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Boones Creek TCAT is still 'on track'

Robert Houk • Jan 2, 2020 at 8:00 AM

Washington County officials expect the new year to bring success in turning the former Boones Creek Elementary School into a satellite campus for the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Elizabethton.

They say the TCAT-Boones Creek campus will offer students in the region a variety of new programs, as well as expand the curriculum already offered in Elizabethton.

“We’re moving ahead full speed,” Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy said earlier this week.

Grandy’s optimism comes after the project received some disappointing news last month. Danny O’Quinn, vice president of the TCAT in Elizabethton, said the school failed to receive a Department of Labor grant that would have equipped the campus with $2 million worth of equipment for six different training programs at Boones Creek.

“We are currently applying for a smaller (Appalachian Regional Commission) grant to start a construction trades program that will include training in framing, masonry, electrical, HVAC, and plumbing,” O’Quinn told community leaders.

The county mayor said Monday the Boones Creek campus is a “critical component” to creating curriculum to address a backlog in instructional programs for welding, heavy equipment operation and diesel repair in Elizabethton.  

Grandy, Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock and TCAT-Elizabethton President Dean Blevins met with Gov. Bill Lee early last year to discuss the satellite campus in Boones Creek. Local officials hope the Boones Creek campus will not only relieve a backlog in existing programs, but expand the TCAT curriculum in Elizabethton and Sullivan County.

“We are still on track,” Grandy said. “The governor has made a commitment to us.”

He said area development officials want to make curriculum in the construction trades a key part of the Boones Creek program.

“Masonry, electrical, plumbing and HVAC — these are all in critical demand across Tennessee,” Grandy said.

Lee is scheduled to tour the TCAT facility in Elizabethton on Friday to see the impact that his $25 million Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education program is having on secondary and post-secondary vocational education. The Elizabethton school recently received $1 million as part of that initiative.

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