Elizabethton technology college celebrates 50 years
Published 9:39 am Friday, October 2, 2015
The 50th anniversary celebration of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology on Thursday was highlighted by the opening of a time capsule, sealed Sept. 9, 1993, and the signing of various proclamations. Current and former students, faculty, staff and local and state officials attended the special ceremony.
The capsule, opened by Director Dean Blevins and Office Manager Nancy Perkins, contained photos of former faculty and staff, the old campus and cars, a giant computer and the prices of programs in 1965, the year the college opened.
At that time, the 12-month practical nursing program cost $325, and the cost for the 12-month automotive technology program was $70.
The capsule had to be excavated from a wall in the business office at the old campus in order to be opened.
The opening was originally set for 2025, but Blevins said because they are moving out of that building they decided to go ahead and remove the capsule, and what better time to open it than when celebrating the college’s Golden Anniversary.
The capsule will be open for two more weeks and then sealed until 2065. People who are interested in making donations for inclusion in the capsule may submit them to Perkins.
Blevins is an example of someone who has advanced his own career at the college. He was formerly a counselor and electricity teacher and is now the school’s director. He introduced a retired electricity teacher with a similar success story, Terry Peters.
Peters, a member of the very first electricity/electronics class in 1965, went on to teach it in the United States Air Force as well as serving as an instructor for 17 years at TCAT Elizabethton. He also taught at the Mountain City Correctional Complex for four years when it first opened.
When Peters reminisced on the campus and classes of 1965, he recalled there were only three programs back then, that the road to school was very narrow, and that graduates in 1967 were very successful.
“It’s always been the best kept secret in Tennessee,” he said. “It’s meant a lot to a lot of people.”
The comparison between the old facility and equipment and the new is like the comparison between a Ford Falcon and a Cadillac, Peters said.
“There is no comparison,” he said. “You can see what a nice facility it is, and I think it’s the best thing that’s happened to East Tennessee. There is still room to grow, and I think we’ve got the right people involved.”
State Sen. Rusty Crowe said though things change over the years, the one thing that remains the same is how proud everyone is of this school.
He said that former State Rep. Ralph Cole used to go into classes and ask the students how many of them already had jobs waiting on them when they completed their programs, and that invariably, two thirds of the room would raise their hands.
“What you learn here is directly related to the needs of our workforce and marketplace,” said Crowe.
He said the skills that people learn at TCAT Elizabethton are in high demand at places like Nuclear Fuel Services, Eastman Chemical Company and others.
Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander signed a proclamation recognizing the college on its completion of 50 years of progress in technical education. The State of Tennessee Proclamation was signed by Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, State Sen. Rusty Crowe, State Rep. Timothy Hill and State Rep. John Holsclaw, recognizing the college for its recent Regional Training NC3 certification as well as generating $11 million for the local economy while operating on a $3.2 million annual budget.