Northeast State arboretum receives level one certification

Northeast State Community College’s arboretum has been certified as a level one arboretum by the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council in cooperation with the Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry.

The collection contains 49 trees and 44 different species, and are labled with a common name, a scientific name, and a family name. Thirty-six of the trees were planted in 2007-08. The arboretum is also home to the J. Allen Hurley Wellness Trail, a .7-mile walking path that winds through the property. To achieve level one status, at least 30 trees must carry labels, according to guidelines.

The arboretum and wellness trail are open year round during daylight hours and maintained by the college.

The Tennessee Urban Forestry Council and the Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc. joined efforts in 2000 to certify Arboreta throughout the state of Tennessee. The purpose of the certification program is to define what the word “arboretum” means in Tennessee and set standards for what can be called an Arboretum for public educational purposes.

Other general requirements for arboretum status include:

  • The site must be open to the public.
  • Management practices must be in place to protect trees from lawn mower and weedeater damage.
  • Protective examples include: employee training, mulch or herbicide treatment.
  • Plant establishment should exemplify modern planting and protection methods.
  • Tree labels should be of a type that will not cause significant damage to the tree. Labels should be mounted in the ground or attached to the tree via a screw or other non-damaging approved method.
  • All labels must have the common and botanical name.
  • All tree labels must be at a readable height and maintained in good condition.



TBR Chancellor Opposes Guns on Campus Legislation

NASHVILLE - Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan is speaking out, expressing his concern for the safety of students, faculty and staff on college campuses if a bill being discussed in the legislature to allow guns on public campuses is passed.

Morgan has joined the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police, University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro, and numerous other presidents, faculty, staff and students of Tennessee's public higher education institutions in opposing the bills.

"I am strongly opposed to these bills, and I am proud to join my colleagues at the University of Tennessee System and the Campus Police Chiefs in that opposition," said TBR Chancellor John Morgan. "I believe the police officers across our system who are fearful that more firearms on campuses would be problematic. Our campuses are much safer with current laws left in place."

House Bill 2016 is scheduled to come up Tuesday, April 19, in the House Judiciary Committee. As amended, it will allow all full-time faculty and staff members of public postsecondary institutions with a concealed weapon permit to carry a concealed firearm on campus after completing a two-hour handgun safety training course. The bill does not pertain to students, part-time employees or adjunct faculty members. The bill provides that if an institution elects to opt out, it will have a duty to guarantee and warrant the health and safety of persons on the campus.

Current law prohibits anyone other than authorized law enforcement officials to bring weapons on campus. Law enforcement officials nationwide have expressed concern that campuses will become less safe with more gun carriers by complicating law enforcement response to potential threats.

"Just because someone is permitted to carry a weapon, we cannot presume the individual's ability or skill set with that weapon during an alarming situation," wrote Chief David Beams, TACP president, and Chief August Washington, chairman of the TACP University Committee and chief of the Vanderbilt University Police Department, in a letter to the General Assembly.

A 2009 report by ABC News 20/20 titled "If I Only Had a Gun" supported that point by showing individuals who received extensive firearms training still had trouble responding to an active shooter situation.

Recent campus crime reports indicate Tennessee college campuses are often safer than the communities that surround them. College officials are also concerned about the added liabilities and costs they could face if the laws are changed.

The Tennessee Board of Regents is the nation's sixth largest higher education system, governing 46 post-secondary educational institutions. The TBR system includes six universities, 13 two-year colleges and 27 technology centers, providing programs in 90 of Tennessee's 95 counties to more than 200,000 students.

Monica Greppin
Communications Director
Tennessee Board of Regents
1415 Murfreesboro Road, Suite 350
Nashville, TN 37217
Phone: 615.366.4417



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.


Northeast State committed to quality educational opportunities

By Janice Gilliam, President
Northeast State Community College

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.


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.


Closing the completion gap and meeting Tennessee's workforce demands

By Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan 

The most important contribution we can make for the benefit of all Tennesseans is to champion our students' success.

The Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010 has set the stage for the Tennessee Board of Regents to advance public higher education in Tennessee. The act has attracted national attention as a catalyst for transformational change, and the Tennessee Board of Regents is poised to lead the nation's college completion agenda.

The TBR is uniquely charged with educating and training the workforce and future leaders of our state and nation. Some 46 campuses, more than 200,000 students, and 15,500 full-time employees comprise the TBR. Our institutions are located in almost every county in Tennessee, offering a variety of degrees and services and providing credentials to more than 22,000 Tennesseans each year.

The state of Tennessee has clearly defined the role public higher education should play in fulfilling the state's public agenda. The charge is clear, and the TBR is prepared to meet those expectations.

Already, we have worked with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to develop a funding model based on student outcomes, developed campus graduation plans with bold degree targets for every college and university, and redesigned developmental and remedial education programs.

We are in the process of creating straightforward pathways that allow students to easily transfer and progress from the technology centers to the community colleges, and from community colleges to universities. We are creating a comprehensive statewide community college system to coordinate programs and services. Our universities are becoming more mission-specific and developing campus plans to increase retention and graduation.

We recognize not every student plans to attend a college or university, but those who do should have the access and support to be successful. Those who don't should have equal access to quality job skills training.

TBR institutions serve all those needs by offering high school students dual-enrollment and dual-credit programs to pave their way for skills training and/or college-level work. We provide a variety of options ranging from four-month job skills training certificates to four-year college degrees and beyond. We offer programs encouraging adults with some post-secondary education to complete their degrees, and for displaced adults who want to enhance their skills to prepare for a new career.

Our campuses are also developing partnership programs with employers ranging from small local industries to large corporations (like Volkswagen, Wacker and Hemlock) to prepare our citizens for the kind and variety of jobs that are needed now and in the future.

To meet immediate workforce needs, our 27 Tennessee Technology Centers have become a national model for student success and labor demands. With a 75 percent completion rate and 83 percent placement rate, TTC students enter the workforce quickly with the preparation employers need – often at salaries above entry levels. Those success rates are most remarkable when we consider that 45 percent of TTC students report annual household incomes less than $12,000, and 70 percent less than $24,000.

The TTCs provide accredited, hands-on technical training and skills development in a variety of fields depending on the workforce needs of the state and communities. Programs vary from four to 22 months and enable students to enter high-skill and high-wage jobs like computer information technology, welding, precision machining, and nursing.

Today's economy demands a workforce with enhanced skills and education beyond high school. As more of our state's citizens strive to increase their training, heighten their abilities and sharpen their knowledge, the Tennessee Board of Regents is answering the call.

John Morgan was elected the seventh chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents last fall after serving as Deputy to the Governor and having served the State of Tennessee in a variety of roles for more than 30 years, including a 10-year stint as Comptroller of the Treasury. This op/ed appeared in the April 6, 2011 edition of The Tennessean. 


The Wizard of Oz production lands at Northeast State

Grab those ruby slippers and get your tickets now to see The Wizard of Oz on stage in the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts at Northeast State Community College April 7-10!

Directed by Elizabeth M. Sloan, the musical version of Oz brings Dorothy Gale, the Wicked Witch, Toto, and the Wizard himself to life. Stepping into the iconic role of Dorothy is Shelby Cade, who fully understands how big those ruby slippers are to wear.

The Lion (Charlie Schill), Dorothy (Shelby Cade), Scarecrow (Tyler Alley), and Tin Man (Joshua O'Bryan) make their way to the Emerald City.

"This is a role I wanted to play since I was three years old," says Cade who graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi last year with a bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance. "It is a little nerve-wracking only because there is so much expectation."

A seasoned performer, she has played leading roles in The Importance of Being Earnest, Noises Off, Doubt, A Parable, and Crimes of the Heart. Shelby also performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as part of the Irene Ryan Acting Competition.

The story follows much of the movie and Baum's traditional story about Kansas, the tornado, and Dorothy's fateful trip over the rainbow where she meets a slew of colorful characters and snags a snazzy pair of ruby slippers. When not fighting off the Wicked Witch of the East (Dani Trinkle), Dorothy befriends the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion all of whom join her quest to the Emerald City hoping their own wishes might be granted by the Wizard of Oz (Derek Smithpeters).

In addition to Sloan's direction, Oz includes singing and dancing into the production. Northeast State music instructor Tawana Teague heads up the musical numbers while fellow Humanities faculty member Louise Dickson brings her wealth of dance experience as the play's choreographer.

Joining Cade to form the yellow-brick-road-traveling quartet are actors Tyler Alley (Hunk and Scarecrow), Charlie Schill (Zeke and the Lion) and Joshua O'Bryan (Hickory and the Tin Man).

Alley is a Theatre major at Northeast State who performed in College's production of Dracula last fall. Needless to say winning the Scarecrow role marks the highlight of his career thus far.

"When I found out I got the role I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest," he says. "I got into character as much as possible because I want this to be my career."

O'Bryan is also earning a degree in Theatre from Northeast State. His theatrical roles include productions of Chess, Godspell, and The Sound of Music. He drew inspiration from Baum's book about Hickory's unrequited love for a woman in Kansas as a metaphor of the Tin Man's longing for a heart.

"I didn't care what part I got, I just wanted to work with Elizabeth and to learn," says O'Bryan, who earned an internship this summer with the illustrious Barter Theater. "Having a deep understanding with both characters in Oz and Kansas makes you work harder as an actor but also expands your abilities so much."

Schill, a one-time engineering student and now theatre major at East Tennessee State University, has performed in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Come Rain or Come Shine, and Lysistrata. He tackled the demanding dual roles in Oz while picking up a few singing tips and dancing steps well.

"It has really opened my eyes to think, 'Yes, I can do this,'" says Schill. "Every actor makes his or her role their own; it is about putting all the components together."

The Wizard of Oz ranks as one of the largest and most elaborate productions ever staged at Northeast State. Sloan directs both flying monkeys and a crew of Munchkins, many of whom are first-time kid actors making their stage debut. The production's award-winning technical director, and Northeast State alumnus, Brad McKenzie – and Cade's fiancée – oversees the production's visual aesthetic.

"The elements of this production have pushed all of us to bring our collaborative creativity to the table. We have all learned so much," said Sloan, who took the reins of Northeast State Theatre in 2009.

Actors often note Sloan's credentials as a performer and teacher as a driving force in attending Northeast State's theatre program. She performed in more than 30 productions as a member of the Barter Theatre's Equity Acting Company. She is a current member of the Actor's Equity Association and East Tennessee Repertory Theatre.

Cast and crew members for Oz number more than 70 people. Perhaps Schill best summed up the merry old Land of Oz experience best when describing the production and how his colleagues felt about theatre.

"It is so wonderful to be able to work with people who put their heart and soul into it," he says. "If you are not shooting for the stars, what are you doing with your life?"

Northeast State Theatre's production of The Wizard of Oz runs April 7-9 at 7:30 p.m. and April 9-10 at 2:00 p.m. in the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets are $10 general admission, $8 for students and seniors, $6 for children under 12. Northeast State students with valid student identification get one free ticket. Tickets can be purchased online now at www.northeaststate.edu. For more information, contact Northeast State Theatre via e-mail at emsloan@NortheastState.edu.