Though one more state building commission must give its approval before an official groundbreaking, plans for the Fentress County Higher Education Project are moving forward.
The facility will bring together programs from Roane State and T-CAT Oneida/Huntsville, thanks to a $25 million legislative appropriation. Roane State President Dr. Chris Whaley told Fentress County Commissioners the schematic phase of the design process has been completed.
“We’re to the point where we are talking about what’s going to be housed in each room programmatically, what the needs are going to be,” Whaley said. “The most recent meeting today was about equipment that each of the institutions will be putting in each of the rooms. That list is not final yet, but as they work on that equipment list, they’ll tell us, obviously all the basic power needs, all the different things that will need to be able to be hooked up in each of those rooms.”
Whaley said the project continues to make good progress toward a Fall 2025 occupancy. He said it would not be possible without the gift of land for the facility from Commissioners. He said Senator Ken Yager’s work in the legislature made the project happen.
Both Roane State and T-CAT have served Fentress County with programs for sometime. However, County Mayor Jimmy Johnson made it a priority to have a permanent site in the county as a building block for keeping students at home.
“He has worked with me continuously,” Whaley said. “He has worked with Senator Yeager continuously and others to make sure that this has happened. And I want you to know, Mr. Johnson, I am eternally grateful for your leadership and you spearheading this.”