Southwest VA college looking to reopen VIC campus with funds from BVU

BRISTOL, VA (WJHL)- A Tri-Cities utility may help reopen the doors of a historical college after years of vacancy.

In 2014, Virginia Intermont College ran out of money and shut its doors after holding classes for more than 100 years. Since then it’s sat vacant.

Now, another college in Southwest Virginia, Bluefield College, is looking at the Bristol campus to consider a possible expansion, and it’s asking for funding from Bristol Virginia Utilities, according to BVU President and CEO Don Bowman.

“My understanding is they’re going to use the BVU funds, the economic development funds as a means to help finance the reopening of VI College, I think it will be something like the Bristol Virginia campus of Bluefield College,” Bowman said.

Right now BVU is trying to correct dozens of issues found in a state mandated audit, and is currently under a federal public corruption investigation. That investigation has resulted in nine convictions.

One of the issues the audit pointed out is BVU misusing money as a part of its economic development program, something BVU’s new leaders said they are working to make sure does not happen again.

Bowman said Bluefield College has applied for BVU’s economic development money, but they are putting the program on pause until they write and adopt formal policies.

“TVA allows us to set aside $500,000 in economic funds out of our electric system, we found several instances where we didn’t follow our policy. And so they’ve suggested our board rewrite that policy and once that’s done we’ll be in a position to evaluate Bluefield’s application,” Bowman said.

Bowman said Bluefield College is seeking $500,000 dollars a year for nine years, totaling $4.5 million to open a campus at the former Virginia Intermont College.

Bowman said by the beginning of 2017 the board hopes to adopt a formal policy, send it off to TVA for review, then start accepting applications.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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