022 at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.  Most recently, the band took home, for the third consecutive year, Vocal Group of the Year at the 2021 IBMA Awards show in Raleigh, North Carolina. Sister Sadie is made up of world-renowned musicians and singers – Gena Britt on banjo, Deanie Richardson on fiddle, Hasee Ciaccio on acoustic bass, Jaelee Roberts on guitar, and Mary Meyer on mandolin.

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.

 

-MECC FOUNDATION- 

 

 

Dopesick Author Beth Macy Featured Speaker for John Fox Jr. Literary Festival

Entries Sought for Lonesome Pine Short-Story and Poetry Contests

Big Stone Gap, VA — The MECC Foundation is pleased to announce the 46th annual John Fox, Jr. Literary Festival, a free virtual event featuring Beth Macy, renowned New York Times bestselling author, and executive producer of Hulu’s Dopesick, on Wednesday, March 2 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Beth Macy

 

In coordination with the festival event, the MECC Foundation will host the 35th Annual Lonesome Pine Short Story Contest and the 18th Annual Lonesome Pine Poetry Contest. The deadline for submitting entries is Wednesday, February 16 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 on the MECC Foundation website at 2022 Contest Rules. Winners of the contest will be announced during the Literary Festival Event. All winners will receive a cash prize.

 

The virtual festival will feature a discussion with Virginia author Beth Macy. Macy is the author of the critically acclaimed and New York Times-bestselling books, Factory Man, Truevine, and Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America (2018). Macy serves as an Executive Producer and writer on the acclaimed Hulu limited television series Dopesick, which is based on her book. All local middle and high schools are invited to participate in this virtual event at no cost. Students and community members are invited to submit questions for Macy at www.mecc.edu/jffestival22.

 

Growing out of three decades of reporting from the same Virginia communities, as her prior books did, Dopesick unpacks the most intractable social problems of our time: the opioid crisis, set against a landscape of job loss, corporate greed and stigma, along with the families and first responders who are heroically fighting back. Overdose deaths are now the equivalent of a jetliner crashing in our country every day, and yet the government response to the epidemic remains, in a word, impotent.

 

Dopesick is, in many ways, the sequel to Macy’s first book, FACTORY MAN. It lays out exactly how the jobless “other America” ended up couch-surfing with the likes of surgeon’s daughters and civic leaders’ kids who fall prey to prostitution, jail, and even death. Tom Hanks describes Dopesick as “a deep — and deeply needed — look into the troubled soul of America.” Stanford addiction medicine specialist and author Dr. Anna Lembke calls it the first book to capture the entirety of the epidemic, “with a fast-paced narrative, colorful and inspiring characters, vivid historical detail, and a profound sense of place.”

 

A longtime reporter who specializes in outsiders and underdogs, Macy has won more than a dozen national journalism awards, including a Lukas Prize for Factory Man, multiple shortlist and best-book-of-the-year honors for Truevine, and a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard for her newspaper writing.

A frequent speaker, teacher and essayist, Macy has been published in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Oprah magazine, and Parade. Her approach to storytelling: Report from the ground up, establish trust, be patient, find stories that tap into universal truths. Get out of your ZIP code. To do good journalism, be a human first.

 

Her book, Raising Lazarus, Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Drug Crisis (August 2022), focuses on solutions to the opioid crisis and the heroic efforts of frontline workers applying harm reduction practices on the streets of America. It also will document the efforts of the Sackler family to avoid responsibility for the crisis they helped create.

 

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

-MECC Foundation-

 

MECC Foundation Announces $1.5M Slemp Foundation Gift for Outdoor Amphitheater

Big Stone Gap — The C. Bascom Slemp Foundation will provide a $1.5M gift to construct a 1000-seat outdoor amphitheater on the campus of Mountain Empire Community College for campus and community events.

The gift comes as the MECC Foundation launches a campaign to raise $2M as part of the college’s 50th anniversary. Fundraising will support three priorities as defined by the MECC Foundation – scholarships, infrastructure needs, and unrestricted giving. The college commemorated the 50th anniversary of its groundbreaking with a community picnic held on Friday, October 1, 2021. Additional events, including a community concert featuring country artist Darrell Scott and local band If Birds Could Fly is scheduled for Saturday, May 14, 2022 and a 50th Anniversary Gala on Saturday, October 15, 2022.

“MECC is appreciative of the Slemp Foundation’s generous gift honoring our 50th anniversary as well as their investment in providing an amazing outdoor venue for student and community cultural opportunities on MECC’s campus,” said MECC President Kristen Westover.

The outdoor amphitheater project is the first major infrastructure addition to the MECC campus in more than a decade and has been included in the college’s Master Facilities Plan for many years. The projected cost of the project is expected to land between $1.5M – $5M depending on the scale of additions such as public restrooms, covered seating areas, and sound and lighting equipment. The Slemp Foundation has requested a $500,000 match in additional fundraising for the project.

The amphitheater is expected to be constructed in the field adjoining Phillips-Taylor Hall’s Goodloe Center, with the Powell Mountain visible in the background. The college expects to hold graduation, outdoor classroom learning opportunities, Home Craft Days and Mountain Music School events, as well as partner with Pro-Art, the Crooked Road, the Barter Theater, and other municipal and non-profit entities to host community events at the facility.

“The Slemp Foundation is pleased to be able to participate in this project and value the long-term impact that it will have in these communities,” said Nancey Edmonds Smith, Co-Trustee.

When Mountain Empire Community College was established fifty years ago, Virginia Community College Chancellor Dana Hamel proclaimed, ‘It’s a Great Day to be alive in the Commonwealth’ and the late Big Stone Gap native Governor Linwood Holton claimed ‘It’s Opportunity Time.’ The late Governor Holton and Chancellor Hamel were correct 50 years ago … and today. In this 50th anniversary year, and beyond, we can make every day a Great Day and Opportunity Time at Mountain Empire Community College,” said MECC Foundation Chair Mark Musick.

“This is an incredible opportunity for not only the college but our community to host large-scale learning events, festivals, and music and cultural heritage events on campus. This will be a wonderful addition to the venue offerings in Southwest Virginia, supporting economic development and community engagement in our region. We are grateful to the Slemp Foundation for their continued support of MECC, our students, and our entire community,” said Dr. Amy Greear, Executive Director of the MECC Foundation.

The Slemp Foundation is a private foundation established through the will of the late Campbell Bascom Slemp, U.S. Congressman from Virginia. The Slemp Foundation has awarded over $34 million in scholarships, pledges and charitable grants since its inception in 1946. With the growth of this Foundation, virtually every aspect of life in Lee and Wise Counties has been influenced.

The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation supports the mission of Mountain Empire Community College by providing scholarships and funding for student success programs, professional development for faculty, and cultural programs for the community. The Foundation supports more than $800,000 in scholarships annually. For information on the college’s 50th anniversary, visit www.mecc.edu/mecc50. To give to the MECC Foundation, visit www.meccfoundation.org/give.  For more information regarding scholarships or to establish a scholarship, please contact the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation at 276.523.7466 or visit www.meccfoundation.org.

 

 

MECC Foundation Announces Robert and Dorothy S. Isaac Scholarship

The MECC Foundation has opened a new scholarship in memory of longtime MECC Foundation and MECC Advisory Board Member Bob Isaac. Isaac passed away August 14, 2021. 

Bob and Dorothy Isaac

Bob and Dorothy Isaac 

Bob Isaac was one of Mountain Empire Community College’s strongest supporters for over three decades. He was elected to the MECC Foundation Board of Directors in 1982 and served on the board continuously since that time. He was named an Emeritus Board Member in July 2021. From 1991 to 1993, and from 1996 to 2006, he served as board Chair. Because of his long and distinguished history of service to MECC, Bob received the Virginia Community College System’s Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy and was named as the 2007 MECC Hall of Honor Recipient.  

The son of Dave and Julia Tamer Isaac, Bob grew up in Appalachia and graduated from Appalachia High School in 1950 and later graduated with a degree in Business Administration from Virginia Tech. He then served two years in the Air Force as a Finance Officer at Otis Air Force Base, Falmouth Mass. and was discharged from the Reserves as a Captain. 

In June 1958 he married Dorothy Skorupa Isaac and remained happily married 63 years until his death. Bob and Dorothy had three children, Kimberly Isaac DeHart, Robert Isaac Jr., and Michael Kevin Isaac, along with eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. They lived to Norton and owned and operated Dave’s Department Store from 1959 until 1994 and had a store in Coeburn from 1979 until 1984. 

After his retirement his new job for more than two decades was a volunteer at the Southwest Virginia Cancer Center, a day he looked forward to and did whatever he could do whether it be a warm blanket, push a wheelchair, obtain food for chemo patients from all local eateries or just a chat or smile to the patients. Bob served on a number of local boards and initiatives. His volunteer spirit was endless.  

Following Bob’s death, Dorothy Isaac established the Robert and Dorothy S. Isaac Scholarship at Mountain Empire Community College. Individuals may donate to the scholarship at www.meccfoundation.org/give or by sending a check to the MECC Foundation, Attn: Bob and Dorothy Isaac Scholarship, 3441 Mountain Empire Road, Big Stone Gap, VA, 24219.  

MECC Foundation Seeks Auditing Firm

The MECC Foundation is seeking an auditing firm to perform the organization’s annual audit. Information is contained below regarding proposal submissions.

 

REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL
TAX AND AUDITING SERVICES
MOUNTAIN EMPIRE COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOUNDATION

I. PURPOSE

The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation is soliciting sealed proposals to establish a contract through competitive negotiations for tax and auditing services.

II. PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The Foundation is an independent nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. Its purpose is to generate support to advance the mission Mountain Empire Community College beyond the resource support provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia. As such, annual audits and tax reporting is required and must be completed timely and accurately.

III. SCOPE OF SERVICE

The Foundation is seeking a reputable firm to provide the following services and present the final audit reports to the respective full Board each year. Therefore, your proposal should reflect your experience in providing these services. This proposal shall be for a period of five (5) years.

• Annual audit to be completed in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. The Foundation audit is required to be submitted to the VCCS (Virginia Community College System) no later than 6 months after the end of the calendar year. Thus, the Foundation audit must be received by the Foundation office before the last week of June following the calendar year end.
• Meetings with audit committee and/or board of directors, as necessary
• Preparation of 990 tax filing
• Review of the annual report to the VCCS prepared by Financial Services Specialist
• Consultation if necessary
• Notification of accounting standards that may affect either organization

IV. CONTRACT

The contract will be based on a five (5) year term. The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation reserves the right to reject any and all proposals, waive any technicalities in proposals received, negotiate and accept the proposal which may be in the best interest of the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation.

V. EVALUATION AND SELECTION CRITERIA

Respondents to this RFP must submit all data required herein in order for the proposal to be evaluated and considered for award. Failure to submit such data shall be deemed incomplete and removed from consideration. Evaluation of the proposal will be based on, but not limited to, the following items:

1. Detail your firm’s experience in providing auditing and tax services to companies in the not-for-profit sector.
2. Provide information on whether you provide services to any institutions of higher education or any other foundations.
3. Discuss the firm’s independence with respect to MECC and the MECC Foundation.
4. Discuss commitments you will make to staff continuity, including your staff turnover experience in the last three years.
5. Identify the two largest clients your firm (or office) has lost in the past three years and the reasons. Also discuss, in instances where loss of the client was due to an unresolved auditing or accounting matter, the process of attempting to resolve the issue(s).
6. Identify the partner, manager, and in-charge accountants who will be assigned to our jobs if you are successful in your bid and provide biographies.
7. Describe how your firm will approach the audit of the organization, including the use of any association or affiliate member firm personnel and the areas that will receive primary emphasis. Also discuss the firm’s use of technology in the audit. And finally, discuss the communication process used by the firm to discuss issues with leadership of the Foundation.
8. Set forth your fee estimate for the 2021 audit for the Foundation, with whatever guarantees can be given regarding increases in future years. Also, provide your estimated fees for tax preparation services.
9. Furnish standard billing rates for classes of professional personnel for each of the last three years.
10. For reference purposes, provide the names, titles, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of other, similarly-sized clients of the partner and manager who will be assigned to our organization.
11. Describe how and why your firm is different from other firms and why our selection of your firm as our independent accountants is the best decision we could make.
12. Include a copy of your firm’s most recent peer review report, the related letter of comments and the firm’s response to the letter of comments.

VI. PROPOSAL PREPARATION AND SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

A. Proposals should be brief – the inclusion of information not pertinent to the basic purpose of the response is discouraged.

B. Six (6) sets of the proposal must be submitted by 3:00 p.m., Friday, September 2, 2016, to the MECC Foundation Office, Attn: Donna Stanley, Executive Director, 3441 Mountain Empire Road; Big Stone Gap, VA 24219. All proposals should be clearly marked as “RFP – Auditing Services”. No other distribution of the proposal shall be made by the offeror.

C. All questions regarding this RFP should be directed to the MECC Foundation Office; 3441 Mountain Empire Road; Big Stone Gap, VA 24219; Telephone: 276-523-7466; Email: foundation@mecc.edu

MECC Foundation Postpones Scott County Scholarship Event Due To COVID Concerns

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.

MECC Foundation To Host Annual Scott County Scholarship Fundraiser

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.

Sister Sadie

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.

 

-MECC FOUNDATION-

MECC Foundation, Ballad Health Host Lee County Golf Tournament

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 jbledsoe@mecc.edu 

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.  


Auto World – MECC Golf Classic on June 4th to provide scholarships at MECC

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 jbledsoe@mecc.edu, 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 

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