Monday, May 31, 2010

Riverview Place HOPE VI Homes Now 50% Completed: Many Families Halfway to Dream


"It's time to stop the negative, and work on the positive."

That's the attitude of one couple, approved for one of the new HOPE VI homes for rent in Riverview Place.

"We would love it here, compared to where we are," says Matt and Charity Skeen, referring to the apartment they rent now from Kingsport Housing at Holly Hills. "There's nothing worse than hearing your neighbors going up and down the stairs, washing machines turning on and off, little stuff like that," Matt says. "In Riverview, there is more privacy," Charity put in.



The Skeens are impressed with the layout of the Riverview Place homes, and with the speed at which they're being constructed.

"Right now, the homes are about 45% complete," says Doris Ladd, HOPE VI Redevelopment Director. "In the meantime, Darlene Gibson and Maria Catron (HOPE VI specialists) have been working with potential clients who have gone through the STEPS program that helps them get a handle on their financial situation."



The Skeens have completed the STEPS program towards homeownership, and have been approved for one of the new HOPE VI rental properties in Riverview. STEPS stands for Steps To Econoomic and Personal Success, and is a requirement of every participant in the HOPE VI project.

Charity has high praise for the program.

"It definitely helps you get control of credit, financially... in ways you never thought of," she says. "Pennies here, pennies there, dollars here and there. It adds up to hundreds of dollars evenaully that you didn't even know you could save."

"It's amazing," Chastity says. "We're saving lots of money."



The Skeens are among the dozens of applicants hoping to move into the new housing at Riverview Place in the near future. Many of them are former Riverview Apartment residents, wanting to come back home.

"We currently have a total of 93 households interested in residency at Riverview Place," says Maria Catron, HOPE VI CSS Coordinator. "Of those, 40 are original Riverview resident households. To date, 27 households are eligible to occupy Riverview Place, with 16 of that 17 being original Riverview households."

We're told the homes are about 50 per cent complete, and appear to right on track for their arrivals.. in some cases, their RE-ARRIVALS.



From an historical perspective, the process back in 1939 and 1940 to build the Riverview Apartments started at the corner of Lincoln Street and Carver Street.. Those apartments were built with more bedrooms to accomodate the larger families. Construction then came along Lincoln to Louis Street. All those apartments had the lowest numbers. Then, after the Booker Street units were finished, the construction came back over to Carver, over to Douglass, down to Louis and then ended at Booker.



The homes at Riverview Place, are being built in the opposite manner.

"The building process for Riverview Place began along Douglass Street, then down Louis Street and over to Carver Street, with both sides aiming at MLK/Lincoln Street," says Mrs. Ladd. "The homes along MLK are the last to be built."



There are alley ways behind each home, much like the alleys once between the Riverview Apartments. The NEW alleys won't come close to resembling the narrow ones of old.

"The new alleys will be city-owned and maintained," says Mrs. Ladd. "They'll be as wide as streets, but they'll be considered alleys, just to provide access to the backyards of the homes."



"We are ahead of schedule right now," she says. "The contractor has gotten all of the home under construction, with the last remaining foundation going in where a large mound of topsoil was pushed to, to level the site. That dirt mound has been at the corner of Carver and MLK" (Editor - that mound has been providing a bird's eye view of the entire site, as it did in the above picture).



"The contractor is coordinating the remaining construction, towards perhaps allowing some of the finished homes to be occupied while the building of the others is going on," she says. "The contractor is Armstrong Construction of Kingsport..they've been here more than 40 years. They've been able to get away from the problems the other contractor had at Sherwood-Hiwassee. They had inadequate inspections in my opinion by the person that lender Cornerstone hired. We have taken further steps to make sure that was corrected."



Is there a finish date in mind? Watch for fences and barricades to go up at that time, signaling that homes are finished, awaiting final inspections.

"We are on target to complete everything by the first of October," Mrs. Ladd says. "We're obligated to be finished by the first of December, but the forward progress is pointing towards October 1st. The goal is to have everyone in the homes by the end of October before the real cold weather sets in, and hopefully have them moving in by the first of that month."



That is welcome news for the Skeens, who are hoping to move in by the first of January, if not sooner.

"Matt likes the Douglass Home and also the Pierce Home, because of the layouts," says Charity Skeen. "The Douglass Home has a nice little porch you can sit on and hopefully look at the park (the Douglass ballfield), to watch the kids."



At one time, Riverview had the worst crime reputation in the entire city. It's a past that anybody familiar with Kingsport remembers.

"Oh yeah.. I had heard stories," Matt Skeen says, "and I was iffy at first when I heard they were building the new homes in Riverview. But the improvements and things they're doing, have made it much safer and more comforting. We'll love living here even if it's for a little while, and we'll love our neighbors."



That philosophy of neighborliness is one of the basics of the STEPS program the Skeens just completed.

"It's a great class that starts everybody off in the same boat," Mrs. Ladd says. "Most people go into it hesitantly, but I think 99.9 per cent come out of it saying, 'my goodness, I'm glad I did this.'"



Meanwhile, the HOPE VI homes that are also for rent in the Riverview neighborhood, offsite from the old apartments property, are just about finished. Two of those new rental homes are on Carver Street where the old Simpson Brown home used to be, two others are on Carver beside the Swan home, and the last two are on Wheatley Street directly across from entrance to the Toy Reid Center parking lot.

"The off-site HOPE VI homes for rent should be ready to offer for occupancy in the middle of next month," says Mrs. Ladd. "They got finished first, because construction on them got started first."



The Skeens are counting the days until they can move in to their new home.

"From where we are now," Chastity says, "it will be more happiness than we've ever had as a family. This will be a great place to raise a family, as it has always been for people from years ago."

Rebel Flag Editorial: The Real Reason for the Flag

Please see the editorial from the Kingsport Times-News that is posted below. It is also posted on the RIVERVIEW FEATURES - OPINIONS - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR page so that you can compare facts from the editorial to other opinions.

The editorial is from John Gripentrog, assistant professor of history at Mars Hill College.

The Real Reason Behind the Rebel Flag (And Why Some People Adamently Support It)

THIS EDITORIAL FROM THE KINGSPORT TIMES-NEWS, SUNDAY, MAY 30, 2010

Without slavery, there never would have been a rebel flag

John Gripentrog is an assistant professor of history at Mars Hill College.




The recent uproar at Sullivan South over the Confederate flag, the most popular symbol of the Civil War, reminds us of the importance of understanding our own past. The “flag issue” invariably raises blood pressures, rouses righteous rhetoric, and all too often misses the deeper historical significance. It’s time we get it right. Only by facing the past with integrity and courage will we as a nation progress toward a more perfect union. To this end, what’s needed is an honest appraisal of the core issue — one that gets beyond hackneyed justifications and goes to the heart of the matter.
The Confederate flag emerged out of civil war, so the crucial question remains: What was the principal cause of violence between the states? Was the war fought over states’ rights? Yes, but states’ rights for what? Over Fifth Amendment property rights? Sure, but property rights regarding what? Over regional economics? Of course, but what was the foundation of the South’s economy? No matter how one cuts it, the unequivocal answer to each question is slavery (or, more precisely, its expansion into the western territories). There is no war between North and South, and, thus, no rebel flag, without slavery — period.
A preferred explanation among pro-flag backers is that the flag is about “heritage” and not hate. But civil war did not come between North and South because of Northern disdain for Southern heritage. President Lincoln never denounced Southern architecture, folk music, religiosity, or diet. A better insight into the flag’s heritage can be found in the Confederate constitution, which guaranteed the right to own slaves no less than nine times. Or on various Confederate currencies, which often depicted laboring slaves. Moreover, the notion of “heritage” begs the question: whose heritage? Most of the Deep South states had a slave population that outnumbered white residents.
Not only must we recognize that the war was fundamentally premised on slavery, it is also important to reflect soberly on the nature of slavery. It is all too easy to let the word “slavery” pass between one’s lips without appreciating the consequences of that profound imbalance of power — the violence, the prevalence of sexual abuse and rape, and the routine selling of human beings as one would sell a mule. Imagine if you will a knock at your door this evening by someone who has come to take away forever your spouse, a child, siblings, or parents. That was the reality of the Civil War’s fundamental cause.
Still, it is also important to distinguish between why Southern men eagerly signed up to fight for the Confederacy, as opposed to the war’s fundamental cause of slavery. Despite a single great cause, myriad reasons drove men to the battlefield (75 percent of Southerners did not own slaves). All we know for certain is that hundreds of thousands of men fought and died. As such, it is entirely appropriate to memorialize the Confederate dead by flying the battle flag at Civil War cemeteries. Beyond that, however, publicly displaying the flag remains historically na├»ve and deeply offensive.
In light of this contentious issue, it may be instructive for Americans to return to Lincoln’s words in his 1863 Gettysburg Address. By beginning his memorial speech, “Four score and seven years ago,” Lincoln returned not to the U.S. Constitution (whose compromises allowed for slavery’s continuation), but rather to the Declaration of Independence, which boldly declared that all men are created equal. The president concluded by solemnly urging the nation to dedicate itself to “a new birth of freedom.” The point was unmistakable: a civil war brought on by slavery necessitated a new birth of freedom.
The Confederate flag — a singular creation of the Civil War — remains first and foremost a symbol of the ambitions to preserve slavery and prevent a new birth of freedom in America. For Americans who have ignored this undeniable historical truth, may they be guided in the future by the better angels of their nature.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rebel Flag Flap at Sullivan South: An Editorial

FOR THE DOUGLASS ALUMNI ASSOCIATION - KINGSPORT
DOUG RELEFORD, PRESIDENT



You've come a long way, baby.

We're not talking about cigarettes.

Relations between Black America and White America has come a long way. We've all been through a lot.

It has only been a year since our wonderful city was shocked by racial graffiti scrawled on the I-26 Meadowview overpass, some of it directed at President Obama. At this writing, the young man accused in the case is requesting judicial diversion. The incident was embarrassing to both blacks and whites in Kingsport, and was promptly and properly denounced by both.

And now, once again, racial intolerance rears its ugly head just outside our doors. This time, in the form of the rebel flag, waved by our neighbors who may not really understand what it means.

At a public institution of learning, of all places.

There probably is not an African-American in this country that can look at the rebel flag, and not have disdain for what it represents in our history. We will not debate the emotional controversy evoked by the rebel flag. It was carried by Confederates during the Civil War, and later waved by hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

Period. 'Nuff said.

Unfortunately, now, the rebel flag is being waved by a whole new generation. A generation that may not understand why it is offensive to many people. And not just a few hundred people. More like... several MILLION.

This new generation says, the rebel flag is all about heritage, not hate. They say, their forefathers fought and died for the rebel flag. They will tell you that, to respect their ancestors, means respect for the rebel flag.

Should ancestral respect be more important, than respect for millions of people who find the rebel flag offensive? Perhaps in their own homes on their own property.. but not on public school grounds paid for by public tax dollars, or school-sponsored public events.

It was just recently that a young 18-year-old aspiring Marine candidate was rejected by the U.S. Marine Corps, because he has the tatoo of a rebel flag on his shoulder.
Click here to read the article from World Net Daily.

The issue of the rebel flag on public school property has also come up before. The
6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati dismissed a lawsuit filed over the ban of the rebel flag at Maryville (Tennessee) High School in 2008.
Click here to read the Wikipedia article where the ban was upheld at Maryville High School.

A case from William Blount High School in Blount County was also upheld to ban the rebel flag from public school property. The case from William Blount eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the 6th Circuit Court's decision to ban the flag.
Click here to read the article on the Blount High School case.

These are legal precedents that cannot be ignored in Sullivan South's case.

Whether Sullivan South has ever named the rebel flag as its "official flag" does not matter. The Sullivan County School Board and its superintendent have jurisdiction over whether the flag can be brought onto school property and to school-sponsored events.

It is unfortunate that Sullivan South High School, an institution of excellent learning, where children take steps into adulthood, is dragged into the views of a few, which adversely affect everyone's learning opportunity. This is obviously not good publicity for the school. We would rather hear how well the students did on their statewide test scores, and more on their wonderful achievements in band and theatrical prowess. Instead, we are hearing a age-old battle that adults are waging for them.. a battle that has no winners. The Sullivan South students are innocent victims, manipulated into a stayed viewpoint, without the chance to research both sides and decide for themselves.

We are sad for them.

We do not object to the waving of the rebel flag. What a person does on private property is their own business. We object to the rebel flag being waved on public property, be it a public school, public park, or other city, county, state or federal property for which public tax dollars pay for.

We know that, in the end, the Sullivan County School Superintendent will do the right thing. We know that the Superintendent will make the decision that countless other school boards, superintendents and jurisdictions in Tennessee, and federal courts in this wonderful nation, have made before them.

A decision that bans the presence of the rebel flag on all public school grounds, and at any public school-sponsored events.

It is the right decision. It is the only decision.

Little Miss Vision Pageant on Saturday, June 5th


Ayona Barlow, who was crowned Little Miss Vision 2010 in June 2009, has served wonderfully this past year. She is a student at Washington Elementary School and attends Mt. Zion Holiness Church. She is the daughter of Mashell Turner. She will give up her crown during the Little Miss Vision event at 7 PM on June 5, at the Kingsport Renaissance Center.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Rebel Flag Flap

PLEASE SEE THE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR IN THE RIVERVIEW FEATURES - OPINIONS - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR PAGE

SULLIVAN SOUTH HIGH SCHOOL, KINGSPORT, TENNESSEE


If you are offended by the waving of the rebel flag by a school very close to Riverview and would like to voice your opinions and concerns, first click on the "PLAY" button below.

It will connect you to the story that WJHL-TV did on Thursday, May 20, 2010, with both sides of the flag flap at Sullivan South High School. The story is courtesy WJHL-TV.

Here is what your concerns are up against. The thinking of a generation.

.

As you read in the article below this one, the rebel flag wavers will probably dig their heels in over what they consider their right to wave the rebel flag that at practically every Sullivan South atheletic event.

The fact that it offends anybody, is apparently not of concern.

The Kingsport Times-News wants to hear your opinion of the rebel flags always being displayed at Sullivan South. Please email your "Letters to the Editor" to:

Ted Como, Managing Editor
Kingsport Times-News
701 Lynn Garden Dr.
Kingsport, TN. 37660

Or, email Mr. Como at tcomo@timesnews.net and include your address and phone number, so they can verify that you actually sent the letters. We will also print your letters on the website on the RIVERVIEW FEATURES - OPINIONS - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR page.

We will continue to follow this story for you.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Times-News Wants Input on Use of Rebel Flag at South High School

THE TIMES-NEWS NEEDS OUR OPINIONS ON THE USE OF THE REBEL FLAG AT SULLIVAN SOUTH HIGH SCHOOL. SULLIVAN SOUTH IS LOCATED ABOUT 2 MILES FROM RIVERVIEW. SCIENCE HILL HIGH SCHOOL HAS ALREADY ASKED THEM NOT TO BRING THE FLAG TO GAMES PLAYED IN JOHNSON CITY. WE NEED TO RESPOND ACCORDINGLY TO THE USE OF THE FLAG AT SULLIVAN SOUTH. PLEASE SEND YOUR OPINIONS TO THE NEWSPAPER AT THE ADDRESS BELOW:

FROM THE EDITORIAL PAGE OF THE KINGSPORT TIMES-NEWS, MAY 20, 2010


In schools here and elsewhere, mascots are beloved symbols that are used to identify and rally support for various sports teams.
But what if the choice of a sports mascot is more divisive than unifying? Should it be changed?
That, in essence, is the question outgoing Sullivan County Director of Schools Jack Barnes says a special committee at Sullivan South High School will be examining over the summer.
Sullivan South’s nickname of longstanding is the Rebels, and its mascot is known as Col. Reb, a caricature of a gray-uniformed colonel with a mustache and goatee in the Confederate Army. Although the school has never officially adopted the rebel flag’s use, fans commonly wave them at home football games and display them on vehicles outside the school on game days. Barnes says the school system has received a complaint from at least one individual who finds display of the flag as part of a school-sponsored activity offensive.
That’s why, Barnes says, that a committee consisting of South faculty, South administrators, a Board of Education member as well as a Central Office representative has been tasked to address the issue.
“Our whole point is to try to have an environment people don’t consider hostile or harassing,” Barnes explains, adding that applies to South students, the community, and students and community members who visit the school for football and other events.
One possible option, Barnes says, would be to substitute the school’s official flag for the rebel flag at football games.
No matter what the Sullivan South committee eventually decides, it’s a sure bet the choice will be an emotional and controversial one.
On one side are students and other longtime fans who embrace the rebel flag as a positive symbol of courage, tenacity and spirit. On the other side are those who regard the rebel flag as a painful reminder of slavery, or at least as a racially insensitive symbol that has no place in a modern and culturally diverse society.
In the interests of beginning a public discussion, we’d like to know what readers have to say about this controversial subject.
Is display of the rebel flag at South High School a harmless, even positive example of school spirit or an unacceptable example of bigotry that needs to be eradicated?
We believe this issue, like all public issues, is best served by a rigorous, respectful dialogue where everyone’s views and concerns are given a chance to compete in the marketplace of ideas.
We’re eager to hear from you.
Send us your letter (less than 300 words) to the editor to 701 Lynn Garden Dr., Kingsport, TN. 37660 or contact Managing Editor Ted Como at tcomo@timesnews.net. Please be sure to include your address and phone number. We call to verify all letters to the editor.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Visit to Easter 2010!

Your Easter Egg Hunt pictures are now posted in the PHOTO GALLERY, from Johnnie Mae Swagerty!

The kids' pictures are from Borden Park in Kingsport, and the Seniors' pictures are from the Kingsport Renaissance Center. Disregard the dates on the pictures..they are definitely from last month.

Click here to see the slideshow from the 2010 Easter Egg Hunt.

Click here for the downloadable pictures.

A New Beginning...The V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex Nears Completion


What some residents have called the Crown Jewel of Riverview is almost complete.

What began as a project two years ago to turn the old Douglass High School into Kingsport's non-profit center, is targeting a completion date, with the finishing touches being applied for a summer opening.

NEW! Click here to see the slideshow of the construction being 90 per cent finished on the Dobbins Complex here.

Click here to see a slideshow update of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex.

Click here to access downloadable updated pictures of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex.

"Right now, the project is indeed wrapping up," says Chris McCartt, assistant to the city manager. "There's just some finishing work being done throughout the building. Work on the Riverview Community Center started late, so its completion date is in the fall."

So far along is the complex, that completion dates are coming into focus, and with that comes move-in times. McCartt says, the schedules are based on getting clearances from building inspectors and the fire marshall, and are subject to change.



"The schedule we're looking at," he says, "is that the non-profit offices will be complete around the first of June. I'm guessing that, once punch lists are complete and final walk-throughs are done, the folks that can, will be able to move into their non-profit offices in the 3-story tower around the 2nd week of June. A lot of they can't move until their current leases expire, so it may be an on-going process."



"The existing building with the gymnasiums looks to be complete around the first week of July," McCartt says, "leading up to around the 3rd week of July. "The wood floor is now installed in the new gymnasium, the bleacher seats are going in, the lines and logos are on the floor, and, with just a small amount of touch-up, it's ready for basketball."





A quick look around the old Douglass gymnasium, still shows some work to be finished. New windows are installed, and the new air conditioning system was installed, just after a new roof was put on the entire building. The finishing of the old gym is also tied to the rest of the building, to be complete between the first week and third week of July.







"The Douglass Room itself, for sure, unless something comes up, will be ready by the first week of July. That room is coming right along," he noted. "In a month, work should be wrapping up there, and it's progressing nicely. There's some touch-up work and that's really all that's left. Looking at what is left to do, I anticipate the Parks and Rec staff to move in around the same time."








And, after years of meeting in people's homes and various church fellowship halls, the Douglass Alumni Association will finally have its own office, to be located inside the Douglass Community Room, where its board meetings will be held. The office will have computers to be furnished free of charge by the city. The office is just inside the Louis Street entrance to the building. "Around the first of July, the Douglass Alumni Association can occupy its office and the Douglass Community Room," McCartt says.



"Plans are for the community room to be available for board meetings for the Alumni Association and the other tenants in the non-profit tower, by making reservations with Parks and Rec, just as the other meeting areas around town are booked now. That should be easy in the V.O. Dobbins Complex, because Parks and Rec will have its office right there beside the Douglass Community Room."






"The classroom spaces for Headstart on Wheatley Street will be complete around the third week of July," says McCartt. "That should be just in time for the classrooms to be open for the teachers to move their stuff into, before school starts."

McCartt says, that second week of July, will probably be the time of the busiest activity.

"That will be the time that I think you're going to see a lot of Community Caring Days, where folks will be helping the tenants move into their offices," he says. "That will probably last until the end of July."



That leads up to what promises to be a grand ribbon-cutting ceremony for the complex.

"The date for that is still up in the air," says McCartt, "but for planning purposes, I would like think around the second or third week of August, we could do the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony. "We obviously want to have the entire building open for a little while with all tenants in their spots, to let them get unpacked, sort their stuff and have some days of operation to get an idea of the flow of the building. Before we cut the ribbon and have an Open House, we need to see the people flow in the facility, to make any corrections."



It seems like just yesterday..

This was the picture of what we can now call the "old" V.O. Dobbins Community Center. A building with many memories, most of them good. A home away from home. A school where the minds of young African-American children formed opinions about the rest of the world, long before television, tapes and Twitter.

In later years, it was also... a building with a gymnasium that had heat, but no air conditioning.. most classrooms closed off to the neighborhood for the most part.. and a seriously leaking auditorium, with enough asbestos in the walls and ceiling to poison an army..

And a community.



"The story of the V.O. Dobbins Complex is an amazing story," McCartt says. "It's a project that, a few years ago, we scratched our heads and wondered, 'what are we going to do with this old, leaky, drafty, rundown safety hazard of a building?' And now, consider what the NEW V.O. Dobbins Complex means.. a second gymnasium, a renovated first gymnasium, an office tower, new classrooms, a community room for meetings, banquets and neighborhood events, and a building that is safer now, than it's ever been."



"That time is here.. right now," McCartt says. "After many years, it is now within grasp, and I think everybody is, to say the least, excited and ready for the dust to be settled once and for all."

"Everybody.. building tenants and community residents, anxious to get back to life as usual."

Flag Flap: Rebel flag’s days at South may be numbered

One of Riverview's Closest neighbor schools flies the Rebel flag - Rooted in the Southern side of the Civil War, the flag has come to embody racism to some, but others see it as a symbol of Southern pride and history.

THIS STORY COURTESY THE KINGSPORT TIMES-NEWS



The days of the rebel flag on the campus of Sullivan South High School could be numbered, or at least limited.

Because of a recent complaint about the rebel flag , Sullivan County Director of Schools Jack Barnes said a special committee at the school will examine the issue and may make recommendations in what Barnes called a proactive approach to the matter.

“We’ve had a complaint,” Barnes said.

“We’re investigating it,” Barnes said. “There has been a concern about the rebel flag being considered or thought of as a symbol of South High School.”

Barnes said some, including the person who made the complaint, find the flag offensive.

South Principal Greg Harvey referred comments to Sullivan County Board of Education attorney Pat Hull.

“There’s not any litigation or anything like that,” Hull said.

Rooted in the Southern side of the Civil War, for some the flag has come to embody racism, particularly against blacks, although others see it as a symbol of Southern pride and history.

Schools that play South in football, including Science Hill High School, have requested South fans not bring the rebel flags to away games, and South has not.

The school’s nickname is the Rebels, and the mascot is a colonel sometimes call Col. Reb, a caricature of a gray-uniformed colonel with a mustache and goatee in the Confederate Army. However, the school has never had the rebel flag as its official flag , although it is commonly waved during home football games and displayed during a parade of vehicles sometimes held outside the school on game days .

The rebel flags also sometimes can be seen flown from vehicles, especially pickup trucks, on public roads in the greater Kingsport and Colonial Heights areas, especially on football game Fridays.

“What happens outside and off school grounds is one thing,” Barnes said. “I’m not sure what will happen. It might be recommended the flag not be found on campus or on the football field, at least on school days.”

Barnes said a committee of South faculty, South administrators and a BOE member plan to address the concerns, and a Central Office representative may attend the meetings.

“Our whole point is to try to have an environment people don’t consider hostile or harassing,” Barnes said, adding that goes for South students, the community, and students and community members who visit the school for football and other events.

He said one option is to substitute the school’s official flag for the rebel flag at football games.

Barnes said any flag that some students see as offensive takes away from learning and education at South.

“We’re just trying to be proactive,” Barnes said. “I’m sure before the process ends, there will be students involved in it (the discussion) and members of the community.”

Barnes, whose contract as director ends June 20, will be followed by Jubal Yennie, an assistant superintendent from Williamson County in Middle Tennessee whose contract is to begin by June 20. But Barnes said he hopes whatever flag policy is chosen is adopted by the fall football season.

“I won’t be here, but it’s my desire it be done by the fall,” Barnes said.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Minutes of the Douglass Alumni Working Board, May 15, 2010

May 15, 2010

Attendance: Douglas Releford, Sandra Wilmer, Calvin Sneed, Ozine Bly, Sheila Leeper, Kathy Evans, Lillian Leeper, Wallace W. Ross, Jr., Andra Watterson, Linda Bly, Louetta Hall, Thelma Watterson. Quorum met.



Meeting was brought to order by President Douglas Releford, prayer by V.P Lillian Leeper.

Reading of the last minutes was read by Thelma Watterson, motion to accept the reading of the minutes with the necessary corrections was made by Kathy Evans, second by Ozine Bly. Motion carried.

Sandra Wilmer gave the financial report. Motion to accept the financial report was made by Calvin Sneed, second by Lillian Leeper. Motion carried.



Old Business:

Douglas Releford read minutes from the 8/22/2009 minutes where individuals volunteered to be on The Event Planning Committee. He intends to contact the members on that committee and find out if they have planned anything.

As far as the Cruise Committee is concerned we may make suggestions to the Event Planning Committee about our preferences concerning the cruise that the alumni would like to take. The Cruise committee suggested that the cruise should be seven days and preferably the 1st week of May 2011. It is understood that all planning should go through The Event Planning Committee. Suggestions of places to go were Aruba, Barbados, Jamaica and the Caribbean.



Ozine Bly wanted to know if the board had made a decision about Charter Communications concerning advance payments. There was considerable discussion about advance payment to Charter. The board decided to table the discussion until a later date, possibly after we have occupied the building.



New Business:

Lillian Leeper of the Scholarship Committee reported that they sent out 27 copies, and that the committee had decided to give three recipients $500 each, providing that the board agreed to do so. She also reported the requirements for filling out the scholarship form. The applicants must be a descendant of Douglass Alumni; the report must be 500 legible words typed or hand written. To be considered applicants must submit their report before the deadline. Motion to accept the Scholarship proposals were made by Louetta Hall, second by Linda Bly, one abstains. Motion Carried. Sheila Leeper made a motion to repay Lillian for buying stamps, second by Douglas Releford. Motion carried.

Louetta Hall suggested that the board appoint a Fund Raising Committee.

Ozine Bly suggested that we tie in with Fun Fest (i.e. Rhythm in Riverview) as a possible fund raiser.

The board congratulated Wallace W. Ross, Jr. for being elected as a Councilman on the Gate Cit, VA Town Council. Calvin Sneed interviewed Wallace about his election.

Douglas Releford suggested that the working board in Kingsport need to attend a meeting in Knoxville.

Next meeting will be June 12, 2010, place TBA.

Meeting adjourned by Sandra Wilmer, second by Sheila Leeper.


Respectfully Submitted

Thelma Watterson, Recording Secretary

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Douglass Alumnus is New Town Councilman



A Douglass High School alumnus has been elected to one of Gate City's highest posts.

Wallace Ross Jr. is the town's new councilman. He is the son of Wallace Sr. of Gate City and the late Doretha Ross, and he tallied the most votes in the town's recent municipal election.

"I ran for the office because a lot of folks asked me, called me, and encouraged me to do it," Ross says. "I was a little hesistant at first...didn't think I had a chance. You never know until you try."



The results from the May 4th Scott County, Virginia Election shows Ross won by the slimmest of margins.

Ross collected 151 votes, or 23.01 % of the ballot, while 149 voters, or 22.71% of the ballot chose a write-in, unnamed candidate. Rita D. Tipton was third, with 134 votes, or 20.42% of the vote, followed by Frances S. Perry with 117 votes (17.83%) and Roger C. Cassell and his 105 votes (16%).

Turns out, Ross had a special mentor that guided him into the public service limelight.



His mother, Doretha Ross, was the first woman and the first African-American to serve in the same town council post several years ago. Long before that, Mrs. Ross attended Douglass herself, and after she and her husband moved to Gate City, she had to drive her children several miles away to the all-black Douglass High School, for that was the nearest education available to them at the time. All that time, she kept passing the all-white Gate City High School on her way to Kingsport, and wondered why her children could not receive the same quality education there. Weary of the travel time to Kingsport, she lobbied the Scott County Board of Education for her children to be admitted to the local high school, and they became the first African-American children ever, to attend Gate City High School.



"In the Douglass Alumni Association, we have many members and former members like my mother," Ross says. "She served on a lot of political committees, joining a lot of other people who have served in a political capacity. It gives us all a goal to work for, because you see people who came ahead of you, who made steps for you to be successful. My mother was one of those individuals who made a step for me to be where I am today."



Wallace Ross, Jr. takes his seat on the Gate City Town Council on July 1st.

Also elected in the May 4th election is Mark V. Jenkins, who tallied 141 votes (68.48%) to an unnamed write-in candidate's 60 votes (31.41%).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Racist graffiti case postponed to July 22

WE CONTINUE TO FOLLOW THE CASE OF RACIST GRAFFITI SCRAWLED ON THE I-26 OVERPASS AT MEADOWVIEW IN KINGSPORT ON APRIL 19, 2009

THIS STORY COURTESY THE KINGSPORT TIMES-NEWS

By KACIE DINGUS BREEDING
kdingus@timesnews.net


BLOUNTVILLE — A Kingsport man will have to wait a little bit longer to hear whether he will get pretrial diversion on a vandalism charge alleging he spray-painted graffiti that police have described as “racist, obscene and threatening to President Obama” on an Interstate 26 overpass.

Andy B. Frye, 20, 1608 Seaver Road, Kingsport, asked for pre-trial diversion following his arraignment on a charge of vandalism over $500 in a Blountville court in January. He had been indicted on the charge in September 2009.
As of Friday, Sullivan County Assistant District Attorney Gene Perrin said Frye’s probation eligibility report still had not been filed. It must be filed before he can decide whether to grant it or not.
According to a Kingsport Police Department news release issued after Frye’s arrest, the vandalism on the Meadowview Parkway I-26 overpass was reported on April 19th. Some of the graffiti referred to Obama as “the modern Hitler,” while other beams on the underpass read “all blacks must die” and “KKK.”
Photos of the graffiti are posted on the Web site of the Douglass Alumni Association, a community group based in the Riverview section of Kingsport.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: To see the graffiti that was found spray-painted on the I-26 underpass at Meadowview a year ago, click here.

Detective Chris Tincher said Frye was developed as a suspect following a report on the vandalism that was aired by WCYB-TV. Anonymous tipsters contacted Kingsport police and implicated Frye.
Tipsters said Frye had also posted racist and anti-Obama comments on the Internet, but authorities were unable to verify those claims, Tincher said.
Frye’s case has been reset to July 22nd.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Church News

Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church will celebrate Men & Women’s Day Sunday, May 16th with the Rev. Bill Hamilton speaking at the 11 a.m., service, and Elder Carolyn Smith and choir from Macedonia Baptist Church, Appalachia, Va., and Revelations Men’s Chorus as guests for the 3 p.m., service.

Central Baptist Church, 301 Carver St., will celebrate its 92nd anniversary Sunday, May 23, with services at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., with the Rev. Kurt Clark of Birmingham, Ala., as guest preacher. A fellowship dinner follows the morning service.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ebony Club Announcement

Ebony Club Alumni Association
Restoring Linkages To Our Glorious Past

A message to all members of Ebony Club Alumni Association
Hey, gang:

I just wanted to let you know that now is the time to move this social network to Facebook. Ning, the company providing the platform for the Kingsport Ebony Club Alumni Association, recently announced that it will be charging a monthly fee for maintaining social networks. Therefore, I will be announcing the creation of a new page on Facebook. Stay tuned. Feel free to e-mail me at Jfaulk28@nc.rr.com if you have suggestions.

Be blessed, and continue to be a blessing.

Jeff "Pac-Man" Faulkerson
DBHS Class of 1986


Visit Ebony Club Alumni Association at: http://kingsportebonyclub.ning.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network

Sunday, May 9, 2010

V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex: Opening Anticipation is "Building"


What some residents have called the Crown Jewel of Riverview is almost complete.

What began as a project two years ago to turn the old Douglass High School into Kingsport's non-profit center, is targeting a completion date, with the finishing touches being applied for a summer opening.

Click here to see a slideshow update of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex.

Click here to access downloadable updated pictures of the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex.

"Right now, the project is indeed wrapping up," says Chris McCartt, assistant to the city manager. "There's just some finishing work being done throughout the building. Work on the Riverview Community Center started late, so its completion date is in the fall."

So far along is the complex, that completion dates are coming into focus, and with that comes move-in times. McCartt says, the schedules are based on getting clearances from building inspectors and the fire marshall, and are subject to change.



"The schedule we're looking at," he says, "is that the non-profit offices will be complete around the first of June. I'm guessing that, once punch lists are complete and final walk-throughs are done, the folks that can, will be able to move into their non-profit offices in the 3-story tower around the 2nd week of June. A lot of they can't move until their current leases expire, so it may be an on-going process."



"The existing building with the gymnasiums looks to be complete around the first week of July," McCartt says, "leading up to around the 3rd week of July. "The wood floor is now installed in the new gymnasium, the bleacher seats are going in, the lines and logos are on the floor, and, with just a small amount of touch-up, it's ready for basketball."





A quick look around the old Douglass gymnasium, still shows some work to be finished. New windows are installed, and the new air conditioning system was installed, just after a new roof was put on the entire building. The finishing of the old gym is also tied to the rest of the building, to be complete between the first week and third week of July.





"The Douglass Room itself, for sure, unless something comes up, will be ready by the first week of July. That room is coming right along," he noted. "In a month, work should be wrapping up there, and it's progressing nicely. There's some touch-up work and that's really all that's left. Looking at what is left to do, I anticipate the Parks and Rec staff to move in around the same time."






And, after years of meeting in people's homes and various church fellowship halls, the Douglass Alumni Association will finally have its own office, to be located inside the Douglass Community Room, where its board meetings will be held. The office will have computers to be furnished free of charge by the city. The office is just inside the Louis Street entrance to the building. "Around the first of July, the Douglass Alumni Association can occupy its office and the Douglass Community Room," McCartt says.



"Plans are for the community room to be available for board meetings for the Alumni Association and the other tenants in the non-profit tower, by making reservations with Parks and Rec, just as the other meeting areas around town are booked now. That should be easy in the V.O. Dobbins Complex, because Parks and Rec will have its office right there beside the Douglass Community Room."




"The classroom spaces for Headstart on Wheatley Street will be complete around the third week of July," says McCartt. "That should be just in time for the classrooms to be open for the teachers to move their stuff into, before school starts."

McCartt says, that second week of July, will probably be the time of the busiest activity.

"That will be the time that I think you're going to see a lot of Community Caring Days, where folks will be helping the tenants move into their offices," he says. "That will probably last until the end of July."



That leads up to what promises to be a grand ribbon-cutting ceremony for the complex.

"The date for that is still up in the air," says McCartt, "but for planning purposes, I would like think around the second or third week of August, we could do the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony. "We obviously want to have the entire building open for a little while with all tenants in their spots, to let them get unpacked, sort their stuff and have some days of operation to get an idea of the flow of the building. Before we cut the ribbon and have an Open House, we need to see the people flow in the facility, to make any corrections."



It seems like just yesterday..

This was the picture of what we can now call the "old" V.O. Dobbins Community Center. A building with many memories, most of them good. A home away from home. A school where the minds of young African-American children formed opinions about the rest of the world, long before television, tapes and Twitter.

In later years, it was also... a building with a gymnasium that had heat, but no air conditioning.. most classrooms closed off to the neighborhood for the most part.. and a seriously leaking auditorium, with enough asbestos in the walls and ceiling to poison an army..

And a community.



"The story of the V.O. Dobbins Complex is an amazing story," McCartt says. "It's a project that, a few years ago, we scratched our heads and wondered, 'what are we going to do with this old, leaky, drafty, rundown safety hazard of a building?' And now, consider what the NEW V.O. Dobbins Complex means.. a second gymnasium, a renovated first gymnasium, an office tower, new classrooms, a community room for meetings, banquets and neighborhood events, and a building that is safer now, than it's ever been."



"That time is here.. right now," McCartt says. "After many years, it is now within grasp, and I think everybody is, to say the least, excited and ready for the dust to be settled once and for all."

"Everybody.. building tenants and community residents, anxious to get back to life as usual."