Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A groundbreaking groundbreaking

Do you ever get a song, a phrase, or a word stuck in your head?

“Groundbreaking” has been in my mind lately because the groundbreaking ceremony for our new college is this Monday, June 4, at 11:30 a.m.

Dirt work has already begun at the site, located at the southwest corner of the Highway 43 - Highway 64 bypass intersection. Our shovel work Monday won’t contribute much to the project, but the ceremony of “groundbreaking” is a meaningful one. It’s like a pistol shot that starts a race, marking the beginning of something important and exciting.

If I tried to name all who will join me with ceremonial shovels I would leave someone out, because this is a big day for a lot of people. I will mention Governor Bill Haslam, who gave $4.6 million from the state of Tennessee to the project; State Representative Barry Doss, who works on our behalf here and on Capitol Hill; and Jim Cone, Chairman of the Lawrence County Higher Education Commission, which is the local project committee.

We will be joined by members of the Lawrence County Commission and Lawrenceburg City Council, which have made substantial contributions to the college. I hope the many businesses and civic organizations that have given to the cause will be represented as well.

My thesaurus says “groundbreaking” can also be used as an adjective, applied to something that’s innovative, trailblazing, and cutting-edge. All those words apply. Even though we call it a college, it’s really a facility that several schools will share in order to bring more programs to our region. I am proud of the name we chose for something so unique: the Southern Tennessee Higher Education Center.

Our academic partners will be honored guests on Monday. Columbia State Community College has been a friend to this community since it started bringing night classes to Lawrence County High School well over four decades ago. Enrollment at the local branch of Columbia State has increased every year since that building opened in the late 1980s.

Columbia State is increasing its commitment by agreeing to lease the new facility from the county and sublet space to schools offering junior- and senior-level college courses. Tennessee Technological University is already doing that at the existing Columbia State facility, and will add more programs.  MTSU and Martin Methodist College plan to partner with us to create even more Bachelor degree programs.
“Groundbreaking” is also something we do when we plant something. Like farmers, we are investing time, effort, and money because we look forward to the harvest.

Consider what we will reap: our children and grandchildren will be able to get a Bachelor’s degree without leaving Lawrence County. Industries that need higher-skilled (and higher-paid) workers will be able to find them here. Commercial opportunities will expand, particularly in the area near Southern Tennessee Higher Education Center.

Just think about the groundbreaking impact this will have on you and your family. Join us Monday to watch it begin.





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