Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fun Fest Treasure Medallion Hidden at V.O. Dobbins

• In the grand finale of the 2014 Kingsport Fun Fest Treasure Hunt Friday, three medallions were hidden, and the Douglass folks got this note from Mark Franklin about it, and we found info and a picture at the Kingsport Times-News. Check out Mark's first clue.. many of us Douglassites might remember it:

"I have run the Kingsport Treasure Hunt as an independent event during Fun Fest week the past 2 years. I thought your organization would appreciate knowing that this morning I hid a medallion at the old Douglass High School in Riverview. The three clues were:

Fri. 7/18-Med. #2-Clue #1-Ole Slater had a rooster. He sat him on the fence. He cried for this place, 'cause he had some sense.

Fri. 7/18-Med. #2-Clue #2-Where sons and daughters once proudly strolled, through the halls of the blue and gold.

Fri. 7/18-Med. #2-Clue #3-Once named for an orator, now it's a community center. In view of the river, its students used to enter.

My late grandfather attended many Douglass football games. He said the cheerleaders were unmatched by any other squads. He passed along to me the cheer that I used as the first clue."

Chris Rasnick (right) found one of the extra medallions hidden at the old Douglass High School (V.O. Dobbins Sr. Community Center) after the second clue at 12:19 p.m, about 50 minutes after that clue was given. He gets to keep his medallion and received a finder’s T-shirt.

Our thanks to Mark Franklin for thinking of us.  It's amazing that the young man recognized our alumni name after the second clue; the third clue would have probably given the location away immediately. We should be proud as alumni, that our name is recognized in the community by even the youngest of its citizens!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Douglass-Slater Reunion Pictures

To see pictures from the July 4th 2014 reunion of our friends and neighbors at Douglass-Slater in Bristol, TN/VA, please go to the main page of the website, look on the left hand side under "News Of Our Douglass Friends and Neighbors" and click on the Douglass-Slater link.

Pictures from the July 4th 2014 Langston Reunion in Johnson City, are coming up in a few days, and will be posted on the Langston page, in the same location.

Fun Fest Finds its "Rhythm"



KINGSPORT — Kids ran to the choo-choo train for a ride. Others used bubble wands to create large bubbles while others enjoyed inflatables.

Those fun activities were held as part of Rhythm in Riverview at V.O. Dobbins Field on Monday. The event also included vendors, face painting, games, music and a lollipop contest.

“The event is really almost like a block party,” said Johnnie Mae Swagerty, event organizer and director of South Central Kingsport Community Development, Inc.

This year had the most vendors yet with 14 — varying from soul food, to Caribbean, to cool refreshments and funnel cakes.

The National Guard provided games and a race car for attendees to enjoy. Friends and Neighbors, Inc. also had a tent at the event.

A lollipop contest was held for children ages 5 to 8. Children were given a lollipop and the child to finish licking it the fastest, without biting or chewing, won. First and second place won a prize. Each child in the contest also received a participation prize.

A new addition to the event this year was a masseuse from Bristol, Va.

“It’s really where the community can come together and see what we’re doing in the community,” Swagerty said.

Another new part of Rhythm in Riverview this year was to have been Gospel Fest. Gospel Fest was originally scheduled to take place from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. but was cancelled while event organizers tried to dodge storms in the area. Swagerty says, the choir-singing will be rescheduled because so many people enjoy it.

“It just gives everybody the opportunity to hear a gospel band,” Swagerty said. “A lot of singers in the community want to hear some gospel music, so we’re bringing that into Rhythm in Riverview.”

The words 'oh no' were a familiar refraim because of weather that had been spotty, rainy, and sometimes stormy.

First to utter them was Swagerty, when an announcer came over the loud speaker while crowds were gathering.

It was a direct order for hundreds of people to evacuate the ballfield because of one approaching strong thunderstorm with lightning.


"I thought everybody would go to the Douglass gym to wait that one out," she says. "The building was opened up just for that purpose. But we didn't get to make the announcement because they killed the power to the stage and the microphone because of the evacuation. Nobody knew they could go to the nearby gym instead of going to their cars or going back home. I think everybody understood we had to look at the safety of everybody here and bad weather."

"The key was getting them to come back for the concert."

The second 'oh no' came from the concert's main event singer.

"I've got a phobia about rain," laughs Jay Storm, leader of the headline band Jaystorm Project. "You can guess why.. I get teased a lot when storms come to town. People say, 'Jay Storm's coming to town..oh no, it's gonna rain.' It's in my name, so what can I do?"

"It's not every day that your sound check becomes your concert," he continued. "You just go with the flow.. that's what we're best at. We're experienced in going quick if we have to. If it's playing a full set, that's OK.. if it's an hour, that's OK, too."

"We kinda go by the rules of the weather rock," says Fun Fest director Lucy Fleming, who never misses a Rhythm In Riverview concert. "If the rock is wet, it's raining and it will slow down what we're doing. We have outdoor events at Fun Fest that could be delayed or cancelled if heavy rain or lightning is in the area, or the ground is too wet to get started."

"Today, we had to wait to put the stage up on the Dobbins ballfield and start the music because we were waiting for breaks in the bad weather and we could be sure the rain was over for a while. It was kinda like shooting through the holes in the clouds.. you might hit clear sky at some point. That gave us a late start."

Fleming says, Fun Fest organizers learn from every rain situation.

"As we study different, large events in other cities around the country," she says, "we pay attention to what seems to be safe practice for them. We want to get people to where they are safe if there is thunder and lightning around. We practice getting people to their cars or into nearby buildings as quickly as possible."

We saw first-hand why tents are not really safe places during a storm, because winds often accompany heavy rain, and we saw that first-hand early Monday evening about 5:30. "Even last year, we went through the Grand Flood, and tents were the last place people needed to be. Those that sought shelter found out the hard way that tents went up like kites and balloons."

"Fortunately, there were no injuries or casualties because of safe practices," says Fleming.

"We want to keep it that way."

Once again, a storm cell approaching Kingsport from the southwest, once again, put the event planners on alert.

"We figured we'd could let the band play for an hour," Fleming says. "With that storm approaching, we decided to cut them off at 8:30, to make sure they could finish on a high note, and the crowd could get home before the heavy rain started back up again. At the same time, ending early would give the technicians time to take down all the lights and sound equipment and get it all packed away quickly enough."

Most of the crowds did come back, and the band kept them entertained until about 8:45.

"People didn't get to hear everything we have to offer," says Storm, "but that's OK. What we didn't have time to do was our original songs. We're an original band. We've got songs that make friends, that get people used to our sound and our performances. Tonight, we had to do what we could do between the weather events, and sometimes you have to make adjustments. We've always got to stay versatile when you're outside and you're having to stand the game around the weather."

"The people did seem to like what we had to offer," he says. "Every crowd is different. We're giving our all out there, and sometimes people are grooving, sometimes not. In your mind, you gotta keep on going, keep on giving 100%, hard and strong despite the weather, and hope that you're giving everybody what they like."

Once he checks the band's schedule, Storm says "we'd love to come back and show the crowd what we're really about."

Rhythm In Riverview is symbolic of the community's comeback. The concert has taken place for 33 years.

Chairman Kenneth Calvert said South Central Kingsport Community Development, Inc., was founded to improve the community and support events like the concert.

“The South Central incorporation began in 1994 after a six-year-old was shot by a drug dealer,” said Calvert, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church. “From that, the community came together and has been doing improvements since then. Up until about 2004, this area was considered one of the hottest spots in Kingsport for drugs and other illicit activity. Now, this is probably one of the safest communities in Kingsport. That’s a documented fact mainly because we’re able to partner with the city, with the police department, with the fire department and HOPE VI. It was a cleanup campaign. After it all ended, with the help of the police department and everyone else, we have not had any major serious incidents in Riverview since and we were having shootouts almost daily before then.”

“America provides opportunity and for this southwestern Kingsport community development and the community we support, great things can come from it. It’s like seeing a dream come true for the Kingsport community,” Calvert said.
Rhythm in Riverview was sponsored by South Central Kingsport Community Development, Inc., the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Eastman and WKPT, and as the 2014 party in the 'View' drew to a quick close, Fleming says, she hated that the event had to be cut short.

"Rhythm in Riverview is a special event in Kingsport," she says, "and it's special to Fun Fest. It's the first big concert in Fun Fest. I love it for the food and the people. It's a good, small party and so many people come to it and enjoy it for the closeness. We want to see it go on when it can."

Fleming says, several outdoor Fun Fest activities had to be postponed because of heavy rain, or cut short because it was too wet to start back up.

"It was good we were able to work around the weather with Rhythm In Riverview," she said.

"It's good this one went on."


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Father and Son Football: Big Love and Small Love, Too!

It's just another good, ole-fashioned flag football game.

But when it involves fathers and their sons, it becomes a special event.

This father-son flag football game held in the shadows of the new stadium expansion at Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport, is the brainchild of Fred "Jenko" Smith, formerly of Kingsport, now of Knoxville. Proceeds from today's game will fund the annual Turkey Bowl that Smith puts on, and also help provide a college scholarship to a worthy student next year.

"A couple of years ago, I played in a father-son flag football game in Nashville, me and my son," he says. "We had such a good time that I felt like this would be great that we could bring to the Kingsport area.. get the fathers and sons out, and get them active. Give them a jump start on doing things together."

"It is good for the physical and mental beings of both fathers AND sons."

Fathers like Otis Banks, and sons like his, 12-old Jamar Banks. Banks says, when his son first told him about the game, one thought raced through his mind.

"A father-son flag football game.. at MY age?" he laughed. "But I told my son 'it's gotta be fun,' and he really wanted me to do it, plus I knew the other sons and fathers would be there and we'd be playing with people we know. So we decided to do it."

Smith, who brought the wildly successful "DB Alumni Basketball Game" to the Buck Van Huss Dome back in January, says getting fathers to spend time with their sons is important, given today's fast-paced society.

"Growing up in the Riverview community, it took a village," he remembers. "Your parents could send you out and not have to worry, because all the fathers cared for the children. That's the way it was back then. Didn't matter which father scolded you for doing something wrong, they were showing that they really cared for you and your well-being. This event shows kids that somebody still cares. They could be home playing video games. Being out here, benefits both the kids and their fathers in so many ways."

On the gridiron, youth has the advantage.  No doubt about it.   Jamar and his youthful teammates and playmates keep getting their second winds.  The 8th grader is a running back and linebacker for the John Sevier Middle School Warriors. But his father Otis has played football before, too.

Today, it's youth versus experience.

"He's got 3 adults on his team and that's stacked against us," Jamar says. "But we are younger and quicker. It's fun with them out here, but it's also pretty funny. When my dad messes up, I laugh at him and when I mess up, he laughs at me. We're having a good time."

Otis Banks echoes his son's sentiments.

"It's pretty good getting that father-son bond going," he says, catching his breath. "I don't get to see my son for much of the day, and when I get a chance to spend some quality time with him, I'm going to try. I wish there were more dads out here today. It didn't rain, so if they were looking for a reason to stay away, that wasn't it. They don't know what they're missing."

"Take a look around," he says. "Nobody's on oxygen yet."

Former DB basketball star Rashad Wolfe says, just being able to participate in the game is a blessing.

"I was raised by a single mom," he says, "and to be out here with my son and my nephew, shows that God is Good. Hopefully, they can see that, as I get older and can't get out as much. When I hang my shoes up in a few years, the younger ones can take up where we left off."

The activity got more sweaty as the score got tighter. After gently needling referee Smith about the accuracy of several calls, Banks and his fellow fathers resigned themselves to the advantages of youth over experience. It's a combination that always goes one way, and one way only.

"The fathers out here are showing their age a little bit," laughed Wolfe. "I think it took a little more work than they thought. I coach a softball team and a T-ball team, but I'll be going home today, eating bananas and trying to get rid of these leg cramps. I think they did well, but the main thing was to get out here with our kids, and spend some time with them."

"A lot of people can't say that, so again.. today was a blessing," he says.

Meanwhile, one father-son team has a stronger bond after today, after some pretty strenuous play on the flag-football gridiron.

"We were able to get out of the house," laughs Otis Banks. "And besides that.. we get to push our kids around."

His son took a more practical view about his father.

"He needs to run faster," he chuckled. "He's out of shape."

And what did father and son talk about on the way home?

"How his team lost," was the very quick reply.


Created with flickr slideshow.

Douglass Alumni Fundraiser: Something's Fishy Around Here... And That's a Good Thing!

It's safe to assume the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Fish Fry Fundraiser was a rousing success.

"A fish fry was suggested at one of our board meetings," remembers Alumni President Douglas Releford. "Everybody thought it would be a great idea. We thought it would be successful, but it turned out much better than we expected."

Barbara Bell of Hawkins County stopped by to get several fish dinners.

"I had called my sister and mentioned it to her," she says. "My whole family loves fish, and anything the community is doing, we try to support it. I was so excited because the title was "Fish FRY." When I called and told my sister about it, word spread and then everybody in the family I talked to, wanted fried fish, so now I'll have these to deliver."

Bell says, this event is reminiscent of what black folk used to do back in the old days.

"We used to have fish fries in both the Zion Hill community in Hawkins County where I lived, and the Riverview neighborhood when I would visit, especially among the churches," she says. "This so much reminds me of those good days. The camradery of sitting around and talking to peole, catching up on their lives and reminiscing. Just talking to friends enlightens the spirit. People I love and haven't talked to in a long time, some in a week or two, others even years.

"It's just so relaxing."

But then, the fish proved to be a good reason to come out.

"All of that good conversation around some good fish," she laughed. "Just the smell of it makes you want to hang around a while. That whiting is good fish. A lot of people think they have to have that tilapia or that catfish or that swordfish. Whiting fish is a staple in the black community.. it's OUR fish. It's really good."

Releford says, the fish fry was to raise money for the Douglass Alumni Scholarship Fund, which has been without a major money source since the annual Alumni Golf Tournament stopped.

"The golf tournaments were the primary source of funding for the scholarships for graduating seniors," he says. "That left money raised from alumni membership dues to help maintain the day-to-day operations of the alumni office and other programs that we do.

"We have been looking at alternatives to raise money for the scholarship fund," says Releford. "We're hoping, in lieu of the golf tournament, that we can get some type of grant to help us out. We applied for one, but unfortunately got turned down. We're going to keep trying, because the education of our children is at stake. We're not going to give up. Anything we can do as a scholarship fundraiser, we'll consider it, because this one is all for the kids."

That fact did not go unnoticed by Mrs. Bell, who was pleased when she found out where the money for the fundraiser was going.

"That's great, because my granddaughter received a scholarship from the Douglass alumni last year," she says. "My granddaughter, Cydney Morrisette just finished her first year at Maryville College, and is doing very well. I don't mind helping any organization that does things like raising money for good things. Every chance I get, every opportunity I have to help them, it makes me feel good. I know first hand that they're doing good. They're still taking care of the community and spreading the wealth and that's important. Every little bit helps... doesn't matter if it's 5 dollars here, 10 there.. students always need as much money as they can get, and the Douglass scholarship helps with the little unexpected things that college can nickel-and-dime you on."

"Every one of the students who have received scholarships and gone on to college, has appreciated it," says Releford. "Each one has been deserving of the extra help, and we've been happy to help provide what we could to help their parents. We've always noticed the fact that every little bit does help."

Will there be another Douglass Fish Fry fundraiser?

Releford says, count on it.

"Well, according to some of the board members, there will be," he says. "We might even have fish, ribs and chicken wings the next time.. a lot of people were asking about wings today. We'll try to get at least one or two more 'fry' events in, before the season ends."

Meanwhile at this one, folks keep stopping by the Douglass ballfield shelter, and the orders keep coming. Andrew Watterson is dropping fish into the fryers right and left. "Andrew can really fix some good fish," says Mrs. Bell. "Really, he can cook anything well."

20 packs of fish, 14 bags in each pack..

280 pieces of fish.. every sandwich had two pieces..

That amounts to 140 fish sandwiches. Each and every one of them cooked by Andrew was sold, to folks who waited on them by chatting with friends, and enjoying each other's company.

Not a bad way to spend a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon in Riverview.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

2014 Rhythm In Riverview: What to Expect!


Here's what you'll find on the Douglass-V.O. Dobbins ballfield on Monday, July 14, 2014 for this year's edition of Rhythm In Riverview.

The fun starts at 3 PM and runs until 10 PM.

Around the ballfield, in addition to the food vendors, the Army Reserve will have an exhibit.. the Choo-Choo train returns.. so does the Happy Dance and more. You'll also find inflatables for the kids, and face painting.

Beginning at 3PM, the Kids Zone begins, with lots of activities aimed at the children.
At 4:30, there will be a lollipop contest for 5 to 8 year olds..

From 5 to 6:30 PM, there will be a Gospel Fest, featuring spiritual numbers from the groups Give-N-Back, Full Gospel, Anointed, Witness, and singers from DMI, Shiloh, Bethen, NVY and New Beginnings Churches.

From 6:30 to 7 o'clock, the New Vision Youth presents Energizer, to rev up the crowd for the main event.

Then at 7 PM, the main attraction "Jaystorm Project" Band takes the main stage.

Traditionally, Rhythm In River is one of the first outdoor concerts in Kingsport's celebration of Funfest, and the Riverview event sets the stage for the excitement for the rest of the summer Fun Fest event.

Rhythm in Riverview, an event of Fun Fest 2014, is sponsored by the South Central Kingsport Community Development Corporation, the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Eastman Chemical Company, and WKPT.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fish Fry to Benefit the Sons & Daughters of Douglass

The Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association is sponsoring a fish fry fundraiser this coming Saturday.

Each fish is fried fresh on site, and the dinner is only $6.00. The fish sandwich comes with assorted chips, and a soft drink.

The fundraiser will be held at the Douglass Ballfield shelter at the Riverview Splash Pad in Kingsport, this Saturday, from 11 AM until all the fish is gone.

Please come out and support your non-profit Douglass alumni association. Proceeds from the fundraiser go to support the programs of the charity, and the operation of the association's office at V.O. Dobbins.

Coming Soon! Upcoming Stories!

We are working on these stories right now:


Flag Football Fundraiser at the DB Running Track in Kingsport...

Story and pictures from the 2014 Kingsport 4th of July Parade.....


2014 stories and pictures from the Douglass High School-Bristol, VA and Slater High School-Bristol, TN Reunion from the July 4th weekend..


2014 stories and pictures from the Langston High School-Johnson City, TN Reunion from the July 4th weekend..