VOW assists unemployed veterans

A new federal program designed to help in-need military veterans aged 35 to 60 get an associate degree through a two-year college is available now at Northeast State.

Congress passed, and President Obama signed into law, the Veterans Opportunity to Work VOW to Hire Heroes Act authorizing the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) which offers up to 12 months of training assistance to unemployed veterans age 35 and over.

“This new benefit seeks to put veterans back to work,” said Pat Chandler, Veterans’ Affairs Coordinator at Northeast State.  “We want area veterans to know that they have an option if they are unemployed to come back to college and get these benefits toward earning a degree.”

VRAP offers 12 months of training assistance to veterans who are at least 35 but no more than 60 years old; are unemployed on the date of the application; and received an other than dishonorable discharge from their branch of service. Applicants cannot be eligible for any other Veterans Affairs education benefit program such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, or Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Assistance benefit.

The office of Veterans Affairs at Northeast State can assist vets through the new VRAP system.

Applicants can visit the eBenefits web site to complete the VRAP application. An applicant will be asked to submit his or her direct deposit information (bank routing number and account number), the name and location of their school, the academic program being pursued, and the applicable high demand occupation.

Chandler said veteran applicants must also submit an application to the College and meet all admission requirements to get enrolled.  Students can apply for admission to Northeast State at www.NortheastState.edu/apply.

Participants must be enrolled in a Veterans Affairs approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school. The program must lead to an associate degree, non-college degree, or a technical certificate, and train the veteran for a high demand occupation.  VRAP will provide training for programs of education that lead to a high demand occupation. The U.S. Department of Labor offers employment assistance to every veteran who participates upon completion of the program.

Applicants cannot receive Veterans Affairs compensation due to unemployability or be enrolled in a separate federal or state job training program.

The program is limited to 45,000 participants from July 1 through Sept. 30, and 54,000 participants from Oct. 1 through March 31, 2014. Participants may receive up to 12 months of assistance equal to the monthly full-time payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill–Active Duty program.

Northeast State is the only community college in northeast Tennessee administering VRAP benefits.   The College served more than 250 students who received veterans benefits during the 2011 fall term.

“Area veterans can apply online through the eBenefits web site or through the G.I. Bill web site,” said Chandler, “We will be glad to help them with anything they need.”

To learn more visit www.NortheastState.edu or contact the office  of Veterans Affairs at 423.323.0215 or the office of Admissions and Records at 423.323.0253 or 1.800.836.7822.

Dr. Keith Young composes music to Liberty!

The multitalented Dr. Keith Young will composing the music for this year’s performances of “Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals.”

Northeast State’s Dr. Keith Young composed the music for this year’s performances of Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area in Elizabethton.  Director of the Northeast State at Elizabethton teaching site Young is the first individual to score music for the show.

Young has been a musician and storyteller for about 30 years and has degrees in music.  He has performed in several theater productions including Northeast State’s A Christmas Carol. He also performs at Northeast State events and emcees the College’s annual Honors Convocation event.

Tennessee’s official outdoor drama, the story is presented by local performers against the backdrop of Fort Watauga.  The next performances are July 26-28 at 7:30 p.m.

Country artist Trey Hensley plays Northeast July 27

Called a “bona fide hillbilly rock star” by Marty Stuart, traditional singer/songwriter Trey Hensley is making his mark as a new breed of mature-beyond-their-years artists who has recorded with some of the biggest names in country music.

Hensley takes the stage of the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts Theater at the main campus in Blountville at 7 p.m. on July 27.  Hensley’s show is part of the College’s “Hot Nights, Cool Music” summer concert series. The concert is free and open to the public.  Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

The talented Trey Hensley (center) continues his climb as a country music artist.

His most recent country CD, It Is What It Is, combined new, radio-friendly contemporary songs as well as songs with the classic sound of some of his heroes. The release offers covers originally performed by Elton John, Conway Twitty, Jimmy Dickens and The Gaither Vocal band.

Hensley’s third country album is in the works and will include mostly original songs. It is scheduled to be released in late summer or fall of this year. Since the transition from Bluegrass to Country, Hensley and his five-piece band have played everywhere from New York to Los Angeles, Nebraska to Texas, Minnesota to Washington D.C.

His own style of picking – whether on his Telecaster or acoustic guitar – bears the influence of some of his guitar heroes from country legends Buck Owens and Ricky Skaggs to bluegrass royalty Doc Watson and Tony Rice.

The concert is free and open to the public.  For more information, contact 423.279.7669 or e-mail jpkelly@NortheastState.edu.

The history of American pop music

Does this sound like a course for you?

If you love music and need a three-hour elective with a collaborative learning bent, check out A History of American Popular Music (History 2990-A01) taught this fall by the inimitable Professor Jim Kelly.

The course meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30 – 2:50 p.m. in room H146 of the Locke Humanities Building on the main campus.  Register now through NORSTAR or during open registration on Aug. 22.  The course number is 80899.

To get additional information or offer your suggestions about how to make the class as relevant as possible, e-mail jpkelly@NortheastState.edu or visit H108 of the Humanities Building.

Catch The Barefoot Movement July 19

The Barefoot Movement is a group of immensely talented musicians from North Carolina and Tennessee whose sound simultaneously captures the rustic beauty of old Southern front porch Bluegrass improvisation with a refreshing dash of acoustic modern rock and jazz.

You can give a listen to this wonderful band when The Barefoot Movement performs a free concert at Northeast State on July 19 in the Wellmont Regional Center for Performing Arts Theater on the main campus in Blountville, adjacent to Tri-Cities Regional Airport.  The group’s performance is part of the College’s “Hot Nights, Cool Music” summer concert series.  The show is free to the public and starts at 7 p.m.  Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

The Barefoot Movement

The group was initially formed when Noah Wall, singer and fiddler, and Tommy Norris, mandolin player, attended high school together in their hometown of Granville, N.C. and began setting Wall’s lyrics to Norris’s chords.  Wall was a student of the Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music Program at East Tennessee State University when she met Quentin Acres.  Both were chosen to perform for the Old-Time Pride Band.  They soon united to form The Barefoot Movement.  The name evolved from Wall’s tendency to remove her shoes during shows, a testament to the relaxed atmosphere and down-home sound of the group.

They released their album Footwork in 2012.  Wall’s voice is honest and captivating, marked by a clarity of tone and connection that is rare among modern singers. Mandolin player Norris and rhythm guitarist Acres provide an instantly recognizable and intricate backdrop of melody.  Lyrics are written by Wall and are often based on her personal experiences.  Listeners may find themselves engrossed in the travails of heartbreak or experiencing the anguish of war – whatever the subject, Wall’s lyrics are a journey through the human experience.

For more information, visit www.NortheastState.edu or contact 423.279.7669 or jpkelly@NortheastState.edu.