Monday, April 27, 2009


A message to all members of The Kingsport Ebony Club Alumni Association

Brothers and sisters:

The deadline for submitting payment for the 2009 Reunion Weekend is Friday, May 1, 2009. I encourage you to place your full payments in the mail TODAY. The Planning Committee needs to know how many people to plan for.

Remember, this event is long overdue. Many of us no longer live in Kingsport, so it's going to do us good to reconnect with old friends, meet their spouses and children. But in order for this to happen, you need to send in your payment TODAY. Your check/money order should be made payable to PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS or Jeffery A. Faulkerson, and mailed to:

P.O. Box 1484
Wake Forest, NC 27588

If you have any questions, feel free to give me a call at (919) 604-4585.

Thank you for committing yourself to the success of this event.


Jeff "Pac-Man" Faulkerson
DBHS Class of 1986

Visit The Kingsport Ebony Club Alumni Association at Kingsport Ebony Club

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Neighborhood Watch group to meet Monday

• KINGSPORT — South Central Weed and Seed Neighborhood Watch will meet Monday from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 929 Maple St., in Kingsport.

Friday, April 24, 2009

New Vision to host Youth Prom June 6th

• KINGSPORT — New Vision Youth will hold its third annual Youth Prom June 6 from 5 until 9 p.m. at 1018 Martin Luther King Blvd. in the Clinch Mountain Lodge No. 531 auditorium. The theme is “Aloha — Youth with Smiling Faces.” The event is free to all youths ages 5-13. A king and queen will be crowned, and pizza and other refreshments will be served. Prom pictures will also be taken. There will be sign-in and sign-out sheets, and the Kingsport community police and parent chaperones will be on site. The sponsors are the Brothers of the Clinch Mountain Lodge No. 531, Daughters of Dunbar Temple No. 344, New Vision Youth parents, and friends of the community. For more information contact Johnnie Mae Swagerty at 246-6623.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Racist Graffiti Discovered in Kingsport

The specter of racism has reared its ugly head in the Kingsport area once again.

This past Sunday, an African-American Kingsport resident, on the way to visit relatives on the south end of town, noticed at least three or four different racist graffiti writings on the concrete supports underneath the Interstate 26 bridge over Reservoir Road. The first one read "All blacks must die" on the bottom concrete support arch. The location is within direct sight of the Meadowview Conference and Convention Center, and was also visible from all four entrance and exit ramps to I-26.

The area is considered the modern gateway to Kingsport.

Another writing is not printable, but the picture says it all. The use of the n-word, although misspelled, was reminiscent of something our forefathers endured many years ago. There were also references to the "KKK" and a phallic symbol. At this point, nobody knows how many motorists and passersby saw the writings.

A third graffiti writing, read "Obama will be killed." The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are currently investigating threats like that against the president, allegedly leveled by two government-described white supremacists in West Tennessee. Both Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman want government prosecutors to throw out evidence collected against them, saying they were illegally arrested and searched. Both men are jailed without bond, and no trial date has been set.

Ramon Willis was with family, when one of his family members got a call about the graffiti. Mr. Willis and some of his family went out to see for themselves, and says he was overwhelmed by what he read, scrawled on the bridge supports. But a bigger surprise was yet to come.

"When we first got out there," he says, "this white man stopped and came up to us saying 'please don't hurt my daughter, please don't hurt my daughter.' We all looked at each other like, what is this man talking about? It was then he said his daughter's boyfriend did it and what shocked us was, he said, he had done it before, right here in this same spot. We just couldn't believe it, and when we went closer, we saw where it had been painted over before, a couple of times in that same spot."

"People were riding by," he says. "Some of them were astonished, some of them stopped with their mouths open, some people couldn't believe what they were seeing. Some white guys were riding by grinning, like oh it's down like that, all kinds of stuff. I wondered why none of the media was out there, why didn't they come out and take a look at that stuff. It was just crazy."

"After we were out there a while, things started getting crazier," Mr. Willis says, "and then the cops came and started taking pictures, too. They were talking about (Saturday and Sunday) being Prom Night and they didn't know who drew all this, but they said they would call the state (DOT, who maintains state and interstate highways in Tennessee). After the cops took pictures, they left. We left and came back 2, 3 hours later and the highway department was out there covering it up."

For the record, this reporter sent an email to the Kingsport Police Department through their website, and is waiting to hear back concerning any investigation the department may be doing on the racist graffiti.

"I cannot believe that 45 years after the Civil Rights Movement, I am still seeing this nonsense, and in my former community," says Tanisha Charles, whose family member first saw the graffiti and photographed it. "Obviously, the perpetrators of this crime are ignorant and ill-educated because of what they wrote."

Ms. Charles was bothered enough by the racist graffiti, to send a concerned note to the city of Kingsport. In her letter "To Whom It May Concern," Ms. Charles talked about the "negative light shed on a community already notorious for racial prejudice and opposition." She also said she hoped the city "is taking strides to remove this disgraceful portrayal of a People whose country used them to become the country it is today," and she further hopes "that someone in Kingsport is doing something to try and bridge the racial gap that exists in the area."

In response, Ms. Charles received a response from Tim Whaley, Kingsport's Community and Government Relations Director, who wrote to her "it is with the greatest regret that we find such shameful, horrific language scrawled on an overpass in our fair city." Mr. Whaley went on to write "Words are totally insufficient to express our outrage, frustration and despair that someone might still harbor such ignorant views. Please allow me to express how deeply ashamed we are, that anyone in the region might spew such hate."

Also in his letter to Ms. Charles, Mr. Whaley says the city "continues to endeavour fiercely to heal the racial divides of the past, and have invested more than $20 million dollars, partly in partnership with the federal government to provide new housing opportunities, employment and educationa opportunities, replacing deteriorating 1940's-era housing and creat a first-class community center in the Riverview area that provides new opportunities, while embracing the heritage of the former Douglass High School." He also mentions that the new $8 million dollar V.O. Dobbins Center project is funding entirely with local dollars.

Ms. Charles says the response from the city was fairly immediate, but Mr. Willis says, more is needed.

"I was really upset by the comments from the Whaley man from the city," Mr. Willis says. "The city hasn't done anything for us yet. They can't even keep dudes from putting up garbage like this, because that man said dude has done it before."

It wasn't too long ago, last fall in fact, that racial graffiti was observed on a road sign near New Canton, the location of one of upper East Tennessee's oldest African-American communities. A yellow caution sign signaling "children at play" was spray-painted with a racist derogatory reference to the n-word on a country road, less than a mile from New Canton's black residential area. The picture sparked outrage from people near and far, black and white, decrying the intolerance and ignorance of some people.

Again from at least before Sunday until Sunday afternoon, it is not know how many people saw this latest form of racism.

Ms. Charles says, no one should tolerate this kind of ignorance, saying if racist graffiti or anything else racial in nature is observed anywhere in the area, she urges residents to speak out about it.

Mr. Willis has a different view.

"I was just visiting," he says, "and I'm thinking 'you all still got this stuff going on here, in this town, right NOW? I don't live here, but I don't know if I would want to come back, knowing that somebody thinks bad enough about black people, to put it up in public and get away with it."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

SPECIAL NOTE: The Douglass Reunion Souvenir Book & the Douglass Teacher Memories DVD

A special note to Douglass Alumni and Riverview residents:

You yourself can purchase an ad in the Souvenir Booklet to remember loved ones long gone, but not forgotten, and you are urged to do so. The ads would be similar to what you would see in the back of booklets and programs, commemorating the Reunion, congratulating someone, or simply "in memory of" ads with pictures, either color or black and white.

Just click Souvenir Ad Booklet Form to print the form out and mail it back to the Alumni Association ASAP with the correct payment for the size ad you want. The prices and ad sizes are posted on the form (remember to add $10 if your loved one's picture is in color).

Please take out an ad to remember your loved ones, or just an ad offering your own reunion greetings.

ALSO.. we will be selling copies soon, of the "Douglass Teachers' Memories" DVD that aired during "The Last Great Program at Douglass School." The DVD featured most of the Douglass teachers that we were able to find, and get on video, including the Deerings from New York. The price of the DVD will be reasonable and affordable, and proceeds will go to the non-profit programs of the Douglass Alumni Association. We'll have news of the DVD sales coming up.

Also, we are planning more Douglass School Book Fairs. Please watch your website NEWS AND CURRENT EVENTS to see when those are scheduled.

"And the Walls Came Tumbling Down:" The Douglass Auditorium is Gone

The Historic Douglass Auditorium is now just that.. history.

The building was razed this past week (April 14th - August 17th) by the demolition crews hired by the City of Kingsport.

The auditorium and the adjoining former Douglass bandroom were the other two structures scheduled for demolition, in the renovation of the V.O. Dobbins Community Center. The city plans to turn the building into Kingsport's non-profit center, where all of the area's non-profit agencies will be housed conveniently in one location. A three-story tower will be built on the site of the Douglass Auditorium.

One of the non-profit organizations getting a new home in the renovated building will be the Douglass High School Alumni Association of Kingsport.

To see live, dramatic video of the demolition, please click here LIVE VIDEO Douglass Auditorium Demolition. You'll need the Adobe 9 Flash Player installed on your computer.

For more pictures of the demolition, please click here PICTURES: Douglass Auditorium Demolition

Douglass Alumni Trustee Board Meeting, 4/18/09



Forms were passed out for trustee members to fill in the names of officers they'd like, for the next Douglass Alumni Association term 2009-2010 and 2010-2011.
Each trustee member was given an individual donor form from Jeff Faulkerson, president of the Kingsport Ebony Club, and the person who wrote up and guided the Alumni Association's application for non-profit status. In a separate email, Jeff also reminded the Trustee Board members that they have an obligation to either continue with, or come up with new services that coincide with the group's non-profit status. With his organization, Pratical Solutions, already having non-profit status, Jeff has offered his services to the Douglass Alumni Association to help guide them through the government's process for maintaining non-profit status, being employed by the Board as a Communications Specialist. The Board is considering that under advisement.

The Board is in receipt of thank-you's from the Underwood Family and the Cox Family, during their time of bereavement.


Linda Bly suggested that the Trustee Board apply for a organization credit card, to take care of paying for incidental things the orgnization needs. Doug suggested that be taken up when the new officers take over. The issue arose of whose name would be on the card, and the idea was withdrawn because every two years, a different president would have to re-apply for the card, in order for that person to be able to sign the card receipts. It was decided that paying for incidental items would be discretionary, with the Board Treasurer simply allocating the funds to pay for those incidentals, because that person has the only access to the Board's bank account.

Thelma suggested that the Board open up a Flower account at a local florist, for deaths in the community and special events. The board voted to establish that account with the White Floral Company, Kingsport.

Calvin told the group that he has been asked to serve on a civic committee consisting of himself, the Kingsport City manager, the Assistant City Manager for Development, the architectural firm overseeing the renovation of the V.O. Dobbins Center, and the president of the Kingsport Arts Council. The purpose of the committee is to make sure that Douglass School and Riverview Community themes are maintained in the Dobbins Center, once the renovations are complete. The themes would include both indoor and outdoor artwork, sculptures, and interior design, from carpet and wall color schemes, to furniture, trophy and display case design, lighting, and anything else that would reflect on Douglass School and the community. Calvin said, his purpose on the committee would be to ensure that everybody who comes into the new non-profit center would immediately know that the building was once a wonderful school in a wonderful, family-oriented community, and the alumni and residents are proud of that heritage and history.



Easter Egg Hunt Pictures

Folks, we now have pictures of the annual Easter Egg Hunt in the V.O. Dobbins Community Center and the Douglass Ballfield. Andra Watterson took these pictures for the website. The egg hunt was sponsored by the Kingsport Parks and Recreation community services division, South Central Kingsport Weed and Seed, New Vision Youth, Elks Lodge, Brothers of Clinch Mountain Lodge No. 531, and Daughters of Dunbar Temple No. 344.

To see the pictures, please click 2009 Riverview Easter Egg Hunt

Carolyn Flack in Rehab

Carolyn Flack says a big HELLO to her Douglass Alumni brothers and sisters and Riverview Community neighbors.

After a hospital visit in Bristol, Carolyn is now at HealthSouth in Kingsport, where she's having physical therapy, and is doing well. She lost both of her legs and is being fitted with prosthetic limbs very soon.

She's very upbeat, and hopes to go home to 930 Myrtle Street in Kingsport on April 26th.

If you'd like to visit, Carolyn is in Room 320-B at HealthSouth, 113 Cassel Drive in Kingsport.

Also, an update on Mrs. Nora Mae Taylor.. she's also doing well at HealthSouth in Kingsport, and hopes to come home soon.

Kingsport Negro League game had plenty of Clowning around


Contact Vince Staten at or via mail in care of this newspaper. Voicemail may be left at 723-1483. His blog can be found at vince staten's blogspot

It was five years ago that Kingsport native Marvin Bond wrote to ask if any Negro League teams ever played at J. Fred Johnson Stadium.
I checked around. Then-city archivist Brian Wilson told me he had heard that there were at least two Negro League games in Kingsport over the years, but he was never able to find any details. Don Shepherd told me he was at a game between the Kansas City Monarchs and the Birmingham Black Barons at J. Fred Johnson Stadium. We even narrowed the date down to the late 1940s or early 1950s. But I never could find any news story.
Then this past week, five years after Marvin’s original e-mail, I chanced upon a reference to a Negro League game here.

On May 1, 1955, the Times-News reported, “Tuesday, May 17, Douglass School will sponsor a baseball game between the New York (B) Giants and the Indianapolis Clowns at the J. Fred Johnson Stadium under the lights at 7 p.m. Tickets may be secured from the Douglass School’s office.”
First a little background. The Negro Leagues operated parallel to the major leagues from 1920 until the late 1940s, when Jackie Robinson finally broke the color line and big league teams began signing black players.
The Negro National League folded in 1948. The Negro American League struggled on for another 10 years before slowly dissolving.

The Indianapolis Clowns were a mainstay in the Negro American League starting in 1943. In fact in 1951, 1952 and 1954 they won the Negro American League championship. In 1952, only three years before their appearance in Kingsport, they employed a 19-year-old shortstop named Hank Aaron, the same Hank Aaron who would go on to break Babe Ruth’s career home run record. And in 1953 the Clowns signed the first woman to a professional baseball contract, Toni Stone. That team played an exhibition game at the Scott County Virginia Fairgrounds on Sept. 19, 1953, with Stone in the lineup.
By 1955 — eight years after Jackie Robinson — the Clowns were part Harlem Globetrotters, part serious baseball team. They had a few legitimate ballplayers, but they also employed a group of comics who entertained between innings.

Their touring partners, the New York Black Yankees (misidentified in the newspaper story as the New York Black Giants), had been a power in the old Negro National League but disbanded in 1948 after that league shut down. One of their original owners was Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. The team was reformed in 1950 for the barnstorming circuit, and that’s the team that came to Kingsport.
The stadium was free that night in May. The local Appalachian League team, the Cherokees, was playing in Pulaski.
The Times-News didn’t cover the event, so there is no newspaper story to tell us what transpired.
But the same two teams played a week earlier in Lake Charles, La., and two months later in Benton Harbor, Mich., and both those papers covered the event, so we can piece together what probably happened in the Kingsport game from those accounts.

The comedy stars of the Clowns were Ed Hamman, Richard “King Tut” King, “Prince” Jo Henry, Jim “Natureboy” Williams and 3-foot-2-inch Ralph “Spec Bebop” Bell.
Of the five “clowns,” only two actually played in the field during games, Henry and Williams.
The Clowns warmed up using a ghost baseball, a slapstick routine that was created by former Clown and by then Harlem Globetrotter Goose Tatum. It must have resembled the Globetrotters’ famous warm-up routine.

Then Hamman — who was white — would toss behind his back to the catcher. He had a standing offer of $1,000 to anyone who could throw behind-the-back pitches as accurately as he could.
When the game started, Prince would take the field in a ratty tuxedo and carrying a butterfly net, which he would use to snare ground balls. By the time he came to bat he would have switched to Bermuda shorts and a loud jacket. He hit left-handed, and on his first trip to the plate he would swing mightily and miss but catch the ball in his other hand and toss it into outfield. Then he would race to first, stopping to read a newspaper, then just beating the t h r o w.
Williams would play barefooted in a grass skirt.
Richard King — “King Tut” — and Specs Bebop were strictly entertainers, famous for a pantomime rowboat routine and also for a comic dentist-patient skit that they would perform between innings.
No one was left out of the comedy.
Second baseman Clyde McNeal would sit in a rocking chair in the field. Centerfielder Verdes Drake would fall down when a long fly was hit over his head so that catcher Andy Porter could tag the runner out with a hidden ball.

As good as they were at clowning, they were equally as good at hitting and fielding. Their record the year before they visited Kingsport was 43-22, best in the league.
We don’t know who won the game that night at J. Fred Johnson Stadium. But we are sure that everyone who showed up had a good time, thanks to the Indianapolis Clowns.
I’ve posted newspaper clippings and publicity stills of the Clowns on my blog,vince staten's blogspot

Friday, April 17, 2009

Douglass Alumni Trustees Board Meeting CHANGE

Douglass Alumni Trustee Board Members:

The meeting location for tomorrow (Saturday, April 18th) has been changed to the Fellowship Hall at Bethel AME Zion Church.
The time is still 1 PM.. The meeting is still a pot luck lunch, and will be televised live on the website's main page.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Destruction of Riverview Appalling


As a black native of Kingsport, I hate what the Kingsport Housing Authority and the city of Kingsport are doing to the black community of Riverview. I have had to come home to Kingsport four times in the last 15 months to bury members of my family, all of which would, like me and many others, call Riverview the center of black life in Kingsport. What the leaders in Kingsport are doing to Riverview is appalling.
In a few years, one will never know that Douglas High School ever existed and that Riverview had a bustling and vibrant black culture. I fondly remember attending Douglas because we were not allowed to attend the white schools. I attended Douglas from the first to the fifth garde, and those were the happiest days of my educational experience. Douglas was the center of the community of Riverview. At that time Douglas also housed the “black boys club” too. We had to go in the back door up to the balcony to see movies at the Strand. Now when I ride through Riverview, there is a profound feeling of great loss and unbelief. A part of me seems to have been wiped away, and the memories of many great black elders of mine that helped form me into the adult that I am today seemed to have been destroyed in the way much of Riverview has been demolished. How will anyone preserve and remember the lives and sacrifices of all the blacks who have lived in and frequented Riverview?
Black residents of Riverview have been displaced due to the gentrification of their community. I have not seen the plans, but I would bet that not many former black, low-income residents of Riverview will be able to afford the proposed housing that will be built on this site in place of the projects. They are also tearing off the auditorium of Douglas High School.
I sense in my spirit some deception of some in the black community of Kingsport. Surely given proper notice and input, the black residents of Kingsport would not have stood idly by and just allowed the black history of Riverview to be demolished and destroyed forever as if the people that lived there for decades never existed.
Anthony E. Bond
Irving, Tex.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Riverview Resident Is Ready For Her New Youth Build Home

"I had never heard of a Youth Build home."

That was Deborah Davis' first reaction when she heard about the new homes to be built in Riverview, alongside the new HOPE VI homes planned for the neighborhood.

"Then, I looked at the name," she says. "I immediately decided that I did not want Youth Build, that's just training, just a home some young person trained on and practiced on. But the more I got to watching them passing by every day, I saw what they were doing, and thought 'hey, those guys are good. These homes look good and they're sturdy."

First Riverview Youth Build Homes

Youth Build is a program targeting at-risk young people ages 18 to 25, that gives them the chance to get on-the-job training in home construction, and also get a General Equivalency Diploma (GED). Although the Youth Build program has raised two homes so far in Riverview, with two more to go, it is not part of the HOPE VI home construction planned for the site of the historic Riverview Apartments.

"Back in November, we graduated 23 students who'd been with us for several months," says Lisa King, project manager with Youth Build-Kingsport. "The best part of the program is, all of them completed their G.E.D. requirements, and 16 of them graduated with diplomas. That is a wonderful success record, because typically, Youth Build in general, sees less than 50 per cent G.E.D success rate."

For Deborah Davis, owning a home is a dream come true. She and her family lived in the Riverview Apartments for many years. Later, she moved to Abingdon, Virginia where she owned a house, but it was in her husband's name.

"I prayed about it, and when I left Abingdon, the Lord promised me a house," she remembers. "And this one is just perfect. My church (Central Baptist) is two blocks away, my people close by.. I didn't much like the word 'village' that they had planned for Riverview. It sounded like the city wanted to put us all in a certain area, like what put us all in Riverview many years ago."

But once she learned that the city's 'village' concept involves transforming the neighborhood back into a place with a homely feel, with community and convenience businesses nearby, Deborah feels differently now. "I understand that we will still have the right to move in or out, live whereever we want to, that makes a big difference. I understand what it means now."

"At first, I asked about qualifying and moving into one of the HOPE VI homes," says Ms. Davis, "and my counselor saw that all the bedrooms in the HOPE VI homes were upstairs homes. She knew I had a problem going up and down stairs. But then, she called me up and said 'I've got just what you're looking for.' And when I went by and saw what the young people were doing, I thought 'well, those guys are GOOD! I started watching 'em every day, and now I'm talking everybody into a Youth Build home. These homes look good, and they're sturdy."

"This is home ownership right here," she says. "I'm buying this, because I'm tired of renting. It feels great to be moving towards home ownership after all these years. It's going to be mine and I keep saying 'I'm hoping to live the length of the 30-year mortgage to own it outright. I've got a daughter that's younger and if I don't make it, it will be hers and if it doesn't, then I've got a granddaughter and it'll be hers."

It's this kind of success the Youth Build program has enjoyed in just about every city it's been in. "We're just thrilled with the success we've had in Kingsport," says Mrs. King. "We're encouraged with how the community has embraced us and the work we're doing to change lives. The fact that we can educate an at-risk segment of the commuunity, and get a qualified person a new home out of it, is the biggest reason for our success."

Towards that end, Youth Build now has a new set of students, ready to begin construction on a new set of three homes in the Riverview Community. One is at the corner of Dunbar Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive--the footings are already excavated there. The location is right at the dead end of MLK--the site of a proposed extention through the General Shale brickyard into downtown. More on that story later.

The next project will be at the former home of Anna and Dewey Long at 224 Dunbar Street. Little does the future owner of this home know, but Dewey Long's legacy as a squirrel and raccoon hunter was legendary at this site. His hound dogs were a fixture out back, as he hunted on a regular basis with friends O.M. Gillenwater, "Uncle Buck" Leeper and others. "If these dogs can smell 'em, I can hunt 'em," Dewey Long used to say.

The third location is on Louis Street where a red cinderblock home already stands, nearest to the renovations planned for the V.O. Dobbins Center. "One of our classes will be to demolish the house on that lot," says Mrs. King, "so that we can give them
experience in tearing down am existing structure, hauling away the debris, then clearing off the lot. The new home will be started, once the lot is cleared off. We're still on the same time frame for building both homes.. about a year-and-a-half."

"We teach these students how to contribute TO society, instead of drawing ON society."

Meanwhile, one Youth Build homeowner is all too ready to get moved in.

"I'm already saving up for things," says Deborah, "already cutting corners.. I'm already practicing throwing away stuff," she laughs. "I know Youth Build has kicked off the transformation of the community, and I'm proud just like Helen (Bunting--HOPE VI's first homeowner) to be one of the first people in."

"I see this beautiful home as helping change the neighborhood around," she says. She paused for a minute, thinking, then she started giggling. "I can just 'em talking now..' I can't believe she owns that.. I can't believe Deborah lives there.. she got that house. "All I can say is.. they'd better get me a good house-warming gift," she laughed."

"It's a scary thing, home ownership," she says. "I hope the young people don't wait as long as I did to get into it. Get out of the apartments.. you get tired of renting. Rent goes to somebody else, it's paying for somebody else's mortgage and I'm tired of that. The landlord gets all the benefits and tax breaks that homeownership brings.. if I'm paying rent, why can't I pay a mortgage? The same thing I pay in rent, I can pay in a mortgage and I can do to my house what I like."

"In 30 years, I'm going to have the biggest mortgage-burning party you've ever seen," she laughs.

"And Calvin.. you're invited to bring that crazy camera of yours and record the moment."

East Tennessee Politics
Area residents, including Douglass Alumni Association President Doug Releford, listen Tuesday as members of the Sullivan County Election Commission discuss their vote not to reappoint Gena Frye, left, as Sullivan County Administrator of Elections. As is a longtime, common practice in East Tennessee politics, the Republican majority ousted Democrat Frye, the longtime administrator who oversees elections and the election office.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"The Day The Music Died:" Our Historic Douglass Auditorium Has Come Down

Douglass Alumni and Riverview Neighbors, remember the day.. Monday, April 13, 2009. It's the day the music died.

Just as we celebrate the opening of the HOPE VI Homes at Sherwood/Hiwassee that are soon to come to Riverview, our hearts are saddened by the demolition of the historic Douglass School Auditorium that has begun. These pictures captured by Willie Hodges, shows the auditorium coming down in stages, the roof first, then the side walls, including the balcony. The demolition crew has a mandate to have the entire structure down by April 21st, with the all of the debris hauled away shortly afterwards. We'll keep you posted on the demolition progression.

To all the plays we experienced with our families in the audience.. all the announcements we listened to from 'Festa' Dobbins.. all the songs in choruses we sang on the stage.. all the band music we swayed to.. to the final chorus of the Douglass School Song.
The historic Douglass Auditorium.. Monday, April 13, 2009.. The Day The Music Died.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Riverview's Easter Egg Hunt: "An Egg-straordinary Event"


Eden Prater waits and wonders what prizes she might receive at the Easter Egg Hunt at the V.O. Dobbins Center this past Saturday. Sponsored by Kingsport Parks and Recreation, South Central Weed and Seed, New Vision Youth, Elks Lodge Brothers of Clinch Mountain Lodge #531, and the Daughters of Dunbar Temple #344, the event had many prizes donated by area businesses.

Putting their eggs in one basket
TOP LEFT. Children in the 4-and-under age group start the search during the Easter Egg hunt at the V.O. Dobbins Center in Kingsport Saturday. TOP RIGHT, Chloe Ford stops to add another egg to her find as Grayce Stout spots a green egg. LEFT, folks gather to listen to music and wait for the winners of prizes, including many bicycles, to be announced after the ‘Party in the Park’ Easter Egg hunt held in Memorial Park Saturday by the Kingsport First Assembly of God.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Don't Forget - Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday

• KINGSPORT — An Easter egg hunt will be held Saturday at the V.O. Dobbins Community Center, 301 Louis St. The event begins at 1 p.m. for children ages 5-7 and at 2 p.m. for children ages 8-12. The egg hunt is being sponsored by the Kingsport Parks and Recreation community services division, South Central Kingsport Weed and Seed, New Vision Youth, Elks Lodge, Brothers of Clinch Mountain Lodge No. 531, and Daughters of Dunbar Temple No. 344. For more information contact Jason Wilburn at 246-4201, Johnnie Mae Swagerty at 246-6623, Jeannie Hodge at 246-6809 or Mark Kilgore at 224-2489.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Check Out The HOPE VI Pictures--Let's Finish Naming the New Riverview Development!

Folks, when you get a chance.. please check out the new pictures of the HOPE VI homes in the Sherwood-Hiwassee neighborhood of Kingsport. They are posted in the PHOTO GALLERY. The pictures go along with the article posted from the Kingsport Times-News.

To see the HOPE VI Homes at Sherwood-Hiwassee, please click on this link:

HOPE VI Homes - Sherwood/Hiwassee

These are similar to the new homes that will be built on the site of the historic Riverview Apartments, with one exception.. the Riverview HOPE VI homes will be for rent.. not to purchase. If you are interested in renting one of these new units, please CLICK on the link below:

Riverview's HOPE VI Development

Also, we need to wrap up the naming process for the HOPE VI homes' development in Riverview. Below are the names submitted so far, and the votes they have gotten:

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)


THE DEADLINE IS APRIL 15, 2009. After that, we will submit the winning name that we have chosen for the development to be built in our neighborhood.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Douglass Alumni Board Called Meeting 4/4/09

Here is a brief summary of the Douglass Alumni Board called meeting on Saturday, April 9th.

Board President Douglass Releford called the meeting to talk about some discrepancies in the Souvenir Booklet committee's organization.

President Releford was particularly dismayed over the Souvenir Booklet Committee's failure to submit at least three bids for the booklet's publication. He said, it appeaered that committee chairperson Linda Blye had already chosen someone to do the publication, when Releford had said the entire board had not voted on any bids submitted.

Chairperson Blye had convened a committee meeting a week ago (March 28th), and met with publisher Ricky Hancock, and members of the committee, who attended the called Board meeting, reported that Hancock had brought samples of his work, to which committee member Virginia Hankins said were "excellent.. they were better than good, they were great." Committee member Shelia Leeper, also present at the Hancock meeting, also said he does very good work.

Committee members also said that Hancock's price would be from 12 dollars to 15 dollars per booklet. They said Hancock related that the exact price would fluctuate between those amounts, depending on how many color pages were included (an all black-and-white booklet would be the minimum 12 dollars apiece). The Douglass Souvenir Booklet, of which there will be more information on soon, would obviously have some color pages in it. For an all-color booklet, the total price to the Douglass Alumni Association would be about $2,250, so the Board reasoned that the final price would be less than that, but that's what needs to be budgeted for the time being.

There was discussion on whether to just table the Souvenir Booklet activity until Chairperson Blye could bring all of her information to the full Board, including information and prices from at least two more bidders, but several board members and committee members remarked about the lateness of the situation, and that further postponements may delay the publication. Board member George Smith noted for future reference, that the Board needs to invoke proper procedure when dealing with situations like this, and press the need for all committee chairperson appointees to strictly follow the rules the Board has set down, to avoid any future confusion. Board members agreed, and President Releford said he did not have a problem with Mr. Hancock, nor the committee's report on his work, but that the situation did need to be discussed at this called meeting.

With no further discussion, the Douglass Alumni Board voted unanimously to hire Ricky Hancock to publish the Reunion Souvenir Booklet, of which sponsorship ads are already being sold.

The ad prices are 100 dollars for a full page, 50 dollars for a half-page and 35 dollars for a quarter page. Color ads are 10 dollars extra.

So far, ads have been sold to Eastman Chemical ($100), Citizens Bank ($110), Kingsport Times-News ($50.00), American Legion ($50.00), City of Kingsport ($50.00), the Sneed Family ($50.00), Child Development Center ($25.00).

In other business, Ozine Bly has paid Richard Ford of D-J Spontaneous for his services for the Reunion Sock-Hop, and the Reunion Banquet. He also brought to the Board a contract signed by himself and Mr. Ford, with the balance of the contract to be paid the weekend of the Reunion, July 4th.

Board member and Golf Tournament Chairman George Smith told the group, the tournament flyer is ready to be mailed out to potential golfers. He's expecting from 30 to 40 players this year.

There was no new business at the meeting, but Board member and website manager Calvin Sneed requested the full Board's presence on a field trip after the meeting, to the place where the old Douglass School books are being stored for the next School Book Fair. There is a special find that he's made, and is storing it along with the books, which will be good, uplifting news to all Douglass alumni. There will be a story on the find very shortly!

The next scheduled Douglass Alumni Board of Trustees meeting will be at St. Mark's Methodist Church on April 18, 2009 at 1 PM. The meeting will be a pot lunch.

New Pictures The Day Dr. King Was Assassinated in Memphis

As we observe the 41st anniversary of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination way across the state in Memphis, Life Magazine has released new pictures of that fateful day, April 4, 1968.

CAUTION: Some of the pictures are quite graphic, so please proceed with caution as you are viewing them. by checking them out first in the thumbnails at the bottom.

Click on the link below to access the Life Magazine site:

The Day of Dr. King's Assassination

Friday, April 3, 2009

Youth In Praise: "Putting the Young People in Charge"

The young people of Riverview and South Central Kingsport are proving that they have the faith of their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and yes.. even their ancestors.


"Youth in Praise Concert"

The first annual "Youth in Praise" program, held on the 15th of March, was a huge success, owing for the most part, to the spirituality of folks long gone.

"We decided that young people needed to know they have the privilege of praising God just like the older folks," says Mrs. Lillian Leeper with the Little Miss Vision pageant, the sponsor of the program. "The entire program was in the hands of the young people, from the prayer, the Scripture, the songs, the dances and arrangements, everything. And they showed us older folks a thing or two about modern worship."

Several churches were represented by the youth in the program.. dozens of them came from Central Baptist, Shiloh Baptist, Phillipi, Hales Chapel, Ebenezer, Mount Zion Holiness and Friendship in Johnson City.

"Tiera Jordan from Shiloh Baptist just tore the house down, singing 'His Eye Is On The Sparrow," says Mrs. Leeper. "Her voice with the music just moved people to tears. The young man Dearus Porambo from Ebenezer, when he did the Prayer, he got up and calmly said 'Hello everybody.. are we here to worship God? and got the response. It was so sincere. That young man has a future ahead of him."

"Ida Machen sung a song dedicated to the children, and when she talked to the 7 ministers that were present, she told them that these children are our future. She said 'if we don't let them partake in church and let them show us how THEY worship God, then we're lost."

"It was like God was right there in the House, watching his little people," Mrs. Leeper says. "You know, God started from His little people, and to see them worship together, in sincerity.. one minister told me, to see the young people giving their praises, makes you remember: Praises go up, blessings come down. Another preacher just stood up and cried during the dance team performances."

"If you sat there and didn't move.. didn't get motivated.. something was wrong with you."

The program, a first of its kind, was reminiscent of the old days when Reverend Stokeley, Reverend Gaines, Reverend Price, Reverend Turner and the other pillars of the religious black community, used to harness the energy of the young people in the churches, and channel that energy into something productive and positive in the community. Reverend Stokely, in particular, would spot a hyperactive child full of energy and he would tell the parents 'let that child along.. they're all right.' Later, he would get the child in a Sunday School setting, and guide them into the Children's Choir, or the Young People's assembly, or some other activity in the church.

By the observations of the adults present at the "Youth in Praise" program, many of our youth are headed in the right direction.

"We had a blessed crowd," says Mrs. Leeper, "and although it rained all day, by the end of the program, the sun had come out. It was a crowd that knew how to Praise the Lord on the shoulders of our young people, and we definitely hope to try this type of youth program again next year."

The offerings from the program go directly to the Little Miss Vision scholarship fund, and "last year, we gave out two scholarships to deserving youth," says Mrs. Leeper. She also reminded folks of the upcoming Little Miss Vision Pageant on June 27, 2009, that enhances the lives of girls, ages 5 to 12 years old. Through the Little Miss Vision pageant, efforts are made to design and develop spirit, self-respect and encouraging qualities, that are essential for each Little Miss Vision contestant to lead productive lives in society.

The pageant will be held on June 27, 2009 at 7 PM, at the Kingsport Renaissance Center, and the application deadline is April 13th. Call or see Mrs. Leeper to apply: 423-357-6690.

"We let the young girls know that, with their education," says Mrs. Leeper, "they can achieve their goals and dreams."