Seated in the office of Heidi Popham, president of Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC), Gary and Diane McConnell established a Public Safety Scholarship through the GNTC Foundation.

With a combined public safety career of over 75 years, the McConnells wanted to assist students in Basic Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice Technology, EMS Professions and other first responder related programs.

“First responders deserve this training and the public deserves properly trained first responders,” said Gary McConnell, a GNTC Foundation trustee. “When I first started out as a deputy sheriff in 1965 we were just handed a badge and a gun.”

From serving as sheriff of Chattooga County to the director of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, McConnell has lobbied for the state of Georgia to put into place basic police training such as the Basic Law Enforcement program at GNTC.

“We are fortunate to be in the position where we can now give back to make sure needs are met,” said Diane McConnell. “Everyone needs a helping hand occasionally.”

During her tenure in public service, Diane McConnell worked with parolees, probationers and served as a license examiner.

“We are so grateful to Gary and Diane McConnell for establishing this scholarship,” said Popham. “It will ensure that students in our public safety programs will be able to reach their educational goals and begin their important work as first responders.”

The GNTC Foundation was established to encourage private contributions in order to build and maintain outstanding academic and support programs at the college. Donations to the Foundation support areas of institutional need including scholarships to deserving students, equipment purchases, materials for the library and staff development.

As of Oct. 1, the GNTC Foundation has awarded nearly $55,000 in student scholarships and financial assistance. The GNTC Foundation recently launched a year-end fundraising campaign, which will run until Dec. 1. The campaign’s goal is to raise $20,000 for student scholarship support.

The Foundation trustees are Valerie Brown, Whitfield County; Linda Case, Dade County; Jay LeGrande, Polk County; Gary McConnell, Chattooga County; Sherrie Patterson, Murray County; Damon Raines, Walker County; Becky Redd, Gordon County; Mitch Sanford, Whitfield County; Jay Still, Whitfield County; Wil Stiles, Catoosa County; Scott Tucker, Floyd County; Carolyn Walker, Walker County; and Doris White, Walker County.

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