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TCAT Elizabethton to break ground on Johnson County extension on Friday

Contributed • Oct 23, 2018 at 5:55 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A two-year effort by the Tennessee College of Applied Technology to secure funding to establish a permanent extension campus in Mountain City has been successful.

TCAT-Elizabethton President Dean Blevins, in remarks prepared for delivery at the groundbreaking ceremony at the Johnson County Vocational Center on Friday (Oct. 26), said funds had been secured to construct a single-story career and technical education building at the vocational school.

“Securing funding to establish an extension campus in Mountain City by 2019 was one of the goals in the Tennessee Board of Regents strategic plan, TCAT-Elizabethton’s governing body,” Blevins said.

Blevins praised the efforts of Dr. Mischelle Simcox, Johnson County’s director of schools, and the Johnson County Board of Education, for providing a quality education to students for entry into the workforce. He also acknowledged the support from Dr. Flora Tydings, Regents chancellor.

According to Blevins, TCAT-Elizabethton has been a part of the growth and job training success in Mountain City for several decades now. It began when TCAT-Elizabethton offered classes in electricity and computer information technology at the Tennessee Department of Correction facility and in administrative office technology, all in Mountain City.

In response to an informal job training survey of Johnson County business and industry, Blevins said TCAT-Elizabethton plans to offer a hybrid automotive and diesel program; courses in multi-skill construction trades, including residential and commercial wiring, plumbing, carpentry; HVAC; and industrial maintenance; licensed practical nursing; and administrative office technology.

“We are open to suggestions from the community on job training courses that are needed to help Johnson Countians secure employment in the region. By establishing an extension campus in Mountain City, it will allow Johnson Countians to obtain job training without having to drive to TCAT-Elizabethton,” Blevins said.

“By establishing the Johnson County Extension Campus, it is estimated it would generate an estimated 35 percent increase in certification awarded by TCAT-Elizabethton toward the Drive to 55 goals,” Blevins said.

In the past several years, more than 75 students were commuting each day from their residences in Johnson County to TCAT-Elizabethton’s main campus, located across from the Elizabethton Municipal Airport.

The commute time is about one hour, traveling 34 miles, one way, in all kinds of weather. Students must either travel Tenne. Highway 67, around Watauga Lake, or take Tenn. Highway 91 through Shady Valley. Both mountainous scenic routes are two-lane with switchback curves.

“We look forward to continuing to fine tune the working relationship with Dr. Simcox and her education team to better serve students and residents of Johnson County,” Blevins said.

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