The ‘people’s college’


-Wallace State

-Wallace State

The City of Oneonta and the Blount County – Oneonta Chamber of Commerce invite everyone to an open house and ribbon cutting on Monday, April 29, for the new Wallace State Community College academic center on First Avenue West in Oneonta. Officials from WSCC, the City of Oneonta, and the Blount County Commission, will be on hand for the celebration. The open house begins at 11:30 a.m. Guests will enjoy a light lunch and entertainment by the Wallace State Jazz Band. The ribbon cutting is at 12:30 p.m.

The building is the result of the City of Oneonta’s partnership with WSCC to expand the college’s footprint in town. It is also part of a larger plan to revitalize the city center. Oneonta City Manager Ed Lowe said city leaders have been working for a number of years to transform the downtown area with the goal of increasing the number of visitors. Getting a WSCC satellite campus in 2016 in Oneonta was a big achievement, and now opening up the academic center, along with expanding the existing technical skills center, moves that plan a big step forward.

Wesley Rakestraw is the director of the school’s Oneonta campus. He wants people in the community to think of WSCC as the “people’s college. My hope is the people of Oneonta and Blount County feel like it’s their college. It’s a great opportunity for folks here to get a good beginning to their education.”

Rakestraw said enrollment increased 22 percent this spring semester from last year, confirming Lowe’s belief that the school is attracting more people to the city, particularly since 34 percent of the students enrolled this spring are from outside Blount County.

The new academic center will be open for the summer semester and will begin to offer more academic classes that students could only get previously at the main campus in Hanceville. While not all will be available immediately, Rakestraw said the increased class offerings will include more in the sciences, business, criminal justice, public safety, and fire sciences.

The existing campus will be converted and expanded to become the school’s technical skill center where the number of welding bays will be increased from 14 to 30. A machine tool technology program will also be added and plans are underway to bring in apprentices from local businesses for training. Down the road a bit, Rakestraw envisions training in a new technical field that is emerging. Its called mechatronics and combines computer, mechanical, and electrical engineering skills to make machines that use multiple technologies.

Summer registration is happening now. To inquire about registration or admissions, contact the Oneonta campus at 205-625- 4020 or visit www.wallacestate.edu.