Friday, November 30, 2007

"Mama Jill" Ellis In Hospital

Virgealia "Jill" Ellis is spending a few days in the hospital, after taking slightly ill..

Mrs. Ellis is in Wellmont Holston Valley Hospital (the old Holston Valley Community Hospital) in Kingsport, where she is resting comfortably.

Please keep her and the Ellis family in your prayers.

Douglass Alumni Association Applies For Tax-Exempt Status



The process for getting tax-exempt status for the non-profit Douglass Alumni Association is right on track, and is right now, in the middle of the filing procedure.

"It is not an easy process," says Ed Horton, who filed the tax-exempt application on behalf of the Douglass Alumni Board of Directors. "The Internal Revenue Service wants to make it as difficult as possible, to weed out fraudulent applications from shysters who seek to cheat the government."

Work on the Douglass Alumni Association filing is being done in conjunction with the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce. "There is an office in that agency that lends its expertise in making sure the non-profit application is as legitimate as the organization itself," says Mr. Horton. He says the Chamber's Aundrea Wilcox provided the Association with the kit of papers to fill out, and is walking the organization through the process right now, to make sure all the "I's" are dotted, and the "T's" are crossed. "Her help is invaluable to the process," Mr. Horton says, "and she really believes as we all do, in the Douglass Alumni Association's purpose."

"Depending on the final decision, the tax-free status will either be classified as a 501(c)3 or a 501(c)7," says Dan Boone of the IRS office in Nashville that serves all of Tennessee and Alabama. "The non-profit classification will depend on several factors that the Douglass Alumni Association will have to meet."

"Ours will mostly likely be a 501(c)3 filing," says Mr. Horton, "because that classification more closely reflects the charity that our organization is. We are not a public foundation a (c)7 would have, that follows the standards an organization has, that would fund, say the construction of a building for public use."

Mr. Horton says it's important for the Association to have the tax-exempt status to accept charitable donations from potential donors, for several reasons:

1) The Douglass Alumni Association is always involved in fundraising for its reunion every other year.

2) The Douglass Alumni Association also raises money for charitable functions and contributes to several outstanding events from time to time.

3) The tax-exempt status establishes a way for legitimate contributors within the Kingsport business and industrial community to participate in our cause.

4) The tax-exempt status also establishes the Douglass Alumni Association as a "legitimate" organization. Corporate contributors can feel comfortable knowing that their contributions and donations are going to be used by a government-recognized association.

To qualify for tax-free status, the Douglass Alumni Association has to describe in great detail the organization's purpose and proposed activities, in what's described as "specific, easily-understood terms." Mr. Horton says, all financial records must correspond with activities the association has held in the past two or three years, and thanks to excellent bookkeeping by Virginia Hankins and others, the books of the Douglass Alumni Association are in perfect order. The Alumni Association also has to project three years in the future, what its projected expenses will be.

Also part of the application process, is the submission of the Association's Articles of Organization, including bylaws, rules and regulations that dictate how the agency is run. Amendments that include the Election of Officers, whether they are paid officers, allocations for however funds are spent, as governed by Roberts Rules of Order, also have to be spelled out.

"Since our officers are volunteers and receive no compensation, our petition will be considered differently than others," says Mr. Horton. There is also a 100 dollar fee to be paid to the I.R.S., along with the petition, that will come out of the Douglass Alumni Association treasury.

Most alumni associations are operated with schools and universities that are still in operation, and Mr. Horton says, the fact that Douglass High School has been closed for 41 years, but still has a very active Alumni Association, also plays a role in the application process.

"What moves the process along," says Mr. Boone, "is whether all the tax-exempt forms are filled out correctly, whether they are accurate and can be backed up with the right paperwork, and the workload of the IRS Center at the time of the filing. If everything checks out, it usually takes from four to five months to process a non-profit's 501(c)3 or (c)7 application."

"Corporate Kingsport, as well as private donors can feel confident their money is going for a good use, when they contribute to the non-profit Douglass Alumni Association," Mr. Horton says. "We have excellent turnouts at the events we've involved in, including fish fries, reunions, scholarships for deserving youth, community fairs and festivals, concerts, talent shows, and Black History Month activities.. we have an active mailing list of past alumni and their descendants, plus we have a wonderful website that not only chronicles the history of the school, but keeps everybody in touch at a moment's notice with news of the Association and the community."

Mr. Horton went on, "the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce has embraced the Douglass Alumni Association and the Douglass-Riverview-South Central Kingsport website, and is aware of the good things the Association does, and what it means to the Kingsport area as a whole. Contributors and donors can rest assured that their monies will further enhance and forward the goals of the Douglass Alumni Association, considered vital to the Riverview and South Central Kingsport community."

The Douglass Alumni Association officers for 2007-2009 are Douglass Releford, president, and Andra (Puddin) Waterson is the Vice President of the Association.
Other officers are Sandy Wilmer, Treasurer, and Recording Secretary is Thelma Watterson. Corresponding Secretary is Vicky Woods Smith, and Ethel Ruth Russell is the Association Chaplain. Although not an officer, Calvin Sneed hosts and operates the Douglass Association's website for alumni and the residents of Riverview and South Central Kingsport.

SPECIAL NOTE: The Douglass Alumni Board of Directors met, in accordance with parlimentary procedure on Saturday, November 24th, to talk about the non-profit filing, and after discussion, it was voted to withdraw 100 dollars from the Association's treasury to use for the required tax-exempt filing fee to be paid to the State of Tennessee. We will keep you posted when the filing is made, and the decision from the I.R.S. when it is received.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Riverview Apartment Pictures Still Wanted!

If you missed getting your picture made in front of your unit of the Historic Riverview Apartments over the Thanksgiving weekend, not to worry!

You can always have your picture taken and send it to us.

We are compiling all of the pictures to be released in a special album in the Photo Gallery for Christmas, and we do not want to miss anybody.

Please take the picture in front of your particular apartment, and email it to: and be sure to include your name and the apartment number with the picture.

A big thanks to Johnnie Mae Swaggerty for helping set up the 1st Great Riverview Apartment Reunion!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"Let Us Break Bread Together in Riverview"


Thanksgiving 2007 is long gone now, but for many folks, one of the highlights of the holiday was sitting down and fellowshipping with their friends and neighbors, courtesy of the Elks Lodge on Lincoln Street in Kingsport.

There was plenty of fried chicken, ham, turkey with all the trimmings, green beans, potato salad, corn, sweet potatoes, rolls and dessert with a drink for all to feast on. The "Community Appreciation Dinner" was free to all, sponsored by the Brothers of Clinch Mountain Lodge #531 and the Daughters of Dunbar Temple #344.

It was a wonderful time for folks both in Riverview-South Central and those from out of town, to get together and share a good, old-fashion neighborhood home-cooked meal just like the old days.

Many folks spent the time catching up on the lives of their friends and neighbors, and the air was filled with a wonderful kitchen smell, that was mindful of the days of old, when neighbors shared their dinner tables, and the kids ate to their fill.

The Appreciation Dinner was a prelude to the great Riverview Apartments Reunion that happened immediately after dinner. More on that historic event to come shortly, and the pictures taken of apartment residents in front of their particular apartments, an event that was well represented. More on that special event in the coming days; please watch for it!

Update On Virginia "Jenny" Hankins

Just a quick update on Jenny Hankins..

She's doing fine, spending a few days at Holston Valley-Wellmont Hospital..

She's hoping to go home in a few days, and says hello to everybody!

Teaching Legend Is Almost "Legal" at 20


There isn't one of us that wouldn't like to take what we know right now, go back in time to our 20th year, and relive those times, with what we know of life in the 21st Century.

Kingsport teaching legend Virgealia Ellis knows that feeling. In four years, she'll reach the legal age of 21.

Having been born on February 29th, a day that disappears from the calendar every four years, Mama "Jill" Ellis is technically about 20 years old, even though she has seen the sun rise and set about 29,000 times. While you're figuring that up, it comes out to almost 80 years. Mama Jill will be 80 at the end of February.

The Ellis children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gathered with friends in the meeting hall of the Americourt Inn in Kingsport on Saturday, November 24, 2007, to celebrate Mama Jill's upcoming 20th Leap Year birthday.

Friends came from far and near to both roast and toast Mama Jill for her many accomplishments, teaching hundreds of school children over the years, while raising Mack, Robert, Bruce, Michael, Craig, Dawnella, and Voncilla at home.

After feasting on Thanksgiving dinner, relatives and visitors raised a toast to Mama Jill's life, and listened to an audio-visual presentation from son Craig Ellis, that took visitors through the many phases of her life from Rotherwood Heights to Riverview.

Music was provided by Behind The Note.

The event was capped off with a visit from Santa Claus, A-K-A Bruce Ellis.

Several dignitaries also attended the celebration, including Kingsport Board of Mayor and Alderman member Larry Muncey, Tennessee State Representative Nathan Vaughn, and Barbara Moody, representing the Kingsport City School Board. Each had warm words for Mama Jill's many acts of kindness both in the community and at school.

Although overwhelmed by all the attention, Mama Jill was, as always, gracious in directing the focus of the gathering to the accomplishments of others in the family and in the groups of friends attending.

Mama Ellis is an inspiration to us all. Her historical perspectives on Douglass High School, Dobyns-Bennett High School, and the Riverview-South Central community are immeasurable, a virtual first-hand visit to the relationships that formed the very fabric of our lives in Kingsport.

Although we are no longer her students, we are still learning from Mama Jill's accomplishments. With God's Help and Love, we will continue that for many years to come.

Former, Current Riverview Residents Gather For Last Look


The 92 Riverview apartments will be torn down to make way for 24 single-family homes and eight duplexes.


KINGSPORT — In recent years, the low-income apartment complex in Riverview may not have the best reputation, but to a group of people who gathered at the Elks Lodge in Riverview Saturday afternoon, the complex is home.
Granted, it isn’t what it used to be, said Marcus Blye.

Blye lives in Knoxville now, but he grew up in Riverview. He and his wife, Tonya, own Karworkz auto detailing in Knoxville, but returned to Kingsport Saturday for a reunion of Riverview residents. While Marcus grew up in the Kingsport complex, Tonya, a native of Knoxville, has watched that city’s progress on a revitalization effort that Kingsport officials hope to mirror.
The apartment complex was first opened in 1940. There was no heat on the top floor when Blye was growing up there. He remembers the whole family running downstairs first thing in the morning to get warm. Before Blye’s time, Harry Smith remembers when each apartment had a coal-fired furnace and coal box in the back.


Sisters Gail Evans and Kathy Evans grew up in apartment No. 48, next door to Rickie Hankins-Kelley in No. 47. Rickie lived there with Frances Hankins-Haley and Frances’s mother, Henrietta Hankins. Henrietta was a tenant in apartment No. 47 from 1940 to 1988. She died Nov. 18, leaving Mamie Gillenwater, Smith’s grandmother, one of the last living tenants from the opening of Riverview apartments.
While many of the initial tenants have died, Blye said their relatives still live there. Marcus and Tonya Blye hope, when the apartments are torn down and individual homes built, that there would be a place there for those families. Gillenwater said, as the oldest living resident, she was given first choice of the new homes.
An $11.9 million HOPE VI grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is being used to build low- and moderate-income housing. The 92 Riverview apartments will be torn down to make way for 24 single-family homes and eight duplexes.
The apartments were small, Blye said, but the complex was a community. There were fixtures in the complex, like Betsy Hipps who gave Chick-O-Sticks candy to Riverview’s young people and “Aunt Tootsie who worked at the school. She knew all the kids and, if anyone got in trouble at school, their parents knew about it before they even got home.”
Gail and Kathy Evans remembered walking to Edge’s Place for pork chop sandwiches, hot dogs or “the world’s best hamburgers.” There used to be a drive-in theater where the Eastman Chemical Co. business office is now, Frances said. Young people used to walk over there, or down the street to the Dairy Mart.
As the businesses went into decline and then closed, Riverview became a sad place to come back to and visit, Smith said. Like Marcus, Smith hopes the HOPE VI provides a breath of fresh air and needed help for those living in Riverview.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Congratulations, D-B's Chris Sensabaugh!

KINGSPORT-The 2007 All-Big East football team announced this week features Bearden's Torey Works (running back) as Offensive Player of the Year and Jefferson County's Jonathan Yeary (linebacker) as Defensive Player of the Year.

In his debut season, Jefferson County's Justin Anderson was recognized as Coach of the Year.

Nine Dobyns-Bennett players were included on the first team. Honored were running back CHRIS SENSABAUGH, offensive guard Alan Hinson, defensive/offensive tackle Daniel Preston, defensive ends Zack Fleming and Will Bateman, defensive back Robert Hogg, Justin Sylvester (athlete), Casey Halsey (academic) and Austin Morrison (character).

Sensabaugh, a freshman, played only the last two-thirds of the season and was D-B's leading rusher with 854 yards on 112 carries.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Special Called Meeting Of The Douglass Alumni Committee

There is a special called meeting of the Douglass Alumni Board of Directors this coming Saturday, November 24th.

The meeting will be at 12 Noon in the Fellowship Hall at St. Mark's United Methodist Church.

The short meeting will be to discuss the non-profit 501(c)3 filing of the Douglass Alumni Association with the Internal Revenue Service. It will be a short meeting, because of all the other activities going on that day.


Funeral for Mrs. Henrietta Mae Hankins

KINGSPORT — Mrs. Henrietta Mae Hankins, 90, passed away peacefully Nov. 18, 2007 at Brookhaven Manor after a brief illness.
Ms. Hankins was born Jan. 31, 1917 in Kingsport, Tenn. She was a member of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Ms. Hankins was preceded in death by her mother, Mrs. Hattie Hankins; three brothers, Howard, Floyd and Lloyd Hankins; one sister, Nell Smith; grandsons, Timothy and Michael Hankins.
Ms. Hankins is survived by one daughter, Frances Haley, Columbus, Ohio; six grandchildren; 17 great grandchildren; five great great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. She is also survived by a multitude of friends and loved ones.
Mrs. Henrietta Hankins and family are in the care of R.A. Clark Funeral Service, Inc.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mrs. Henrietta Hankins Passing

Henrietta E. Hankins, Kingsport

Mrs. Henrietta Emogene Hankins passed away Sunday morning at Brookhaven Nursing Home.

Mrs. Hankins is the aunt of Virginia, Joy and Norman Hankins, and the sister of Nathaniel (Nate) Smith, and also the aunt of Tim, Harry and Natalie (Nat) Smith.

Arrangements are incomplete.and will be announced by R.A. Clark Funeral Service, Inc.

Times-News To Attend the Historic Picture-Taking Next Saturday

I have heard back from the Kingsport Times-News, and the paper does hopefully plan to have a reporter and photographer at the Picture Taking of former Residents of the Historic Riverview Apartments next Saturday, November 24th. I will also be there to capture pictures for your Douglass website.


Again, please spread the word.. Former residents of the historic Riverview Apartments.. please plan to attend this historic, memorable event next Saturday, beginning first with the Thanksgiving Dinner at the Elks Lodge on Lincoln Street from 1 to 3, then the Picture-Taking at 3 PM, gathering first at the Douglass School Parking lot. Please be patient on this wonderful day.. we will try to be as quick as possible, but many folks will want to linger for history's sake.

And don't forget Mama Jill Ellis' birthday party next Friday night November 23rd at 6PM at theAmericourt Suites (formerly Ramada Inn).

See you at both! And do have a very happy Thanksgiving!


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Groups seeking Riverview photographs

• KINGSPORT — The Riverview Association, Calvin Sneed, Douglas Alumni and New Vision Youth are asking individuals who are, or have been residents of the Riverview Apartments to gather for photographs Nov. 24 in front of the Riverview Apartment where they lived. The photographs will be put in the Archives for the Riverview Apartment History.Participants are asked to meet in the Douglass School parking lot at 3 p.m. From 1 to 3 p.m. there will be a free dinner for photograph participants and community members held at the Elk’s Lodge, 1018 Lincoln St. Chicken, ham, turkey and all the fixings will be served. For more information contact Johnnie Mae Swagerty at 246-6623 or the Elk’s Lodge at 246-3282.

Mrs. Thelma Webb Doing Fine After Surgery

Good news to report from the Medical Department:

Former Douglass Teacher Mrs. Thelma Webb is doing fine after back surgery in Knoxville.

Mrs. Webb is being attended to by daughter Roberta, and "Bert" says she'll be in rehab for a few weeks.

It may be a while before Mrs. Webb can get out in the garden, but she says, she's definitely looking forward to it.

Please keep our Mrs. Webb in your thoughts and prayers!


Friday, November 16, 2007

Attention: All Former Residents of the Historic Riverview Apartments


If you lived at one time, in one of the historic Riverview Apartments, we need you to join us in the parking lot of the V.O. Dobbins Community Center, 301 Louis Street in Riverview, next Saturday the 24th (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) at 3 PM..

Pictures will be made of you standing in front of your Riverview Apartment at that time, as an historic keepsake.

Earlier, the Thanksgiving Dinner will be held at the Elks Lodge from 1 PM to 3 PM, and then, the pictures will be taken beginning at 3 PM.

Please join us in this historic LAST AND FINAL look, before the historic Riverview Apartments are torn down forever.

Dyna Sensabaugh tells us, the response has been great for folks who plan to join us for the pictures, so please put this on your calendar for NEXT Saturday, November
24th, at 3 PM.

See you then!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Preaching is a Privilege--And It Doesn't Matter Who It's To, Or Who Delivers The Word"


"We preach the Word of God to try and seek the need.. then we present the benefits, and hopefully the Spirit will touch you and you'll accept."

Those words from Reverend Walter Cross, about his and his wife Reverend Angela Hardy Cross' mission work that has brought them to churches in Kingsport and Bristol.

"I can't remember a time when I was not involved in the church," says Reverend Walter Cross, who is originally from Chattanooga's Mount Paran Missionary Baptist Church. "As I was growing up, all the ministers presented themselves a certain way.. they looked a certain way, they talked a certain way, and early on, I started carrying myself like they did. It wasn't until I turned 40 years old, that The Lord spoke to me and said "I told you a long time ago that I had a mission for you, and it is time for you to Preach the Word. It wasn't a voice that spoke to me.. it was a particular sensitivity to a need, and the need was lift the burden of souls, who need to see the Light of Christ."

"When I was growing up back in the early 80's," says Reverend Angela Hardy Cross, "I moved from North Carolina to Alabama to be with my grandfather. He noticed how restless I seemed from job to job, just always struggling inwardly. One day he just told me to 'be still.. God is trying to tell you something.' Whenever he saw me moody and quiet, he'd say 'just be still and listen.'

"That was my call to the ministry."

"We met at a Holston United Methodist Conference at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina," says Reverend Walter of his wife. "As a student of the Word, I was browsing the ministerial books in the Cokesbury Bookstore there, and I glimpsed this young lady, very attractive, looking at a book. I asked her what she was reading, and she didn't seem the least bit interested in starting a conversation. Time does bring about a change, and eventually, we became fast friends. Over time, we realized we were spending a lot of time together, and it became quite evident The Lord was in this plan, so we made the decision to get married in Chattanooga."

"I am commissioned and licensed as an Associate Member in the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church," says Reverend Walter. "Every once in a while, our Bishop James Swanson Senior and the 12 district superintendents in the Holston Conference, all meet to discuss gifts and graces of pastors in the conference, and the gifts and graces of the 900 Appalachian conference churches from North Georgia, through East Tennessee, into Southwest Virginia. During those meetings, the needs of churches are discussed, and pastoral appointments are made, based on the gifts and graces of the pastors. The appointments are never based on race, but on the need of the church, and the gift the pastor can give. It was through those discussions, that I was appointed pastor of the Trinity United Methodist Church in Bristol, and my wife was appointed Associate Pastor of the Colonial Heights United Methodist Church in Kingsport."


Those two church congregations are predominately white, but the Crosses are united in one belief: "Preaching is a privilege," says Reverend Angela, "and I don't take it for granted. I have a responsibility to deliver God's Word with Trust, with Truth, with Power, and with Love and I do this in any church, whereever." "You have to be culturally aware of what the people need," says Reverend Walter, "no matter where they are, or the color of their skin. We feel blessed of the Lord and highly honored to serve His people where ever they are, black or white, and that doesn't necessarily mean physical location. Sometimes, it's where they are spiritually, where they are financially, where they are in their walk and their religious journey.. it's an honor to serve God's people."

"It's not WHO delivers the Word of Christ.. it's HOW the Word is delivered."


"When you talk to people about Christ these days," Reverend Walter says, "you have to remember.. their parents have lived through some pretty rebellious periods, and the younger folks have lived through 911 and the current Wars on Terror in foreign lands. When you preach to them on Sunday morning, they want the truth, even if the truth is: I don't have an answer myself. They appreciate that honesty, and we have to genuinely present that with sincerity and integrity."

"In our heritage," he continues, "we have a tendency to celebrate every Sunday, because of what we have all been through in the past week. But every church is different.. sometimes, God's Word is softly meditated, sometimes it's an opportunity to celebrate, but the Holy Spirit is the Guide. God's Word is never automatic, contrived or manipulated."


"Preaching the Word is like delivering the news," says Reverend Walter. "Newscasters are gifted to be able to present the news with authority, power and articulation. That brings with it integrity and believability. In this case, JESUS is the happening, Jesus is the news, Jesus is the earliest thing and the latest thing in town. I want to be the newscaster, who reports on the happenings of Jesus."

"When it's live, local, earth-shattering and late-breaking, it's about Jesus, and my wife and I love being the reporters who bring that good news to people everywhere."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Highland... We Have A Problem


Much is being written and spoken about the increased drug problems in areas of Kingsport, now that the drug dealers have been effectively driven out of Riverview.

Most of the concerned letters to the editors of the Kingsport Times-News have come from, or about, the Highland Addition, across Center Street from Dobyns-Bennett High School, and also the east side of Eastman Road. Your Douglass Website has shared some of the letters with you recently.

So I decided to see for myself how bad the problem is in the Highland Neighborhood. I spent several hours of a pleasant Saturday afternoon in quiet observation of its streets.

The Highland neighborhood is a seemingly quiet section of front-porch homes in Kingsport, built close to the streets, and also close to each other. Almost every home has an alley in back. You'd think on a Saturday afternoon with temperatures in the mid 60's, front porches would be crowded with folks relaxing, talking, just settin'.

Such togetherness breeds family-type atmospheres where everybody knows their neighbors. It would seem surprising such a neighborhood that sports several American flags hanging in yards would become a haven for drug dealers.

I saw several children, both black and white boys and girls playing ball, and trying to ride skateboards in the streets.. unashamed, unabashed youth, close to the sanctuaries of their front yards, innocently unaware of what was going on, just a couple of streets away.

Eventually that afternoon, what I witnessed is the same type of drug activity that swarmed parts of Riverview like a plague only a few short months ago. It quickly became painfully and nervously apparent to me, why there were no folks sitting on their front porches.

They might be afraid to.

The young man leaning into this car, at first tried to wave ME down when I drove past him (I have blurred his face because as of this writing, I know of no charges filed against him). Never met him before, never saw him before. The second time I drove past him, he said in my passing window, "'sup, what'd ya need?" I kept driving. As I checked my rear view mirror, I saw that ultimately, he was successful in his motives, when I soon observed this Ford Taurus stop, and he leaned over inside.

It only took several seconds, then the car drove off, and the young man went back to his friends in the car across from him.

WOULD he have sold me drugs?

"I'm not surprised he, or anybody else around here, tried to wave you down," says Jeff Salyer, who no longer lives in Highland, but who is in the neighborhood every day, tending to his late parents' home. He saw the actions of the young man when I did.

"This neighborhood has gone from the quiet, peaceful, working-class neighborhood I grew up in, to one where drugs are everywhere, and people are afraid to be outside for long."

Mr. Salyer remembers a big drug bust this past summer, just down from his parents' home, pointing to a house across the street. "Three or four police cars surrounding that house down there," he says.

And that wasn't the first time he's seen that in the neighborhood.

He mentioned a specific area of the Highland neighborhood that he says, is a problem area, and I drove by there.

I observed several people, all white except for one black youth (again, the faces are blurred because at the time of this article, I am not aware of any charges placed against anybody).. the first time, I got an inquisitive stare from a couple of the boys. They were seemingly oblivious to anything else going on around them, and they certainly were not afraid of a stranger in the neighborhood. The second time I drove past them, the black youth with them had disappeared, and after passing them this time, I got upraised arms from one of the remaining boys, a clearly recognizable, "what's up" gesture in the drug-selling culture.

WOULD a drug sale have occured? I did not give the situation time to find out.

"Riverview ran them (the drug dealers) away," Mr. Salyer says, "and they came over here."

"The city needs to do something."

"Kingsport installed cameras in the Riverview community last year in an effort to curb drug trafficking. As a result, police say, criminal activity has spilled over into other neighborhoods.. our most important tool is the citizens that decide to live in a safe community and are willing to work with us to make it safe," Chief Gale Osborne told the Kingsport Times-News in an article.


But the only problem with that is, according to Mr. Salyer is, a lot of people are afraid of repercussions, telling me this the day before the Times-News article was published. "We still have a lot of old people who've been here all their lives," he says, "and they're worried what might happen if they report it."

"In this neighborhood now, everybody's dogs are always barking," says Mr. Salyer, "and there are lots of unfamiliar faces. If that Weed and Seed program that Riverview got, could help them, maybe it could help us, too."

"This is my home. Something's got to be done to save the neighborhood."


The Highland neighborhood has a distinctive "community home" feeling to it, just as Riverview does. But drugs are so prevalent in today's society, and drug dealers always scout out places they think are vulnerable.. Before the residents know it, their neighborhood is infested with the rats and roaches of a drug culture.

But shine a light on rats and roaches, and they go scattering. The lights came on in Riverview after years of pleading, prodding,and gunshots, and the rats and roaches ran like scared.. well, rats and roaches. It can happen in Highland, too.

I am certainly not an expert on the drug culture, I can only compare it to other areas that I have covered in my years as a news reporter.

The Highland neighborhood situation is bad, but it is not as bad as Riverview was. It will definitely get that way, though.

Quite soon.

Highland's residents must band together NOW.. just like the citizens of Riverview did. But you cannot just run in there with more cops and light-pole cameras, and expect the problem to disappear.

It won't.

First ask yourself as a resident.. how committed am I as a resident and a human being, to rid my beloved neighborhood of the pestilance that invades it?
Once that question is answered, residents will need to band together with one thought: "WE WILL NOT TOLERATE DRUG DEALING IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD," then go from street to street on foot, looking for suspicious activity, not being afraid to stare suspicious people straight in the eye. When you spot something out of the ordinary, no matter what it is, jump on your cellphone and report it to the police. And I'm not talking about "a group" of concerned residents.. I'm talking about EVERY SINGLE resident, being persistant and vigilant. Then, everybody has to look out for each other. Develope a loving, caring spirit about your community and its residents, your neighbors.

Then, and only then, with TOTAL resident involvement, will you drive the rats and roaches, er.. the drug dealers out.

And let this be a warning to other Kingsport neighborhoods.. BEWARE.
Drug dealers will simply run to another vulnerable place where there are no lights shining on them.
Are your lights on?
Are you prepared to fight the long, good fight against drugs and drug dealers?
I certainly hope so.
YOUR community will be next.

---Calvin Sneed

KPD sharpens focus in Borden, Highland areas


Kingsport installed cameras in the Riverview community last year in an effort to curb drug trafficking. As a result, police say, criminal activity has spilled over into other neighborhoods.
Our most important tool is the citizens that decide to live in a safe community and are willing to work with us to make it safe.

— Gale Osborne,
Kingsport police chief



KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Police Department is looking to build relationships with the residents of Borden Village and Highland in an effort to fight the growing drug-trafficking problem in both communities.
Police Chief Gale Osborne updated the Board of Mayor and Aldermen last week about conversations the department has recently had with the residents of Borden about the drug problem in their neighborhood. About a dozen residents from that neighborhood attended the BMA meeting.
“We invited (some concerned citizens) down to a community meeting last month so we could communicate,” Osborne said. “I brought my staff in to meet with the residents, then we just shared with them all we could do, what they could do, and work on the problem together. They just want to live in peace, in a drug-free neighborhood.”
Last year Kingsport installed cameras in the Riverview community in an effort to curb drug trafficking. The cameras — coupled with trash collection work by volunteers and an increased police presence — managed to reduce criminal activity in the neighborhood.
However, as a result Osborne said criminal activity has spilled over into other neighborhoods, such as Borden and Highland.
During last week’s BMA meeting, Osborne said drug-related arrests in Borden have increased 30 percent over last year — 38 people have been arrested in Borden with more than 90 charges. In Highland, 46 people have been arrested with more than 100 charges.
Osborne said the department expected some overflow into other neighborhoods.
“People will leave town and others will relocate. There’s always some who may end up in jail and some may get out and start again,” Osborne said. “We’ve been successful in Riverview with the cameras, the partnerships, and high-profile and undercover operations, but we did see some overflow of the activities that left South Central.”
During last week’s BMA meeting, Mayor Dennis Phillips asked if the city should work toward installing cameras in the Borden and Highland neighborhoods.
Osborne said the cameras were truly effective, like turning on a light switch. Later in the week, Osborne said the flexibility of cameras allows the city to place them in a cruiser or in a hot spot for a week, a couple of months or longer.
Phillips said his goal is to get cameras in all areas of the city where needed, suggesting money received from red light camera tickets could be used to purchase additional security cameras such as the ones found in Riverview.
City Manager John Campbell said Osborne already has that in motion.
“If you want to give us the money and power to do something, put it toward getting more people,” said Tony Queen, a resident of the Borden community who attended last week’s BMA meeting. Vice Mayor Ben Mallicote said neighborhood watch coordinator
he was concerned with the pro- of the Borden community, told the posal to respond to these neigh- BMA last week that some resiborhood concerns with more cameras.
“When we put cameras in Riverview, that was a unique response to a unique problem. When you put cameras in other neighborhoods, you’re shining a light into these folks’ front yards where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy,” Mallicote said. “My inner libertarian has a problem with that. It bothers me if cameras are a first resort.”
Osborne said the best way to address the neighborhood concerns is through a partnership with the residents.
“A partnership is the best, if the community would be our eyes and ears and give us a call,” Osborne said. “There’s community policing and other tactics as well to eradicate the drug problems, but our most important tool is the citizens that decide to live in a safe community and are willing to work with us to make it safe.”
Mike Creasman, a resident and dents have begun to organize. He said they have the phone number of police officials and are making calls, reporting specific addresses for the police to pay attention to.
“When we report information, they are responding, and we’re willing to help them keep an eye on this and run them out of the neighborhood,” Creasman said.
Osborne said the Borden residents have done an excellent job and hope their efforts expand. Osborne said the department has not had a community meeting with the residents of Highland, but officers do have daily contacts with the residents who are sharing information about criminal activity.
“More people are getting involved to work on the problem together. We’re thankful for that as well,” Osborne said. “It’s always better when we have many people, eyes and ears, who are reporting it and working together to keep (the neighborhood) safe.”

Thursday, November 8, 2007

More Comments About The Drug Problem In Highland

City should look at Highland

Re. the Highland area, Mr. Clark is correct. I do not live in the area; however, someone that I love and care about has lived there for over 60 years.
The residents previously owned their houses. Now they are owned by people that have turned them into Section 8 houses, government housing for the mentally disabled, a lot of which is self-inflicted because of alcohol and illegal drug abuse. This summer has become particularly bad. I have watched public drunkenness — they literally crawl on the sidewalk while intoxicated. I have observed falling at two residences in particular. Just last weekend I saw two people arrested and one taken by medics to the hospital. Some of the drunks have superior attitudes that seem to be backed up by their enabling relatives. You know the old saying “out of sight, out of mind.” If the relatives can’t see the drunks they are related to, then they are not as aggravated by their actions.
The odd thing is the relatives who enable the drunkards’ actions are so religious. We as the Model City have a big reproach in Kingsport. I’d like the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen to tour the area and see for themselves. Include Nathan Bly from KHRA.
Doris Early

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Don't Forget Mrs. Ellis' 80th Birthday Celebration--Please Attend!


I need congratulatory birthday wishes from any Douglass Alumni that will be placed in the scrapbook that I am preparing for my mom. They can email to my address: as soon as possible. This is a call for all Douglass Alumni who love my mother. Also, remind everyone that her birthday party is Friday., Nov. 23 ,beginning at 6:00 at the Americourt Suites (formerly Ramada Inn) . Everyone is invited and I also thank the alumni for being a part of my mother's life.

SIDE NOTE: Folks, please plan to attend Mrs. Ellis' birthday party. Mrs. Ellis is one of our beautiful Douglass High School teachers that is still with us, and as true Douglass alumni, we should always give flowers to the living. We don't have many of our wonderful teachers left, and now is the time for us to come together and honor one of our own, on the observance of her 80th birthday. Do it because it's the right thing to do!


Monday, November 5, 2007

Douglas School Restoration Is In The Planning Stages!

"It is imperative in our city's history that we preserve the heritage and the legacy of the Douglass School building."

Those words from Kingsport City Manager John Campbell, as the city embarks on the restoration and renovation of one of Kingsport's most historic and revered structures, the Douglass High School building at 301 Louis Street, in the Riverview Community.

Built in 1951, the Douglass School building is the last vestige of an institution that educated more African-Americans during its time, than any other school in Upper East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia before it closed in 1966. An earlier building, at the corner of Center and East Walnut Avenue (now East Sevier Avenue), was torn down before the historical significance of the building could be evaluated.

"The renovations, as planned for the building on Louis Street, will turn the Douglass School building into one of the top, premiere showcase buildings in all of the state of Tennessee," Mr. Campbell says. "It will serve as a model to other cities how to take an existing structure that itself has great significance, and turn it into a one-stop destination for a variety of area functions, yet preserve the legendary status of one of Tennessee's top historical schools."


"Dineen West of the architectural firm Cain, Rash and West has been hired to design the renovation," says Mr. Campbell. "She has been instructed to work extensively with Riverview Community leaders and also users of the building. At this point, Ms. West has met with current occupants of the Douglass School building to understand their needs, and soon she will meet with representatives of the Douglass Alumni Association and members of the Riverview Community. In addition, Terry Cunningham, executive director of the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority, has provided valuable input, that has been developed from dialog with community residents."

The renovated building will continue to house expanded programs already in the building, plus welcome non-profit agencies all under one roof, including the Douglass Alumni Association, an organization Mr. Campbell says, will have a major role in the renovation process.

Right now, it is not known when the renovations will begin, nor how long they will take. A later story soon to be published on this website, will hopefully answer those questions, but also go into great detail exactly what offices and projects will be housed in Douglass. Based on the information being provided on the renovation, that story is sure to excite Douglass alumni, Riverview-South Central residents, and Kingsport citizens as a group as to the special features the renovated building will have.

Early projections indicate the Douglass School Renovation project costing on the order of $7.5 million dollars. "The Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen has authorized, but not yet appropriated $4.5 million dollars for the project through the Capital Improvement Budget," Mr. Campbell says. "The City of Kingsport will attempt to secure another $2 million dollars for the project from New Market Tax Credits. But in fairness, a complete funding strategy is still being developed, as the project scope and design takes shape," he says.

"The Douglass Renovation will help preserve and celebrate the individual and collective successes of the Douglass School Alumni," says Mr. Campbell, "who overcame unique challenges to become leading members of society in Kingsport and elsewhere. At the same time, this project will make huge strides in terms of enhancing and continuiong Kingsport's strong heritage as a volunteer-oriented community. We feel it is important to provide the quality infrastructure need to enhance non-profit organizations as they fulfill their mission of bettering all of our communities, hopefully attracting new volunteers and the capacity to help others."

Friday, November 2, 2007

To See Older Stories on the Website

To see earlier stories on this website section, please go to the bottom of this page and click "older posts." It's a "page back" link on every page.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Two Letters About Highland's Drug Problem From Residents

These are two letters, published in the Kingsport Times-News on Thursday, 11/1, from Highland Residents about their drug dealer problems.. The drug dealers are alleged to have been run out of Riverview and into their community:

Drug problem is being addressed

In reference to Mr. Clark’s comments about the drug problem in Highland, the police have been working with the people in Highland about the drug problem. There have been houses raided, cars have been pulled over and people taken to jail. The difference between Highland and Riverview is we don’t have the substations or police patrolling our streets every 30 minutes or stopping the cars. We sat and watched two cars racing side by side down Spring Street one evening. Sometimes our calls to the police department are not answered. A lot of the drug traffickers moved up here to Highland, so evidently a lot of the drugs weren’t cleaned out. Also we have a neighborhood watch.

Larry Collins Kingsport

No one cares about Highland

Re. Mr. Clark’s letter about drug activity in Highland, I live on Highland Street, and I am dealing with the same problems. I have tried my best to get it noticed, but it hasn’t helped. My car got broken into in May, and there was nothing done. They took a report, but that was it. I have had problems with the drugs for the past three years. I have lived here for eight years. It’s like no one cares. It’s all about the money that other people can take and make. I have tried to get Highland noticed by the police department and the city. I did get one return call from the city, but then we got put back on the back burner.
I am proud of my neighborhood, and I try every chance I get to stand up for it. I make the public aware of our situations, but it seems like no one cares because it is a small neighborhood that doesn’t have these nice fancy houses that bring in as much taxes. But guess what, we pay our taxes, we pay our bills just like everyone else. We all put our clothes on the same way. So our community should be treated like all others. We want our community clean and free of drugs and break-ins. Please help us fix our community.
Amy Hartsock