Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beam Signing in Riverview: Leave Your Mark on History

Douglass Alumni and Riverview-South Central residents have a chance to leave their names and messages in history.


Many Douglass Alumni, their descendants, and friends of Douglass High School have been stopping by to sign a steel beam, placed in the V.O. Dobbins Center hallway, just outside the old gym. Just bring your own marker and your name will be etched into the past memories of Douglass High School, and the future legacy of the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Community Center.

After a week of signing, the beam will be hoisted into place as the very last steel beam to be installed in the new building's construction. This beam will go high up into the new gymnasium, right beside the old Douglass gym on Louis Street.

"The signing of the last beam is a significant milestone in a building's construction schedule," says Chris McCartt, Kingsport's assistant city manger for community development. "It signifies a winding-down of the construction portion of any project. It's almost like a time capsule for the life of the building."

"Perhaps you want to dedicate a line to a long-lost fellow student," McCartt says, "or a favorite teacher, or a pillar in the community. Just stop by during this next week or so, and your remembrances will be etched in the history of the building forever."

Traditionally, beam-signings are done when the last beam has to be put in. The first steel for the V.O. Dobbins Community Center renovation was laid in the non-profit tower, for which, construction was finished in almost record time, given the rainy weather Kingsport has experienced in July and August. Steel construction then moved to the Headstart classrooms on Wheatley Street, then the offices and community room for the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority on the Dobbins baseball field outside the old gym, and finally the new gymnasium being built in the upper parking lot on Louis Street beside the old gym. The last steel is being put in the new gym, and hence, the last beam will be raised there.

McCartt says, at this point, no direct ceremony is planned when the beam is hoisted into place, because he says the site area is "quite frankly, a mess" with all the construction and dust. He says, the workers are trying to get ahead of the weather and try to have the property enclosed before cold weather sets in. McCartt says it is possible a beam-raising ceremony might be combined with the anticipated groundbreaking of the HOPE VI homes at the site of the former Riverview Apartments, but that decision will be made later.

"I think any project of this stature and magnitude in Kingsport and the Riverview Community, deserves a beam signing," he says, because they are really celebrations of the buildings, the chance for the community to come out to commemorate the significant completion of a project, and help celebrate with the construction crews that have been their neighbors for the past several months."

Remember... you only have approximately a week to sign your names into history. With the uncertainty of the weather, crews are looking to hoist that last beam as soon as possible. Drop by the inside hallway and sign it as soon as possible.