Sunday, October 26, 2008

2008 Women of Excellence in Upper East Tennessee

It's a celebration of distinguished women in upper East Tennessee, and their acoomplishments read like a Who's Who of integrity.


It was the annual Women of Excellence celebration, sponsored by the Psi Omega Omega chapter of the national Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. The event was held at the Quality Inn, Kingsport on Saturday, October 25, 2008.

"We recognize African-American women who have made contributions to the communities in six different areas," says Pi Omega Omega local chapter president Linda Calvert. "Those areas are primarily religion, community service, lifetime achievement, education and business, as well as the pop political arena."

This year's winners are Mrs. Gail Charles, in the area of Business... Dr. Ivy McQuirter, Business and Service... Ms. Edwina Morris, the 2008 Scholarship Recipient... Ms. Shirley Johnson, for Religious and Community Service... Ms. Vicki Smith, also for Religious and Community Service... Chapter President Mrs. Calvert is also pictured. Not pictured, but present at the event was Mrs. Jenora Wade, the Lifetime Achievement award winner.

Mrs. Charles is the owner-operator of Sista Act Styling, now in its eighth year of cosmetology in the Johnson City area, also serving Kingsport..

Dr. McQuirter is with Blue Ridge Internal Medicine, and has been described by one of her patients as a doctor with intelligence, patience and understanding with a genuine concern for her patients.. She and her husband, Dr. Julian McQuirter are members of the Shiloh Baptist Church, Kingsport.

Ms. Smith is an occupational registered nurse, who is known for carrying her love for God to the various health awareness committees, and also serves as a trustee with the Douglass High School Alumni Association.. She attends the Central Baptist Church in Kingsport.

Mrs. Johnson is a Board Member with the Appalachian Girl Scouts, whose youthful influence is seen with the Teen Girls Sleepover and the Teen Devotional Team at the Thankful Baptist Church in Johnson City, where she and her husband Keith attend.

Mrs. Jenora Wade is known in the Johnson City area for her work with the Health Information Service of Northeast Tennessee, and also has served as chair of the NAACP Freedom Banquet, member of the Carrie Moragne Missionary and director of the Bethel District Sunshine Band. She is a member of the Friendship Baptist Church in Johnson City.

"As primarily an association of educated African-American women, the Women of Excellence event allows us to recognize these individuals on whose shoulders we now stand," says Mrs. Calvert. "We recognize the lifetime achievement person, because we know they have struggled and put forth a lot of effort to be where they are. We also like to recognize the upstarts, the younger ones as they are coming along, to give them encouragement and let them know that what they have done in the community does not go unrecognized."

"For the community as a whole," she continued, "it tells our people, particularly in the African-American community, that even though you might not be recognized by civic groups like the Junior League or the YWCA, the community still appreciates what you do. Hopefully, through this recognition process, it is also encouragement to others to give of themselves to their community, and/or to continue making contributions to their professions."

The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is the first sorority for African-American women, started in 1908, on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. This year, the sorority is in its 100th year. There are chapters throughout all 50 states, as well as AFrican, Europe and the Carribean. The Psi Omega Omega chapter of upper East Tennessee is eight years old, and serves all of the Tri-Cities area, reaching down to Morristown. A new recently-chartered chapter has now formed to serve the area from Morristown on down into Knoxville.

New Canton Fall Festival 2008

When you think of fall festivals, you usually think of lots of music and entertainment, great food with most of the items homemade and homegrown, and enough fellowship to make you think friends are more like family.


Welcome to the New Canton Fall Festival in eastern Hawkins County, Tennessee. The event this past Saturday, October 25, 2008 was all of the above, and more.

"The weather acted like it did not want to cooperate," says New Canton resident Billy Lyons. "Cold, cloudy and damp in the morning.. but by noon, everything started to clear out and warm up, and then the people came out."

And came out, they did.

The main community gathering area was the covered area beside the Lyons Chapel AME Church on New Canton Road, and it quickly became a hubbub of activity. "We had fried fish (and it was wonderful--Calvin), ole-timey brown beans seasoned with hogmeat (also good), corn bread, coleslaw, all types of baked goods, carmel cakes, chess pies, cherry pies, you name it," says Billy. "The ladies down here in New Canton really know how to cook it up real good, cakes made with real butter and Swan's Flour.. just the best of stuff, you know."

It wouldn't be a fall festival without many homegrown items, grown over the spring and summer, and harvested for the fall.. even specialty items like pear relish.

Pear relish?

New Canton's Bobby Cox specializes in a topping called "pear relish." "The pears he uses, come from the tree in my yard," says Billy. "He slices them very fine, and then takes hot peppers and green peppers, to taste. You can have it hot, very hot, and also mild. Then, you season it down, and it'll sorta remind you of chow-chow that you can buy most any place to eat with brown beans, backbone, ribs and potatoes. The pear gives it a unique flavor all unto itself, and folks just cannot get enough of it." (it was indeed good, chow-chow like, with a sweet flavor and smell--Calvin).

No festival is complete without music. The New Canton Fall Festival featured Ozine Bly's daughter Lynette, an accomplished gospel singer, whose rich vocals have inspired many people with faith. Other singers also moved the festival goers with wonderful music, and lended a calming, moving atmosphere to the gathering.

And then there was Elvis.

Of course, not the real one, but an Elvis Presley tribute by local musician Ronnie Blake of Mendota, Virginia (for folks who don't know where Mendota is, it's a small community nestled into a bend of the Holston River North Fork at the foot of Clinch Mountain, between Gate City and Bristol.. only a couple of miles northeast of the Carter Family Fold at Maces Spring, Virginia). Ronnie's interpretation of "The King" was masterful, to say the least. He held folks spellbound with his close reemblance to Elvis while singing hit hits.

Ronnie was indeed a hit to the crowds of visitors to the fall festival. "We just met him in church one Sunday," says Billy. "One of the girls works with his girlfriend, and they came to church at Lyons Chapel, and he sang religious songs for us. The people really enjoyed it, and then we found out he has a tribute to Elvis, so we invited him back. His singing was one of the highlights of the day."

The only casualty of the day, was the cancellation of planned hayrides, a move mourned by kids at the New Canton Fall Festival. "There had been so much rain on Friday, and some of that lingered on into Saturday, that we just did not want to risk getting the wagons bogged down in the muddy fields," says Billy. "It was also kinda cool and damp, and so many colds and flu are going around that we didn't want anybody to catch them. The kids were disappointed and so were some of the adults, but next year, we'll try to plan a little better to get around the rain."

"Just to see the community come together is a blessing," says Billy. "The festival, along with the recent New Canton Family Reunion, proves that there is a lot of interest in folks returning to their roots. We're going to use both events as a springboard to renovating our old school, the New Canton School across from Lyons Chapel. We hope to fix it up into a community civic center for eastern Hawkins County, where we can have events all the time. We'll have a work day where everybody can come out and help clear out the grounds. I have a friend with excavation equipment, and he's volunteered to bring some of it out to help clear out debris."

"We could have at least four things in the building at one time, the way we see it," he says. "There are four large classrooms for meetings, plus the gymnasium-cafeteria multi-purpose room, and then there are also the grounds outside, for outdoor events. We've already filled up a couple of those huge dumpsters twice, getting debris out. Another of our long-range goals is to have flea markets at the site, too."

Keep your eye on New Canton. Those folks are getting their act together, and gaining momentum towards revitilizing one of East Tennessee's first African-American communities. We should all reach out, come out and support our friends and neighbors in eastern Hawkins County, because THEIR roots are the roots of us all.

Douglass Alumni Rummage-Bake Sale & 3rd School Book Sale

Bargains, bargains, bargains..

In these tough economic times, folks in Kingsport found lots of good deals on gently used clothes, at the Alumni Rummage Sale held at Bethel AME Church on Saturday, October 25, 2008.


Just before dawn Saturday, the good started coming in for sale, and by 8 AM, people were already stopping by. Together with the Bethel AME choir practicing for Sunday service upstairs, it made for a warm, joyous, festive atmosphere.

Just about every clothing item you could imagine was for sale. Women's blouses, pants, pant suits, and slacks of all styles could be found, as well as work-around-the-house clothes for sale. The colorful designs were tempting for many people, as they perused the various items. Among the men's clothing were pants and shirts, and even some hardware knick-knacks.

The rummage sale also included a bake sale, with delicious bakery bars, cakes and other delicacies. Some of the bakery items were so tempting, they did not make it home from the sale.

The 3rd Douglass Alumni Book Sale was also a huge success, bringing in people browsing for a new book to read, to former Douglass alumni and their families, eager to reunite with the school books of their past. Some alumni saw books of their former classmates, and purchased them to give to those friends who were not there. Other book fairs are to come in the future.

The Book Fair and Rummage Sale event was streamed live on the Douglass Alumni Website, and a special thing happened during the streaming.. the camera was taken around, showcasing all of the items for sale, and that prompted many sales by people watching, who called those present at the event and made purchases right then and there! One viewer wanted to see the neckties for sale, and when Pam Sensabaugh held them up each and modeled them to the webcam, the viewer bought every single necktie there.

It was so good to see everybody come out to support the Douglass Alumni Association, in its efforts to raise money for its philantropic events, along with the Class of 68's generous donation to the Scholarship Fund last Saturday.

Stay tuned for more events of this type in the future!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

HOPE VI Homes Votes So Far

Riverview Place (8)

Riverview Estates (4)

The Gates at Riverview (with the spirit of a new gateway of change) (1)

Riverview Crossing (with the spirit of crossing over to a new era) (1)

Riverview Legacy Homes (1)

Douglass Village (Using Douglass retains heritage but also gives fresh spirit to the community) (1)

Riverview-Douglass Legacy Homes (1)

The Legacy Homes @ Riverview (1)

Riverview - "A Good Place To Come Home" (1)

Memory View Estates (1)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Youth Halloween Extraveganza

Friday, October 31, 2008 - 3:00-7:00 PM
V.O. Dobbins Center
Free Admission - Food - Haunted House-
Inflatables - Trick or Treat-Surprises!

Sponsored by: South Central Kingsport Community Development Corporation, Kingsport Parks & Recreation, Riverview Boys and Girls Club, New Vision Youth, KOHL'S, and the Riverview Elks Lodge

For more information call: 224-2489, 571-0191, 246-6809 or 246-6623

Riverview Residents, Current and Former, Can Pick the Name of the HOPE VI Homes

No doubt, in the proposed Riverview re-zoning article below, you saw the new HOPE VI development referred to as the "Village Edge."

Not to panic. That is not the final name of the development.

It is called that right now, because the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority has to call it something, whenever the HOPE VI people talk to the federal government about the project.

The KHRA is still giving the people of Riverview the opportunity to name the new HOPE VI homes development that will be built where the Historic Rivervew Apartments once stood.

The name "Riverview Apartments" has stood for many years, and many people have made it known that they believe the word "Riverview" needs to be part of the new name. At several meetings in the past, they have cited the history and heritage of that name, that stretches from the time Ms. Bessie Hipps first suggested it back in the late 1930's, through good times and bad, to now, because it is a name that held the community together for many years.

Several weeks ago, I sent out a request for names from people in the neighborhood, people who formerly lived in the Apartments, and people who are moving back when the new homes are built. This is not a final list, and the KHRA is still open to suggestion. If you'd like to vote for one of the names below, or if you have a name you'd like to suggest, please send it to:

Submitted names are, with the number of votes:

Riverview Place (9)

Riverview Estates (4)

The Gates at Riverview (with the spirit of a new gateway of change) (1)

Riverview Crossing (with the spirit of crossing over to a new era) (1)

Riverview Legacy Homes (1)

Douglass Village (Using Douglass retains heritage, but also gives fresh spirit to the community) (1)

Riverview-Douglass Legacy Homes (1)

The Legacy Homes @ Riverview (1)

Riverview - "A Good Place To Come Home" (1)

Riverview Village (1)

Riverview Commons (1)

The View (1)

Riverview Douglass Homes (1)


Please be a part of the heritage and legacy of our community.
Vote for one of the above, or send me a name that we can circulate.
The email again is:

City Planners Recommend Zoning Change for Riverview

Planning Commission also voted to vacate two roads in the Riverview community — James Street and Booker Street.



KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Regional Planning Commission is recommending a section of the Riverview community be rezoned to Planned Village District — a relatively new zone that allows for mixed-use development including office space, residential and commercial space.

The move is being done in connection with the HOPE VI project, which includes the redevelopment of the Riverview community — 32 new homes built on the old Riverview Apartments site and an expansion at the V.O. Dobbins Community Center.
The Planning Commission also approved the Riverview Master Plan for the project, which serves as a guide for the types of development in the respective sections of the community — the Village Green (the splash pad and park), the Village Center (V.O. Dobbins and the businesses along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive) and the Village Edge (the new housing development).
The Kingsport Landing area of town received a similar zoning designation, and city planners say the new zone will help with redevelopment in the Riverview community.



The Planning Commission voted Thursday night to also vacate two roads in the Riverview community — James Street and Booker Street. James Street is located behind V.O. Dobbins and will be used as an access road to a new parking lot, while Booker Street ran between the old Riverview Apartments site.
City planners expect to meet with the entire Riverview community next month to discuss the project.
All of these recommendations are expected to go before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen next month.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The 2nd Douglass School Book Fair: More Classroom Memories


"It's such a treat to find my mom's old library book."

Those words from Teresa Delaney DeWald of Dayton, Ohio, when she located an old book from the former Douglass High School library with the name of her mom, Ellen Hemphill on the sign-out card. The book is "Alexander's Christmas Eve," a classic book of the holiday season.

The book was one of many for sale at the Second Douglass School Book Fair, held in the historic Douglass High School Auditorium. It was fitting that the fair was held in the auditorium, because it is scheduled to be demolished in the renovation of the Douglass/V.O. Dobbins Community Center. Many former students flocked to pick up their old school books, and remember the good times they all had, during school assemblies. The event was also streamed live on the Douglass Website for about 2 hours (if you tried to see the live streaming and could not get through, please drop us a line at:

"I've been explaining to Max, my eight-year-old, about how schools were segregated back then," says Teresa. "When I started explaining it to him, he just had this look on his face.. it was just out of his scope or realm of knowledge that people were actually separated like that. When he goes to school in Dayton, everybody's together, black, white, Hispanic. It didn't seem like recent history to him, it was almost like ancient.. he just couldn't believe that his grandparents went to a segregated school. To him, it was just inconceivable, even allowed, or seen as normal."

"I have a lot of history to teach him."

So many former students and book lovers found the alphabetized system the Douglass Alumni Association came up with, a much easier way to find their beloved books, and the whole process seemed like fun. Laughs, recognition, and tall tales accompanied the finding of each book, and smiles were evident as folks recognized their own handwriting from generations ago.

"When I worked at Southwest Publishing in Cincinnati," says Teresa, "i found one of the eidtions of their accounting book that I used to work on. That was neat.. my accounting books involved computers, instead of ledgers."

Also at the School Book Fair, Alumni Association Vice President Andra Watterson sold the Douglass High School tall coffee mugs, and Alumni Association Trustee Kathy Evans Bradford sold the extremely popular dish clothes. Association Treasurer Sandy Wilmer reports a total of $221.00 was raised for the Douglass Alumni Association's General Fund.

Not only were the books in alphabetical order, books that did not have the names of students in them, were put in the categories of what they were.. Health-Science, Math, English, Social Studies, and several miscellaneous books were also for sale. There were also vocational how-to and do-it-yourself books, too.

This was the first time Pam Rutledge Sensabaugh has been back in the auditorium since she graduated Douglass High School in 1965. "I can still see us coming down the aisles to take our seats during assembly," said Pam. "Just to be able to stand in here again, is wonderful." "It just brings back many memories," said Sandy Wilmer, "of the devotions and chapel we came to in here. You'd be on stage, and aeverybody sitting out there, looking at you." "I remember the Elks used to sponsor concerts and pageants inside this old building," says Ethel Ruth Russell.

The Douglass School Book Fair is one of the last public events, the old auditorium will see before it's torn down.

Folks were waiting for the fair to open, and they were there long after it closed. We also had a lot of reservations, with folks sending in their money for the books and to have them shipped to them.

The next School Book Fair will be next Saturday during the Alumni Association's Rummage Sale and Bake Sale at the Bethel AME Zion Church on Mapleoak Lane in Kingsport. The Book Fair runs from 7 AM to 2 PM, and the Rummage Sale is from 7 AM to 4 PM. Please spread the word to everybody so they can stop by and purchase many gently-used items, plus delicious pies and cakes. It's also a good chance for those who have not done it yet, to stop by and purchase their old Douglass school book. If you know of someone who may not know their school book is available, now's a good chance to purchase it, or reserve it for pickup later.

The Class of '68 Reunion: These Guys Really Know How to Throw A Party


The Douglass Reunions are two years apart, but at least one of the classes doesn't need a good reason to come together to fellowship.

The Class of 1968 actually graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School in 1968, two years after Douglass High School closed. The graduates would have been the Douglass Class of 1968, and as alumnus Don Hickman once said, "we may have graduated from D-B, but we were all educated at Douglass," and for that reason, everyone who attended D-B from Douglass, considers their time of graduation as being from Douglass.

It's a wonderful way to remember your heritage and legacy.

In accordance with that, the distinguished "Douglass Class of 68" held a reunion of its classmates on Saturday, October 18, 2008 at the Golden Corral in Kingsport, and there's one thing about the Class of '68.. they throw down a good party.

It was, in a word.. FANTASTIC!

"We wondered what to call this class reunion," Bert Webb told the group. "I thought, well what's the one thing we all have in common besides Riverview, Douglass and our continued friendships?"

"The fact that we are all still standing."

One special time during the banquet was everybody recounting many of the things about Douglass and Riverview, that make their memories so special.

Those memories came fast, furious, and with plenty of laughter sprinkled in. For example:

"We were walking on top of Clay Hill, and I happened to be behind Jo-Jo Gilmore. And one thing that sticks out in my memory every time I think about Douglass, when I think about field trips, and here I am, going up Clay Hill, behind Jo-Jo Gilmore in the 6th Grade, and he had tried to put a process in his hair. It dripped all behind him and kept hitting me in the face!"

"I don't ever remember that," Joe said.

Here's another memory: "I remember a field trip, I don't remember with who, Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Owens, or somebody.. and the car broke down in the Smoky Mountains.. We went into this truck stop, about 20-25 of us.. On the counter was like, a full rack of sunglasses. When we walked out.. the sunglasses rack was empty.. but nobody's wearing sunglasses."

And another: "When the chorus went to Lynch, Kentucky, we went into this restaurant and they didn't want to serve us. We were looking good in our pale green.. We all bought hamburgers, and threw 'em right back at 'em!"

And still another: "Bert went to Allen School (the Allen High School for Girls in Asheville), and we all got brave.. and we get this idea that we are going to sneak out of the dorm with our boyfriends and go into the city. She didn't even have a boyfriend, but she was going right along with us. We got stopped by the police. I ain't never been so scared in all my life. When we got back up on the hill (where Allen was), we just knew it was all over with, and we were trying to climb back up in these popular trees back up to our windows. Bert hadn't done a thing, except follow us. We got back up on top of that mountain, got IN the room, open the bathroom door, just start vomiting. I was glad we made it back in, before that happened out in front of the police."

Here'a one: "Y'all remember Mr. Steele? We had them choir robes, and had some good singing, with them reversible collars."

An afternoon of good times, grew somber as the group remembered friends and loved ones now gone. "We tried to think of a lot of things to memorialize the Class of 68," said class member Frank Horton. "We decided on the lighting of a single candle."

After a Moment of Silence.. everybody in the group recited the name of a lost loved one. It was a brother here, a sister there, a friend here, a neighbor there.. a classmate here, a 'cut-buddy' there. All around the room.. everybody remembered a name, among them.. Clarence McKnight.. Billy Bond.. Mary Carpenter.. George Foster.. Ronnie Releford.. Cookie Releford.. Marshall Davis.. Henry Stokely.. Yolanda Webb.. just so many names of folks who have touched the lives of the neighborhood, and how thankful we were to have them in ours.

"All of those people's names we called," Bert Webb told the group, "would have been right here in the midst of all of us having fun, celebrating and remembering the heritage of Douglass, and we know that they are all here right now, celebrating with us, and Pete, get off my back!" That brought a rousing laugh and applause from the group, and reminded everybody of just how much fun the ones now gone, were.

"We don't know what's going to happen to us when we leave here, not even the next five minutes," Bert said, "but right now, everybody stand up."

The group rose to its feet.

"Here's to the Class of 68.. we are still standing!"

With that toast, the applause flowed, the hugs continued, and the good time continued. Friendships were caught up on, family updates were plentiful, and the good food at the Golden Corral was excellent.

In the middle of the revilry and remembrances, from Brenda Huff Bond, one of the surprises of the banquet. "I just got a phone call from Atlanta from daughter Denese Bond, that 'everybody in this room needs to be on their best behavior, because they are watching us on the Douglass Website right now."

That brought down the house.

"Hello out there in cyberspace.. you ain't seen nothing yet." Bert mentioned others who said they'd be watching, and greetings and a bunch of "wish-you-were-here's" rallied around the room (EDITOR'S NOTE: please let us know if you watched the special live streaming. If for some reason, you signed in and wasn't able to view it, please let us know at: This helps us improve the process).

The banquet wasn't the only event that brought the alumni together. The group danced the night away at the Elks Club later that evening. Admission was $5.00, and after the D-J got paid, the rest of the money was dedicated to the Douglass Alumni Association Scholarship Fund.

Frank Horton encouraged everybody to help support the Scholarship Fund, one of the Association's biggest projects.

A wonderful and joyous banquet at the Golden Corral that help cement friendships forever, culminated with the singing of the Douglass School Song.

"We are the Sons and Daughters of Douglass,

Most loyal and true.

We love our school colors,

the Gold and the Blue.

We love the task that stood before us,

We always try to win..


Is the motto of Douglass High!"

It was indeed, a special reunion for the Class of '68.

SPECIAL NOTE: Thanks to the Class of 68 for the gift you all gave me. You are very special people, and I love you all. You all, are the very meaning of the word "family." The gift was very nice, and I will use it to continue providing alumni, our friends and neighbors with news and photos of our community and our Alumni Association!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Old Douglass School Books On Sale

• KINGSPORT — The second Douglass School Book Fair will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the old Douglass School Auditorium in the the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Community Center, 301 Louis St.

Old Douglass school books and Douglass Library books without student names in them will be available for sale. Those with names in them are in alphabetical order for pickup by former students or their families. All books are $1 each. For more information e-mail Calvin Sneed at

The list of former students' names in books, is posted in a story further down.. if you don't see it, go to the bottom of this page and click "older posts" and you'll find it. Please help support your Douglass Alumni Association.

Don't forget the Douglass Class of '68 Reunion at the Golden Corral, 1910 N. Eastman Road, Kingsport.

SPECIAL NOTE: These events will be streamed live on the website main page, beginning at 1 PM and 5 PM on Saturday. At that time on that day, just go to the TV screen on the left-hand side, and click on the "play" button. We are still testing the live streaming capabilities, so if you cannot connect, please email me at and let me know.

Happy Birthday Bert Webb!

Wishing you a Happy Birthday and many more to come.
We hope all your birthday dreams and wishes come true.

Not just a year older, but a year better.
Here's to another year of experience.
A simple celebration, a gathering of friends; here is wishing you great happiness, a joy that never ends.

A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Now You Can See Select Events, Live As They Happen, On Your Douglass Website!

Welcome to Live TV, Douglass-Riverview style!

Visitors to the Douglass Website, now have the ability to see selected live events, streamed on the website.

On the website's main page, on the left side, just above all the links for "CLICK HERE FOR OUR NEWS AND CURRENT EVENTS", "CLICK HERE TO VIEW OUR PHOTO GALLERY", etc, is a box that looks like a TV screen, under the heading "Click on Video Screen to See Live Events." If the event is being broadcast live, all you have to do, is click on the "play" button in the middle of the screen, and whatever is going on, can be seen live on the TV screen, and heard through your PC speakers. It's a live window to the world of Riverview and South Central Kingsport, with a two-fold purpose.. to bring live events to people who may not be able to attend them, and to broadcast those live events to our folks who are out-of-town who want to "see what they're doing over in Riverview" (remember when our church elders used to say that about other churches?)

The live streaming feature was tested during this past Saturday's meeting of the Douglass Alumni Association Board of Directors meeting in Kingsport. The entire meeting was streamed live with sound and video, and the announcement that one of our meetings was being streamed live for the first time, brought smiles (for the most part) from the board members. I had spotters viewing it in Nashville and Oceanside, California, and they report good picture quality and sound.

The software we are using to stream live is the Adobe Encoder 2.5, a companion to the Adobe Flash Player that we use for videos in the PHOTO GALLERY, and was selected over many other services available in the marketplace. The encoder provides an input signal from the webcam, which filters through the software to eek out bugs and glitches, then the output is fed to a separate IP address, which is embedded right now on the Douglass Website's main page.

The server we are using is Onyxservers, which came highly recommended by several national online flash streaming applications. It allows for instant access through the Adobe Encoder, and also provides a backup file to help maintain service. I know none of this may make much sense, but believe me.. we've got a good system and setup here.

We are working on a link to a bigger screen, but for now, the little screen is picture-compatable with our webpage. The sound is digital quality.

Whenever we are streaming something live, I will attempt to let you know prior to the broadcast by emailing everyone on the Douglass Website mailing list.. if I do not have your email address, please send it to me at: so we can sign you up. I will also attempt to notify everyone by posting a note in the NEWS AND CURRENT EVENTS section, but the email will come first.

If, for whatever reason, we are streaming a live event and you are unable to see anything when you click on the "play" button, please drop me an email at:, and let me know. Chances are, I will know what the problem is, and can correct it.

Now, we can bring events to you live, like programs, shows, meetings, outdoor and church concerts, church services, children's events and special projects, just in case you cannot attend any of them. TV stations do this all the time on their websites, and so do many schools, unlike ours, that are still open. It is our pleasure to offer this dimension of service on our website to Douglass Alumni, friends and neighbors in the Riverview-South Central community, the city of Kingsport, and all alumni and friends out of town.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

You Have A Stake in Naming the New Homes in Riverview

The Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority is giving the people of Riverview the opportunity of naming the new HOPE VI homes development that will be built where the Historic Rivervew Apartments once stood.

The name "Riverview Apartments" has stood for many years, and many people have made it known that they believe the word "Riverview" needs to be part of the new name. At several meetings in the past, they have cited the history and heritage of that name, that stretches from the time Ms. Bessie Hipps first suggested it back in the late 1930's, through good times and bad, to now, because it is a name that held the community together for many years.

Several weeks ago, I sent out a request for names from people in the neighborhood, people who formerly lived in the Apartments, and people who are moving back when the new homes are built. Below are the names we received, along with the votes that the particular name got.

This is not a final list, and the KHRA is still open to suggestion. If you'd like to vote for one of the names below, I have taken away the votes so far, so as not to influence the selection process. If you have a name you'd like to suggest, please send it to:

Riverview Place

Riverview Estates

The Gates at Riverview (with the spirit of a new gateway of change)

Riverview Crossing (with the spirit of crossing over to a new era)

Riverview Legacy Homes

Douglass Village (Using Douglass retains heritage but also gives fresh spirit to the community)

Riverview-Douglass Legacy Homes

The Riverview Douglass Homes (since we lost the name Douglass to V.O. Dobbins)

The Legacy Homes @ Riverview

Riverview - "A Good Place To Come Home"

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Kingsport BMA to Discuss Bond Issuance for V.O. Dobbins, Other Projects

Issuance includes funding for projects such as V.O. Dobbins Renovations, a downtown parking garage and various road projects




KINGSPORT — The Board of Mayor and Aldermen plan to discuss next week an upcoming bond issuance — up to $22 million — which will include funding for a variety of capital projects, such as a downtown parking garage and renovations to the V.O. Dobbins Community Center.
Every year the BMA approves a five-year capital improvement plan (CIP) that contains a number of projects. Some of the projects are fully funded within one of those five years, while others are funded over a number of years.

Thirteen projects are proposed for funding in the 2009 fiscal year, including:

• $7 million for the renovation and expansion of V.O. Dobbins.

• $5 million for five local road projects, such as intersection improvements at Clinchfield and Center Street, a roundabout at Industry Drive and Netherland Inn Road.
• $4 million for a downtown parking garage, likely at the Shelby Street parking lot.

• $1.1 million for the Kingsport City School System for expanding the Sevier band room, purchasing property around the schools and security modifications for school entrances.
Other capital projects include improvements to Eastman and Domtar parks, to several city fire stations, money for the Kingsport Riverwalk project and an expansion at the Justice Center.
The BMA is planning to hold a special called work session next week to discuss the projects and finalize a list of which ones to fund in the bond issuance. City Manager John Campbell said he hopes to bring the bond issuance resolution before the BMA on Oct. 21.
Last week, Campbell gave three options for the projects — everything for $22 million; a $21 million bond issuance if you exclude property purchases for economic development reasons or a $17 million bond issuance if you also take out the parking garage.
Campbell said some of the items on the CIP (capital improvement plan) do not have to occur immediately, but that some are timely.
The debt service on a $22 million bond issuance would be $1.76 million; on a $17 million bond issuance the debt service would be $1.36 million. Kingsport expects to see $3.6 million in debt service roll off beginning in fiscal year 2009, which would be enough to fund either option.
Kingsport’s general fund debt is $80.7 million; if no bond issuance is done, at the end of the 2009 fiscal year the debt level is estimated to be $72.9 million. The city’s total debt stands at $156 million — a 20 percent increase from the $129.6 million debt level in fiscal year 2007.
Rick Delaney, Kingsport’s financial advisor, recommended the BMA move forward with the procedural steps toward doing a bond issuance (the two resolutions and preparing various documents) and then wait until the most appropriate time to offer the bond to the investment community.
Mayor Dennis Phillips said some of the projects (such as V.O. Dobbins and the road projects) are higher priority than others, while some need further discussion, such as the downtown parking garage.
“I think any project on there is certainly worthy of discussion. Whether we can do all of these, remains to be seen. We can’t be completely ignorant to the world situation right now, but we can’t just stop all progress and say the end of the world is coming and not do anything,” Phillips said. “We need to analyze very closely any spending we’re going to be doing and be assured not jeopardizing the future of the city.
“It’s an opportune time to act in a prudent manner and keep our momentum going, yet not overspend.”
Alderman Larry Munsey said the BMA needs to have additional conversations about the library project, justice center expansion and the parking garage.
“My thinking is, that when economic times get difficult, that if you have the wherewithal, that is the best time to expand and build,” Munsey said. “It’s probably going to be cheaper during that period of time as contractors are going to be looking for work and you have increased capacity so that you’re able to take advantage when times become better.
The same principles hold true for the public sector, Munsey adds.
“If we can borrow money at a reasonable rate and not have an impact on our credit rating, my opinion is we need to continue down the path we are headed in regard to the CIP projects,” Munsey said.
Alderman Pat Shull said the upcoming meeting on the proposed CIP would help him shape his final decision on whether to support the bond issuance. Shull added that Kingsport has run up a lot of debt recently and that it really concerns him.
“When I looked at the list, what I liked about it was these are the things we should be doing, basic city services — fire, police, schools and infrastructure maintenance. That’s what I like about it,” Shull said. “It would have been handy to have this list by us while we were talking about the executive conference center. We hit these issues one at a time and they involve spending large sums of taxpayers dollars.”

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Economy Catches Up with Reunion Plans; Registration Boost Approved

The rough economy is taking its toll on Main Street in many ways.

It has now trickled down to the 2009 Douglass High School Reunion.

Alumni dues for membership in the Douglass Alumni Association will increase from $5.00 to $25.00, making pre-registration fees increase from 100 dollars to 125 dollars, for the three-day event next summer. The decision was reached after heart-felt discussion at the Douglass Alumni Board meeting this past Saturday, October 11th, at a special meeting held at the Dobyns-Bennett Alumni Hall on the D-B campus.

After looking at reserving required things for the Reunion that have gone up from two years ago, the board seemed resigned to discuss the alternatives. "This is not a decision we make lightly," said Alumni President Doug Releford. "If we want to maintain just the same level of services that we had two years ago, we have to do something about the fees."

At the last board meeting, several of the board members familiar with pricing events were called upon to check into estimated prices for next year.


"Just judging from the prices that Sandra (Wilmer, board treasurer) and Andra (Watterson, board vice president) have given us, show that we will need every penny that we can get, to maintain the same services we had two years ago," pointed out board member Virginia Hankins. "After every reunion, we usually try to have about $2,500 dollars on hand to get the next reunion started, and breaking up the prices and letting people pay for separate events, will not let us pay for the essential things we will need. If we break up the prices, we will not have enough to cover the things we need. Right now, we are no where near the $2,500 dollars to get started."

Late registrations two years ago, forced several board members to dig into their own pockets in an attempt to cover expenses two years ago, and this time, the board is trying to prevent that. Eventually, that private money was paid back to those board members, but only after late registration fees came in.

Although the reunion efforts are starting out this time with less than the $2,500 the board would like to have to jump-start next year's reunion plans, Jenny said little fund-raisers won't do the trick. The board is planning several fund-raising items to help, among them School Book Fairs, rummage sales, dinners, etc, but
"unless you have one big gigantic fundraiser, we'll have to rely on raising the registration fee, and encouraging folks to pay in installments, starting as soon as possible," Jenny said.

Last year, over 400 letters went out to every former student who attended Douglass Elementary and High School. Of that, 125 alumni paid their dues to attend the paid events, but many more came to Field Day, which is a free event. The list is updated to account for those alumni who have passed away.

The board also encourages everybody planning to attend the Reunion next year, to not put off paying the registration fee and the Alumni membership dues, again, $125 dollars this time. If the full amount is not affordable right now, please make installment payments, and that will be noted for every Alumni member.

The board also tabled for now, a motion to discuss the Reunion Golf Tournament, the registration fees of which directly fund the Douglass Alumni Scholarship Fund. Greens fees, as always, are separate and go directly to Meadowview. Board members felt that they needed to wait until alumni board member George Smith, one of the Golf Tournament organizers could attend a board meeting to provide an update on the event.

Also discussed was a plan for the Douglass Alumni Association Float in Kingsport's 4th of July Parade next year. Since the 4th is on a Saturday, which is also the day for the Douglass Parade, Field Day and the Alumni Banquet, it was decided that a Douglass Parade would be unnecessary, since Kingsport's parade would be going on about the same time, and most people would be attending that one. In place of the Douglass Parade, an entry would be made in Kingsport's Fourth of July Parade, after which our float would be on display at Field Day that Saturday afternoon.

Alumni President Doug Releford also provided an update on the Association's application for non-profit status, saying it is progressing. "Right now, we are seeking incorporation through the Tennessee Secretary of State's Office in Nashville, which is a tedious process," he said. "We are working through that, trying to provide all the information they are requesting, and then we will get that information to Jeff Faulkerson, who's helping us with the I.R.S application, and then we'll send that the Internal Revenue Service for consideration."

In other business, the Board discussed several upcoming events, and there is a change in the location for the next School Book Fair. The new location will be in the old Douglass School Auditorium on Louis Street, at the other end of the V.O. Dobbins Center in Kingsport. Calvin updated everyone on the cataloging of the school books for our School Book Fair in the old Douglass Auditorium next Saturday October 18, 2008 during the Class of 68 Reunion, and the next Fair planned for the Douglass Alumni Rummage Sale the following Saturday, October 25th. The books are cataloged alphabetically, and reservations are coming in for folks who want to purchase certain books. Those have now been isolated from the rest of the books for sale. All books are $1.00 and proceeds go into the Alumni Association General Fund.

The Douglass Alumni Rummage Sale and Bake Sale will be the following Saturday, October 25, 2008, and there will also be a School Book Fair that Saturday as well. The time is from 7 AM until 4 PM. The location will be at the Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church on Mapleoak Lane in Kingsport. Douglass Alumni are are encouraged to bring any gently-used clothing to donate to the Rummage Sale, and also any baked items for sale. Please bring those. Proceeds will go to the Alumni Associatin General Fund.

Jenny Hankins reminded everybody about the Class of 68 Reunion next Saturday, October 18, 2008, with the banquet being at the Golden Corral in Kingsport at 1910 North Eastman Road.


The Douglass Alumni Board also acknowledged the fact that the meeting was being held in the D-B Alumni Hall, at the south end of the J. Fred Johnson Stadium, Indian Circle Drive. D-B alumnus Bill Lee was there for a few minutes to welcome the Douglass alumni early arrivals to the hall. Afterwards, all Douglass Alumni were given two T-shirts that commemorate the D-B Great Reunion 2 years ago. The Hall is a wonderful place for all alumni of Dobyns-Bennett to gather for meetings, especially during football season. Thanks to the D-B Alumni Association for extending the invitation to hold our meeting today, in the Hall.

NEXT DOUGLASS ALUMNI BOARD MEETING: Saturday, November 15, 2008 at 1 PM at the St. Mark's Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, Maple Street, Kingsport. Please mark your calendar for this, as well as all the other events of our Douglass Alumni Association.