Tazewell County IDA Boosts BC Expansion

By Chris Shoemaker | June 4, 2010 | RSS

Tazewell County IDA Boosts BC Expansion
Bluefield College will partner with the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to bring new educational and recreational programs to the county, particularly the Town of Pocahontas
Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) leaders sign an agreement giving BC access to the former Pocahontas High School.
President David Olive (left) with IDA officials.

Bluefield College will partner with the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to bring new educational and recreational programs to the county, particularly the Town of Pocahontas.


Officials from the college, county, and town gathered Friday, June 4 at Pocahontas High School (PHS) to announce the partnership that will give the college access to facilities at PHS in order to develop and manage academic and athletic programs, including the school's new football, rural healthcare education, and instrumental music programs.


Shortly after announcing the return of intercollegiate football to Bluefield College after 69 years of absence, BC leaders announced the school's plans to use Pocahontas High School for football practice and training, thanks to the generosity of the Tazewell County IDA.


"The cooperation the college has experienced in getting this program off the ground to benefit both the Bluefield and Pocahontas communities has been like a well-oiled football play book," said BC alumnus and trustee Joseph K. Tatum. "Rarely do you see this type of cooperation come from so many different areas with the focus being what is best for the overall communities. If our new Rams football team can execute the way the Town of Bluefield, Tazewell County, and the IDA have, then we will have a great future in the sport."


Specifically, BC will use the PHS football field, locker rooms, and other space for football practice, training, and equipment storage. The facilities also will enable the college to explore the addition of other future sports, including field hockey, lacrosse, wrestling, and track and field. In addition, the PHS campus will be of significant value when the college's current athletic facilities are unavailable due to the construction of new buildings.


The college also will use PHS facilities for the development of its instrumental music program. Created in the fall of 2008 in order to give students an opportunity to study and/or participate in instrumental music at the collegiate level, the new instrumental music program already includes a jazz band, concert ensemble, community orchestra, and instrumental music education curriculum for students. Now, with the onset of BC football, the next natural instrumental music component will be a marching band.


"On behalf of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, Industrial Development Authority and Recreational Authority, we would like to thank Bluefield College for their interest in the Pocahontas community and to congratulate them on their announcement today," said county administrator Jim Spencer. "Bluefield College is a great partner to Tazewell County, and today is another example of this cooperation. We expect great things in the future for both Bluefield College and the Pocahontas community."


In addition, the college will use Pocahontas High as a hub for its new Rural Healthcare Education Program (RHEP). BC received an $85,000 grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission in November 2009 to launch a new Rural Healthcare Education Program (RHEP) "to address the need for higher education opportunities in healthcare for residents of southwest Virginia."


The RHEP will be offered first through the school's inSpire degree completion program, an accelerated higher education curriculum designed primarily for working adults. Through the RHEP, the college will partner with the region's community colleges and healthcare providers to deliver a bachelor's degree in nursing.


"We recognize the critical need that exists in southwest Virginia for healthcare related educational opportunities," said BC president Dr. David Olive, "and we are poised, as part of our mission, to meet this need for adults seeking to serve, and those already serving, in health-related fields within their communities."


In addition to football, instrumental education, and rural healthcare education, Bluefield College will explore additional opportunities for the use of Pocahontas High School and for the benefit of the Pocahontas community and Tazewell County, including other academic programs, community workshops, neighborhood outreach, and business partnerships."


"The college welcomes individuals, small business proprietors, restaurant owners, and organizations associated with the Spearhead ATV Trails to join us in strengthening the economy of this community," said Ruth Blankenship, BC's vice president for advancement. "Our expansions will generate additional revenue for the college, but more importantly will support the revitalization and economic development efforts of the Pocahontas community. And, this would not have been possible without the generosity of the Tazewell County IDA."

Media Contact

Chris Shoemaker, Assistant Professor, Communication