01-10-12

RCAP renovations achieve several milestones

Northeast State renovations on the Pal Barger Regional Center for Automotive Programs have achieved a number a milestones as the project nears completion.  The College hopes to take occupancy of the building within the next few days.

The downtown Kingsport building is located at 337 W. Center St. and formerly housed the Free Service Tire Company. Northeast State Foundation purchased the building with a $400,000 donation from Kingsport executive Pal Barger.

The College has completed a number of renovations including:

  • Ceiling tiles and flooring in classrooms and offices
  • Painting of classrooms and offices
  • Epoxy coating on shop floors
  • HVAC systems in classrooms and offices
  • Additional exterior signage
  • New doors on Center Street entrance
  • New storefront/entrance and vestibule

The center will house the auto body service technology certificate program, which will train students how to repair and rebuild auto bodies involved in accidents and collisions. Students will receive state-of-the-art training in areas such as welding, metal fabrication, refinishing, auto painting, and repair estimation. Eventually, the College will offer a two-year degree in auto body service technology.

"Our faculty and staff have worked very hard over the last several months to get the automotive building ready for classes," said Dr. Janice Gilliam, Northeast State president. "Plant Operations Director Pete Miller and staff are to be commended for helping the contractors get the work done. They have been at the site over fall semester and early this year to get the framing/sheetrock, electrical, and painting work done to help reduce the cost of renovation for the College and the Foundation. We are very appreciative of the donation to the College Foundation of $400,000 by Pal Barger to purchase the building. We also received a donation of equipment for the shop from Dennis Powell, valued at about $25,000."

Gilliam said the cost for renovation is nearing $1.2 million, with nearly $750,000 targeted for state-of-the art auto body-related equipment, paint booth and setup, furniture, computer labs, multimedia classroom equipment, and information technology. Renovations are nearing $400,000, with a portion of that paid by the College and a portion by the Foundation. The Foundation will be covering a portion of the renovations, to be paid from their rent funds collected from the college, which is $80,000 a year.

Gilliam said final costs would not be available until mid-February. About $30,000 of the renovation cost included EPA abatement, addressing an environmental report delivered in March 2011. For the project, Terracon – engineering and scientific consultants – and Greene Construction Co. were hired to complete EPA abatement.

One example of the facility's cutting-edge technology is a virtual painter , which produces a realistic setting that allow students to practice techniques and muscle and joint movements that produce ideal paint coverage and thickness on a finished vehicle surface.

Wearing what looks like a welding helmet and wielding a hand-held device, a student makes sweeping motions in front of a sensor while an image changes color on a nearby computer screen. After painting a hood, fender, or other part, the students and instructors may view the work from 360 degrees, inspect defects, and evaluate paint coverage, thickness, and amount used. For another practice session, just few taps on a touch screen monitor get the student back to work.

"It really allows for immediate feedback and increases training time," said Ernie Morelock, instructor of Automotive Service Technology at Northeast State. "With a glance, students can tell how well they did and then get right back to work on refining their techniques. There's no doubt this means more hand-on practice time and students will learn to become better painters in a shorter period of time."

Not only is the virtual painter a boon for training, the device makes training less expensive and more environmentally friendly. There is no need for vehicle parts, overspray and waste is simulated, parts do not require cleaning with chemicals, and no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released.

Northeast State Community College also recently gathered experts from every aspect of the collision repair field together to define the duties, tasks, skills, and knowledge a new employee needs to know to perform his/her job duties.  

The process - known as a Developing A Curriculum Job Analysis - took approximately six hours over a two-day period. The purpose of conducting the DACUM was to ensure the curriculum for the Automotive Body Service Technology certificate would prepare candidates to meet industry needs. The sessions were held at Northeast State at Kingsport's Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

Northeast State Business Technologies Interim Dean Danny Lawson, Advanced Technologies Interim Dean Sam Rowell, Training Specialist Cindy Tauscher, and Morelock engaged with auto body shop owners and automotive dealers during the sessions to determine the best training content for students.

"We were very pleased with the outcomes, which verified earlier work by Ernie and others to set up the curriculum to meet industry needs and standards," Gilliam said. "Ernie's vision for the program is to develop a Center of Excellence for the region, as there are very few training centers for auto body related programs in the state, and none in the region."

Students interested in admission to the Auto Body Service Technology program may contact the Office of Admissions and Records at 800.836.7822 or e-mailadmissions@NortheastState.edu.

10-11-11

RCAP interior renovations under way

Northeast state has begun renovations of the interior of the building for the Pal Barger Regional Center for Automotive Programs. The first phase of the EPA abatement has been completed and the second phase will be completed soon. 

The building – located in downtown Kingsport – formerly housed the Free Service Tire Company. Northeast State Foundation purchased the building with a $400,000 donation from Kingsport executive Pal Barger.

The College has completed a number of renovations including exterior painting, installation of garage doors, sheetrock replacement, fire caulking of wall penetrations, floor preparation, framing, conduit installation, and interior painting of doors, windowsills, and columns. Installation of exterior lettering on the building that fronts Center and Revere streets is partially completed.

The center will house the auto body service technology certificate program, which will train students how to repair and rebuild auto bodies involved in accidents and collisions. Students will receive state-of-the-art training in areas such as welding, metal fabrication, refinishing, auto painting, and repair estimation. Enrollment is currently under way for the program; however, official figures will not be available until spring.

Students interested in admission to the Auto Body Service Technology certificate may contact the Office of Admissions and Records at 800.836.7822 or e-mailadmissions@NortheastState.edu.

08-23-11

Northeast continues to make progress on RCAP building

Northeast State continues to make progress on the Pal Barger Regional Center for Automotives Program facility. The building – located in downtown Kingsport – formerly housed the Free Service Tire Company. Northeast State Foundation purchased the building with a $400,000 donation from Kingsport executive Pal Barger.

The College has completed exterior painting and installation of garage doors and exterior signage. Currently, asbestos abatement has been completed and Northeast State plant operations workers are installing sheetrock. Northeast State is currently in process of obtaining a building permit to start construction on interior classrooms and offices.

The center will house the auto body service technology certificate program, which will train students how to repair and rebuild auto bodies involved in accidents and collisions. Students will receive state-of-the-art training in areas such as welding, metal fabrication, refinishing, auto painting, and repair estimation.

Northeast State is now taking applications for students interested in the new Auto Body Service Technology certificate program offered at Northeast State at Kingsport beginning fall 2011. Potential students interested in admission to the Auto Body Service Technology certificate may contact the Office of Admissions and Records at 800.836.7822 or e-mail admissions@NortheastState.edu.

08-23-11

Northeast State's virtual painter is eco-friendly and fun

A Northeast State student stands before a small, waist-high rectangular box. Wearing what looks like a welding helmet and wielding a hand-held device, the student makes sweeping motions in front of the box while an image changes color on a nearby computer screen. In a moment, the student lifts the visor, checks the screen, and views the quality of the work.

The student is learning to paint and coat vehicles on the College's virtual painter, the newest addition to Northeast State's automotive body service technology program. The eco-friendly painter produces a realistic setting that allow students to practice techniques and muscle and joint movements that produce ideal paint coverage and thickness on a finished vehicle surface.

"It really allows for immediate feedback and decreases training time," said Ernie Morelock, instructor of Automotive Service Technology at Northeast State. "With a glance, students can tell how well they did and then get right back to work on refining their techniques."

With traditional training, students must select, move, and mount a part before painting. They must also choose nozzles, retrieve paint, and don protective gear before starting. With the virtual painter, the student logs in and chooses his equipment, paint, and auto body surface in a matter of seconds.

After painting a hood, fender, or other part, the students and instructors may view the work from 360 degrees, inspect defects, and evaluate paint coverage, thickness, and amount used. For another practice session, just few taps on a touch screen monitor get the student back to work.

"There's no doubt this means more hand-on practice time and student will learn to become better painters in a shorter period of time," said Morelock. "It's a great way to learn and it's fun."

The virtual painter a boon for training, making training less expensive and more environmentally friendly. There is no need for vehicle parts, overspray and waste is simulated, parts do not require cleaning with chemicals, and no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released.

"Sustainability is a big part of the recent Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010," said Northeast State President Dr. Janice Gilliam. "The virtual painter is a perfect example of how you can achieve excellent training results, and reduce costs and environmental impact."

VRSim of East Hartford, Conn. manufactures the virtual painter – known as a SimSpray™. According to company literature, the technology is a combination gaming programming, coupled with state-of-the-art tracking systems, and graphics rendering.

Northeast State continues to make progress on the Pal Barger Regional Center for Automotives Program facility. The building – located in downtown Kingsport – formerly housed the Free Service Tire Company. Northeast State Foundation purchased the building with a $400,000 donation from Kingsport executive Pal Barger.

According to Dr. Gilliam, the College has completed exterior painting and installation of garage doors and exterior signage. Currently, asbestos abatement has been completed and Northeast State plant operations workers are installing sheetrock. Northeast State is currently in process of obtaining a building permit to start construction on interior classrooms and offices.

The center will house the auto body service technology certificate program, which will train students how to repair and rebuild auto bodies involved in accidents and collisions. Students will receive state-of-the-art training in areas such as welding, metal fabrication, refinishing, auto painting, and repair estimation.

Northeast State is now taking applications for students interested in the new Auto Body Service Technology certificate program offered at Northeast State at Kingsport beginning this fall 2011. Potential students interested in admission to the Auto Body Service Technology certificate may contact the Office of Admissions and Records at 800.836.7822 or e-mail admissions@NortheastState.edu.

05-04-11

An assessment is now under way to address soil sampling as well as other areas identified by the Phase I study. Once the facility is cleared, Gilliam said renovations such as flooring, walls, restrooms, offices, lighting, and wiring will be addressed as well as installation of equipment.

Northeast State starts renovations on auto program facility

After receiving results from an Environmental Protection Agency Phase I site assessment, Northeast State Community College has received approval to move forward with some renovations to the Pal Barger Regional Center for Automotive Programs.

According to Northeast State President Dr. Janice Gilliam, exterior painting and signage installation is under way. The College also has permission to replace the facility's garage doors.

The facility is the former Free Service Tire Company building located on Center Street in Kingsport. Northeast State Foundation purchased the building with a $400,000 donation from Kingsport executive Pal Barger. Free Service Tire Company leased the building from the Foundation from January 2009 to September 30, 2010 and vacated the building in September after finding a new location in Kingsport.

The Phase I assessment satisfies the due diligence requirements of a property transaction by identifying possible environmental issues with a particular property. The College and Foundation will follow guidelines for removal of identified hazardous materials so that renovations can begin.

Northeast State has purchased nearly $300,000 in state-of-the-art equipment to refurbish the facility. The equipment includes a virtual auto painter that allows students to practice painting techniques, which translates into cost savings for equipment and supplies.

Gilliam said Northeast State is still on target to start classes for fall 2011.

As envisioned, the auto body service technology certificate program will instruct students on how to repair and rebuild auto bodies involved in accidents and collisions. Students will receive state-of-the-art training in areas such as welding, metal fabrication, refinishing, auto painting, and repair estimation.

The Tennessee Board of Regents approved the program in July 2010 and the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools gave approval in December 2010. Based on those approvals, the U.S. Department of Education recently approved eligibility of federal financial aid for students.

While a suggested idea in a Foundation Property Committee meeting was posed for consideration to transfer the buildings owned by the Foundation to the College, neither the Foundation nor the College is taking any action to do so, Gilliam said.

Northeast State is now taking applications for students interested in the new Auto Body Service Technology certificate program offered in the Kingsport Academic Village beginning this fall 2011. Potential students interested in admission to the Auto Body Service Technology certificate and the General Technology degree may contact the Office of Admissions and Records at 800.836.7822 or e-mail admissions@NortheastState.edu.04-18-11
 

Setting the Record Straight On The Old Free Service Tire Building

By Dwight B. Ferguson, Chair
Northeast State Community College Foundation

I serve as the Chairman of the Northeast State Community College Foundation. To assure that the readers of the Kingsport Times-News are fully informed on an important, yet complex issue, I wish to outline the issues related to the Foundation's purchase of the old Free Service Tire Building in downtown Kingsport and its conversion into the Regional Center for Automotive Programs (RCAP).

Comments made at a news conference by Mayor Dennis Phillips on April 8th and a cartoon commissioned by the Kingsport Times-News in the April 15th edition that depicted Northeast State President Janice Gilliam as indecisive and dragging her feet involving this issue are unfair. Both the comments by Mayor Phillips and the cartoon in the newspaper are counter to a cooperative environment between Northeast State, Foundation members and potential donors and to the faculty and students of the college.

Dr. Gilliam became President of Northeast State in August 2009 after years of leadership at the community college by Dr. Bill Locke. Keith Wilson, publisher of the Kingsport-Times News served as Chairman of the Foundation until July 2010 when I assumed that duty.

The conversion of the building into a teaching facility has been hampered by decisions made prior Dr. Gilliam or my own position as Chairman. An environmental study should have been completed prior to the purchase of the building. To reduce the liability of the current owner, the Foundation, construction and renovation ordinances require that city codes be followed in the renovation process. The Foundation and Northeast State have worked to address these problems, including the need for an environmental assessment of the building, which subsequently found hazardous materials that will require removal.

Mr. Wilson, and Mayor Phillips were also involved in extending the period for Free Service Tire to vacate the building. Northeast State did not have access for the purpose of renovations, environmental assessment, and the installation of modern equipment into the building until October 1, 2010 based on their decision. Northeast State has committed $300,000 in purchasing equipment and nearly $100,000 in needed improvements to the building. As soon as the final environmental report is provided, renovations will begin.

While the numerous challenges involving the conversion of the building into a working teaching laboratory were being addressed, Dr. Janice Gilliam and her staff developed a necessary teaching curriculum for the RCAP. Beginning in 2009, the process of submitting the curriculum for review and approval for accreditation was completed with accreditation granted in December 2010. Accreditation is necessary for students to earn college credit and to apply for financial aid. The school is now actively recruiting students for the program at RCAP with the first class of students in the fall of 2011.

Lastly, Mayor Phillips has expressed his frustration that the Foundation might seek to deed the RCAP and the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing, currently the assets of the Foundation, to Northeast State rather than to the City of Kingsport or the Kingsport Economic Development Board. However, the by-laws of the Foundation that I inherited as Chairman clearly states that funds, including assets of the Foundation, "shall be disbursed exclusively to Northeast State Community College."

The Foundation fully supports Northeast State Community College and its Kingsport Academic Village. I know that these modern facilities would never have been constructed or acquired without the efforts of Mayor Phillips, other members of the foundation and their benefactors, such as Pal Barger, Eastman and Domtar. Dr. Bill Locke should be applauded for his vision. Dr. Janice Gilliam should also be thanked for growing the number of programs and student enrollment at the Kingsport facilities. Enrollment in classes at the Kingsport Academic Village has doubled in just two years. Now at 1,600 students, 300 students are enrolled in four-year higher education courses.

Mayor Phillips, Mr. Wilson and the taxpayers of Kingsport can be assured that the RCAP will be fully utilized to the benefits of students, their eventual employers and to the taxpayers who wisely invested in the Kingsport Academic Village.

04-18-11

By Janice Gilliam, President
Northeast State Community College
 

Northeast State committed to quality educational opportunities

Northeast State is committed to providing quality educational opportunities to the people of the northeast region of Tennessee, including Kingsport and Sullivan County. We are honored to be part of the nationally recognized educational center in Kingsport, and we are pleased to offer excellent programs that students can afford and our communities and industries need for workforce development and community leadership.

Northeast State Community College and the Northeast State Foundation are committed to local engagement. Our priority is meeting the needs of our citizens in our communities. Ensuring those needs are met in the safest, most appropriate facilities is our focus. Every day I hope to make progress toward that goal.

However, I feel compelled now to briefly address statements made by Mayor Phillips and the Kingsport Times News' editorial staff regarding the Automotive (RCAP)and RCAM buildings. The two major challenges have been getting access to the building and the needed EPA study. The building was leased to the previous owner from January 2009 to June 2010, then extended to September 2010 at the request of previous owners and city officials. The Foundation determined that an EPA study was required. These were decisions made by the foundation for the college.

Ownership of the Pal Barger Regional Center for Automotive Programs and RCAM buildings is now being raised as a concern by the Foundation Property Committee. The topic was an issue that was originally discussed as one of several options to consider during a foundation meeting February 21, 2011. No decisions were made; nothing was suggested as a recommendation. Is ownership being considered and discussed? Yes, for reasons I will explain. But all options are still on the table.

Our interest is in having the highest quality space to offer excellent educational programs to Kingsport students at an affordable cost. Northeast State IS a part of Kingsport community. Whether the college or its foundation owns the building would not affect any relationships, responsibility, control or engagement with our communities. However, it would affect who is responsible for costs.

The Automotive Center is an important program for all of us. Let me provide a brief timeline for our work, the challenges we must overcome, and outline our plans for progress:

When the program was approved by TBR and the State Building Commission in 2009, both entities were assured that the facility was "custom built as higher education facilities." As those of us here know, it was still in use as a tire company and not ready for students. The Free Service Tire Company was originally scheduled to vacate the building in June 2010, but city leaders – including Mayor Phillips - requested an extension on the company's behalf. The company did not leave the building until last September 2010, which denied the college any opportunity for renovations or academic preparations.

Because of that, October 2010 was the first time NESCC had access to the building. The Foundation owns the building, and the college leases the facility from the foundation and pays rent to operate it. The lease agreement, signed by all parties, specified that rent funds must be used for renovations to the building for the academic program. We are bound by the written agreement to use the money for renovations.

Let me stress – because the college does not own the building, it cannot pay for major renovations to the facility. It can only do minor fix-ups like painting, flooring, etc. The building's owner – the foundation – must fund any major renovations. Whoever owns the facility – whether the foundation or the college – will be responsible to fund and make any major renovations to prepare the building to safely house students and our employees.

No funds were set aside by the Foundation to pay for the renovations. Prior to my arrival, the College createda $300,000 fund to pay for equipment to support the program. That money has been spent on the needed equipment.

Once we had access to the building in October 2010, the city of Kingsport had previously told my staff that we were required to use a contractor for any renovations. A local industry expert assessed the property and advised that the Foundation perform an EPA study. The Foundation's Property Committee also agreed an EPA study was required to protect all parties involved and should have been done before the property was purchased. The college could NOT begin programs without renovations or some assurance of safety for our students and employees. The Foundation could not renovate the facility without an environmental impact study.

The final EPA report was completed on March 24, 2011 – three weeks ago. Renovations must still be completed before we can begin the automotive program there. Despite these delays, we are still on schedule to begin offering classes in the facility in fall 2011 if renovations can be completed. We have an alternate plan to use other facilities for the first semester courses, as they are not lab intensive. We are taking applications from interested students to start this fall 2011.

Nobody wants the Automotive Program up and running more than us at Northeast State. We see the value of the program. We appreciate the contributions made to facilitate the program. We are proud of the partnerships developed to make it happen. But we are committed to ensuring the safety of our students and our staff. And we are committed to following city, county and state laws and regulations governing how we prepare the facility and how the funds are managed.

I admire our leaders for their foresight and vision of this program and the Kingsport Higher Education Center. I am eager to have Northeast State partner in providing outstanding programs to meet our regional needs. However, I am not willing to compromise on safety or ethics to make it happen.

I am committed to making sure those offerings developed are beyond reproach and something of which all of us can be proud. I hope we can all work together to make it happen.

04-08-11

Northeast State moves forward with plans for auto body program

BLOUNTVILLE – Renovation efforts are continuing for a downtown Kingsport facility to house Northeast State Community College's Auto Body Certificate and General Technology Associate Degree programs.

As envisioned, the auto body technology program will instruct students on how to repair and rebuild auto bodies involved in accidents and collisions. Students will receive state-of-the-art training in areas such as welding, metal fabrication, refinishing, auto painting, and repair estimation.

The facility is the former Free Service Tire Company building located on Center Street in Kingsport. Northeast State Foundation purchased the building with a $400,000 donation from Kingsport businessman Pal Barger. The facility will be known as the Pal Barger Regional Center for Automotive Programs.

The Foundation recently initiated a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment and that report is currently under review. Northeast State has purchased more than $300,000 in state-of-the-art equipment to refurbish the facility and envisions starting classes in fall 2011.

The auto body program was approved by the Tennessee Board of Regents in July 2010 and the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools gave approval in December 2010. The U.S. Department of Education recently approved eligibility of federal financial aid for students.

Potential students interested in admission to the Auto Body Technology certificate and the General Technology degree may contact the Office of Admissions and Records at 800.836.7822 or e-mail admissions@NortheastState.edu. 

01-31-11

What is the auto body technology program?
As envisioned, this program will instruct students how to repair and rebuild auto bodies involved in accidents and collisions. Students will receive state-of-the-art training in areas such as welding, metal fabrication, refinishing, auto painting, and repair estimation.

Automotive program information now available

Prospective students with interest in Northeast State Community College's anticipated auto body service technology program at Northeast State at Kingsport may now contact the College for more information.

The automotive program – envisioned as body and collision repair program – is currently awaiting approval from the U. S. Department of Education for financial aid authorization. The College has already received approval for the program from the Tennessee Board of Regents and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The College is currently offering two classes this spring and anticipates offering more during the summer term. These classes are offered at the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing or the Kingsport Higher Education Center, both in downtown Kingsport.

The College eventually plans to offer classes in the former Free Service Tire and Auto Center in downtown Kingsport. The facility was purchased with a donation from local businessman Pal Barger. Anticipated upgrades to the building include internal and external painting, floor cleaning, equipment installation, roof repair, restrooms, electrical wiring, and lighting prior to opening this fall.

For more information, contact Mike Bledsoe, Dean of Technical Education, at 423.354.2420 or mdbledsoe@NortheastState.edu.

Program FAQ's 

What is the job outlook for this field?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, over the next decade opportunities will be excellent for people with formal training in automotive body repair and refinishing.

What are the potential earnings for a person with a degree or certificate in this field?
According to the latest U.S. Department of Labor figures, hourly wages of automotive body and related repairers average just above $18.

What are the admissions requirements for the program?
A student desiring to enroll in the program must submit a Northeast State application for admission with a $10 application fee, indicate automotive body repair technology as the desired major on the application, and see a faculty advisor for the program prior to registering for classes.

Where will classes be taught?
Northeast State is in the process of renovating the former Free Service Tire Company building located in downtown Kingsport on Center Street. The building was purchased by the Northeast State Foundation with a $400,000 donation from local businessman Pal Barger. The foundation owns the building.

What has to be done to get the building ready?
The foundation will commission an EPA study to ensure there are no environmental issues with property. Once completed, the College will issue bids for infrastructure renovations, which include painting, signage, electrical and information technology wiring, floor cleaning and replacement, classrooms, restrooms, equipment installation, and roof repair. The foundation will fund the cost of most renovations.

Has the program been approved by governing bodies?
The program has been approved by the Tennessee Board of Regents and the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools. The College is in the process of applying to the U.S. Department of Education for the approval of federal financial aid for students.

Are there any classes I can take right now?
You may contact Mike Bledsoe, Dean of Technical Education, about related classes taught at the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing and the Kingsport Center for Higher Education – both are located in downtown Kingsport. For more information, e-mail mhbledsoe@northeaststate.edu or call 423.354.2420.