The dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for Poe Hall was held at the Ashe Campus on Thursday, October 21. Wilkes Community College Ashe Campus honored James Kent Poe for his 30 years as a Vocational Agriculture educator and enduring commitment to the conservation, history, and genealogical connections of Ashe County. Poe was a writer, artist, and avid outdoorsman who had a strong Christian faith, loved his family, and was proud of his Ashe County heritage –a boy from Sugar Tree Branch. Poe Hall, given in loving memory by his daughter Kelly Vannoy and her husband Mark, commemorates Kent’s love of education and Ashe County.

The new facilities include healthcare classrooms, a healthcare simulation lab, expanded science labs, an electronics lab, multifunctional classroom space that fosters group interaction, state-of-the-art computer labs, a community meeting room, cosmetology complex, and an applied engineering lab/classroom.

WCC President Dr. Jeff Cox welcomed and thanked everyone for joining us to celebrate the opening of this new facility. He then introduced Thomas Stith, N.C. Community College System president.

N.C. Community College System President, Thomas Stith thanked Dr. Cox for his leadership at Wilkes Community College as well as the faculty and staff for the work they do every day. President Stith also recognized Senator Deanna Ballard and Representative Ray Pickett and thanked them for coming and for their continued support of the N.C. Community College System. He added, “Today’s dedication comes at a critical time for our students and communities in Ashe County and across North Carolina. The N.C. Community College System is the job engine for the state, and it is these types of partnerships with businesses, industry, private foundations, and donors in our counties that strengthen our community college system. Whether individuals are upskilling or reskilling, we are providing customized training to community college students, ensuring they receive the skills needed to be successful in the workforce. Ashe County’s $8M contribution is the largest single appropriation from a county government in the college’s service area in its 56-year history. Clearly, Wilkes Community College is a great value to this area, and we look forward to it becoming a greater value to you as the college, in return, continues to give back to this area.”

Ashe County Manager Adam Stumb stated, “We are honored to have this wonderful building as part of the Ashe Campus in the shadows of Mount Jefferson. It has been a privilege to work with such great partners as Wilkes Community College.” He added, “Someone once said you can design, create, and build some of the most wonderful places in the world, but it takes people to make that dream a reality. This is true of the dream of Poe Hall, which is now a reality.

Chris Robinson, vice president of workforce development and community education and Ashe campus, stated, “This is a great day for Ashe County. We take great pride in calling Ashe County home, and today is emblematic of why we do.” He added, “First and foremost I want to thank the citizens of Ashe County and the Board of Commissioners. We are privileged to dedicate this building in honor of Kent Poe, longtime educator and farmer, and to recognize Kelly Vannoy and her husband Mark, for their generous support of the Ashe Campus capital campaign.” He added, “I am so very proud of the faculty and staff who have worked tirelessly to make this happen. My leadership team of Loretta Johnson, Michael Rash, Becky Greer, and Kendra Perkin has truly excelled, and the entire college family has been outstanding. While this has been a dream of mine for over 20 years, this campus and these new buildings do not belong to us that have the privilege of working here. Instead, they belong to each and every Ashe Countian. I wake up every day proud of my Ashe County roots and look forward to what the future holds.”

Allison Phillips, vice president of institutional advancement, said, “What a beautiful building to complement the existing facility. It is a wonderful celebration of our community and I appreciate the citizens of Ashe County for opening their hearts to this project. The WCC Foundation was charged with raising $1M to support the $12M campaign and I am pleased to announce that we raised over $2.1M. Your generosity is outstanding! Thank you to our community donors, our faculty and staff, and to the WCC Board of Trustees and WCC Foundation Board of Directors who had the vision to move forward with the project and the funding plan.” Phillips also recognized and thanked campaign committee members Hobie Davis, co-chair, Katrina Miller, co-chair, Gary Brown, Ellen Church, Amy Dollar, Martin Little, Dan McMillan, Josh Roten, Kelly Vannoy, John Weaver, and Melinda Wonsick for their time and talents in this campaign. Phillips added, “I would like to thank Kitty Honeycutt with the Ashe Chamber of Commerce, Aletha and Bradley Eller with People’s Drug Store, and Graham Caddell with WKSK radio station, for helping us get the word out about the campaign. And to Kelly and Mark Vannoy, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

WCC Board of Trustees’ Chair, Mr. Jay Vannoy dedicated Poe Hall in honor of James Kent Poe. Kelly Vannoy, WCC board of trustee member and daughter of James Kent Poe, cut the ribbon.

Photo by Dr. Gordon Burns. Pictured l-r: Thomas Stith, N.C. Community College System president; Dr. Jeff Cox, WCC president; Chris Robinson, vice president of workforce development & community education and Ashe campus; Jay Vannoy, WCC board of trustee, chair; Kelly Vannoy, WCC board of trustees; Mark Vannoy, Vannoy Construction; Terry Bumgarner, WCC board of trustees; Allison Phillips, vice president of institutional advancement, Mallory Phillips; and Hobie Davis, Ashe campaign committee co-chair.