Wednesday, April 27, 2011

D-B graduate sets world record

• KINGSPORT — Blake Leeper, a 2007 graduate of Dobyns-Bennett High School, a Church Hill native and a Douglass School descendant, set a world record during the first-ever Kansas Relays Invitational Paralympic 100-meter dash. The relay was held last week as a part of the 84th Kansas Relays at Hershberger Track at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kan. Leeper, a double-leg amputee who runs on two prosthetic legs, finished the race in 11.32 seconds and on the final day of the relay was presented the Most Outstanding Male Performer Award. More than 5,000 athletes represented schools and cities across the nation during the event. Leeper, 21, is currently living in Chula Vista, Calif., while he trains for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

To hear Blake comment on the race, please click here.

To see the race where Blake set the world record, please click here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Douglass Alumni Association Name Change: "The Name's the Same"

The Douglass Alumni Association in Kingsport has a new name.

It's not a difficult name to remember.. all you need to do is know the first line of the school song. Or, remember the Alumni Association's website address.

The new name is "Sons and Daughters of Douglass."

Or, more precisely, the "Sons and Daughters of Douglass, Inc."

"We had to change the name of the Douglass Alumni Association in Kingsport, in order to be incorporated as a non-profit with the Tennessee Secretary of State's Office, which we now are," says Alumni President Douglas Releford. "We needed to change from a non-profit association, and it's a situation that you Calvin, first alerted us to, two years ago when you hand-carried our application to Nashville to the state office to be processed."

Turns out, there is ANOTHER Douglass Alumni Association, this one in Memphis, Tennessee. It commemorates the Douglass High School, an all-black high school on Olive Street in Memphis that is still in operation.
To see that Douglass High School's website, click here. That school, too, is named after the great African-American orator, journalist and statesman Frederick Douglass. The Douglass High School in Memphis began in 1940, 12 years after the Kingsport school was formed, but the Memphis school alumni were first to get their alumni organization registered as a non-profit corporation in Tennessee, with the name "Douglass Alumni Association, Inc." That automatically keeps anyone else in Tennessee from registering with that name.

The Secretary of State's Office registered the Kingsport group as a non-profit "association," not a "corporation," simply because the alumni group in Memphis was first to get the name.

"I didn't realize how difficult being a non-profit 'association' instead of a non-profit 'corporation' was, until we started applying for various grants and federal funding programs," Releford says. "Grant program administrators give you more consideration if you're a corporation. We kept getting denied, denied, denied, and then I figured we weren't doing something right."

"I called the Secretary of State's office, and sure enough, just like what happened to you Calvin, I gave them our name 'The Douglass High School Alumni Association,' and the lady said, 'well, you're already incorporated.' I told her, 'no, we weren't' and she proceeded to read off the names of the president, vice president, treasurer, and I said, 'no, those are not the names in our group.' She said, 'you're not located in Memphis?' and I said, 'no, we're in Kingsport.' She read further and then said, oh yes, we do have you, but you are not on the Secretary of State list as a corporation, you're an association.'"

"That explained why we were always getting denied on grant and funding applications."

"I knew then, that we had to make a change to get on that incorporation list."

According to the Internal Revenue Service and the Tennessee Secretary of State's office, the Kingsport organization could not have the same name as another corporation; hence the name change.

Being incorporated, now opens many doors for the Kingsport group.

"It boosts our status as an I.R.S. non-profit agency," says Releford, "because we're now eligible for different funding programs. If you're not incorporated, you're not on the Secretary of State's list, meaning you're not on the I.R.S. list of non-profit corporations and when you go to apply for grants, that's the first thing they look at, is the Secretary of State's list of non-profit corporations. If you're not on that list, you're not even considered for any type of grants."

"We're now able to apply for funding programs to do things that we want to do in the Riverview community," Releford says, "to help out some of our young children, get them on even footing, and get some study grants where we can do some after-school work and help the students in our community. We can also be a help to our seniors with programs that we can do in the neighborhood, without them having to go elsewhere for those programs. Our alumni will also benefit from the programs we will be able to fund."

"Above all, the 'non-profit corporation' status helps people who want to donate to our group," Releford says. "If they give us money, we can furnish them with our non-profit corporate tax I.D number, and they can claim the donation as a tax deduction. That will be the first thing we tell them."

Releford says, the Kingsport alumni organization had no choice, but to incorporate. "We needed to have the incorporation to bring us under the state's umbrella of non-profit corporations to get federal grants and programs, and also to allow people who donate money to us, to claim it as a tax deduction."

"The name change was necessary to make sure that the state knows, we're not the group from Memphis," he says. "We don't want to apply for a grant, and the money go to Memphis by mistake."

Much like the V.O. Dobbins Community Center is now the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex, people will still refer to the Kingsport group as "The Douglass Alumni Association" out of habit, but the name change means there's one thing the Memphis folks won't have.

The knowledge that the folks in KINGSPORT, Tennessee are the true "Sons and Daughters of Douglass."


Easter Baskets Replace Easter Eggs in 2011

There were no traditional Easter eggs to be found in Riverview on Good Friday, 2011. Not the hidden Easter eggs under rocks, clumps of grass and in the bushes that many of the older residents remember hunting in the neighborhood with peals of joy.

But there were Easter baskets filled with candies at the shelters on the Douglass ballfield this Easter, that today's young people enjoyed just as much.

Click here to see a slideshow of the Easter Basket Giveaway, pictures courtesy of Willie Hodges.

"The kids didn't get to enjoy hunting the eggs as much last year at Borden Park as in previous years," says Jeannie Hodge, with South Central Kingsport's Weed & Seed office, co-sponsor of the event. "We decided to make it easy on them and everybody else with baskets this year, and everybody had just as much fun."

Friday's event was the first Easter celebration back home on the Douglass Ballfield since the renovation of the V.O. Dobbins Complex, the building of the Riverview Place Homes, and the new Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority (KHRA) offices. Construction for the past two years moved the Easter event to Borden Park.

About 100 parents came with their children and grandchildren under the age of 9 on Good Friday, April 22nd, and each child received treat bags. They were also given a ticket when the parents signed in, so they could take part in the giveaways.

Lucky winners received a door prize that included gift certificates to various restaurants, and a Golden Egg with money hidden inside.

The grand prize was a new bicycle. Other prizes were awarded as the day went on.

"We were so thankful for the beautiful weather," Hodges says, "and for all the folks who came out to participate in this fun event."

In addition to the Weed & Seed office, the Easter Event was also sponsored by New Vision Kids and Kingsport Parks and Recreation, Community Services Division.
The Lord puts a pillar of fire between Pharaoh's Army and the Israelites, trapped against the Red Sea.

My God is a Mighty God!

Have a blessed Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Miss Pinkie in the Paper!

Fish fry, cake sale to benefit New Vision

• KINGSPORT — A fish fry and cake sale to benefit New Vision Youth will be held today and Saturday at 312 Carver St. in Riverview beginning at noon each day until sellout. Fish sandwiches will be sold for $4, and cake by the slice will be sold for $1.50. Bottled water will be available for $1. Call-in orders can be made at 384-1080, and food deliveries can be made to senior citizens and shut-ins. For information call Johnnie Mae Swagerty at 428-7553 or Denise Horton at 384-1080.

Central Baptist hosting Easter fund-raiser

• KINGSPORT — The Central Baptist Singers Alumni will host their “Back with that Flavor” Easter Special fund-raiser today from noon to 8 p.m. at 328 Carver St. in Riverview. Fish, beans and slaw will be available for $5, smoked chicken dinners for $5, and rib dinners for $6. Homemade cobbler will also be for sale. The funds will benefit the Pinkie Horton scholarship fund and Youth Gospel Explosion.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

2011 Souvenir Ad Booklet

The Souvenir Ad Booklet is coming back for the 2011 Douglass Alumni Reunion, and it promises to be bigger and better than ever!

This year, the booklet will include pictures from the historical years at Douglass High School, and your friends and neighbors from the Riverview Community.

It will be a coffee table book, guaranteed to spark memories when you see it, and questions from other folks when they notice it in your living room.

As before, we ask that you become a patron of the Souvenir booklet, by purchasing an ad to be published in the book. Prices for each ad are in the flyer. Click on the flyer to the right, to make it bigger, and print a copy to fill out and mail in with your ad and your payment. The address is on the flyer. You can also email your ad or its layout to, and as before, we will design a nice ad for you.

Proceeds from the Souvenir Ad Booklet go to the Alumni Scholarship Fund and to programs administered by the Alumni Association.

Please help support our non-profit organization by taking out an ad today!

Gudger finalist in All-Star Contest

Final voting for the competition begins today and lasts through May 8.



BLOUNTVILLE — The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office school resource officer who engaged a gunman at a local high school has advanced to the final round of a national competition from “America’s Most Wanted.”
Carolyn Gudger is one of eight finalists in AMW’s 2011 All-Star Contest. The winner will be awarded $10,000 and an expense-paid trip to NASCAR’s Sprint Cup All-Star Race in Charlotte, N.C.
Final voting for the competition begins today and lasts through May 8. Votes can be cast once a day by visiting the All-Star Web site from “America’s Most Wanted” at www.
On Aug. 30, 2010, Thomas Richard Cowan, 62, entered Sullivan Central High School with two loaded handguns. He pointed one at Principal Melanie Riden, igniting a standoff with Gudger and a lockdown of the school.
Other officers were able to enter the school, with Cowan eventually shot and killed. In the wake of the incident, Gudger’s actions — which included coaxing Cowan away from crowded areas — were praised by law enforcement and school officials.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Event for your Calendar

Friday, April 22 - EASTER EVENT
3 PM
Picnic Shelter at V.O. Dobbins Complex (Field)
301 Louis Street

Easter Treat Bags will be given to the first
200 children - ages 9 and under ONLY
A bicycle will be given away to a lucky winner!

Sponsored by South Central Kingsport Community Development, New Vision Youth and Kingsport Parks & Recreation - Community Services

Retirement Party: James "Moose" Henry, Phyllis Phillips and Martha Beverly

One of Kingsport's longest-employed workers has finally hung up his city-issued I-D badge.

The year was 1974 in Kingsport. Douglass High School had closed in the turbulent mid 60's, and the integration unrest of the early 70's had somewhat settled down. James "Moose" Henry started working for the city Parks and Recreation Department, and for the next 36 years, his was a familiar face at most of the athletic events, gatherings and functions around town. He eventually rose to the position of community center administrator for the city.

That is, until March 29, 2011. That's the day Moose decided to call it a career.

"Any time you have someone serving more than 30 years in one job, it's a real testament and commitment, seeing why they're so successful," said Chris McCartt, assistant to the city manager.

Click here to see a slideshow of the retirement party for Moose, Phyllis and Martha at the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex.

"Moose," as he's been referred to since his growing up days in Riverview, was one of three long-time city employees, honored at a retirement party in late March. Joining him is Martha Beverly, Cultural Arts Coordinator who is retiring from the city after 18 years; and Phyllis Phillips, who is leaving after 22 years as athletic coordinator for Parks and Recreation amd manager of the Kingsport Renaissance Center.

Together, the trio represents a combined 76 years of service to the citizens of Kingsport.

"One thing I have always said about this particular group," says McCartt, "that they were always in the right place at the right time.. their hearts were always for the people of Kingsport."

"Moose was very valuable in the Riverview community prior to the HOPE VI changes that took place," McCartt says. "He stayed on through that transition and served a vital role as we moved through those changes, the tearing down of the Riverview Apartments, the building of the new HOPE VI homes and the remodeling of the V.O. Dobbins Center. After a lull, he helped us get the various activities going again and served a vital role in that capacity. Moose has been a tremendous help to Chassie (Smiley, Dobbins Complex manager), and although he'll be missed, he's not going very far. Hopefully, he can still help us after retirement, doing various contract work for us."

"With Martha," he continued, "no doubt with the work she did with Bonnie (Macdonald, Cultural Arts Administrator) with blending art with history in the Douglass Room of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex, it will leave an impression for generations to come. When Martha and I first started working together, one of the first tasks that we did that I was asked to participate in, was coming up with the public art program that we have in place today. I remember Martha and I sitting there one day just looking at each other and asking 'do you honestly think we'll ever be able to convince everybody that this is a great thing for Kingsport?' The results speak for themselves.. we're in Year Five of the Sculpture Walk and it's been great."

It's no secret that before Phyllis Phillips arrived at Parks and Recreation, Kingsport's baseball and soccer fields were in a woeful state.

"At Cloud Park and Heritage Park, the fields were just not up to the standards we felt that a city the size of Kingsport needed to have," McCartt says. "We went through the process of developing Domtar Park on Long Island with its baseball and softball fields, developing Eastman Park on Wilcox Drive across from Riverview, adding new gymnasiums throughout the city including the new one at V.O. Dobbins, and expanding our basketball program.. all of that rested on Phyllis' shoulders, and she made sure that the programming and the facilities were at the maximum level possible. Year-in and year-out, she was responsible for getting teams on the fields, getting the tournaments scheduled, working with the A.A.U., the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the adult rec program, adult basketball, volleyball. She was very vital to that process."

McCartt points back to where Kingsport was in these categories 20 years ago, and the changes that happened over that time, to where they are now.

"These three employees have been right there helping move those changes along," he says. "With them retiring, it's a tremendous loss of knowledge for the city of Kingsport."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Little Miss Vision Reminder

The Little Miss Vision Pageant is May 28, 2011 at the Renaissance Center in Kingsport at 7:00 pm. Everyone is invited. Please come out and support our young people!

Laymen's Concert at Bethel AME, Kingsport: 30 Years of Singing Together!



Kingsport eyes Lee Apartments for city’s next HOPE VI project

Lee Apartments is Kingsport’s oldest public housing development and the second largest one in the city.



KINGSPORT — For the past four years, the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority and the city of Kingsport have worked to transform two distressed neighborhoods into vibrant, safer communities by replacing old houses with new ones and renovating and expanding a local landmark into a state-of-theart facility.
Now that this process is wrapping up, KHRA officials are looking at Lee Apartments as their next HOPE VI project.
The HOPE VI project launched more than four years ago after Kingsport received an $11.9 million HOPE VI grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in October 2006.
The project involved replacing 29 houses along Sherwood and Hiwassee with 24 new affordable homes, demolishing the old Riverview Apartments, and building 32 rental houses and duplexes on the site with six others in the neighborhood. Kingsport and the KHRA also renovated and expanded the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Center, adding another gymnasium, community center and nonprofit wing to the facility.
Terry Cunningham, executive director of the KHRA, said his office is wrapping up the final work on the Riverview project, going through cost certifications, audits and a draw-down on the grant money.
“It’s a lot of paperwork. We’re getting all of the loose ends tied up and paperwork filed on the current HOPE VI project,” Cunningham said. “What we’d really like to do is get everything wrapped up on the Riverview one before I get started on another one.”
Lee Apartments is Kingsport’s oldest public housing development (built in 1939-1940) and the second largest one in the city (128 units). The 4-acre development is bound by Sevier Avenue and Dale Street near the Salvation Army. More than 200 people call Lee Apartments home.
“One of the primary reasons we’d be interested in redeveloping it is its age, and the infrastructure needs to be upgraded,” Cunningham said. “It’s been a really successful development, and we’ve not had any major problems, though its age and density is kind of heavy.”
Cunningham said Lee Apartments will occasionally have an issue with drainage, though not as major as the drainage issues in Riverview prior to redevelopment. One issue Lee has struggled with over the years has been with a lack of parking, something Cunningham said needs to be addressed. If Lee Apartments were to be redeveloped, the idea would be to model the project after Riverview and build single-family homes or duplexes on the property, something that would also address the parking situation.
“(Applying for a HOPE VI grant for Lee) has been discussed by our board, to the extent that we know we’d like to do something,” Cunningham said. “We put out a plan of work annually through our agency plan, and it’s been mentioned if there’s a notice of funding availability through HOPE VI, we would like to put an application in.”
HUD has approved the KHRA’s agency plan and knows the agency is interested in doing another HOPE VI project. However, some major unknowns have come to light, especially in recent weeks with the battle over the federal budget and the launch of a new HUD redevelopment grant program.
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the Choice Neighborhood Initiative program last month, and according a press release from HUD, the new program builds on the success of the HOPE VI program by linking housing improvements with a wider variety of public services, including schools, public transit and employment opportunities.
The press release continues by saying CN widens the traditional pool of eligible applicants by allowing, in addition to public housing authorities, local governments, nonprofit organizations and for-profit developers (who apply jointly with a public entity) to apply for grants.
Congress has approved HUD’s 2010 budget, which includes $65 million for CN grants. Last month, HUD announced the awarding of $4 million of these funds to 17 communities, while six other communities were selected as finalists to compete for the remaining $61 million.
Cunningham said he would like to start on a new HOPE VI project within the next couple of years.
“If the money was available, we would move on it immediately. From the standpoint of what’s reasonable, we would hope to submit an application in the 2012 round of funding, and if we get funded, then it would be 2013 before we really get moving on it,” Cunningham said. “This is all based on speculation on what the federal government is going to do. Previously none of the numbers looked good, and I haven’t seen the latest proposal from the Republicans.”
The KHRA has six public housing developments (Lee, Riverview, Cloud, Dogwood Terrace, Holly Hills and Tiffany Court), the Holston Terrace housing assistance facility, and it administers 1,242 vouchers for Section 8 houses and apartments throughout the city.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Mrs. Deal!

She was born at home in New Canton, Tennessee, on Easter Sunday March 27th, 1921, to Willard C. Long, Sr. and his wife Ressie. She was the oldest of eight children.

It wasn't long until marriage and a family brought her to Kingsport and a new home in the Riverview Community.

To her family and a few neighbors, she's known as Big Mama. To many folks, she is known as Mrs. Deal. On March 26th, 2011 a day early, Roberta Long Deal celebrated her 90th birthday with family and friends from the Riverview neighborhood. The celebration was held in the Douglass Community Room at the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex.

Click here to see a slideshow of Mrs. Deal's 90th birthday celebration. These pictures are courtesy of granddaughter Nikki Deal.

It's always amazing how younger folks in Riverview can keep a secret from the seniors, who are determined to know everything.

"We carefully kept the birthday party totally secret," says granddaughter Nikki Deal. "She kept asking me, 'how did you all keep this a surprise without me finding out?' Charlyne and Sinora Lewis told her that they lied to her more THAT day (the 27th), than they ever did when they were in high school."

Turns out, the surprise was a carefully crafted plan, to throw Mrs. Deal off the track.

"She was thinking that (grandsons) Trippy and Scotty were taking her out to dinner for her birthday, but first, they were going to give her a tour of the new V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex," Nikki remembers. "While taking the tour, she happened to see the balloons and thought somebody was having a party. Charlyne told her it was a retirement party for somebody."

"That's when they opened the doors and yelled 'SURPRISE!'"

"She was indeed surprised."

Over 60 family members and friends attended the party, which was highlighted by good food, presents and fellowship. There was also a group picture with everybody there over the age of 75.. at least 10 people are in that picture.

Mrs. Deal married her husband James W. Deal, Sr. on June 29th, 1940, exactly two months before the first families moved into the Riverview Apartments. From that union, came three children, James W. Deal, Jr, Yvonne Deal and Charlyne Deal-Edwards.

She has also been blessed with 8 grandchildren, William Fugate, Ingrid Robertson, Trippy Deal, Scotty Edwards, Nikki Deal, Kip Deal, Torre Deal and Dustin Deal... not to forget, 15 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great grandchildren.

Her brothers Willard Long and Eddie Long and sister Helen Bunting were also in attendance to wish their older sibling a happy birthday!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Get Checked Out at the Riverview Health Fair


Saturday, April 30, 2011

8 AM to 12 Noon
Riverview Community Room, on the KHRA side
V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex

*Check Blood Pressure & Blood Sugar
*Connect with services in your community
"Ask A Nurse"
*Eating/Cooking Healthy
*And More!

The event is sponsored by the South Central Kingsport Community Development, Inc. and others.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Douglass Alumni Board Meeting Notice



Douglas S. Releford

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring Clean-Up in Riverview

The Weed & Seed office of the South Central Kingsport Community Development Corporation held its Spring Clean-up this past Saturday in the Riverview Community.

Click here to see pictures of the volunteers gathering to rid the community of trash and litter.

The area cleaned of trash, litter and debris was Dunbar, Louis, Carver, Douglass and Wheatley Streets, MLK Boulevard, and Dale, Maple, Oak, East Sevier and Brook Streets and the alleys in between.

Weed & Seed does a clean-up in Riverview twice a year, in accordance with its federal funding mandate from Washington, and the community benefits from the eyesore of litter carelessly thrown about the yards and streets.

Carolyn Gudger Wins National Award!


TITUSVILLE, FLORIDA -- — School Resource Officer Carolyn Gudger says her confrontation with a gunman in a corridor of Sullivan Central High at Blountville, Tennessee changed her life in several ways.

AT RIGHT: John Snyder of Titusville presents U.S. Officer of the Year Carolyn Gudger, a school resource officer in the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office in Blountville, Tenn., with the St. Gabriel Possenti Society Merit Medallion during a ceremony Monday afternoon at the American Police Hall of Fame & Museum in Titusville. / Photo Courtesy Craig Rubadoux, FLORIDA TODAY

Her quick thinking in getting the gunman away from others potentially saved a number of lives, and won her national recognition. But Gudger said it also "made me follow God's lead more" in various aspects of her life.

Gudger, 58, was honored Monday as the 2011 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year during a ceremony at the American Police Hall of Fame & Museum in Titusville.

In describing the incident after the award ceremony, Gudger said she was suspicious of the man who entered her school the morning of Aug. 30.

She had seen him loitering in the parking lot outside the school earlier in the day, and when she approached him, he drove away.

The man, identified as Thomas Cowan, later entered the lobby of the school, and said he wanted to speak with the principal, Melanie Riden. Gudger accompanied the principal to the meeting.

Cowan then pulled a handgun from his waistband, and pointed it at the principal's head, saying he had some unspecified complaint with the government. Gudger drew her weapon, and got the principal out of harm's way.

A standoff between Gudger and the gunman ensued, while the 1,200-student school went on lockdown. The standoff ended when Gudger and two other officers who were called the scene ordered Cowan to drop his weapon. Instead, he pointed it at Gudger, and all three officers shot Cowan, who died later at a hospital.

In her remarks to the more than 100 law enforcement personnel gathering for the ceremony, Gudger said: "To all of our officers, I bid you Godspeed and God's safety."

Dennis Wise, president of the American Federation of Police & Concerned Citizens, said, as the award recipient, Gudger is among "the best of the best" in law enforcement.

American Police Hall of Fame Executive Director Barry Shepherd said two members of the Satellite Beach Police Department, Cpl. Steve Owens and Officer Michelle Hoskins-Pettingill, also were among the six finalists for the national award.

They were called to a domestic dispute in November, in which Gabriel Field had fatally shot his girlfriend and was shooting at other people in the house. When the officers confronted Field, and he continued to shoot at one of the remaining occupants of the house, Owens fired three shots that killed Field.

It was later found that Field had told people he always wanted to kill a cop, and had targets in the image of officers in his home, including some with a tin foil badge attached.

Owens and Hoskins-Pettingill were among 11 local honorees at Monday's award ceremony.

Gudger is a 15-year veteran of the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office in Tennessee, including nine years as a school resource officer and six as a corrections officer. She also is a finalist for the "America's Most Wanted" All-Star Award, and has won a number of other recognitions.

In addition to the plaques, medals and badges she was awarded as the 23rd-annual Law Enforcement Officer of the Year recipient, Gudger received a Glock pistol, and passes to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, SeaWorld and Walt Disney World.

Contact Berman at 321-360-1016 or

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kingsport leaders eye $11M in road projects in five-year plan




KINGSPORT — Model City leaders are considering $11 million in road projects over the next five years, including reopening a section of Press Street, widening a portion of Sullivan Street, and connecting the Riverview community to downtown and Industry Drive.

The Riverview extention, long a dream for the neighborhood, has been proposed for many years, finally came to the front burner of road priorities three years ago, when Lincoln Street was renamed to honor the legacy of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior.

With General Shale operations officially stopped, as late as three months ago, did Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips tell the Douglass website, that the plan to extend MLK into downtown was still being considered. The street, as seen in the photo to the left, officially ends at a dead end off Dunbar Street right now.

The basic plan is to extending Martin Luther King Jr. Drive across the General Shale and Domtar properties, by Cement Hill and to Industry Drive, just before the AmeriGas property. The proposal also suggests connector roads from this extension to Cherokee Street and the road into the General Shale property off Industry.

This project could be launched in fiscal year 2015 or fiscal year 2016, says Assistant Kingsport Public Works Director Michael Thompson.

AERIAL MAP OF GENERAL SHALE PROPERTY (CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO MAKE IT LARGER): The red line in the center of the picture is the proposed extention of MLK, as Mayor Phillips described it originally to the Douglass Website. At the end of the red line on the right, is the Riverview Community; the bare spot on the bottom side of the red line is the brickyard property; at the top of the red line is downtown Kingsport; at the end of the red line on the left is the Cherokee Street - CSX Railroad crossing (the city is now proposing to take that extention further left in the picture past Cement Hill and around to Industry Drive).

“Everybody has had something different in their mind, and this might not be what we end up with. But this is our first shot at putting a visual together about what we’re talking about,” Thompson said. “I think it’s a good opportunity to open up that developable land. It gives better access to doing something on Cement Hill, and it would give Riverview another connection to downtown.”

Other road projects that would affect Riverview residents, are the Press Street project downtown that involves resurfacing the street from Clinchfield Street to Roller Street, adding lighting, and rebuilding the sidewalks on at least one side of the street, and the $500,000 Sullivan/Clinchfield improvement and widening project, which includes taking out the annoying hump in the intersection for Clinchfield drivers.

“We’re taking out the hump and widening the street to what would be a standard three-lane roadway. We’re looking at three 12-foot travel lanes on Sullivan from Hammond Avenue to Roller Street,” Thompson said, noting city staff will investigate whether or not to include a bike lane down Sullivan.
Ultimately, the city plans to widen a longer section of Sullivan — from Church Circle to Lynn Garden Drive, something looked at in a 2003 road study and that could come in two future phases (fiscal year 2013 and fiscal year 2014).

Also, improving a section of Rock Springs Road leading up to John Adams Elementary School, on schedule for an August completion. The work includes widening the road to 11 feet and adding a 3-foot shoulder along with a sidewalk and mobility path on one side of the roadway, and also the next phase of the Gibson Mill Road improvement project. Previous phases include the Watauga Street roundabout, the widening of the road from Stone Drive to Watauga, and the roundabout at the new entrance to Holston Valley Medical Center.

Thompson said phase five would be improving the intersection of East Sevier Avenue and Tennessee and Boone streets.

All of the proposed projects were presented to the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen last week as part of the city’s five-year capital improvement plan. The CIP is part of the city’s yearly budget process and contains a variety of projects, some fully funded within one of those five years, with others funded over a number of years.

At this time, the BMA is only considering approving funding for projects for the next fiscal year, and City Manager John Campbell said anything on the CIP is subject to change at the board’s discretion.

Community Café to ID needs of parents

• KINGSPORT — A Community Café to identify the needs of parents and/or guardians of children will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, April 18, in the Douglass Room of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Community Center, 301 Louis St., Kingsport. The café, which is free and open to the public, encourages participants to identify and propose solutions to common needs in the community through interactive conversations. The event is presented by the Kingsport Community Advisory Board in conjunction with Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency Head Start. Dinner will be provided, and child care is available. Advanced registration is requested by Tuesday, April 12. For more information and to register call Sharon Petke, community advisory board chair, at 676-6931.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

South Central Kingsport Free Tax Preparation Assistance Offered

• KINGSPORT — The Internal Revenue Service Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program is offering free tax help to low- to moderate-income (generally, $49,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns. Certified volunteers sponsored by South Central Kingsport Weed and Seed help prepare basic tax returns. Kingsport VITA sites are: Kingsport Public Library, April 8, 11 and 15 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.; and at the South Central location, 1140 Martin Luther King Drive, April 12 and 13 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Items you need to bring to the VITA sites to have your tax returns prepared include proof of identification; Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents and/or a Social Security number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration; birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return; current year’s tax package if you received one; wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R from all employers; interest and dividend statements from banks (Form 1099); a copy of last year’s federal and state returns if available; bank routing numbers and account numbers for direct deposit; and total paid for day care provider and the day care provider’s tax identifying number (the provider’s Social Security number or the provider’s business Employer Identification number). To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Seeking the Prize


Briesha Camp and Ruth Hamm look for eggs hidden in and around the first floor atrium at the Renaissance Center in Kingsport, in the second annual Intergenerational Easter Egg Hunt sponsored by New Vision Youth recently. Jeannie Hodges with South Central Kingsport, Johnnie Mae Swagerty with New Vision Youth and the Senior Center worked together for the event. Hunters not only found eggs filled with candy but other items such as an old sock, empty bottle and chocolate pudding which were then traded in for prizes.

Ayleonna Camp and Joyce Manis count their 23 eggs together...

Xavion Medina searches for hidden eggs...

Rayven Petty watches as Briesha Camp and Ruth Hamm crack open an egg...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Community Unity Day 2011

Yes, Virginia.. there is a Santa Claus.

There was also a Community Unity Day in Kingsport, Tennessee in 2011.

It wasn't the citywide event that has been held in the Toy Reid - Eastman Employee Center Auditorium on the last Sunday of February for the past 13 years.. but a scaled-down version of the big show.

"In February, there were a lot of Black History Month programs going on every week and every weekend," says New Vision Youth Director Johnnie Mae Swagerty. "Those events kept everybody busy going from one thing to another, which WAS good. We weren't able to get a lot of preparation ready in time for the large celebration, but we didn't want to forget about the good fellowship we share every year."

This year's Community Unity Day celebration was held in the Nancy Pridemore Little Theater at Dobyns-Bennett High School.

The theme of this year's program was "A Day of Praise and Dance."

To see a slideshow of the celebration, please click here. Pictures provided by Angela Rodriguez.
Featured were praise groups from Greeneville's Full Gospel Mission Church, Kingsport's Full Gospel Mission Church #2, Shiloh Baptist Church, Central Baptist Church, Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church, For His Glory & Company, and the New Vision Youth Kids. Soloists at the event were Angela Rodrieguz of Greeneville, and 14-year-old Julieona Soto.

"We had a great turnout," says Ms. Swagerty. "Over a hundred people came out and supported the kids and the event." Ushers and hosts were the New Vision Youth, Rev. Kenneth Calvert and Jeannie Hodges with the South Central Community Development Corporation, Mrs. Linda Calvert and Mrs. Gladys Gambrell.

A special award of outstanding achievement was given to U-T student, Para-Olympic athlete and Hawkins County native Blake Leeper, in training with the U.S. Para-Olympic team. "Blake has come a long way," Ms. Swagerty says, "and he shows that anybody can do anything they want to do, if they put their minds to it." His parents, Edith and Billy Leeper accepted his award and were recognized at the gathering.

Annual scholarships were also handed out this year to Phillip Hamilton, son of Christine Comage, and Cydnee Edwards, daughter of Angie Gilmore.

Plans are already underway for the 15th year of celebrating Community Unity in Kingsport.

"Our hopes are to continue these annual community celebrations at the Toy Reid center," says Ms. Swagerty. "We're already preparing ahead of time this year, to get everything ready in order for next year."