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Milwaukee Tool Donates More Than $15,000 in Power Equipment to Department of Art at MC

Milwaukee Tool representatives present more than $15,000 worth of power tools to Mississippi College President Blake Thompson, fourth from right, and other MC representatives for use in the woodworking studio in the Gore Arts Complex.
Milwaukee Tool representatives present more than $15,000 worth of power tools to Mississippi College President Blake Thompson, fourth from right, and other MC representatives for use in the woodworking studio in the Gore Arts Complex.

After surveying the vast array of equipment donated to the Department of Art at Mississippi College by Milwaukee Tool, a manufacturer of heavy-duty power tools and other items, MC President Blake Thompson couldn’t help but be impressed.

Thompson met a cadre of Milwaukee Tool representatives who had gathered in the woodworking studio of the Samuel Gore Arts Complex for the donation ceremony Oct. 24.

“Mississippi College is grateful for this generous gift from Milwaukee Tool, which will help MC students develop their artistic, creative, and constructive abilities for years to come,” Thompson said.

The donation of more than $15,000 worth of equipment – about 80 tools in all, from large power tools to small hand tools – will help MC realize the internationally known artist Samuel Gore’s vision for the building, which formerly housed the old Clinton Junior High School.

“Sam Gore envisioned it to be a community-based arts facility where members of the Clinton community could come and engage alongside MC students,” Thompson said. “Local students, retirees, adults, and others can be a part of what we’re building at MC and will all benefit from this gift.”

The Gore Arts Complex is expected to open for the spring semester at Mississippi College. A prayer dedication for the facility took place during MC’s Homecoming, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for the spring semester.

Last fall, Milwaukee Tool made a $7 million corporate investment in Mississippi by leasing space and expanding its operation in Clinton. Greyson Smothers, the company’s supply planning analyst, said the donation to MC continues the company’s synergistic relationship with the community.

“With Milwaukee making the investment to move to Clinton and being only eight minutes away from Mississippi College, we thought partnering with MC by providing these tools would be a fantastic idea,” Smothers said. “MC will benefit by using these tools in its art department, while the name recognition will draw people to Milwaukee.

“A lot of people may not know we are in Mississippi, but we’re the fifth-largest employer in the state.”

Milwaukee Tool representatives on hand for the donation included Smothers; Paul Bronson, senior manufacturing manager; Shane Ford, senior quality manager; Becca Payton, senior materials manager; Trey Sims, manufacturing and engineering manager; Tanisha Bass, talent management manager; and Sean Dubra, principal quality engineer.

Accepting the donation on behalf of MC were Thompson; Katrina Pace, MC Foundation executive director; Jake Donald, MC Foundation major gift officer; Randolph Miley, professor and chair of art; and Nathan Jarnagin, administrative assistant in the Department of Art and Gore Arts Complex coordinator.

Bob Moore, a former educator and a full-time volunteer in the department’s ceramics program, initially suggested that MC contact Milwaukee about a potential gift for the woodworking studio. After touring Milwaukee Tool’s new Clinton plant, MC representatives submitted a list of items that would come in handy in the department. Milwaukee generously provided all of the items on MC’s list that the company manufactures.

The tools have already been put to use in the Gore Arts Complex. Miley said a nine-and-a-half-foot table Gore lovingly built in an upstairs room years ago had been disassembled, moved to the first-floor woodworking studio, reassembled, and reinforced using the donated equipment. Jarnagin said the tools also had been used to hang some of the artwork and build some of the tables in the Gore Arts Complex.

The donated equipment included a wide range of power tools, such as a large panel saw, a large compound miter saw, a table saw, routers, circular saws, drills, sawzalls, electric planers, brand nail guns, jigsaws, and hand sanders; hand tools, such as small and large screwdrivers, hammers, and measuring tapes; and storage items.

“The wood side of the sculpture class will initially be the primary user of these tools,” Jarnagin said. “We will also use these tools in painting classes for students to make their canvas stretcher rails. Beyond that, in all the classes, students will use them to learn how to make frames for their artwork.

“We’re hoping to add some fine woodworking classes to help students take what they learn in sculpture and go for a higher level of turning wood. They may learn how to make a chess set, a guitar body – all the different things that are fine woodcraft. Classes will allow students to use all of these tools and learn how to do specialty woodwork with fine wood.”

He said the tools will also come in handy outside the Department of Art.

“When the Communication Department will be in here as well when they are working on some of the props for their productions. And the Clinton Community Players may also use the equipment to build props and do some stagecraft.”

Jarnigan said MC’s partnership with Milwaukee Tool will benefit both organizations.

“If you learn on a particular type of tool, that’s what you’re going to be more likely drawn to,” he said. “When you are accustomed to using the Milwaukee tools in our woodworking shop, then when you purchase a tool, you have that name recognition – you already know how good the product is, and you end up sticking with it.

“This allows our students and members of the community to use their equipment. We’re so grateful to Milwaukee Tool for being so generous to us with this donation.”

Miley said the wide range of equipment may allow the department to expand its educational offerings.

“This is fantastic,” he said. “We thought we’d get a donation of five or six tools we’d be storing in the closet. Now, we can do more because we have more to work with. We may need to offer a course in woodworking, because it’s integrated into sculpture and painting. Now that we have the capacity for set design, we could offer a stagecraft class.

“The sky’s the limit.”