Tuesday, 21 January 2020 12:59

McInnis to be honored at RichmondCC Gala

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HAMLET — Sen. Tom McInnis may spend a lot of his time in Raleigh, but the son of a farmer and public school teacher has certainly not forgotten about his rural roots in Richmond County. 

McInnis has played a major role in securing funding and campaigning for more educational and workforce training opportunities in rural North Carolina. For this reason, the Richmond Community College Foundation has named the senator its Citizen of the Year. McInnis will be the honorary guest at the Foundation’s annual Gala on March 7.  

“As a Richmond Community College alumnus and a lifelong resident of Richmond County, few honors have meant more to me than this one,” said McInnis. “It’s hard to overstate what our community college means for this entire region – the families it has touched, the lives it has transformed, the industries it has supported, and the quality of life it has sustained. I’ll always be proud to support Richmond Community College, and be grateful for the many ways it enriches our community.”

In 2007, he established an endowed educational scholarship at RichmondCC in memory of his parents, Woodrow and Mary McInnis, for students whose career plan is to become a public school teacher in North Carolina.

Dr. Hal Shuler, who oversees the College’s Foundation and organizes the yearly gala, praised the senator for his consistent support of RichmondCC and its students.

“Sen. McInnis is a big voice for our College in Raleigh, and we appreciate everything he does to help build up this College and the communities it serves,” Shuler said. “His goal to help rural N.C. communities is genuine and is evident by the many ways he champions for Richmond Community College.”  

About Tom McInnis

McInnis grew up in a modest, working-class family on a farm in Richmond County. He learned from his parents the value of a dollar, the importance of a relevant education and how to work hard to earn a living. McInnis never had the luxury of a large inheritance or handouts. He put himself through school and built small businesses that have created jobs in the community for years.

Currently in his third term of the State Senate, McInnis has worked to reduce unnecessary government rules, regulations and restrictions that stifle the entrepreneurial spirit of North Carolina’s citizens and job creators, while continuing to protect the health, safety and welfare of all North Carolinians. McInnis has focused on relevant vocational and technical educational opportunities leading to a living wage. 

Short-Term Training

McInnis has been instrumental in securing funding for short-term workforce training at RichmondCC such as truck driver training and the electric lineman program. RichmondCC partners with Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute to provide the 10-week truck driving class in Richmond County. Since fall 2016, the program has graduated 50 truck drivers into the workforce. The electric lineman program, which started last fall, has graduated three classes of students, with a fourth class graduating in December. The next lineman class in January is already filled to the limit with 24 students.

At the lineman graduation for the spring class, McInnis said the immediate success of the program and the fact the course already has a waiting list for students to enroll deserves additional attention from the state in terms of funding.

“We know we already have premiere higher education in our state with our University of North Carolina system. And we also have a premiere community college system that is second to none,” McInnis said. “But we need to continue to expand our vocational system to train workers for high-demand jobs that provide livable wages and don’t require a two- or four-year degree.”

Higher Education

McInnis has strongly supported the dual enrollment program for high school students to take free college classes at community colleges. This past summer, he and Sen. Brent Jackson introduced a bill to expand this program and allow even younger high school students, 9th and 10th graders, to take college classes and earn transferable credits. Gov. Roy Cooper signed the bill into law in August.

“We do not need to hold our students back while they could be obtaining valuable college credit for academic classes or life and work skills needed for today’s trade opportunities,” McInnis said.

The dual enrollment program at RichmondCC, called Career & College Promise, currently has 625 juniors and seniors taking advantage of free college classes while in high school. In the 2017-18 academic year, Richmond and Scotland County families saved $960,716 by taking 12,641 credit hours in high school for free as part of the Career and College Promise and early college programs.

The senator also personally championed for RichmondCC to be a partner in the C-STEP program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The groundbreaking co-admission program provides a pathway for low- and moderate-income high school and community college students to transfer into Carolina. Due to McInnis’ persistence in expanding this opportunity to students from his hometown, RichmondCC became the 14th community college to partner with Carolina and the C-STEP program in September. 

“Anytime we can advance opportunities and chances for a better life for folks living in rural communities of North Carolina it’s a great day,” the senator said at the partnership signing.

McInnis also supported RichmondCC’s request for multi-campus status with the expansion of the Scotland County Campus and helped secure the additional state funding needed to operate and staff a full campus. 

State & National Service

McInnis is the chairperson of the Senate Transportation Committee for Policy and Appropriations and also serves on the committees for Commerce and Insurance, State and Local Government, Agriculture, Environmental and Natural Resources, the Select committee for Prison Safety and Education and Higher Education.

A licensed auctioneer, McInnis has donated much time to community service and support through benefit auctions for charities and non-profits throughout the United States raising millions of dollars to support worthy causes.

Honors & Awards

Besides the title of RichmondCC’s Citizen of the Year, McInnis has received many honors and awards over the years. Among those include the Anson County Chamber of Commerce’s Henry W. Little III Community Leadership Award and the President’s Award of Distinction from the National Auctioneers Association. He has also received the title “Legislator of the Year” from various groups and organizations.

McInnis and his wife, Janice, who is a retired Richmond County Schools teacher, make their home in Ellerbe and Pinehurst. They have four children and 11 grandchildren.

About the Gala

For information about attending the Gala on March 7 at the Cole Auditorium where McInnis will be honored, contact Dr. Hal Shuler at 910-410-1807 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Last modified on Tuesday, 21 January 2020 13:04

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