Ground breaking ceremony held at JSCC for new Health Sciences Building

Jackson State Community College held a ground breaking ceremony Friday for a building that will be the permanent residence of its allied health programs. This is a momentous event in the history of JSCC that has been planned now for over 15 years. Construction of this facility will mark the completion of a transformation that began with the construction of the Jim Moss Center for Nursing.

A number of individuals were on hand to commemorate the event. Jackson State officials, employees, Chancellor John Morgan from the Tennessee Board of Regents, area medical partners, local and state governments and the Jackson Chamber gathered at the construction site to commemorate this event. Representatives from Fleming Architects and Hoar Construction were also in attendance.

Dr. Bruce Blanding, JSCC President, welcomed everyone and all of those that have contributed to get the college to this point.

The new facility will be home to the college’s allied health programs which currently include: medical lab technician; radiography; emergency medical technician; physical therapist assistant; occupational therapy assistant. Beginning in 1969 with the radiography program, the college quickly became the leader in West Tennessee as the primary source for highly-qualified personnel in the medical community.

When asked about what the new facility means to him, Dr. Tom Pigg, Dean & Program Director of Allied Health, said, “I am thrilled to see this project become a reality for our students. This demonstrates the commitment that Jackson State has to these programs and is also a testament to the prominence of the college in West Tennessee’s medical communities.”

The new building will have in excess of 40,000 square feet that will include classrooms, labs, conference halls and spacious common areas. While the architecture of the new facility will be markedly different from the original structures first constructed in the 1960s, it will be a perfect compliment to the new nursing center just opened this fall.

The completion of this construction project will complete a whole new look and feel to the Jackson State campus. A new quadrangle or courtyard will be created as a result. Automobile traffic will be rerouted around the campus so that a pedestrian-friendly, park-like area will be made to connect the newly created quad with the current quad.

The project is slated to begin construction immediately following the groundbreaking ceremony and should be completed in approximately 12 months. The allied health programs should begin occupying the new building during the spring of 2017.

Photo Album of Ground Breaking

Jackson State Receives Proceeds of Bagels and Bluegrass Bicycle Century Tour

The proceeds from the 14th Annual Bagels and Bluegrass Bicycle Century Tour were presented in a special ceremony at Jackson State Community College.

A check for $2,300 was presented to Dr. Bruce Blanding, JSCC President, by Dr. Kent Jones, retired surgeon with The Jackson Clinic. This money will be used to fund scholarships for non-traditional students. Since its inception, the Tour has raised $34,350 for West Tennessee students.

“Events like Bagels and Bluegrass are so important because now, more students will be able to get the help they need to attend Jackson State and we are so grateful for that,” said Dr. Bruce Blanding.

Checks in the amount of $300 each also went to Pinson Mounds State Park and Friends of Chickasaw State Park. Bagels and Bluegrass event organizers say the parks are an important part of the ride.

“We are so appreciative of all the support received from the sponsors of this event,” said Dr. Kent Jones, chairman and founder of the Bagels and Bluegrass Bicycle Century Tour. “We couldn’t have done this without the support of our contributors, sponsors and partners.” Dr. Jones, an avid cyclist, founded this event based on his enthusiasm for the sport and his love of nature. He saw this as a way to support the state park system and to also create scholarships for individuals who have a real need.

Bagels and Bluegrass is a one-day cycling event with routes in varying lengths from 14 to 100 miles. The ride features Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Area and Chickasaw State Park and miles of scenic roads. The 100 mile route has a total climb of greater than 7,000 feet.

The fourteenth Annual Bagels and Bluegrass event attracted more than 100 cyclists. Next year’s event is tentatively scheduled for October 15, 2016 at Jackson State Community College.

For more information on the Bagels and Bluegrass Bicycle Century Tour, go to the website at

JSCC’s Lackey to be honored at WTH Charity Gala

Abby Lackey, an associate professor of communications at Jackson State Community College, turned a personal tragedy into an endeavor to comfort families who have suffered through stillborn births, miscarriages and sudden infant death syndrome.

She launched Heaven’s Cradle in 2011, and because of her efforts, she will receive West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation’s 2015 Dr. A. Barnett Scott Service Award for her selfless contributions to the community. She will be recognized at the foundation’s Charity Gala on Nov. 14 at the Carl Perkins Civic Center – an event attended by more than 700 people.

The award honors the legacy of a longtime West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation board member and past chairman. Each year, its staff selects a volunteer who has served the foundation and the community in an altruistic way.

“I am extremely humbled and honored,” Lackey said. “I feel it should go to a whole community of people. Child loss is an isolating experience, and I hope this award raises awareness to help others.”

Lackey founded Heaven’s Cradle after the death of her son, Davis. She knew something was wrong during a routine ultrasound in June 2011 when his heartbeat could not be found. The doctor soon confirmed her worst fear: her son had died. He was delivered, stillborn, weighing about a pound.

“We got to spend a little time with him, and we got to hold him,” Lackey said. “He was our baby, just like any other baby. He was tiny, but he was our baby.”

Heaven’s Cradle helps families grieve and cope with the sudden loss of a child. The organization provides grace bags – filled with matching blankets, casting kits for hand and feet moldings, a journal and gown, and other items – to help families memorialize their loved ones.

“We raise money to help people make a lifetime of memories in an hour or a day,” Lackey said.

When a family learns that their child has a fatal medical condition during a routine ultrasound, volunteers from Heaven’s Cradle are called to intervene. They provide support and help mothers plan the details of delivery – from who should be in the room to what people should wear for family portraits.

“We help mothers plan the birth and death of their baby,” Lackey said. “We always try to help them find a way to honor their baby.”

If a child dies unexpectedly – during delivery or later from sudden infant death syndrome – Heaven’s Cradle has grace bags waiting on standby at both Jackson hospitals.

In addition to grace bags, money raised by the organization provides financial assistance to help families with the often unanticipated cost of managing remains in a meaningful way. The funds help pay for burials, cremations, markers and medical bills.

Funds are also used to purchase equipment for health care providers. Heaven’s Cradle recently purchased two cuddle cots – small cooling units for babies who are stillborn or die shortly after birth – for use at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital. The hospital is the first in Tennessee to have the units, of which only 70 are in use across the United States.

The cots were purchased through funds raised at the 3rd annual Twilight Run and Rooftop Rendezvous. The springtime event is the organization’s largest fundraiser.

Lackey also leads an ongoing support group for people who have lost a child. She said she has made some lifelong friends though its members, some of whom are Heaven’s Cradle volunteers.

The organization has helped between 100 and 200 families cope with grief. And every baby’s life has helped the organization improve its services.

“We learn something from every one,” she said. “And with every one, we get a little better.”

Lackey said her experience with the loss of her child was very personal, and she had to do something to remember him. With no Heaven’s Cradle present during her pregnancy, she has only a few snapshots of Davis and limited keepsakes.

“I felt the need to prove to the world that he was real,” she said.

The organization has raised thousands of dollars to support grieving parents and equip health care professionals who work with pregnancy and infant loss. The fund for Heaven’s Cradle was started through West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation in October 2011. Since then, Davis has made a profound impact on the lives of many West Tennessee families through the work of his mother and the organization created in his honor.

“My son’s life led to something wonderful,” Lackey said.

Jackson State Community College supports Lackey’s endeavor to help the community and provide comfort and resources for grieving families, said Marketing and PR Coordinator John McCommon. Her actions signify the character and culture the school strives to foster among its teachers, administrators and students.

“We are proud of Abby and her passion and commitment to serve others through her own adversity,” McCommon said.

Local Artist Displays Art at JSCC Library

Savannah, Tennessee artist Arley King currently has an exhibit of his art on display in the Jackson State Library. The work will be on display through December 14.

Born in Selmer, Tennessee in 1956, Mr. King was drawn to art at an early age. Receiving encouragement and inspiration through the years, King’s work is now on display in many galleries and libraries throughout the United States.

The main focus of King’s unusual style is to touch people’s lives and shine a light on those struggling with mental health disorders. He routinely volunteers as an advocate for these individuals and openly shares his own struggle with bi-polar disorder and the impact art has made on his life.

King’s work is striking and very colorful. Integrating many elements and a variety of issues, a number of questions will certainly arise for each person viewing the work.

A reception will be held in the library Monday, November 16 from noon to 2 p.m. King will be on hand to discuss his paintings and answer questions regarding his work.

Jackson State’s Ryan Guth will talk about his new book, ‘Body and Soul’

Jackson State Community College Assistant Professor Ryan Guth will read excerpts from his new book, Body and Soul, on Nov. 12 at the University of Memphis – Lambuth Campus.

The event is 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Wisdom Parlor room of UM-Lambuth’s Varnell-Jones building. A light reception will follow the reading.

Body and Soul tells the story of a survivor of child sexual abuse within a narrative framework of verse, prose and other hybrid forms of writing. It’s a mixed-genre novel that offers a chronological account of divorcee Cassandra Hart’s physical and psychological recovery after a descent into alcoholism and destructive sexual relationships.

“The book shows her struggle with these terrible experiences,” Guth said. “But it also shows her winning that struggle. In the end, she is able to reclaim her life.”

Body and Soul, published by Lummox Press and released in April 2015, has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and was recently featured at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville. The book can be purchased from Lummox Press or on Copies will also be available for $20 at the reading event.

Guth, who recently joined Jackson State Community College to teach English, is a former composition, literature and creative writing professor at UM-Lambuth. His first book, Home Truths, was published in 2006. His individual poems have appeared in journals such as Lummox, Iron Horse, Bryant Literary Review, Third Coast Review and River City.