Cougar Coach Getting Students Where They Need To Be

Cougar driving a van in the parking lot.

Cougar Coach Getting Students Where They Need To Be

Monday, September 23, 2019 12:00 AM
Community, Students

(Cleveland, TN) – A freshman at Cleveland State Community College, Sydney Crane was

lost. The 2019 McMinn County High School graduate took a wrong turn during orientation and

wound up face-to-face with Cleveland State President Dr. Bill Seymour.

Before sending her in the right direction, Dr. Seymour asked about Crane’s background. She

explained that she comes from Athens every day.

“He said they were thinking of a shuttle bus to McMinn and Meigs counties,” said Crane, who is

studying to become a park ranger. “It sounded cool, so later that day I started telling other

people about it. No one had heard about it though.”

That changed a few days later when Crane and the rest of the Cleveland State student body got

an e-mail. The e-mail explained that an innovative shuttle service known as Cougar Coach

Shuttle would begin Monday, August 26, offering free transportation to students traveling from

Meigs and McMinn counties.

Suddenly, Crane didn’t have to foot the bill for gas every time she came to campus. She also

wouldn’t have to worry about parking. And, if she used her time wisely, she could get a good bit

of homework done as she waited for the bus.

Crane wasn’t the only person who noticed the e-mail. Fellow McMinn County High School

graduate Adam Belton perked up at the news, as well.

Having grown up in northeast Virginia near Washington, D.C., Belton was accustomed to

utilizing public transportation. In fact, he relied on public transportation so much that he never

got his driver’s license. As a result, his mother had to drive him to and from CSCC for classes.

Wanting to give his mom a break, he jumped at the chance to ride the shuttle.

“It takes a lot of gas to be driven back and forth to school,” said Belton, the first to attend college

in his family. “The Cougar Coach Shuttle is a great option for anyone who can’t drive, doesn’t

drive, or can’t afford the gas.”

The Cougar Shuttle Coach runs Monday through Thursday, with morning, mid-day, afternoon,

and evening trips. Stops are at the Decatur City Hall in Meigs County, Athens Center in McMinn County,

and the main campus in Cleveland.

To ride, students simply show up at the appropriate location at the appropriate time. When

picked up, they show their student ID, sign the log in the 15-passenger van, and then enjoy the


As owner of Chattanooga Bus Company, Dominic D’Amico oversees a fleet of sixteen school

vehicles that typically transport K–12 students. When Cleveland State contacted him about their

idea for the Cougar Shuttle Coach, he jumped at the chance. He’d never heard of free shuttle

service for college students and suspects it may be the first of its kind.

On the first day of service, D’Amico had one student ride the shuttle. A month later, four more

joined in. As it catches on, D’Amico knows the impact will only grow.

“I’ve had parents shake my hand and thank me for what we’re doing,” D’Amico said. “All the

feedback I’ve gotten has been positive. It’s good to see more students taking advantage of this unique

opportunity being presented to them.”

To learn more on the Cougar Shuttle Coach, including the shuttle schedule, call Cleveland State

Community College at 423.472.7141. For more information on the story, contact CSCC’s Director of

Communications and Marketing Don Foley at 423.473.2341 or

CSCC is the College System of Tennessee’s College of the Year for 2019. The local institution

received the Statewide Outstanding Achievement Recognition, or SOAR, Award after being

named the College of the Year honor during an awards ceremony last March.

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13

community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving

more than 110,000 students.

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