Northeast State – The Year in Review

Northeast State wraps up 2016 after a yearlong celebration of its opening 50 years ago. From Tri-Cities Area Vocational-Technical School to Northeast State Community College, our institution celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016. The small vocational school opened for classes in 1966 with two buildings, six program, and just north of 30 total students. Today, the school functions as a comprehensive community college with five campuses, 150 academic programs, more than 6,000 enrolled students, and a national alumni directory.

Below are a few highlights from the year.

Northeast State at Elizabethton celebrates 20th anniversary

Northeast State at Elizabethton will celebrate two decades as a higher education fixture in Carter County with the campus’s 20-year anniversary this spring. The campus will celebrate the anniversary throughout the year in conjunction with the College’s celebration of its 50th anniversary. The Elizabethton campus received high marks from students over the years.  A student satisfaction student released in 2010 reported 98 percent of enrolled students would recommend attending Northeast State to friends.

Northeast State at Elizabethton successfully enrolls hundreds of students each semester.
Northeast State at Elizabethton successfully enrolls hundreds of students each semester.

Northeast State, CMT partner for veterans’ awareness concert

Rising country performer Courtney Cole performed at the WRCPA Theater in April to raise awareness of educational opportunities for U.S. veterans in Northeast Tennessee. The concert was sponsored by Northeast State and the CMT Network. Northeast State partnered with CMT’s Empowering Education initiative and the American Association of Community Colleges to increase visibility for education and rural workforce challenges.

Courtney Cole

Northeast State named service provider for adult education services

Northeast State was named as a new Tennessee service provider for adult education services. The College is one of eight service providers announced by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) to coordinate adult education programs in each of the state’s 95 counties. Northeast State was awarded a $798,000 grant to oversee delivery of the program. The College now serves TDLWD District 1 which includes Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington counties.

TBR approves A.A.S. degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology

aviationtechnologylogoNortheast State’s Advanced Technologies Division has announced the addition of a new associate of applied science degree program in Aviation Maintenance Technology. The two-year degree was approved by the Tennessee Board of Regents in spring 2016. Created through a partnership with the Bell Helicopter aeronautics company, the Aviation Technology program seeks to fill the demand for aeronautic mechanics in the regional and national workforce. The two-year degree program requires students to complete 63 credit hours of core curriculum courses and aviation-specific courses. The College began offering a 29-credit-hour technical certificate program in Aviation Technology in fall 2015.

TBR meets in quarterly session at Northeast State

 The Tennessee Board of Regents held its regular quarterly session at Northeast State on June 24, following a day of committee meetings on June 23. Committee meetings will begin at 1 p.m. EDT Thursday in the 1st Floor Theater of the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts. Committees will meet in this order: Audit, Finance and Business Operations, Personnel and Compensation, Academic Policies and Programs and Student Life, External Affairs, and Workforce Development.
Members of the TBR and Northeast State faculty and staff.

Northeast State’s 50th homecoming event

Hundreds of people attended Northeast State’s 50th anniversary Homecoming event on Sept. 29 with a free concert from The Breakfast Club and the Grammy-nominated band Fastball.

Northeast State presidents (from left) Janice Gilliam, William Locke, Wade Powers, and James Owen.
Northeast State presidents (from left) Janice Gilliam, William Locke, Wade Powers, and James Owen.

The day opened with four living Northeast State presidents Drs. Wade Powers, James Owen, Bill Locke, and Janice Gilliam reflecting on the growth of the College and their years of service at Northeast State. The homecoming and concert also celebrated the Northeast State Foundation’s annual Because of You Campaign (BOYC) week, designed to allow the College’s clubs and organizations to raise funds for scholarships, programs and projects.

Northeast State lands $190,000 NSF grant

The National Science Foundation awarded Northeast State a $190,000 grant to recruit high school students and prepare them for careers in cybersecurity. The two-year project will combine technical, entrepreneurial, and soft skills training to produce well-round professionals who can not only solve technological issues, but also work well with individuals and teams to identify and fix problems. Associate Professor of Computer and Information Sciences Allan Anderson is the project’s principal investigator and he will be assisted by Dr. Carol Cole, co-principal investigator and professor of Management.

Cyber Defense is a growing career field.

Northeast State named top blood drive sponsor among area collegesNortheast State Community College was named top blood drive sponsor among area colleges and universities recently at the Marsh Regional Blood Center’s annual awards luncheon. In 2015, the College collected 443 units in drives on the College’s various campuses. This is the third year in a row the College has ranked number one in donations.

 Northeast State buries time capsule culminating 50 year anniversary

Northeast State Community College wrapped up its year of events to celebrate its 50th anniversary today by burying a time capsule. The 20 items buried in the capsule behind the Wayne G. Basler Library included a 50th anniversary pin, a copy of the 1966-67 college catalog, the college’s first administrative staff photo from 1966, a selfie stick, and a jump drive.

The 50-year Northeast State time capsule.


Employee Appreciation Day

Northeast State held its employee appreciation day ceremony on Dec. 2 recognizing dozens of employees for their years of service to the College. Employees recognized and their years of services are:

30 years

Dr. Steve Campbell, Raylene Steward, Dianne Grant, and James Hodges


25 years

Dawn Dabney, John Grubb, Rita Lay, Lisa Rowland, and Michelle Wyatt.

15235479_10157761227690368_2480613505474411779_o20 years

Robin Byrne, Misty Carriger, Robert Loveday, Kathy Minga, Teressa Nidifefer, Dan Perry, Sharon Riddle, Sam Rowell, Rose Spangler, and Malissa Trent.


15 years

Allan Anderson, Daryl Bacon, Tonya Cassell, Christopher Demas, Eric Fish, James Henson, Brian Johnson, Randal Jones, Betty Mask, Shirley Morefield, Eric Morritt, and Joan Willis.


10 years

Railene Anderson, Deloros Campbell, Jeff Coalson, David Cook, Louise Dickson, Julie Dykes, Tom Huskisson, Jill Montgomery, Nona Shepherd, Derrick Thacker, Catherine Strain, and Megan Jones.


5 years

Amanda Adams, Kathy Cox, Kathy Albright, Mitzi Daniel, Kelly Barton, Ruth Davis, Rebecca Bennett, Kerry Dykes, Brandon Burleson, Nathan Ford, Tabetha Garman, Paula Johnson, Heidi Lyon, Dale Ledford, Deborah Marsh, Jeremy Maskew, Logan Mason, Robin Matthews, Shelby McKenzie, Jonathan Moore, Greg Osborne, Mike Pagel, Jason Penwell, Audrey Peters, Dianna Presley, Melissa Ramsey, Samantha Rowlett, Jessica Ward, Carol Weems, and Robert Wilson.


The College also paid tribute to Patty Haynes and Jeff Odom both of whom passed away within the past year. Both Patty and Jeff were beloved and well-known members of the Maintenance Department.

Reception recognizes 2016-17 Student Scholars

Northeast State recognized the 2016-17 Student Scholars at the annual Scholars Reception held Nov. 17 at MeadowView Convention and Conference Center in Kingsport. An album of photos of the event and the scholars can be viewed at

The Office of Scholarship Programs and Student Needs hosted the reception to honor students receiving scholarships both from and administered by Northeast State. More than 200 students received scholarships for the 2016-17 academic year. The complete list of scholarships and recipients can be found via this link 2016-17 Student Scholars.

Northeast State proudly recognized our 2016-17 Student Scholars Thursday night.
Northeast State proudly recognized our 2016-17 Student Scholars Thursday night.

The deadline to submit a Northeast State Scholarship application is March 1, 2017. To learn more about scholarships available through Northeast State visit the website:

Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver perform Dec. 3 at WRCPA

Northeast State Community College welcomes musical legend and 2016 Grammy nominee Doyle Lawson with his band Quicksilver to campus for their annual “Homecoming” performance on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7:00 p.m.

Lawson and Quicksilver will perform at the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts Theater on the College’s Blountville campus next to Tri-Cities Regional Airport. Advance tickets are $25 and can be purchased online now at or at the Box Office, 423.354.5169. Enjoy this intimate evening of bluegrass, gospel, and Christmas tunes with one of the best in the business.

Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver return to the WRCPA Theater stage Dec. 3.
Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver return to the WRCPA Theater stage Dec. 3.

Called a “mandolin virtuoso” with “perfectly silken harmony” by The New York Times, Lawson and Quicksilver have nearly 40 albums to their credit. Lawson and Quicksilver’s most recent album In Session was nominated for a Grammy Award as Best Bluegrass Album of the Year for 2016.

DLQ are seven-time International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Vocal Group of the Year winners, and have multiple Grammy, Dove, Inspirational Country Music Association, and other IBMA award nominations. The band also earned Dove Award nominations for the Best Bluegrass Gospel Album and Best Bluegrass Gospel Song awards.

Lawson is a member of the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012 at the Ryman Auditorium. He has served as the feature instructor and performer at the College’s summer music workshops held at Northeast State at Bristol for two years.  He shared his knowledge and expertise with students about recording tips and techniques as well as live performances and impromptu jam sessions.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more information call the Northeast State Box Office at 354.5169.

She Kills Monsters now playing at Northeast State

Crazed fairies, bloodthirsty ogres, and monsters of all sorts populate the fantasy world of She Kills Monsters. The Northeast State Department of Theater presents this modern production running Nov. 10 to Nov. 20 by playwright Qui Nguyen. The new production continues the tradition of vividly creative and cutting edge productions from the College’s award-winning Theater Department.

“I am exceedingly proud of my students, present and former, who have really had to step up to bring this visually exciting show to life,” said Brad McKenzie, director of Monsters and technical director of Northeast State Theater (NST).

Monsters tells the story of Agnes Evans as she leaves her childhood home in Ohio following the death of her mother, father, and teenage sister, Tilly. Five years later when Agnes finds Tilly’s Dungeons & Dragons notebook, however, she stumbles into a journey of discovery and adventure in the imaginary world that was Tilly’s refuge.

“This production has some of the biggest spectacle and design that we have done, and that is saying something,” said Elizabeth M. Sloan, director of NST. “I am constantly amazed by Brad’s vision and the imagination he inspires in his students. Everyone has put in a lot hours to create this spectacularly fun show.”

Madison Phillips plays Tilly in flashback scenes of the fantasy world. Phillips made her NST debut in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest last spring. She followed that with the lead role of Carole in Oleanna produced earlier this year. Her memories of Tilly propels Agnes into the adventure to learn more about the sister she thought she knew.

“I think thematically the play tells a story about who people are and how they deal with life differently,” said Phillips. “Everything in this play comes from truth. It is relatable to everyone because it tells a truth about the lives people live every day.”

Haley Forbes portrays Agnes, an imaginative young woman whose yearning for exciting life brings her more adventure than she ever expected.

“I think it is a story about losing someone you love and feeling lost,” said Forbes, in her first performance with Northeast State Theater. “This is a story about loss and how Agnes deals with losing her sister and finding a connection with her, too.”

Agnes meets a wide assortment of characters and faces down many demons her sister fought through the game. Megan Proctor plays Lilith Morningstar, a feisty fairy queen wielding a battle axe. Despite Proctor’s fearsome character, she said Lilith hides a good heart.

“I feel like the play is about sisterhood,” said Proctor, a veteran Northeast State Theater performer working in her sixth production. “The bond between Tilly and Agnes carries through to the fantasy world and gives Agnes a bridge to her sister’s world where they can be together.”

The play’s overarching theme of the beloved Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game highlights not only the game but the offbeat characters involved in the game. McKenzie had the cast and crew play a game of Dungeons and Dragons to get acquainted with the game and theme of the play.

The play features a series of sword battles between the characters. Charles Clark serves as fight captain in charge of orchestrating the actors’ fight scenes and keeping cast members in one piece. He also portrays the evil lord of the underworld Orcus who is bent on destroying Agnes.

“The costume and sword I use are well done that it is exciting to wear,” said Clark. “I feel like a lot of the fantasy elements of the play translate into the real world. You need to keep an open mind and roll through the bad times to get to the good.”

Building the weapons and armor fell to theater shop foreman and Northeast State alumnus Richard Curtis. An award-winning creative designer and theater veteran, Curtis returns to Northeast State after completing his bachelor’s degree in Theater at King University. The weapons wielded by the characters are formed with foam coated with resin to provide the hard structure needed for effect.

“Each weapon has its own identity and purpose,” said Curtis. “Brad and Elizabeth told me about the play and asked if I wanted to be involved and I said, ‘Of course, I do!'”

Richard Curtis wields one of his weapons.
Richard Curtis wields one of his newly created weapons.

Designing the creature prosthetics, character masks, and large wearable wings fell to Northeast State alumnus and Theater veteran Dustin Lawson. Inspired by the game’s characters, Lawson sketched out monsters well known to D&D players and created masks to reflect them.

“These are most prosthetics I’ve ever made for a show so, yes, many long hours have been put in by all of us,” said Lawson, now an ETSU student majoring in Theater. “My biggest thing is actor comfort so I’m always asking how the masks feel and how they need to be adjusted.”

Dustin Lawson creating one of many
Dustin Lawson creating one of many “monsters” for the play.

Marty France brought his skills to costuming a cast of regular and fantasy world characters. France’s work with costuming as well as hair and makeup has been showcased in numerous Northeast State Theater productions including Steel Magnolias and The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe.

“Brad and Elizabeth focus a lot on us respecting each other so the crew and cast understand what each other brings to the table in each production,” he said. “I love that so many new people are coming into the program.”

Marty France with a character costume from Monsters.
Marty France with a character costume from Monsters.

Agnes dealing with the loss of her family and expectations of a new life with her fiancé Miles (Aaron Musselwhite). The relationship between Agnes and Miles changes as she searches for answers and looks for strength on her quest.

“Agnes and Miles knew each other superficially, but through her quest they get to know each other in a very deep way,” said Musselwhite. “The story tells you how there are times not everything is going to go how you planned, and you need to take a second to enjoy the moments you live in every day.”

Puppet Designer Ashley Guy sits in the mouth of a dragon she is creating for
Puppet Designer Ashley Guy sits in the mouth of a dragon she is creating.

Ashley Guy took on the formidable job of Puppet Master designing and building seven large puppet figures from dragons to an enormous planetoid head. An experienced costume designer and crew member in multiple NST productions, Guy took on the new design challenge and began sketching her creations last summer. Armed with raw materials and her imagination, Guy created a posse of dragon puppets that add to the night

“I think people feel like Dungeons and Dragons is some game nerds play, but if they knew how fun it was they would think about playing, too,” said Guy, a longtime D&D player.  “Even though this is a community college, we are putting on some amazing plays with top-notch values and some of the best productions around.”

While the play delves into adult and sensitive themes, cast and crew members agreed the show was not about prurient shock value. The play used fantasy and comedy to ask critical and universal questions about human beings and where we all fit in the world.

The play involves mature themes and strong adult language and is recommended for audiences ages 18 and older. She Kills Monsters is produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc. Tickets are $10 and admission is free to currently enrolled Northeast State students with valid identification. The play’s performance dates are Nov. 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 13 and 20 at 2:00 p.m. in the WRCPA Theater.

For tickets, visit or contact Northeast State Theater at 423.354.5169 or e-mail