Friday, July 3, 2015

How to Avoid Shark Attacks: Beach Do's and Don'ts


This video has gone viral..  I share, with some advice of my own...

1.  Do not shoot video with your phone while driving.. it's considered texting and driving.   If you don't hit something, it will get you a big fat ticket.

But enjoy the video anyway:

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Information About the Great Golden Gathering - 2015



Word is getting around about the big reunion between all the former African-American high schools later this summer.

People are getting excited about commemorating the 50th anniversary of the closing of the schools, with an historic event called the "Great Golden Gathering - 2015," that remembers the good times and the wonderful educations we and our ancestors received, from the best schools in the region.

The Organizational Committee made up of representatives from the various alumni groups has been been meeting since March 7th, discussing ways to make the Great Golden Gathering a memorable one for both the schools' alumni, their descendants, and their respective communities.  Although there are some organizations that have not been directly involved, nonetheless they are still included because, by default, they are one of the African-American schools.  Pray, the Organizational Committee does not want to leave any alumni associations out, and any schools not contacted yet, are encouraged to please join the Committee.  All opinions and suggestions are welcome.  There are no bad ideas...  all are suggestions to help make the Big Reunion a big success.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

Most of the beloved schools closed for integration in 1965 (Swift in 1963, and Douglass-Kingsport 1966), and their combined alumni associations are planning a huge and historic reunion, to reconnect former students who interacted athletically, academically and socially when those schools were the backbone of our communities.  These were African-American schools with fine teachers, who instructed us with loving care.  These schools were the solid rocks of our communities, and by the grace of God, all or most are still standing today.  Many are used as offices, some are community centers much like their roles of yesteryear, some are apartments, but some are empty shells.  Sadly, a few are in fear of the wrecking ball. 

LOCATION AND SCHEDULE

The historic "Great Golden Gathering - 2015" will be Friday August 28, Saturday August 29, and Sunday August 30, 2015.  The location will be the Holiday Inn-Bristol Convention Center, 3005 Linden Drive, Bristol, VA 24202.  The phone number is (276) 466-4100.  We have a special discounted room rate for folks who are spending the night (s).. just mention that you're attending the "Great Golden Gathering - 2015" and you'll get the special room rate.

Plans are for a meet-and-greet session for all the alumni on Friday the 28th.... a picnic with school displays of memorabilia on Saturday afternoon the 29th.... a huge banquet event with speakers on Saturday night the 29th.... and a special church service on Sunday the 30th.  Events on any given day are subject to change and modification. 

COST

The cost to attend is $100 dollars per person, with a $25 dollar non-refundable deposit due by June 15th (this helps us secure the venue, food accomodations, entertainment, etc.), but if you want to pay the whole amount, that would be wonderful and helpful.  The $25 dollar deposit will be deducted from the $100 dollars, leaving only a balance of $75 dollars per person.  Please make your check out to "Great Golden Gathering 2015" and mail it to Great Golden Gathering - 2015, c/o Barbara Watterson, 810 North Hill Drive, Johnson City, TN 37604.  Your name (s) will be placed on the master list, to be checked off on the day of registration.

PROGRAM

Our committees are working on the programs for this historic one-of-a-kind event, including souvenir programs and historic commemorative tee-shirts that can be purchased, along with grab-bags full of free items.  We are also looking for corporate sponsorships to handle certain aspects of the event.  The banquet will feature speakers and historic addresses, fitting tributes to the legacies of the finest schools in the region. 

IMPORTANCE

The 50th anniversary of any event is special.  These were African-American schools with fine teachers, who instructed us with care and prepared us for the unknown.. a world struggling to accept us as the intelligent people we are.  Our most important Big Reunion goal is to pass this part of our histories to our young people, to pick up the charge and carry the banners of our schools into the next generation.  Our alumni numbers at all of our our beloved schools is dwindling fast, and we don't have a moment to lose.  The Great Golden Gathering - 2015 may be the last and only time that all of us can be together to celebrate the one thing that binds us all.. our friendships and our common school bonds.

CONTACT

For more information, contact the Organizational Committee at douglassriverview@gmail.com or call (423) 847-5139.

Please put the historic Great Golden Gathering event on your late August calendar.  We may not have another chance at history.

THE 15 AFRICAN-AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOLS OF UPPER EAST TENNESSEE -
                                               SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA

Bland High School, Big Stone Gap, VA (Central High School & Appalachia Training School)
Douglass High School, Bristol, VA
Slater High School, Bristol, TN
Douglas High School, Elizabethton, TN
Douglass High School, Kingsport, TN
Langston High School, Johnson City, TN
Swift College High School, Rogersville, TN
Arty-Lee High School, Dante, VA
George Clem High School, Greeneville, TN
Morristown College West High School, Morristown, TN
Tanner High School, Newport, TN
Nelson-Merry High School, Jefferson City, TN
Austin High School, Knoxville, Tn

....And all of the associated African-American Elementary Schools in the area, who graduated  students to attend these distinguished High Schools....

Out of the Attic - Kingsport Times News, Sunday, June 28, 2015


CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO MAKE IT LARGER



           DOUGLASS HIGH SCHOOL KINGSPORT - CLASS OF 1965 FIFTY YEARS AGO

Pictured in this photo, taken June 8th, 1965, of the graduating class of Douglass High School in Kingsport are (first row from left), Donald Hickman, Eddie Jackson, Huphelia Lollar, Ann Cole, Patricia Bristol, Sarah Turner, Kathryn White, Jewel Davis, Darlene Marble, Jackie Burnette, Sheridan Robinette, Donald Perry, Larry Bowers, (second row from left) Melrose Dobbins, Linda Miller, Phyllis Horton, Delores Hale, Carolyn Dulaney, William Hickman, Eugene Kincaid, Pamela Rutledge, Carolyn Reece, Andra Watterson, and John Lewis.  

Submitted to the Kingsport Times-News by Sheridan Robinette

ALSO IN THE DOUGLASS CLASS OF '65

Harry Truelove

IN MEMORIUM DOUGLASS OF 1965


                                                                    David Releford



                                                                   Lorraine Worley





                                         DOUGLASS CLASS OF '65 CLASS OFFICERS

                                                     President...................... Jewel Davis
                                                  Vice President.............. Patricia Bristol
                                                     Secretary...................... Linda Miller
                                                  Assistant Secretary...... Jackie Burnette
                                                  Treasurer..................... Kathryn White

Friday, June 26, 2015

Central Baptist Church To Hold Memorial Service For Charleston Victims


THIS STORY COURTESY THE KINGSPORT TIMES-NEWS


The Central Baptist Church is holding a special memorial service on Sunday evening, to pay respects to the nine people killed during last week's shootings in Charleston, SC.

Janet Russaw, a member of Central Baptist who suggested the service, said the entire community is invited to attend.  "We are a community that needs and wants to become united and mourn the loss of nine innocent lives," Russaw says.  "We feel like a great place to start is with churches and reaching out to each other."

On June 17th, 21-year old Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the oldest Black churches in the United States.  Victims include the church's senior pastor and South Carolina state senator, Reverend Clementa Pinckney.

Russaw, who has been a member of Central Baptist for about 15 years, says she has been moved by the tragic events of that day, and felt the need to do something to help others and herself, find peace.

"I think it goes back to the Christian Faith, loving one's neighbors and having a relationship with them," she said.  "The way you begin to find your peace is to know one another."

The service will be in reverence to the victims, and will be prayer-driven, Russaw said.

"We're going to pray for the nine lives lost, their families and the church, which lost a pastor," Russaw said.  "That would impact your church, any way you look at it.  It would leave a hole.  "We're also going to pray for its membership, the city, our city, our nation and the world."

Central Baptist is located at 301 Carver Street in the Riverview Community and the service will begin at 6 PM on June 28th.  Typically, the church will hold around 300 people and Russaw says she hopes the sanctuary will be standing room only.

"I hope people are standing outside, wanting to get in.  I want us to overflow, even if we overflow into the street, to show our love and support," she said.   "We want the entire community to come out and be a force, to show the world that our city is full of loving, caring people."


HEAR THE EULOGY GIVEN BY PRESIDENT OBAMA FOR SLAIN MOTHER EMANUEL AME CHURCH PASTOR, REVEREND CLEMENTA PINCKNEY IN CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA:




AND HEAR PRESIDENT OBAMA LEAD THE MOURNERS IN "AMAZING GRACE:"



BOTH CLIPS COURTESY PBS



Remember This?


November 24, 2007.....
The impending demolition of the historic Riverview Apartments....
Former residents gathered one last time to say goodbye to the homes they lived in, some grew up in.....

CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO MAKE IT LARGER


Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Lighting of Riverview: The Sun May Rise From Both East and West


CLICK ON THE PICTURES TO MAKE THEM LARGER


It's going to be the glow that seems to come from infinity.  And you'll be able to see it from all over Kingsport.

And for some folks... from their own backyards.

With the opening of the Clay Hill Ballfields at Brickyard Park, folks in nearby Riverview have been adjusting to the sun coming up from the west, instead of the east.

The "sun"... being the new lighting system that illuminates the 4 ballfields should any game on the fields runs after dark.

"They are pretty bright, I'll agree with you," says Kingsport Parks and Recreation manager Kitty Frazier.  "The poles are more than 80 to 90 feet tall, and so you will see the lights from above the tree line.  They have to be, to shine over the entire field."

But Frazier says, the direct light is on the field, not on Riverview.

"We took great care to aim the bulk of the lights as much as we can, onto the fields of play," she says.  "They do have shields on them, and even with that, there will be that visual view from a distance."

"You are going to see them."





At right, Dunbar Street from Louis Street

We got a first-look at what folks are seeing.  On a trip home to Riverview, this reporter arrived at 2 o'clock in the morning, to a glow that could be seen from Wilcox Boulevard out by Meadowview.  The glow got more concentrated on the approach to the Wilcox bridges over the river, and then localized to the ballfields.  It was then, the assumption was made by this reporter that the city 'must be testing the new ballfield lighting.'

It was a darn good test.


At left, Louis Street, at Douglass Street

There wasn't a location in the Riverview neighborhood the lights were not seen from.     From Dunbar Street.... to Douglass Street.... to Carver Street.... over to Louis Street.... even down to Wheatley Street and MLK Drive.  The new ballfield lights provided an eerie midnight glow in Riverview, and a unique match to the constant hum from nearby Eastman.

"If you look at the lighting at J. Fred Johnson Stadium, you can also see those lights from all over Kingsport," Frazier says.  "It's the same scenario.. those light poles are tall indeed."

At right:  Vicki Smith's house and yard illuminated

Several Riverview backyards were lit up, especially those along Dunbar Street.

Will the ballfield lighting be a bother?  Depends on who you talk to.

"It does light up the neighborhood," says Vicki Smith who lives on Dunbar.  "But I think it deters any bad activities from happening.  If my backyard is lit up, I'm gonna see anybody back there.  I'm pretty sure they don't want to be seen.  Any time the ballfield lights are on at night, there's that chance that somebody that's up to no good is gonna get seen."

At left:  Ronald Taylor' home (right in picture)

Another Dunbar Street resident, Ronald Taylor, doesn't share that opinion.

"We are the closest to the low spot where the lights are," he says.  "I won't say 'daylight,' but it is pretty bright.  We have to close doors and put up shaded draperies to keep the light out.  Even my mom at 97 years old with her failing eyesight has noticed it.   She looked out the window one night and said 'there's light out there.'  Even she could tell there was a difference."


The Clay Hill Ballfield lights, as seen from the V.O. Dobbins Community Center, Carver Street

"We're continuing to check for impact," Frazier says.  "The lights can still be adjusted, although I don't know how much more.  They shouldn't really light up someone's backyard, and that's something that we'll still be looking into.   If neighbors have any concerns, all they have to do is let us know."

Frazier says, lighting the fields won't happen every single night, and probably not all night long after games, except to test them.


CLICK THE "PLAY" ARROW BELOW TO SEE A SLIDE SHOW OF "THE LIGHTING OF RIVERVIEW, AND CLICK YOUR AUDIO SPEAKER ON:





AT LEFT, THE LARGEST BALLFIELD THAT IS ON HOLD.. IT WON'T BE DEVELOPED AS A FIELD AT THIS TIME.

But lighting may not be the only concern.

Nobody knows about the noise level from the Clay Hill ballfields.  Yet.

"With the sound, especially if the stands are full, there's no way to tell yet what the sound level is going to be," she says.  "There's no knowing it will seem noisy with all the activity over there, and how well the sound is going to carry.  A baseball field is not like a football field with a band and a lot of cheering.  There might be sporadic cheering, a crack of the bat, maybe somebody 'yayying,' but that's about it."

BUT MORE LIGHTING TO COME

And then.... the lighting of the historic Douglass Ballfield may complete "the lighting of Riverview."

You may have noticed huge, long concrete poles on the grounds of the ballfield at the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex, on the community center side at MLK Drive. 

We've seen those poles before.

"They are the poles that used to be at the Eastman ballfields on Wilcox," says Frazier.  "They were taken down because of the new Eastman building that's going up there.  They could not go up at Brickyard Park because the new fields have a different kind of surface to light.  Those old lights just didn't fit and we thought 'well , since we got 'em and Eastman is willing to donate them, rather than destroy them, we looked around for a nice place to move them to."

THE DOUGLASS BALLFIELD


The choice was fairly easy.  The generations-old field at V.O. Dobbins was Frazier's first choice.

"The wooden poles at the Riverview ballfield are old," she says.  "A few years ago, I had someone in the lighting business look at those poles just to check them out.  They felt like they were reasonably stabilized... most people don't know just by looking at them that those poles are actually about 10 feet in the ground.  What you see above ground, doesn't represent how much is underground.  There is a substantial underpinning on all of those poles, but let's face it... they're all unsightly.  Again, they're old and they look out of place with all the new homes, the new additions to the community center, and the shelters."



One of them, in particular.  It's got a 'mean lean' that rivals the curve in any road.

"As for that one pole," Frazier says, "I can't say that it won't fall one day, but the guys who checked it out felt that even though it was leaning, it was not going to fall over because there is too much stability in the ground.  Plus, the pole is pretty solid for a wooden pole.  Still though, it doesn't give a good impression with that lean."

"The idea is to replace all those wooden poles with the concrete poles and the higher quality lighting, which would be astheticly more pleasing, along with underground lighting," she says.  "Now that the poles are there, that's what we'd like to do."

Frazier says, putting the poles won't come cheap, probably somewhere in the 'thousands of dollars,' and there's no timetable 'cemented in stone' yet.

"It's not a cheap project," she says, "even if you have the equipment on hand.  Luckily, we didn't have to move them very far and that's a good thing.. having them already near where they were going to go up, is the way to go.  They're concrete, they won't deteriorate in the weather and they're too heavy to move anywhere else, plus the Douglass Ballfield needs them."

"It's a perfect match."

CONCRETE POLE FACTOIDS

8 poles, made for Eastman Chemical Company
Date of Manufacturer:  July 7, 1995
Substance:  Concrete over hollow shell
Length of each pole:  69 feet, 6 inches
Length of each pole underground: 10 feet
Weight of each pole:  7,615 pounds
Total weight: 60,920 pounds




RIVERVIEW FROM DALE STREET ALLEY: 

LIGHTED DOUGLASS BALLFIELD ON LEFT, LIGHTED CLAY HILL BALLFIELDS ON RIGHT

As for the 'lighting of Riverview,' there may come a nighttime when there could be two activities at Riverview's two ballfields.... one on the Clay Hill ballfields on the west side of the neighborhood and another on the eastside's Douglass Ballfield.

The resulting light would most likely illuminate every yard in the community.

"That's an interesting thought," Frazier mused.  "I hadn't thought about that.  But for now, let's concentrate on Brickyard Park and aiming the lights so they won't be intrusive to the neighborhood.  Then, we'll get the wooden poles replaced with the concrete ones on the Douglass ballfield, and then aim those lights in the same manner.  Those are the top priorities right now."

And again, keep in mind, Frazier says.  The ballfield lights won't be on all the time.

RIVERVIEW, FROM THE CLAY HILL BALLFIELDS


Frazier took time to marvel at the changes that have transformed Riverview.. changes she feels, are for the best.

"We did so many things to rejuvenate the whole neighborhood," she says, "the housing, the community center renovation, the non-profit tower, the playground, the splash pad... it's as much to do with what changed, as an attitude of pride.  Many communities would love to have the changes the city took on, to help people in Riverview know and feel how special and vital their neighborhood is."

"I'd like to think, with all the new lighting, that we 'lit a fire' of pride in the community."

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sons and Daughters of Douglass Board Pre-Reunion Meeting


Please don't forget, the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board will be meeting this coming Saturday, June 27th.

THE MEETING WILL START AT 2:00 PM, INSTEAD OF 1:00 PM.

This will be our last meeting before the Reunion, so your presence is greatly needed.

We will be meeting in the Eastman Board Room at the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex.


Douglas S. Releford
Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni President

Friday, June 19, 2015

You're Invited to the Ribbon-Cutting to Brickyard Park!








CLICK ON THE PICTURES BELOW TO ENLARGE THEM - RIVERVIEW IS IN THE UPPER LEFT CORNER ON THE PICTURE ON THE LEFT; ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE PICTURE BELOW






All residents of Riverview and Alumni of Douglass Elementary-High School are invited to attend the ribbon-cutting that opens up Brickyard Park.


The event will be held on Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 at 10:30 AM.  If you want to go up Clay Hill by walking up from Dunbar Street like we used to, that's fine (your website editor will be doing that LOL), but if you want to come in like other folk, come down Industry Drive and turn in at the old brickyard entrance, then take the first right turn to get to the ceremony.

The "Clay Hill Ballfields" are the marquee attraction on the site of historic Clay Hill, once the "unofficial playground" of nearby Riverview residents for generations.

We, as alumni, neighbors and former Clay Hill playgrounders need attend the ribbon-cutting in full force, and celebrate this new chapter in our former playground's history.

The project, beset by construction delays because of bad weather in the spring and fall, will open in July for softball and baseball games.   These fields replace the former Eastman Ballfields on Wilcox Boulevard, now under construction for Eastman Chemical's new Project Inspire headquarters expansion.

Denark Construction of Knoxville was the builder of the new ballfields.


CLICK PLAY BELOW TO HEAR PROJECT SUPERVISOR TIM MORGAN OF DENARK CONSTRUCTION, TALKING ABOUT "THE CLAY HILL BALLFIELDS AT BRICKYARD PARK:"

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Plans for the Douglass Reunion Are Complete!

Grab your Douglass Tigers pom-pom....... rev your enthusiam up......, and get ready for the 2015 Sons and Daughters of Douglass Reunion.

The homecoming will be Friday July 3rd, Saturday July 4th, and Sunday July 5th.  The registration fee is $50.00.  Make your checks out to:  Sons and Daughters of Douglass, Inc.
Please send them to:

Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association
301 Louis Street, Ste. 104
Kingsport, Tn 37660


Here's the Reunion Program (copy for your records):


FRIDAY, JULY 3RD

5 PM
Registration and Meet-N-Greet (light hors d'oervrs)
Douglass Room, V.O. Dobbins Community Center

9:45ish PM  4th of July Fireworks, Cement Hill, Downtown Kingsport


SATURDAY, JULY 4TH

8 AM  Golf Outing
Warriors Path State Park
John Hardy, 423-817-3314

11 AM Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Picnic
Eastman Cabin, Shelter #9
Food catered by Broad Street Barbeque, Kingsport

1 PM  Barge trip on the Bays Mountain Lake, Bays Mountain Park (15 people)

2 PM  Barge trip on the Bays Mountain Lake, Bays Mountain Park (15 people)

9 PM  Alumni Dance, Elks Club, MLK Drive (Lincoln Street)


SUNDAY, JULY 5TH

11 AM  Church of your choice

2 PM  Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Memorial Service
Douglass Room, V.O. Dobbins Community Center
Speaker:  Donald Hickman

5 PM  Reunion After-Party
O'Charley's, Eastman Road



2015 Little Miss Vision Pageant

CLICK ON THE PICTURES TO MAKE THEM LARGER


Congratulations to all of the 2015 Little Miss Vision Pageant contestants for an excellent and beautiful program at the Kingsport Renaissance Center on Saturday, June 13, 2015:

Z'Mya (Izzy) Jean Baptiste

My'Yon Lanier

Kaylee Grace Hughes

Saraya Faith Hughes

Rayne Locklayer

Rajah Locklayer




Miss Congeniality: Rayah Locklayer

2nd Runner-up: Z'Mya (Izzy) Jean Baptiste

1st Runner-up: Saraya Faith Hughes







And a huge congratulations to the winner, Little Miss Vision 2015: Rajah Locklayer

 CLICK BELOW TO SEE A SLIDESHOW OF THE 2015 LITTLE MISS VISION PAGEANT

(and make sure your audio speaker is ON)


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sons and Daughters of Douglass Board Meeting on Saturday

The Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board will meet on June 13, 2015, at 1:00 pm at the V.O.
Dobbins, Sr. Complex. Please plan to attend we need to finalize plans for the upcoming Reunion slated for July 3, 4, and 5th. Your attendance is greatly needed.


Douglas S. Releford

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Douglass Reunion Plans


Plans for the Douglass Reunion are progressing.

The event is scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 3rd, 4th and 5th in Kingsport.

Plans are for a meet-and-greet for returning Douglass alumni and alumni in the community for Friday night, July 3rd.  The event will be held in the Douglass Community Room at the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex.

Instead of a gathering in the Douglass Ball Field, the Reunion's Field Day will be a picnic at the Eastman Cabin at Bays Mountain Park on the Fourth of July afternoon.  Efforts are also underway to have a barge tour on the Kingsport Reservoir at the Bays Mountain Planetarium.

That night features a banquet with music, also held in the Douglass Community Room.

Sunday's events on July 5th include attending the church of your choice that morning, then the Douglass Memorial Service in the Douglass Community Room.

Thanks to everyone who have notified the Alumni Board of their plans to attend, and a reminder that if you haven't done so, please let the Board know so that enough food can be ordered.  You can do that by emailing our Board Secretary Vicki Smith at secretarydhs@gmail.com

Also, a reminder that dues for the upcoming operational year for the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association are payable now.  Please don't forget that the Board needs all former Douglass alumni and all descendants of Douglass alumni to pay dues and maintain the Association's programs.
Please mail your dues to:

Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association
301 Louis Street, Ste. 104
Kingsport, TN 37660

Thank you!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Little Miss Vision Pageant Coming Up!


The annual Little Miss Vision Pageant will be held on Saturday, June 13, 2015 at 7 PM.

The location will be the Kingsport Rennaisance Center Theater.

It's the 12th year for this wonderful pageant, featuring young girls from our community as they learn poise, placement and politeness.

Tickets are on sale right now, and the Little Miss Vision organization is tax exempt.

A qualifying senior always gets a donation to help with their school books every year.

Please come out and support this worthwhile community project!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Information about the "Great Golden Gathering - 2015"



Word is getting around about the big reunion between all the former African-American high schools later this summer.

People are getting excited about commemorating the 50th anniversary of the closing of the schools, with an historic event called the "Great Golden Gathering - 2015," that remembers the good times and the wonderful educations we and our ancestors received, from the best schools in the region.

The Organizational Committee made up of representatives from the various alumni groups has been been meeting since March 7th, discussing ways to make the Great Golden Gathering a memorable one for both the schools' alumni, their descendants, and their respective communities.  Although there are some organizations that have not been directly involved, nonetheless they are still included because, by default, they are one of the African-American schools.  Pray, the Organizational Committee does not want to leave any alumni associations out, and any schools not contacted yet, are encouraged to please join the Committee.  All opinions and suggestions are welcome.  There are no bad ideas...  all are suggestions to help make the Big Reunion a big success.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

Most of the beloved schools closed for integration in 1965 (Swift in 1963, and Douglass-Kingsport 1966), and their combined alumni associations are planning a huge and historic reunion, to reconnect former students who interacted athletically, academically and socially when those schools were the backbone of our communities.  These were African-American schools with fine teachers, who instructed us with loving care.  These schools were the solid rocks of our communities, and by the grace of God, all or most are still standing today.  Many are used as offices, some are community centers much like their roles of yesteryear, some are apartments, but some are empty shells.  Sadly, a few are in fear of the wrecking ball. 

LOCATION AND SCHEDULE

The historic "Great Golden Gathering - 2015" will be Friday August 28, Saturday August 29, and Sunday August 30, 2015.  The location will be the Holiday Inn-Bristol Convention Center, 3005 Linden Drive, Bristol, VA 24202.  The phone number is (276) 466-4100.  We have a special discounted room rate for folks who are spending the night (s).. just mention that you're attending the "Great Golden Gathering - 2015" and you'll get the special room rate.

Plans are for a meet-and-greet session for all the alumni on Friday the 28th.... a picnic with school displays of memorabilia on Saturday afternoon the 29th.... a huge banquet event with speakers on Saturday night the 29th.... and a special church service on Sunday the 30th.  Events on any given day are subject to change and modification. 

COST

The cost to attend is $100 dollars per person, with a $25 dollar non-refundable deposit due by June 15th (this helps us secure the venue, food accomodations, entertainment, etc.), but if you want to pay the whole amount, that would be wonderful and helpful.  The $25 dollar deposit will be deducted from the $100 dollars, leaving only a balance of $75 dollars per person.  Please make your check out to "Great Golden Gathering 2015" and mail it to Great Golden Gathering - 2015, c/o Barbara Watterson, 810 North Hill Drive, Johnson City, TN 37604.  Your name (s) will be placed on the master list, to be checked off on the day of registration.

PROGRAM

Our committees are working on the programs for this historic one-of-a-kind event, including souvenir programs and historic commemorative tee-shirts that can be purchased, along with grab-bags full of free items.  We are also looking for corporate sponsorships to handle certain aspects of the event.  The banquet will feature speakers and historic addresses, fitting tributes to the legacies of the finest schools in the region. 

IMPORTANCE

The 50th anniversary of any event is special.  These were African-American schools with fine teachers, who instructed us with care and prepared us for the unknown.. a world struggling to accept us as the intelligent people we are.  Our most important Big Reunion goal is to pass this part of our histories to our young people, to pick up the charge and carry the banners of our schools into the next generation.  Our alumni numbers at all of our our beloved schools is dwindling fast, and we don't have a moment to lose.  The Great Golden Gathering - 2015 may be the last and only time that all of us can be together to celebrate the one thing that binds us all.. our friendships and our common school bonds.

CONTACT

For more information, contact the Organizational Committee at douglassriverview@gmail.com or call (423) 847-5139.

Please put the historic Great Golden Gathering event on your late August calendar.  We may not have another chance at history.

THE 15 AFRICAN-AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOLS OF UPPER EAST TENNESSEE -
                                               SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA

Bland High School, Big Stone Gap, VA (Central High School & Appalachia Training School)
Douglass High School, Bristol, VA
Slater High School, Bristol, TN
Douglas High School, Elizabethton, TN
Douglass High School, Kingsport, TN
Langston High School, Johnson City, TN
Swift College High School, Rogersville, TN
Arty-Lee High School, Dante, VA
George Clem High School, Greeneville, TN
Morristown College West High School, Morristown, TN
Tanner High School, Newport, TN
Nelson-Merry High School, Jefferson City, TN
Austin High School, Knoxville, Tn

....And all of the associated African-American Elementary Schools in the area, who graduated  students to attend these distinguished High Schools....

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friendly Fire


PICTURES COURTESY THE KINGSPORT TIMES-NEWS



At right... Ayana Benton, age 3, aims with the zebra water sprayer at the Riverview Splash Pad earlier this week.

Children playing to beat the heat at the Splash Pad, which is an automated, jungle-themed water playground, located at 1101 Martin Luther King Blvd. in Kingsport.

Long-time residents will recognize the Splash Pad as the site of the old Riverview Swimming Pool.
















There is no admission charge to the Splash Pad, which is open through the summer.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board Meeting

The Sons and Daughters of Douglass will be meeting this Saturday, May 30, 2015, at 1:00 p.m., in the Eastman board room in the V. O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex.
We'll discuss the upcoming Reunion plans.  Please put on your calendars and all with business before the Board, come and be heard.

Douglas S. Releford
Alumni Board President

Monday, May 25, 2015

Pancake Breakfast This Coming Saturday

CLICK ON THE POSTER TO MAKE IT LARGER



Friday, May 22, 2015

Banking Questions? Get Them Answered Here!

CLICK ON THE POSTER TO MAKE IT LARGER




Thursday, May 14, 2015

Passing of Dr. Dana Swick


FOR THOSE DOUGLASS ALUMNI WHO REMEMBER DR. DANA SWICK, FORMER SUPERINTENDENT OF THE KINGSPORT CITY SCHOOL SYSTEM... HE PASSED AWAY LAST WEEK IN MURFREESBORO:

Dr. Dana F. Swick, passed away Thursday, May 7, 2015. He was the son of the late Thomas F. and Audrey F. Swick. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by sisters, Lucille Warner and Grace Wiley; son, The Reverend Dana Craig Swick; brother, Lewis. 

Surviving are his loving wife, Donna; sons, Brent (Carol), Kirk (Mary Dee); daughter, Janeen; 4 grandchildren; 4 great grandchildren; 3 nieces and 4 nephews.

Born in Berne, Ohio he worked for forty years in education. He earned his Ph.D. at Northwestern and was later invited to do post doctoral work at Columbia and Harvard. He taught in the Ohio Public Schools and in the Mathematics Department at Ohio University. Dr. Swick was a Superintendent and Director of Instruction in Kingsport, Tennessee, Director of Instruction for the Metro-Nashville public schools, Superintendent of Worthington Public Schools, Superintendent in Murfreesboro City Schools and a superintendent of schools for 23 years and head of the Division of Education at George Peabody College in Nashville. 

Dr. Swick was a Danforth Fellow, served as chairman of Florida committee to study public education in the state, worked for the U.S. Office of Education and did consulting work for various South Eastern U.S. School systems. 

Awards and honors also included President of the Tennessee Education Association, Chairman of the Tennessee Superintendents Study Council, Treasurer of the American Association of School Administrators, a member of the first Board of Directors of the A.A.S.A. National Academy for School Executives and invitation to the first three I.D.E.A. Conferences held for superintendents whose school systems were on the leading edge of promising innovative educational programs. 

He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps for three and half years during World War II. Dana served his church as an Usher, Treasurer, and member of the stewardship and finance committees and was co-chairman of the administrative board. 

Dr. Swick will be buried in his home town cemetery at Berne Carlisle, Ohio.

Memorials may be made to St. Jude's Hospital, Memphis, TN, St. Josephs Indian School, Chamberlain, SD 57326 or to the Building Fund of the First United Methodist Church, Murfreesboro, TN.

Private arrangements were entrusted to Reeb Funeral Home, Sylvania, OH, where online condolences may be offered to the family at reebfuneralhome.com.
- See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dnj/obituary.aspx?n=dana-f-swick&pid=174836748&fhid=6347#sthash.Jqy8LAcD.dpuf

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Douglass Alumni Fish Fry This Weekend & Big Reunion Meeting




Douglass Alumni and Riverview Residents... Please don't forget the fish fry this Saturday, May 16, 2015 at the shelter in the V.O. Dobbins field. We hope to get started about 11:00 a.m.





Also, the Sons and Daughters of Douglass will be the host for the 4th organizational meeting of former black schools for the Golden Gathering Reunion 2015.  We  will meet at the V. O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex in the Douglass Community Room, also at 11:00 a.m.

If you'd like to attend, please feel free to come and lend your voices to help organize what will be the largest Reunion of former black schools in upper East Tennessee and SW Virginia.  The meeting is open to every one.

Douglas S. Releford
Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association, Inc.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Blake Leeper delivers surprise for Mother’s Day


Kingsport Native, Mom Appear in Commercial

THIS STORY COURTESY THE KINGSPORT TIMES-NEWS

By Marci Gore
mgore@timesnews.net


KINGSPORT - Mother's day came a little early for Edith Leeper this year.

Edith, a nurse at Holston Medical Group, is Blake Leeper's mom.  Blake was born without legs from the knees down and has worn prosthetics since he was 16 months old.

Blake has always credited his parents with instilling in him the strong mind-set he possesses today.

In fact, the 2007 Dobyns-Bennett graduate started intensively running in 2008 after the Challenged Athlete Foundation presented him with a grant with state-of-the-art blade prosthetics.  He won a silver medal in the 2012 Paralympic games and the gold medal in the 400-meter relay at the IPC Worlds in Lyon, France.

Blake is currently training for the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he would become the first double amputee American to compete in the Olympic games.

"The day I was born, my parents had a choice.  They could let this break us or make us.  My disability would have broken most individuals and parents.  But they made me into the person that I am," he said.

Because Blake now lives fulltime in Chula Vista, California while he is training, he doesn't get to see his parents very often.

But a few weeks ago, he was given an opportunity to get to come home and surprise his mom,

Blake's agent ran Blake's name through a Mother's Day competition with Teleflora, a worldwide floral wire delivery service.

"My agent submitted my name and they went through a whole list of people, looking at their background stories, what they've been through, how far they've come.  And then they contacted me and said is this something that you'd be interested in and I said yes, of course!"

So, over the course of the next few days, a short video of Blake telling his mom what she means to him and how she has helped him be the man he is today.  Blake had to get his dad, Billy in on the surprise.

"I had my dad scrambling around, looking for photos of my mom and me together.  They asked me 'Does your dad have a big mouth?  I said, well......" Blake said with a laugh.

But Blake said, in the end, his dad was good with the surprise.  "We had to make sure she was home and at the right time.  My dad did a wonderful job of not telling anybody," he said.

And surprise Edith they did.

"Blake called me a couple of days before and said "Mom, there's a couple of people coming by the house that are going to talk to you about me growing up and those sorts of things," Edit said.  "He said just a couple of people.  But two vans full of people and three or four cars pulled up and I said I thought he said just a couple of people!"

What Edith didn't know what that Blake was also in one of the vans.

In the Teleflora commercial, which can be found on YouTube, a Teleflora delivery person gives Edith a tablet so she can watch Blake's video message to her.  When the message ends, Blake appears from behind the van with a bouquet of flowers for his mother.  When she sees her son, Edith's cries are probably heard all over the Leeper's Church Hill neighborhood.

"When I saw Blake, I just lost it," Edith said.  "We don't get to see him very often.  I try to commit him to at least one of the holidays at the end of the year and we try to go out to California maybe a couple of times a year.  And that's about it, unless we get to go to one of his events.  This was wonderful"

Blake says he knows he doesn't thank his mom enough for what she has done for him and that making the Teleflora commercial was a great opportunity for him to do something special for her.

"It started from the day I was born, those decisions she and my dad made that, regardless of my situation, I was going to be somebody special and not be defined by my disability," he said.  "Every day I wake up, I put one leg on at a time, I thank the Lord for me being here and I go get it.  And you know what?  I'll always be my Mom's baby boy."

Blake and Edith's video is one of several Mother's Day videos that were released by Teleflora last Friday.  The videos show unexpected reunions between moms and their children.

You can view Blake's Mother's Day tribute to his mom by clicking here on "Blake's Unforgettable Mother's Day Delivery to Mom."




Monday, May 4, 2015

Big Reunion & Homecoming: "Golden Gathering 2015"

Plans are underway for all alumni of the former African-American schools in upper East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, to have one huge Reunion, called "The Golden Gathering 2015."  

The reunion commemorates the 50th golden anniversary of the closing of our black schools in 1965. We hope to honor the traditions we practiced, the educations we shared, the athletic/academic competitions we loved, and the social lives that bonded us together over the years.

The date of the Golden Gathering 2015 event is Saturday, August 29, 2015, place and the program to be announced. All programs on that day will revolve around a huge banquet on the night of August 29th.

Alumni and descendants of the following schools are invited:

Bland High School, Big Stone Gap, VA
Douglass High School, Bristol, VA
Slater High School, Bristol, Virginia
Langston High School, Johnson City, TN
Douglas High School, Elizabethton, TN
Booker T. Washington Elementary School, Jonesborough, TN
Douglass High School, Kingsport, TN
George Clem High School, Greeneville, TN
Swift High School, Rogersville, TN
Tanner High School, Newport, TN
Morristown West High School, Morristown, TN
Nelson-Merry High School, Jefferson City, TN
Austin High School, Knoxville, TN All elementary schools who sent children to the above schools


The organizational committee for the Golden Gathering 2015 has been meeting since March, to plan the individual programs for the event. Below are minutes from the meeting of April 11, 2015:



Big Reunion Progress Meeting:
Carver Recreation Center, Johnson City, TN
April 11, 2015
Persons Present: Calvin Sneed; Carolyn Trammell-Cox; Georgia Gillespie; Sandra (Dawson) Nuttall; Nancy Rhea Robinson; William (Bill) Coleman, Jr.; Barbara Love Watterson; Henry Wisdom; Carla Forney; Michael L. Young; Brenda A. Charles; Nancy G. Howard; Norman Howard; Roland Dykes, III; Elva L. Morrison; Sue Gilispie;  Renea G. Hall; Lawrence R. Bell, Jr.; Shirley Gammon Bell.
Meeting opened at 11:15 AM, April 11, 2015, with prayer by Carolyn Cox.
Calvin Sneed advised that last meeting (March 7, 2015) notes have been posted on the Website.  He has called J.C. Press to speak with Johnny Malloy about tracking progress/history of schools and upcoming 2015 combined reunion.
Robert Dykes III (Tanner High) spoke of efforts to reclaim/restore Tanner HS, which was damaged during a past tornado.
Calvin related that Langston, Clem, & Tanner are all attempting to reclaim their buildings. City leaders are not concerned, so we must keep these visions in the forefront.  He gave info as to how Kingsport was able to get Douglass Community Center.  Douglass was a Rosenwald school, as was Tanner and the Langston Gymnasium.  These buildings represent histories of the Black community.  This Big Reunion is about rekindling our histories, preserving them, and passing them on to our descendents.

Discussion pursued regarding the mission for Committees:
Members should take information from meeting(s) and disseminate amongst our Alumni Associations.
Event:  Saturday, August 29, 2015 = Banquet.. What would be a good venue?  What should we set as the Cost ($)?.
We need to form a Site Committee...
Nancy Howard suggested that each School Reunion Group provide a list or numbers of attendees at their last Reunion... some sort of poll for each of our groups to determine about how many persons "might" attend.  Norman Howard stated that we need to work through our standing community structures, i.e.; the Black Churches.
Calvin urged that we need to set up Committees today: Marketing/Public Affairs; Location/Site, Finance; Entertainment; etc...
Volunteers (?) were appointed for the Location/Site Committee: Doug Releford (Kgpt), Henry Wisdom (Bristol/Slater), and Mary Alexander (Langston).  Site recommendations are needed within the next two weeks (by May 2nd.).
Norman Howard related that we need to think about this being a Family event - to plan for bringing kids, and entire families.
Nancy Howard noted that we need to focus on celebrating those who attended one of the Black institutions, Maybe other activities could be incorporated to others from the larger community.
Henry Wisdom stated he had already called Mary Alexander... they will meet within this week to work on the location/site... He also agreed that we need to use the Black churches to help promote the event.
Carla Forney suggested that perhaps we can work through the Ministers Alliance.
Nancy Howard added that we do need to focus on Our stories as a region, but perhaps we could plan a series of events for each city to bring the individual impact on those specific cities.
Calvin stated we had originally thought about one day, but it seems like we need to think about two days (Sat/Sun)... maybe a picnic and a Banquet on Saturday, then a large Church event (?) on Sunday...?
Nancy responded that she agrees with a Saturday gathering to celebrate the 50th year, but each city/school should focus on their own activities in their individual cities and communities.
Calvin related that the original idea was to celebrate what we all had experienced together from the entire region.
Barbara Watterson thinks we would have better success in bringing all the schools together.
Calvin asked; let's get our Entertainment Committee together:  He appointed Carla Forney, Barbara Watterson, Brenda Charles, Vivian Releford, and Stella Gudger as members of this committee.
Norman Howard stated that our history has been an oral history.  Perhaps we could get media to document historical storytelling, interviews, etc...
Calvin related that we could go to the JC Press and WJHL to see if they will support the effort.  We could also consider asking this business to sponsor a part of the Reunion.
Calvin stated that he would work with Norman Howard on the Marketing Committee.
Nancy Howard thought that we should develop a script or memo to ensure that we are all speaking from the same sheet.  Calvin agreed, We need to have a script in place by the end of April, to send out to Churches...
Carolyn T. Cox stated that each Reunion Group needs to (soon) get a head count of potential attendees to forward to the Location/Site Committee.  Calvin replied that we intend to ask Churches, Alumni Groups, etc., to develop potential attendees.  We will need to have a firm number by the 1st of July.
Carla Forney asked if there are officers for this group (Big Reunion)?.
Calvin Sneed was nominated as Chair.
Secretary:
Finance/Treasury Committee: B. Watterson, N. Robinson, Carolyn Cox
Sue Greenlee asked how are we going to get the word out and will it be via a letter, flyers, etc.?
Mike Young suggested that perhaps we can send out an Introductory Letter to announce the event... advise the planned event., then follow up with a Detailed Letter.  Calvin agreed - he will do that - he'll send out the Intro Letter to the Ministerial Alliance, etc...
Next Meeting date: Saturday May 2, 2015, at 11:00.  All Committee Reports are due on this date.
Closing prayer was offered by Henry Wisdom.

Adjourned.