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Former West Virginia Secretary of State, Betty Ireland, joined the Appalachian Leadership Academy’s Cotiga Fellows on April 17, 2009 on the Williamson Campus of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.  Ireland was elected to the office in November 2004 and served as the 28th Secretary of State of West Virginia, making history as the first woman elected to the executive branch of the government of the State of West Virginia. Ireland was also the first Republican elected to that position since 1972.

The Appalachian Leadership Academy is sponsored by Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College and Cotiga Development.  The Leadership Academy is an on-site program, located at the Williamson Campus.  Ten students are selected annually to participate in the two-year  program.  The mission of the Academy is “To identify Southern students with outstanding character and prepare them with the leadership and diversity skills needed to serve as engaged, conscientious citizens as they enter the business, political, and academic world.”  The Academy’s core values include the highest commitment to honor, integrity, leadership, civic engagement, and service.

Ireland engaged in two-hour conversation with the Fellows, focusing on political leadership, ethics, and character.

Pictured from left to right are Pauline Sturgill, Academy Director, Shelley Rose, Whitney Dempsey, Betty Ireland, Joyce Varney, Kevin Whitt, Anita Copley, Rita White, Michelle Ford, Kimberly Irick, and Sandra Cox.

Logan, WV - Can you imagine being blind for more than seven years and then waking up one morning having regained your sight? That is exactly what recently happened to Sam Tenney when he awakened to see the inside of his house for the first time in a long time.

Tenney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2001 and lost his sightdue to the swelling of the optic nerves located behind his eyes. He was told that his condition was brought on as a result of a traumatic fall he suffered while working in Texas. After falling from a scaffold, he underwent back surgery and also had his appendix removed. Soon thereafter, he started noticing a difference in his sight and eventually became legally blind.

Over the years he has taken some experimental drugs to help treat his MS,including steroids. Nothing seemed to help his symptoms. Currently, he isusing vitamins and mineral therapy to treat his condition.

"This is truly a miracle and I will tell anyone that. I am so excited about the new opportunities for me. I'm still in shock,"Tenney said. And so are a lot of people that know him, including his parents.

Tenney grew up in a military family and lived in a variety of places, including Germany. His parents currently live near Elkins, WV who he credits for encouraging him to never give up when he lost his sight.

"My dad was always a strong person and basically told me I needed to learn how to deal with this in order to go on with my life," Tenney said. "So I went to the Rehab Center at Institute where I learned how to use various software for the visually impaired and other ways to deal with my blindness. While I was there, I met a special friend and she brought me to Logan."

While at the rehab center, Tenney said he tried to learn to read Braille but that did not work out for him. After moving to Logan, he discovered Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. Employees there have played a big role in Tenney's life during the past two and a half years. He has taken numerous basic college level classes and credits the student services staff for helping him through difficult times.

"I guess you could describe them as a mother hen. They really stayed after me to make sure I continued my education," Tenney explained.He added that Art Instructor David Jeffries has been a positive influence on his educational experience. "It takes a special person to tea chart to a blind student."

What's next for Tenney? Now that he has regained his sight, he plans to enroll in the Academy for Mine Training and Energy Technologies at Southern. He is interested in learning more about fire rescue training.His family has roots in the mining industry.

"Sam is independent enough and is willing to do what it takes to get things done," said Sherry Dempsey, director of Student and Academic Services. "You might say he is stubborn, but in a positive way." Dempsey has been a constant force in Tenney's college experience and is excited that he has a new lease on life.

The seven years of blindness has been life altering for Tenney to say the least, but the experience has taught him to be patient, humble and more accepting of others; a far cry from his former self.

"When you are blind, you see others for what they really are. It is not just about looks but what people have in their hearts."

Now that he has regained his sight, Tenney says he plans to help others by sharing experiences and most importantly, the story of his miracle.

West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney

Coal - America's fuel of choice...West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney addressed the group during a meeting held on December 10th at the Logan Campus of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. Board members visited the college's new 55,000 square foot Allied Health and Technology Center and learned more about the Academy for Mine Training and Energy Technologies.

Director Carl Baisden Jr. demonstrated the academy's wireless capabilities provided by Task Force One, a mobile communications unit designed to support mine rescue teams. Representatives from 30 states and three foreign countries have visited Southern's mining academy to see for themselves how future coal mine employees are trained. Over 5,000 students in the mining, gas and oil industries, have received hands-on, simulator training since the academy opened its doors in the fall of 2006. Baisden said the virtual training provided at the academy helps to build confidence by placing students in work related situations. Raney said he was pleased to bring the coal association members to Logan since it is centrally located among the coal and energy related businesses in southern West Virginia.

Southern Students at Competition

Radiology Technology students at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College received first and third place awards during the Student Bowl Competition held at the 56th Annual Conference of the West Virginia Society of Radiologic Technologists held in Morgantown, WV.

Congratulations to first place team members Savannah Duncan, Krista Jarrell and Rebekah Maxwell. Sharing third place honors were team members Paul Fraley, Sammeley Noe and Andrea Sloan. Alternates were Daniel Varney and Brandon Thacker. Southern's teams were under the direction of Eva Hallis, MS, RT, (R) and Russell Saunders, BA, RT, (R) (CT). Both instructors conducted practice sessions with the teams for weeks prior to the competition.

Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College announces the second group of students selected for its prestigious Appalachian Leadership Academy, Cotiga Chapter. Following a rigorous selection process, six students met the qualifications and will receive a full scholarship to attend Southern and up to $500 for books.

Mingo County native, Retired General Robert "Doc" Foglesong, USAF and Southern President Joanne Jaeger Tomblin will participate in the induction ceremony on Wednesday, December 17th beginning at 10:30 a.m. at The Brass Tree, according to Pauline Sturgill, ALA program director. Current Cotiga Fellows Kevin Whitt and Rita White will also participate in the ceremony. A special brunch for the ALA fellows and their families will begin at 9:30 a.m.

Southern's leadership academy chairpersons are Dr. Cindy McCoy and Karen Preece. Board members include Rita Roberson, Mary Hamilton, Stella Estepp, Dee Kapourales and Sturgill.

Those selected for the Appalachian Leadership Academy's 2009 class are as follows:

Anita Copley is an active member of her hometown community, Dunlow, West Virginia. Anita reports that one of the most difficult decisions in her life was to return to school. Anita hopes that her involvement in the Appalachian Leadership Academy will give her more confidence and help her to develop leadership skills she can use every day at home and work. Anita loves helping people and plans to one day work as a nurse.

Whitney Dempsey, a resident of Delbarton, West Virginia, was an honor student at Burch High School and a member of the Beta Club and the National Honor Society. Whitney loves children and her dream is to become an elementary school teacher. Whitney believes that her participation in Southern's Appalachian Leadership Academy will give her more confidence and will allow her to make new friends and meet important leaders.

Michelle Ford a resident of Belfry, Kentucky, is a Licensed Practical Nurse, youth pastor and an active member of her community. Michelle's goal is to one day serve others as a Registered Nurse. Michelle considers her acceptance into the Appalachian Leadership Academy a great honor and believes that her involvement as a Cotiga Fellow will guide her through life's journey in the medical field and will allow her to meet new and interesting people.

Kimberly Irick, a resident of Pinsonfork, Kentucky, was a cheerleader at Belfry High School and served as a member of several clubs, including Students Against Drunk Driving, FCA, Spirit Team, Homecoming Committee, and the French Club. Kimberly wants to serve as a role model for younger children. Kimberly plans to use her involvement with the Appalachian Leadership Academy to develop skills and techniques needed to stay strong and confident in herself and keep on track to become successful in the medical field.

Shelley Rose, a resident of Kermit, West Virginia, is a graduate of Tug Valley High School. She served for two summers mentoring young children as an AmeriCorps member with Energy Express. Shelly had been accepted into the Respiratory Therapy program and believes that Southern's Appalachian Leadership Academy will allow her to develop better leadership skills, become more involved in the college community, and take greater responsibility for activities that promote growth in our communities.

Joyce Varney, a resident of Hardy, Kentucky, is an active member in her church and community. She enjoys bringing peoples ideas together and completing projects. Joyce is pursuing a career in Respiratory Therapy and considers acceptance into Southern's Appalachian Leadership Academy a great privilege. Joyce plans to use her experiences in the Academy to develop and polish her leadership skills, not only for herself, but for those she will come into contact with in her community and profession.

The Appalachian Leadership Academy, Cotiga Chapter is based at Southern's Williamson Campus and is sponsored by Cotiga Development Company. For more information about the academy contact Pauline Sturgill at 304.896.7371 or

2009 Harmony Week Steering Committee

The 2009 Harmony Week Steering Committee at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College met on Thursday, November 20th at the Chief Logan Conference Center. The meeting's purpose was to discuss the upcoming activities to be held at all of Southern's campuses.

Ron Lemon, vice president for development at Southern stated, "The meeting was very productive and well attended. We look forward to another great year of activities. Southern's partnerships with the local NAACP, the local school systems and our corporate sponsorships from Pepsi, Logan Bank and Trust, Logan Regional Medical Center and Aracoma Drug provide the key support for the month long celebration of diversity, history and cultural enrichment in our area."

Harmony Week began at Southern in January of 1996 and celebrates it's 13th year in February of 2009. The upcoming Harmony Week programs begin on February 2, 2009.

Pictured front row seated, l-r, Edith Williams, Barbara Jean Webster, Randy Skeens, Eunice Hairston, Tehseen Irfan and Dee Kapourales. Back row standing Ron Lemon, Cindy Crigger, William "Tank" Williams, Fazal Masih, Beth Deaton, Peggy Vance, Christine Browning, Crystal Hensley, Jenny Francis, Reverend Peppy Francis and Claude Williams. Also in attendance was the Reverend Audie Murphy.

Southern Employee Receives West Virginia Community College Association Award

Teri M. Wells, student records assistant at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College recently received the 2008 Person of the Year Award presented by the West Virginia Community College Association during a state conference held at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, WV.

This award is given to employees representing each community college who have made a substantial contribution and significant impact on the operations of their institution. "I am so pleased that Teri was selected for this award. She is an asset to Southern, our community and students," stated Southern's President Joanne Jaeger Tomblin. Wells continues to assist those currently serving in the military by helping them enroll in online courses at Southern. She has served on Southern's Academic Affairs Committee, Classified Staff Council, and Enrollment Management Committee. She has assisted with the Tech Prep campus visits, the Logan County Arts and Crafts Fair, Harmony Week, and miscellaneous recruiting events. She has also served as a volunteer member of the Southern Samaritans and was an original member of Southern’s Student Speakers Bureau. She was instrumental in bringing the portable Vietnam Wall to Logan and is also active with volunteer work at her church. She is married to Kevin Wells and they have two children, Katelynne and Kevin Jr.

Shell Family Scholarship Winner

Virginia Kimler of Pecks Mill, WV has been awarded the 2008 Shell Family Scholarship to attend Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. The Shell Family Scholarship was established in 2007 by native Logan Countian and Huntington resident, Robert Shell, Jr., his wife Lena, mother Doris and other Shell family members.

Kimler plans to earn an Associate Degree in Arts at Southern and then transfer to Marshall University to pursue a Bachelors Degree in Secondary Education with a major in biology and a minor in arts. She aspires to become a high school biology teacher.

"I love it here at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. The atmosphere is great and the people are friendly. I was nervous about attending college in the beginning, but everyone here is willing to help you if you have a problem."

Kimler, a graduate of Logan High School, is the daughter of Donna Jean Miller and the step-daughter of George Estil Miller of Pecks Mill.

Persons interested in applying for the Shell Family Scholarship may obtain an application by going to Southern’s web site

Pictured are l-r Southern President Joanne Jaeger Tomblin, Southern Foundation President George Kostas, Virginia Kimler and Vice President of Development Ronald E. Lemon.

President Tomblin Addresses Rotary

New programs, construction of a technology center and the success of the Major Gifts Campaign Vision 2020 were the focus of Joanne Jaeger Tomblin, President of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, as she spoke to members of the Williamson Area Rotary Club on Tuesday, September 2nd at The Brass Tree. President Tomblin highlighted upcoming plans for the Williamson Campus, including the construction of a new Technology Center. A ground-breaking ceremony is planned for the spring of 2009.

During the 2007 West Virginia Legislative session, the legislature agreed to the sale of bonds for the purpose of constructing new campuses and technology facilities for the state's community and technical colleges. Southern is scheduled to receive between $6 and $8 million dollars for the construction of a technical facility at its Williamson Campus. Although planning for these facilities is still in the preliminary stages, President Tomblin discussed some of the possible programs that may be available once the new facility is constructed. College officials are currently working with business and industry in the region to determine what programs may be needed locally. "We continue to work closely with Major General Allen Tackett on the acquisition of the National Guard Armory property. The College still intends to purchase the Armory when it becomes available, however, but due to the timing of the bond funds, the College will need to begin construction and complete the new facility within three years of receiving the funds. Therefore, the new facility will be constructed at another location on the current College property," President Tomblin stated.

New programs being offered at the Williamson Campus include Respiratory Care Technology and a certificate program in Electrocardiology (EKG). The college also houses a day care center on campus which has helped numerous students with their children as they attend classes. The state has now focused their efforts on the recruitment of adult students and retraining the current workforce. President Tomblin stated, "The new technology center will assist the College in attaining these goals. Community and technical colleges have the technology and the curriculum to train workers quickly at an affordable cost, and we are excited to do so."

Since Southern launched its Academy for Mine Training and Energy Technologies in September of 2006, approximately 4,000 people have been trained for jobs in the mining, gas and oil industries. Most of the skills acquired are a result of hands-on training via simulators, such as a rock truck and an underground coal mine.

Even though Southern's enrollment is expected to increase this year, President Tomblin pointed out that southern West Virginia still has the lowest college going rate in the state. Southern representatives continue to visit area schools in an effort to increase that number by offering dual credit classes, which affords students the opportunity to earn college credit for classes they are taking in high school. The college's Foundation also helps, by providing scholarships for qualifying students in southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. The Southern Foundation distributed $142,000 in scholarship monies last year alone, and is expected to increase in 2009, President Tomblin said.

With less state funding available, the college has prepared for the future by initiating its very first Major Gifts Campaign with a goal of seven million dollars by the year 2010. Since the fall of 2006, the Vision 2020 major Gifts Campaign has received more than $6.4 million in contributions and pledges to sustain faculty, support new programs, provide financial assistance and to keep tuition at a low cost.

"Our employees and the community have been very supportive. Several businesses have stepped up to provide additional scholarship money. We recently received a $40,000 donation from Cotiga Development Company and we continue to partner with Cotiga in developing the Appalachian Leadership Academy which was established by General Robert "Doc" Foglesong," President Tomblin said. Four students were inducted into the academy last December and 10 more are expected to qualify as fellows this year.

"It is important that we, as a community, support young people in leadership roles. We must give them a reason to stay in southern West Virginia where they can earn a good salary with benefits and support a family. This is a great area to live and we at Southern want to be the place people think of first for education and training."

For more information about programs offered at all campuses of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, visit the web site at

Pictured are Mike Baldwin, Ted Williams, Cecil Shannon, Vinnie Kudva, Southern's President Joanne Jaeger Tomblin, Gordon Hensley II, Paul McCallister and Rocky Ball.