This is one gold star you don’t want

By Jim Hayes

Typically, this space is reserved for commentary about items which it is thought will resonate with Volunteer State Community College students.

Not so, this week. This week we will attempt to reach an audience that likely includes some of our students, but this message is more likely to connect with Vol State’s faculty and staff.

Yesterday was Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day.

It is a day set aside to remember the families who will never again see their sons or daughters who died in service of this country.

The gold star has been around for a long time.

In 1918, the Woman’s Committee of National Defense suggested to President Woodrow Wilson that the mothers of soldiers killed in World War I be allowed to wear a black armband upon which was embroidered a gold star.

In 1936, the United States Congress officially designated the last Sunday in September as “Gold Star Mother’s Day.” President Barrack Obama expanded the gold star designation to include all family members in 2009.

But somehow, its commemoration has fallen through the cracks. Perhaps the American people feel that paying their respects on Memorial and Veterans Days is enough (although, those days are more often marked with cookouts and pool parties rather than commemorations of those who served this country).

However, the Gold Star mothers and their families are still here and still grieving.

Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving dinners are still celebrated. But there will always be the feeling that something is missing. Each birthday passes, but there is no longer anyone to bake a cake for, or to hug and congratulate for making it through another year.

This has to be a special kind of torture. One borne silently. The missing family member unacknowledged yet never forgotten.

It is a familial sacrifice, yet one that barely registers on anyone’s radar.

Well, for the record, it made a big blip on ours.

You have our condolences, our sympathy and, if needed, our shoulder to cry on.

Your son or daughter made their sacrifice and yours will go on for the rest of your life.

Nothing will ever replace that empty spot at holidays and birthdays, but know that you will always have our ungarnished gratitude.

Gallatin expects to complete crosswalk by early March

By Jim Hayes
Crosswalks at the intersections of Gallatin Pike and The Gap Blvd., and at the main entrance to Volunteer State Community College will be completed by late February or early March according
to City of Gallatin Assistant City Engineer Dwayne Rogers.
“We sent out a bid for advertisement this past Thursday (Sept. 5), said Rogers. “That bid is scheduled to be opened and read at 2:30 p.m., Sept. 27.”
Rogers said the bid included both the installation of electronic pedestrian crossing signals and painting the crosswalks. Once the bids are opened, there are some administrative procedures to
ensure everything looks appropriate before the bid is awarded to the low bidder, he said.
Once the bid is awarded, “we do the reviews, they (the contractors) have to send in performance surety that our attorney has to review, so we’re looking at another three to four weeks for that,”
said Rogers.
Given that timeline, the earliest work could start would be around the end of October. Rogers said that the contract specifies that the work is to be done within 120 working days leading to a
completion date around the end of February or early March.
The project to install the crosswalks started in August 2015, according to an email from Vol State Senior Director of Plant Operations Will Newman. “Vol State made our first appearance before
city council in December 2017 to request PEDEX walkways at the two intersections and a sidewalk on Gap Blvd.,” said the email.
Last March, the electrical, drainage, grading and sidewalk work along Gap Blvd. was completed by the City of Gallatin. In April, the college provided and installed the lights, the email
continued.
The city informed Vol State that pedestrian crosswalk design was complete in June 2019 and the bid package was submitted to the city finance department in August, said Newman’s email.
“This has been entirely a City of Gallatin project,” he said.
Rogers said that the bid includes “everything to complete the project.”
“That includes installing the signals, all the required electrical, all of the pavement markings required in order to complete the project,” he said.

First baseman Bill Hamilton commits to MTSU

By: Nate Kaly 

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers first-basemen Bill Hamilton committed to Middle Tennessee State University on Tuesday, Sept. 18.

Photo of Bill Hamilton taken by Jacob McKaig

Photo of Bill Hamilton taken by Jacob McKaig

While Hamilton, who is a sophomore at Vol State this year, had offers from several schools, he knew he would be going to MTSU after he visited the facility last weekend.

“The big reason I chose MTSU is the coaches. I went on my visit Sunday (Sept. 16) and they made me feel right at home when I was there. All really cool guys. They were all just hired and ready to get off to a good start,” said Hamilton.

Although Jim Tomen just took over as MTSUs baseball coach in June, he already has a plan in place to use Hamilton in his system.

“I was able to meet new head coach Tomen on Sunday. We went over how I would fit in with the team and the different areas that he wanted to use me on the field,” said Hamilton.

Because Hamilton’s numbers from the 2018 spring season at Vol State didn’t jump out of the box (.357 AVG. 5 HR. 30 RBI. 25 runs), he knows that there is still a learning curve to go through this season before taking the next step at a division one school.

“The biggest thing for me is to take the next step and have a breakout season. Also probably to see leadership improve. Just talking to the younger guys and always making sure that they know exactly what to do and lead by example,” said Hamilton.

When asked what kind of player MTSU will be getting next year, Hamilton said, “Hard-working.”

“Bill is very deserving of that. You see a big-time prospect by the way he looks. He’s been hungry since he got here, and he’s proved people wrong. MTSU is getting in my opinion, a big-time player,” said head coach Ryan Hunt.

This season Hamilton will try to improve a Pioneers offense that hit the third-fewest runs (278), third-fewest home runs (25) and second fewest RBIs (217) in the conference last season.

Although the fall season consists of expedition games and games that don’t count against the team’s record like the spring season does, it will be an opportunity for the Pioneers offense and Hamilton to work out any wrinkles that they might have, to reach their full potential as an offense in the spring.

Break the silence

By: Riley Holcraft 

Suicide is no new phenomenon and the public has become virtually desensitized to its effects with a surge of TV shows, celebrity attempts and news reports.

Stories like this come and go but rarely do people stop to think about those affected. Volunteer State Community College partnered with The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network by hosting its first annual Break the Silence event dedicated to lives touched by suicide.

On Sept. 20, at the Humanities Plaza, a small group gathered to discuss suicide within the community. The ceremony opened with a song performed by Vol State Students, Kendahl Oakley, and Cole Harper.

Quilts with pictures of suicide victims in Tennessee and pinwheels with names of suicide victims connected to Vol State students were on display. Many of the pinwheels had repeating names.

Oliver Graves, Vol State Student and Spectrum club leader explained the meaning behind the repetition, “When someone commits suicide, not just one person is affected,” said Graves.

Graves had personal experience with a suicide attempt six months after coming out as gay.

“forty percent of LGBT youth have either attempted or contemplated suicide. It is not a joke,” said Graves.

Oftentimes, suicide is overlooked as “selfish” or “overrated.”

However, TSPN Volunteer, Teresa Culbreath explained, “No one is immune.”

The effects of suicide spread to a wide community of individuals, and suicide attempters often have no refuge.

Culbreath lost a brother and husband to suicide, so her personal experience has inspired her to bring awareness to others.

“Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network has three main goals when it comes to dealing with suicide: intervention, prevention, and postvention,” said Culbreath.

The best way to implement these goals is by making others aware of available assistance and educating the public of warning signs.

“I have had personal, lasting effects from suicide after my sister attempted. If I could let the student body know one think about suicide, it would be: learn the signs,” said Vol State student, Crystal Hutchins.

Warning signs include: talking about death, withdrawal from social activities, behavior changes, giving away prized possessions, and drug abuse.

The most important thing to do when encountering these warning signs is to approach the affected person with compassion and notify someone of greater authority. It is important to never belittle the feelings of someone who feels hopeless.

Samantha Nadler, a devoted wife, and mother, also shared her personal experience with suicide. She had made several attempts throughout her lifetime and is now an advocate dedicated to helping those that struggle with suicide.

Nadler explained that along with knowing warning signs the most important aspect of suicide prevention is a community. “Community matters. Connections with other people matter,” she said.

Most suicide attempts are related to ending a lifelong pain, emotional or physical. A community typically serves as a buffer between the pain and the thoughts of death. Nadler explained how her community of suicide preventionists “ended up saving my life.”

The event closed with a reflection time. All attendees were offered a small container of bubbles that read “Break the Silence.” Each person thought of a person who is currently affected by or struggling with suicide and blew the bubbles in their honor.

September is Suicide Awareness Month. Students, you are urged to take notice of what is happening around you. Be aware, be compassionate.

In 2016, Tennessee lost 1,110 people to suicide and the number continues to rise. It is happening in your state. It is happening in your community. It is happening in your school.

Help is offered on the school website; students can also be connected with an experienced counselor on campus. If you are in immediate need of help, call the suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

 

Vol State summer classes have new sessions

 

By Presley Green

Volunteer State Community College is offering more options for summer classes by introducing new summer sessions in three-week, six-week and 12-week portions.

For these changes to happen and to allow students more college credit opportunities, the summer semester is beginning a little earlier than usual. The semester begins May 1 and ends August 10.

“The reason is to have less overlapping of class terms, which allows students to take more classes, and earn more college credits over the summer,” Eric Melcher, coordinator of public relations and marketing, wrote on the Vol State website.

There will be four three-week sessions starting May 21, June 11, July 2, and July 23. The six-week sessions will begin May 21, and July 2. These shorter sessions are described as more intensive. They are held for more hours a day than the twelve-week classes.

The twelve-week session begins May 21 and ends August 10. The twelve-week session is similar to a normal semester. You can visit the academic calendar on Vol State’s website for a more complete list of dates.

Volunteer State Community College is also offering a wider variety of subjects. They are even offering both of the classes need to take the Real Estate Exam, Intro to Real Estate (RES215) and The Course for New Affiliates (RES220).

Vol State is also offering Education Psychology (EDUC2110) in the summer, which is a required class for all education majors.  

This is an opportunity for students to finish those final classes to graduate or further their education.

Summer classes can be taken online or in person.  There is no orientation needed for students who have not attended Vol State before. This makes it easy to apply, register, and earn the college credit needed. Applications can be filled out online or in the Ramer Administration Building.