After five years of planning and dreaming, the PIE Center breaks ground. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a smaller crowd in person to witness the beginning of the next phase of workforce development, but the event was streamed for all to see/participate and the excitement was great!
Kyle Page, Project Director and Master of Ceremonies, led the event. A welcome from Dr. Linda Cash, Director of Schools, and Board Chairman Troy Weathers engaged the crowd regarding the process and explained how this project will change the landscape of student workforce preparation. Mr. Weathers commented that Bradley County would be an example across the state.
Distinguished speaker Governor Bill Lee discussed walking through the building before any of the work began when he was running for the position. Since that time Governor Lee has supported the project, even contributing seed money. He explained how high school as it currently is needs to change. Governor Lee also discussed act of funding the GIVE Grant. This grant will jumpstart the Electrical programming for Bradley County and the PIE Center through the partnership with TCAT-Athens.
After the Governor spoke, Johnny Mull, the Bradley County Commission Chairman, recognized the work of the school system esp. Dr. Linda Cash and Kyle Page. He thanked the fellow County Commissioners for compromising and taking the steps to make this project happen. Mayor Gary Davis followed explaining how this was another example of how Bradley County is doing great things.
Representative Mark Hall remarked on the importance of Career Technical Education explaining how he has been a licensed barber for years and how this has supported his family. Representative Dan Howell and Senator Mike Bell, both who have supported the project through words and deeds since the beginning, both contributed to the positive attributes of having this facility in Bradley County and praised the community support for the project. Senator Todd Gardenhire discussed the Mechatronics grant, a program which he has written and supported connecting high school and postsecondary, and how it will fit into the PIE Center model. Sen. Gardenhire also discussed the persistence of Dr. Cash as she sought to make this building a reality.
This is an exciting day indeed for Career and Technical Education and the students of Bradley County and the Southeast, Tennessee region. This is the next step in changing the landscape of high school.