Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Revival Has Started!


Great Worship Service last night (Monday, March 29th) at Lyons Chapel (New Canton). Shout out to the Central Choir and all my Centralites who showed up last night. We are looking to go even higher tonight! (Tuesday) Eastern TN, meet me in the house!

Children sought for Fun Fest performances

• KINGSPORT — School children between the ages of 6 and 17 who would like to be part of the “Thriller” and “We are the World” performances during this summer’s Fun Fest should attend the practice Thursday at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium, 1550 Fort Henry Drive, beginning at 6 p.m. The performance will be choreographed by Brooke Taylor, and the music director is Angel Pruitt. Johnnie Mae Swagerty will be working with youth ages 6 to 10 on a dance routine to the Jackson 5’s “ABC.” The “Thriller” show will be performed three times during Fun Fest this summer. It is being sponsored by New Vision Youth and the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Department Community Services Division. For more information contact Swagerty at 429-7553, Taylor at 202-4368 or Mark Kilgore at 224-2489.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Riverview Home Ownership: HOPE (VI) and Self-Esteem

Building up self-esteem is the first step to owning home.

It's no secret, and nobody knows that better than Riverview's Jackie McMiller. She recently graduated the first part of the STEPS program, that has her on track to move towards home ownership in the HOPE VI program.

After a life of what she describes as "fast living" including drug abuse, "I want to start thinking about myself better than I have been," Jackie says. "Some day I want something that's mine, that I can say, 'I own this."

"This program is helping me turn my life around."

"Lots of times, people have limiting beliefs," says Maria Catron, HOPE VI Coordinator of Community Supportive Services. "They feel that they are not able, or don't have the potential to secure a job, own a home, those types of things. If, as instructors, we can a person believe in themselves, they'll feel like they have that truth within them. You can build on that, and help with the skills they need, in order to secure employment and move toward self-sufficiency, and ultimately, home ownership."

Typically, this is a five-day school, but allowances are made for working folks, people in school, or folks taking care of young ones or seniors in their homes.

STEPS stands for Steps to Economic and Personal Success. The program was started by Lou Tice of the Pacific Institute, and is taught in many self-help and self-motivation classes around the country. In this case, it helps people seeking ways of increasing their chances of enhanced employment and home ownership opportunities. In Kingsport, it's Basic Instruction 101 in the HOPE VI process.

“To ensure the future success of today’s young people," says Lou Tice during the instruction, "we must address the thought patterns that keep them from living up to their potential. If they don’t believe they can make it, they won’t take advantage of the services that providers are offering.”

"When I first came to this program," Jackie says, "they asked me a lot of questions about myself. I have trouble reading, and when they told me I had to go to classes, I'm thinking 'oh God, how am I gonna go and I don't read so well. But the counselor told me 'Jackie, I got an idea.. we can get you in a class to help you read better, and there's nothing to be ashamed about. I was scared, 'cause that was the first time I ever told anybody that I don't read well. I read enough to get by, but deep down in my heart, I wanted more than that."

One of the hardest things Jackie says, she faces every day, is not being able to read her favorite book.

"I go to church now (Central Baptist), and I really want to be able to read the Bible," she says. "Because I have changed the direction of my life, I'm in church and I go to Bible Study and they say 'turn to this page and read this..' I never stand up and read, because I can't form the words. It's so frustrating."

"I wasn't fooling anybody but myself, and that's when I decided to take charge of my life and do something about my situation."

Jackie's counselor gave her enough self-esteem and tools to work with, to attend the STEPS program we found her enrolled in. "I was real excited about that," she says. "I used to be ashamed, 'oh, I'm not going back to school, I'm almost 50 years old and now, why go back just to learn to read. Just all kinds of questions that could have talked me out of it. Maria Catron echoes that sentiment. "People will tell us 'I'm not able, or don't have the potential for this program,' and that's the first thing we try to change." Jackie says, "I finally realized that it doesn't matter if you're 40, 50, 60 or whatever.. at some point, everybody needs to change the direction in their lives."

Homeownership is the ultimate goal of most of the 11 people in Jackie's STEPS class. When they all graduate, they'll move into more intensive instruction, through a five-year program during which short-term goals include mastering self-esteem, checkbook balancing, interaction with bill collectors, and living-within-your-means, trying to reach the long-range goals of employment and owning a home.

"We've talked with other housing agencies that run the self-sufficiency program in the HOPE VI program," Maria says, "and we asked them if they could do things differently with their clients, what would they do? They said, 'we've had the employment opportunities in place, and we kept seeing folks come back and back and back, and they were struggling. We found out that if we start with THIS point, establishing the 'yes I can, form of self-esteem, and get into the core of their beliefs, that if they can REALLY believe that they can have a different life and a more positive perspective, they'll wind up being more successful."

Getting that self-esteem was difficult in Riverview, Jackie remembers.

"We lived in Apartment 87.. I grew up in '87. I've really been in the projects all my life. My momma got a good job and we moved away for a while. A 'misdirection' I'll call it, led me to drugs, and that was the last straw for me. It was a hard ride on me, and my health suffered. I've now got a pacemaker and a defribrulator and I also have deterioration of the spine. I'm supposed to walk with a cane, because my legs just cut out anytime they want to."

"I've come a long way from that 'bad Jackie,' to this Jackie now, whose learned from past decisions," she says. "I went to treatment centers and none of them worked. I talked to other people and it hadn't worked. But when I went to church and got saved, turns out that was all the help I needed. It was that quick and easy. The Lord turned me 'round and said 'I don't care about your past life. Repentance, and admitting that I needed Jesus in my life sealed the deal. He said, 'I care about your life now so that you can join me in Heaven,' and that was all it took. My life started coming together right then."

That coming together, resulted in a smiling Jackie McMiller, at the graduation for her self-esteem class, held during a luncheon and ceremony at the Food City on Eastman Road in Kingsport. Jackie joined all of her fellow classmates, in taking the ultimate first step to turning that self-esteem and self-sufficiency into possible homeownership one day soon.

"My goal is to move back into Riverview one day," she says. "It's a much better place now than it used to be, and soon it will be even better. All the riff-raff is gone, the club with all the problems, the shootings and carrying on. I don't want to live around that anymore. I'm older, I don't do the club thing, I've found the Lord.. actually He found me, and said 'I am the Way, the Truth and the Light.' One day, I'll look at one of these homes over here, and say 'welcome to my home.. I own this, and I've made it this far."

After going through the program, Jackie feels that the Lord is also pointing her in another direction. "Pastor Dorcean at Central has wanted to get a group together that would help the young people learn about the dangers of drugs and the lives that get ruined by them. One day, I want to be part of that teaching process. They don't want to go down that road. I've been there... I lost a brother to drugs, and almost lost my health. The pain I go through is terrible, and I don't wish that on anybody, not even my worst enemy."

And finally.. Jackie has one more goal. It involves her favorite book.

"One day, I will be able to sit in my own living room by the window in Riverview and read the Bible," she says, pausing to get her composure. In a faltering voice that trails off, she quietly said "Revelation is here, right now.. it's coming true."

"And I want to be able to read it to others, so they can be ready."

"Just like me."

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you're interested in enrolling in the STEPS program, or any of the homeownership opportunities with the HOPE VI program in Kingsport, please call Maria Catron at 423-392-2590, or visit the HOPE VI-Fresh Start website by clicking here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Latest Tour of the HOPE VI Homes in Riverview- March, 2010


Jackie McMiller is a former resident of the Riverview Apartments from back in the day. In the previous article, she mentioned how she eventually wants to own one of the new HOPE VI homes, currently under construction in Riverview.

So, what will those homes look like?

Click here to take the latest tour of the Riverview HOPE VI homes now under construction, taken the last week of March 2010.

Or, if you prefer downloadable pictures, click here to go to the Riverview HOPE VI homes under construction.

The homes closer to the end are the ones nearest to completion.

For your convenience, we have linked each home's style name to the current home under construction under that name.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Douglass Historical Marker Has Arrived... Way Early


The "long wait" from the Tennessee Historical Commission for the Douglass High School Historical Marker.. is over.

The marker is here.


What was supposed to be a 14-to-16 week wait for Douglass and Riverview to take its place in the history books, took less than a month to complete.

Right now, the marker is about 20 miles away from its permanent home in Kingsport, and we have the very first exclusive pictures of it.



A spokesman at the Tennessee Department of Transportation's Signs and Markings office confirms, the marker commemorating "Douglass High School - Kingsport", arrived at the state garage in Johnson City on Tuesday, March 22rd, a whopping 13 weeks ahead of schedule.

"Right now, was a good time to get the Douglass marker done," said Bradford Smith, 3rd-generation president of Sewah Studios in Marietta, Ohio. He said in an interview this week with the Douglass Alumni Association, his company is contracted to make about 75 per cent of all the historical markers in the United States.


"Typically, it's about 4 to 6 weeks for us to turn a marker around, once we get the fee, we start and finish the project, and it's then shipped off to the recipient," he says. "Much of the time, it does take longer, depending on our work load, which pushes the receiving time by the states way back. We have 20 employees, that fluctuates with production. Right now, production is the highest it's ever been."

Believe it or not, that high production schedule is the very reason the Douglass Historical Marker got moved to the top of the manufacturing list.


"Right now, we're working on a huge project with the state of Alabama," Smith says. "They have us doing 215 historical markers to be delivered by November, and while we're focused on that, it's not a higher priority than the markers that came ahead of them. That's where the Douglass marker came in. Although Alabama 'struck when the fire was hot,' we had a small few orders already in. Douglass was one of those."


Remembering that the Douglass Alumni Association had just received approval for the historical marker on February 19th, "we got the order for the Douglass marker on March 9th," says Smith, "and here, you and I are talking about the finished product on the 19th. We almost beat our own deadline for making one. We had a situation where the Alabama markers are starting to stack up on us in a bottleneck, and we went ahead and did the Douglass one and a few others, to get ready for Alabama."

Every state has a different-looking marker, that sets theirs apart from other states and municipalities. Smith says, Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kansas, Oklahoma, Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Missouri and Iowa ALL purchase their official state markers from Sewah Studios. He says, the company does between 10 and 20 historical markers for the Tennessee Historical Commission every year.


"There's a numbering system that we use, which the folks in Tennessee came up with back in 1952," said Smith. "It's an alpha-numeric system of sequential numbering for each of its markers. The idea was that, for each year starting in 1952, there would be, say, 20 markers done for Tennessee that year, 1 through 20, then the next year 1953, they would start at 53, then 1 through 20, and then they would advance like that every year. Well somehow, the sequencing never advanced, and now the Tennessee numbering system is kind of unique to just Tennessee historical markers."

"Probably nobody but me, and a couple of the older folks who work around the shop here, know that," he chuckled.


How does the process to form a Tennessee historical marker work? If you've seen one, it starts just like you would think.. with a blank molded pattern sheet that Smith says, is state property, almost like a copyright.

"We take that sheet, and typeset it by hand," he says. "We set all the letters out, according to the text we received, on trays, and then transfer all of them in order, to the blank pattern. Then, we glue them on, in the manner that they'll read. The pattern then goes into the sand foundry, and we start ramping up each side, making two molds, front and back."

"At that point, once the molding process is done," Smith says, "we'll actually transfer molten aluminum out of the holding furnace into the hand molds, and it becomes the marker casting. Really, from that point on, it's just a matter of cleaning it up and getting it ready to paint with the black paint. It's then painted, dried, everything is checked and double-checked, and then it's wrapped up and shipped to you."

The Douglass Historical Marker is a unique two-sided marker, with different text on both sides. It joins two other East Tennessee two-sided markers, one at Erwin, Tennessee for the "Battle of Red Banks" and another two-sided marker scheduled for the Baileyton School in Greene County. That's because there was so much information about the building, location or site, that the Tennessee Historical Commission felt that the markers merit two different sides of information.

Does that present any problems in the manufacturing process?

"Actually, it's the reverse with a two-sided, or even a one-sided marker," Smith says. "Occasionally, we'll get text for just one side with the back side blank. You wouldn't think that would cause a problem, but it really adds a separate step during which we have to take apart and remove the process for making a marker with the same, or different text on the back side. With the two-sided marker, like the Douglass one, you do have to typeset two different patterns, which does increase the work load, and the price."

Most people who notice the markers, or sometimes, stop and read them, may not realize the care and patience that goes into making one.

"We take a lot of pride in our work," says Smith. "Our product is going all around the country. People from presidents, to rock stars, to movie stars, to my family, your family, everybody... they're getting to enjoy the historical work that we do right here in little bitty Marietta on the banks of the Ohio River. Our employees consider each marker a work of art, because they're helping to extend the heritage of a person, a building, or a place. It's a neat feeling."

And to the people of Kingsport, the residents of the Riverview community, and to the Douglass alumni, Smith has words of pride.

"Always be very proud of your school's heritage, its history in the state, and its legacy in the community," he says. "None of us has ever visited your school, but we feel like it's part of us now. Through this marker and others, we understand how important they are to your city and community just like you do, and we're real proud to be a part of that. Quite a few hands went into the making of your historical marker and have their work in it."

"We're just proud to have put it together in a lasting form for you all."

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Douglass Historical Marker will be placed in a special ceremony, planned on the day the ribbon is cut at the grand re-opening of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex. That date has not been scheduled yet, but we are planning a huge alumni and neighborhood homecoming program for that day. Everything depends on the progress of the renovation work. More information will come as soon as it's available. We're on it.

Kingsport Animal Control looks for suspect who left dog to die in Riverview

‘Hope’ was found at 225 Dunbar St. with bones protruding, a chain embedded in her neck and no strength to stand.



KINGSPORT — A female hound named “Hope” was found at an abandoned Kingsport house Thursday with a chain embedded in her neck and no strength to stand.

An animal cruelty investigation has been launched into the discovery, said Kingsport Animal Shelter supervisor Donna Davidson. Hope was found at 225 Dunbar Street in Riverview.
“The strange thing about this is a perfectly healthy dog was found on the front porch. (Hope) was found in the back,” said Davidson. “It looks to us like someone was taking care of the one dog and left the female to die. About every bone in her body was protruding out. It looks like she’s been this way for weeks, maybe months.
“We took her to the shelter and were able to remove the chain from her neck, but we have her scheduled for the veterinarian’s office. She’ll probably have to be there for several days because she is in bad shape, but she should pull through.”
Davidson said the animal control officer reported that the house was abandoned, and the investigation is ongoing.
Hope, estimated by Davidson to be 10 to 12 years old, also has two severe ear infections and will need a home once she fully recovers from her ordeal.
“We see too many of these cases, and we want to see every dog and cat adopted. But I think Hope deserves to live out her final years with somebody who can care for her and enjoy her. She deserves that after being put through this,” said Davidson.
Anyone with information regarding this case can contact the Kingsport Animal Shelter at 247-1671.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pastor Lillie Turner: Celebrating More than 50 Years of Working With People

"I enjoy working with people amen, because I'm a people person."

Pastor Lillie Turner has promised herself that she will slow down, but will she? At 88 years young, she has plenty of reason to finally slow it down. For the past 20 years, she has pastored the Mount Zion Holiness Church in Riverview, and on the occasion of her retirement, she says, if she had the chance, she wouldn't change a thing.

To see a slideshow of Pastor Lillie Turner's Retirement Appreciation Celebration, please click here.

To download pictures of Pastor Lillie Turner's Retirement Appreciation Celebration, please click here.

"We've had plenty of ups and downs," she reminisced at a retirement celebration in her honor on Saturday, March 20, 2010. "I've cried sometimes, but somehow the Lord has been good to us and we've been able to hold it together. We've got good people, and the Lord has blest us."

Sister Turner took over the pastorship at Mount Zion when her husband, legendary Pastor James Turner passed away in 1990.

Many of the faithful came to the retirement celebration, held at the 1st Apostolic Christian Church on Stone Drive in Kingsport. There were plenty of inspirational stories passed around, that brought around a lot of memories, along with some good food prepared by the church.

"She served well as First Lady," says daughter-in-law Margaret Turner. "After the passing, the Bishop at that time, Bishop Jones of the Bishop cabinet, talked to her about taking over the pastoralship at Mount Zion in Kingsport. She was very reluctant at the time, but... I really liked what the preacher said about it at Revival this past Thursday night (March 18, 2010)... He said that Pastor Lillie came at a time when we, as a church, needed to be loved. Afte 30 years of serving as First Lady of the church, all of a sudden, now she's got this added responsibility of being the Pastor."

"You won't find a more passionate woman in the Spirit as Pastor Turner," Margaret says. "She has the patience of Job, which is important in the times we live in. She's 88 years old, and anybody knows that if you've been pastoring a church, it becomes a bond. You can't really go anywhere, you can't really do anything, because your devotion to the church and the people grows stronger every year. She really needs the break, because she takes the church to heart, and it shows up in her health. Because God has been good to her, her health has held up. Even with some rocky roads, I think she's enjoyed the trip."

Pastor Turner says, she's got some special times to look back on.

"I really enjoyed going to the conventions, the Pentacostal Assemblies of the World Conventions at the headquarters in Indianapolis," she says. "Every year, we went to different places, different cities and me and my husband always enjoyed that. We listened and talked to other ministers on how they deal with the times, and comforting people. Sometimes, it was rough.. rough, trying to keep things together, but God is Good. I had to cry a lot of times, stay awake at night a lot of times, but through it all, the Lord has blest me."

"If I stub my toe, she's not gonna sleep tonight," says daughter-in-law Margaret. "It's been a challenge for her because she cares so much for everybody, and always wants to be there for them. She's padded the road for people in the neighborhood. We've had the bitter with the sweet, but the Lord has been good."

Mount Zion is going to be in good hands. Her son, Pastor Lester Turner is taking over the pastorship from his mother, and he knows he has some big shoes to fill.

"Carrying out my mother's vision will be a challenge, especially in this day and time," he says. "The community is in a lot of unrest these days.. a lot of people out of work, a lot of insecurities, people dissatisfied. We'll just show them that the Lord is fully able, not only to intervene for them spiritually, but he is also a provider for us materially. It's like Jeremiah said, you have to keep on hammering, like a hammer against a rock. The Word just keeps going forward, to bust up that stony heart. I'm very optimistic about it. My mother will rest, but I know her.. she'll be there to support what we're doing, and we'll be hard-pressed to slow her down."

"Lester's more like his dad," Margaret says. "He believes that Holiness is not a lifestyle.. it's not something you do. It's something that you ARE. It's the only way of gospel preaching, just like his father. My father-in-law was a stern, disciplined preacher in the Word. Nothing ever got past him. You could tell him what troubling you, and somehow he got around to your heart and saw what really was making it heavy. He could touch you that way. Lester has a vision from both his parents, because we are living in the Age of Laodicea (Revelation 3:1). We know that that was the last church to receive letters, and that's where we are (for Bible scholars, in Revelation 2, letters went out to the 7 Churches, and the Church of Laodicea's letter says, in essence, 'although you are rich and do not require anything, yet you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.. Be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.').

"Right now, we're caught up in the big money," Margaret Turner says. "It's all big business, the color black, and Lester is more like 'we'll help you if you want to be helped, so you can make the Rapture.' I do see a big change and a big improvement and a taking over."

His mom credits good friends with standing by her, when she's needed advice. "Mary Alice Whiteside is a special friend," she says, "and also Pastor Louis Herbert and especially Bishop Aaron Redd. I had to lean on them for support, and they've stood with me, and by me."

"My mother-in-law needs the rest," Margaret says, "and Lester will be a good pastor in the church. She needs to rest, and she'll have a good rest in the Lord. But we'll be hard-pressed to make her rest, 'cause she'll always want to be involved in the church."

"It's always been in her life."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Kingsport Easter Egg Hunt set for April 3


• KINGSPORT — The annual Easter Egg Hunt sponsored by the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Community Service Division, New Vision Youth, South Central Weed and Seed and the Brothers of Clinch Mountain Lodge No. 531 will be held April 3 from 10 a.m. until noon for children 2 to 11 years old.

The Easter Egg Hunt will be held at Borden Park.

Children ages 2 to 5 will hunt from 10 until 10:30 a.m., and the finder of the surprise egg will win a scooter. Children ages 6 to 11 will hunt from 11 to 11:30 a.m., and the finder of the surprise egg will win a bicycle. Each child will receive an Easter goodie bag. The public is invited to attend. For more information contact Johnnie Mae Swagerty at 429-7553, Jeannie Hodges at 246-6809 or Mark Kilgore at 367-2921.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Clarksville Northeast drops D-B

Indians’ 85-30 loss in Class AAA quarters sets state tournament record



MURFREESBORO — The performance by Dobyns-Bennett’s basketball team in the quarterfinals of the Class AAA state basketball tournament Thursday night wasn’t exactly what veteran coach Charlie Morgan has grown accustomed to.

Clarksville Northeast defeated the Indians 85-30 to set a TSSAA record.
The Eagles (29-2) had historians scrambling. This was the widest margin of victory in state tourney annals, topping the 51 point spread by Meigs County in an 87-36 victory over South Fulton in 1962.
D-B junior Juwan Johnson said playing in the event was an experience and offered an after-thought: “We’ve got another year.’’

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Public Service Announcement - Town Hall Meeting - Underage Drinking



Key Facts

*Alcohol is the most widely used substance of abuse among America’s youth. A higher percentage of youth in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades used alcohol in the month prior to being surveyed than used tobacco or marijuana, the illicit drug most commonly used by adolescents.

*In 2008, about 10.1 million persons aged 12 to 20 (26.4 percent of this age group) reported drinking alcohol in the past month. Approximately 6.6 million were binge drinkers (1.5 percent among 12 or 13 year olds, 6.9 percent among 14 or 15 year olds, 17.2 percent among 16 or 17 year olds, 33.7 percent among persons aged 18 to 20), and 2.1 million (5.5 percent) were heavy drinkers.

*Alcohol use among children and adolescents starts early and increases rapidly with age. In 2008, nearly 16 percent of 8th graders, almost 29 percent of 10th graders, and over 43 percent of 12th graders reported drinking an alcoholic beverage in the previous month. Heavy drinking is a problem at all three-grade levels. Among eighth graders, about 1 in 20 (5.4 percent) reported being drunk at least once in the past month. Nearly 1 out of every 7 10th graders (14.4 percent) and about 2 out of every 7 12th graders (27.6 percent) reported being drunk at least once in the last month.

*Early onset of drinking can be a marker for future problems, including alcohol dependence and other substance abuse. Those who begin drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are five times more likely than those who start at age 21 and older to develop alcohol problems.9

*Each year, approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking. This figure includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes; 1,600 as a result of homicides; 300 from suicide; and hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns, and drownings.

*Underage alcohol use increases the risk of being involved in physical and sexual assault and can lead to risky sexual behavior. It also is associated with academic failure, illicit drug use, tobacco use, and a range of physical consequences—from hangovers to deaths from alcohol poisoning.

*Alcohol can cause alterations in the structure and function of the developing brain, which continues to mature into a person’s twenties, and may have consequences reaching far beyond adolescence.

*Perceived parental disapproval is a powerful influence on youthful alcohol use. Children who believe their parents would strongly disapprove of their using a particular substance are less likely to do so than those whose parents somewhat disapprove or neither approve nor disapprove.

*Parental involvement is another important factor. In 2008, past-month use of illicit drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol (including binge drinking) was lower among youth aged 12 to 17 who reported that their parents always or sometimes engaged in monitoring behaviors (for example, helping children with homework, limiting television and time out with friends on school nights, and requiring them to do chores) than among youth whose parents “seldom” or “never” engaged in such behaviors.



Presentation by Members of Sullivan County Juvenile Court-Kingsport
Panel Discussion-Young Adults
March 22, 2010 – 5:30 P. M.
Kingsport Center for Higher Education
300 W. Market Street
Kingsport, TN
Reception following the meeting


Technology Petting Zoo


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cooking Show with Gerry Harrison

Our own Gerry Harrison appears on Channel 16 in Kingsport, with a good, ole-fashioned downhome recipe called a "one skillet meal."

Please click here for Gerry's "One Skillet Meal!"

Peak Construction on V.O. Dobbins Reached; Most Work Winding Down

Renovations to the V.O. Dobbins Complex have reached their peak.

It's all downhill now, moving fast towards a July 1st completion.

To take a slideshow tour of the V.O. Dobbins Non-Profit Tower, please click here.

"The non-profit tower now has its carpet laid in all the offices," says architect Dineen West, who shared update information with the Douglass Website recently. "The punch list has been completed, any additions or deletions have been made, and finishing touches are in place with the little modifications that will make the tower tenant-ready soon."

"Each floor has a break room, and each office also has a break room that tenants will share. Those are kitchen-type areas with cabinets, drawers, spaces for microwaves and other electric appliances."

"All the wiring is in, phone lines are mostly in place, water is running, lights are on, and the basic construction is over," she says. "Everything has been checked, and will stand some re-checking over the next couple of months."

Will there be early occupancy for the tower BEFORE the July 1st completion date?
Perhaps in April or May?

"Right now, we don't know if the fire marshall will allow us to occupy a portion of the building without having the rest of the work done," says Mrs. West. "No decision has been made yet if that will be possible while workers are still hammering."

One thing's for certain. The tower that will house the Greater Kingsport United Way, Mountain States Speech and Hearing, the American Legion, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and other non-profit Kingsport agencies is a "towering" presence in the Riverview community, standing in the location where, just over a year ago, the old Douglass School auditorium stood.

To take a slideshow of the new V.O. Dobbins gym, and a nostalgic tour of renovations to the old gym, please click here.

Elsewhere, the wood floor is being installed on the floor of the new gymnasium.

"The new Douglass School colors of blue and gold really stand out in that gym," Mrs. West says. "The off-white color really makes the blue and gold prominent in the room..you can't help but notice it. What will really set that room off, is when we get the gym bleachers in, with the reminder of the school that called the building home for years. The bleachers will alternate blue and gold, and they will really add a splash of color to the room."

The new gym floor being laid down is a maple color, and it will have blue lines painted for the basketball boundaries. "That will really tie in with the overall theme of the room," Mrs. West says.

One other noticeable item in the new gym, is the signed beam in a prominent corner of the building. Many Douglass alumni and Riverview residents signed their names into history during the weeks the beam was available for signing, in the hallway of the old Douglass School. The beam can be seen from most parts of the gym, but may require binoculars to read the individual signatures.

"The estimated target for completion of both gyms is the end of March," says Mrs. West, "but it's kind of difficult to pinpoint exactly what the final timeframe will be. "The contractor is also working hard on the renovation of the old gym. It's had the heating, but now it's got air conditioning, something it's never had before. We have 'to do' dates that we go over with the contractor every two weeks, and within that, the sub-contractors their their own 'to do' dates."

The second floor of the old Douglass High School is a busy construction place right now, too. When school was in session, one part of the second floor housed the library.

"The accounting suite for the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency and its conferencing suite are in accelerated construction mode," says Mrs. West. "Progress has been thorough, but slowed in that area, because there are still open offices with people there. Other renovation projects on the second floor have been done in phases, while we work around with people in their offices."

And then, what Douglass Alumni, the people of Riverview, South Central Kingsport and the surrounding community consider the "crown jewel" of the entire renovation project.

The Douglass Community Room. We found out, it's a little project area of its own.

To take a slideshow tour of the V.O. Dobbins Douglass Community Room under construction, please click here.

"We are shooting for the end of March, the first of April for completion of the Douglass Room," Mrs. West says.

"It's got a unique arch in the ceiling, plus columns that wrap around the existing steel support beams," she says. "If you'll remember, to support the upper floor, we had to install two 2,000-foot beams in the ceiling. They're long beams that go the length of the room, to allow for open space on the first floor for the entire room. Those now have a decorative covering, and so do the columns that support them. There will be an accent band that will be darker blue. In that room, we decided to go with the Douglass School colors of darker gold and darker blue, and there will be a darker blue accent band that will go around the perimeter of the room."

"The first of 3 display cases will be black, and the carpet inside is an upbeat navy blue and gold," says Mrs. West. "It's located into the wall of the Douglass Alumni Association office, facing out into the bigger room. When we get all the parts and pieces in for the carpet and the custom trophy cases, it will really set the Douglass Community Room off, really accent it.

"The larger of the 3 display cases, is of a display type," she says, "for showing off school and community memorabilia. It's located into the outside wall of the Douglass Community Room, with an entrance to the room on either side of it. The wall it's in, is another of the support walls for the second floor. The other display case is into the wall of the UETHRA check-in office, as you enter the hallway from the gym. These will be heavily-used entrances and hallways because they take people from the guyms and the Louis Street entrance into the building. Two hallways will lead down to the Douglass Room."

On the wall that used to have the Douglass Auditorium on the other side of it, are two entrances to the first floor of the non-profit tower, which is there now. "The doors are there for convenience," says Mrs. West, "so that people won't have to go outside to go from the tower to the gym areas. If the non-profits have a board meeting, banquet or event that requires the room, the doors are there for access. Building maintenance people, janitors and building supervisors can also use those doors to get from one end of the building to the other.

"The one door into the Douglass Room to the Mountain States Speech and Hearing office will be rarely used; it just seemed a shame not to have a door cut through, if the folks in the non-profit tower wanted to go over to the gym or access the courtyard on their lunch hours, or walk around for exercise."

To take a slideshow tour of the V.O. Dobbins courtyard, please click here.

Speaking of the courtyard, "the sidewalks are in now, and you can get a feel for what the area will look like,' says Mrs. West. "You can now get a sense of how the proposed artwork will look, how the landscaping will fit in. There's also parking in front of it, but it's a fairly large area for outdoor events, people eating lunch, or having get-togethers."

The planter is also in, outside the non-profit tower. "Right now, we don't know if a sculpture is going in there, or a flower garden arrangement or both," she says. But the planter is there, and I'm sure the landscaper and the Arts Council are looking at that area closely, to see what fits in best there. It is the main entrance for the non-profit tower, and will see a lot of traffic."

"The well-drilling is almost complete on the Riverview Community Center for the HOPE VI homes," says Mrs. West.

It's located on the other side of the gyms, between the gyms and the football field.

"The geo-thermal wells that will heat and cool the building are so very unique. There will be 25 of those wells, which will comprise the heating and cooling for that building. KHRA (the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority) applied for a grant for the geo-thermal wells, and they got it. That room and the Douglass Room will be approximately the same size. The time frame has that building finished around September 1st, 2 months behind everything else. Approval came late for that, and we had some catching up to do."

"The only free wall on the entire floor," she says, "is the wall of the Douglass Community Room, towards the back of the room, between the Douglass Alumni office and the catering kitchen. We had discussed with you I believe, making that wall a "Wall of Fame" for the alumni association and the community. Every other wall has either windows, doors, display cases, or something like that."

"There will also still be room for flag football, soccer and other athletics on the old Douglass Ballfield at the end of the day. "As soon as we finish the construction work on the Riverview Community Room," she says, "we will dress that area back up, paint the lines, and prepare it for the athletics it served before. The only thing missing will be baseball, there may not be room enough to hold a good homerun in the ballpark anymore."

To see a slideshow tour of the new Headstart classrooms and UETHRA offices, please click here.

One thing not touched on in the interview with Mrs. West, is the new entrance for Headstart and the new office building and classrooms for the UETHRA employees. Columns are in place now at the former Douglass School rear entrance, often a neglected area of the building. It's now a showcase entrance to what used to be the back door. Oddly enough, dozens of Douglass School children used to race out that door to the school playground for lunch and outdoor exercises..now, 44 years after the school closed, little children will once again race through the doors, bound for whatever educational opportunities await them.

"When you get into deadlines, many things can slow down the progress of any project," says Mrs. West. "The weather had been a factor, with all the rains of the fall, and the snows of the winter. July 1st sounds like a long time away, but in the reality of the construction world, it's just around the corner..all of a sudden, it's here. We don't really want to tell people that the building, or parts of it, will open early, and then some little glitch sets the move-in back. The contractors and the individual sub-contractors have been working regular hours, and then weekends and holidays, even working at night, to try and stay ahead."

All told, the renovated V.O. Dobbins Complex, with the Douglass Alumni Office and the Community Room, the center of a showplace for the community, the city of Kingsport, Upper East Tennessee and the rest of the state and region as a whole.

"It's been a long time coming and a longer time in the discussion stage," Mrs. West says, "but I think it's going to be worth it. It will be a building to be proud of."

For downloadable pictures of the V.O. Dobbins Complex renovations, please click here.