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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

James Herman Simonton, Jr. remembrance

 


James Herman Simonton, Jr. went to be with the Lord on Thursday, September 16, 2021.

He was preceded in death by his parents, James Herman Simonton, Sr. and Millie Hale Kirksey; and sister, Conchita Vaughn.

James is survived by his daughter, Michelle Simonton; three sons, James Simonton, Arthur Simonton, and Marcus Simonton and wife Tiffany; a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, three brothers, Don Simonton and wife Nancy, William Simonton, and William Kyle and wife Dawn; and several nieces and nephews.

Graveside services will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 25, 2021, at Holston View Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church, 812 Maple Oak Ln, Kingsport, TN 37660.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Aaron Andre' (Mickey) Rogers remembrance

Aaron Andre' (Mickey) Rogers, 64, departed this life and went to his heavenly home on Thursday, September 16, 2021 at his residence.

Mickey was born in Gate City, Virginia on September 21, 1956.  He attended Gate City High School where he was an outstanding football player and a member of the 1974 Virginia State Championship team.  

After high school, he continued his football career at Virginia Tech.  Upon returning home, Mickey worked at Bristol Compressors until his health started to decline.

Mickey was a very loving, devoted son, brother, husband, father, uncle, grandfather and loyal friend to many.  He was a pillar of faith, strength and courage.  Mickey was an avid Alabama fan.. ROLL TIDE!  He also played golf and annually hosted a golf tournament at Cattails located at the Meadowview Convention Center in Kingsport.

Mickey touched the lives of so many with his captivating smile and warm and kind nature.  

Mickey was preceded in death by his father George Rogers and his sister Patricia Pope.

He leaves to cherish his memories his devoted wife of 33 years, Lena Rogers.... mother Ola Rogers.... special aunt Barbara Johnson.... one sister, Carmen Prather.... three brothers, Anthony (Marsha) Rogers, Stanley (Ruby) Rogers, and Phillip (Rhonda) Rogers.... two children, Frederick (Tracy) Smith and Antuan (Rhonda) Smith.... eight grandchildren, Karie Swanson, Tayla Smith, Jaston Smith,  Malika Freeman, Jonah Smith, Jalyn Smith, Jack Smith, Ronne Smith.... two great grandsons, Uriah Montague and Bentley (Beans) Freeman.... father and mother-in-law Jack and Betsy Pierce.... two sisters-in-law, Veronica Camp and Sandra (Paul) Williams.... two brothers-in-law, Garfield (Becky) Pierce and Alen (Wanda) Pierce.... as well as a host of nieces, nephews and extended family.

Funeral services will be conducted at 4 PM Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at the Central Baptist Church in Kingsport, TN.  The family will receive friends from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM prior to the service.  Interment will follow at the Historic Pierce Chapel AME Church cemetery.

CDC guidelines will be followed and those in attendance will be requested to wear a mask.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.clarkfc.com or www,facebook.com/clarkfuneralservice

Professional service and care of Mr. Aaron A. Rogers and family are entrusted to Clark Funeral Chapel and Cremation Service, Inc. (423) 245-4971.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

2021 Grandparents Day in Riverview is a Drive-By Event

The 18th annual Grandparents Day commemoration in Kingsport will be held on Sunday afternoon, September 12, 2021.  

Because of COVID restrictions, the celebration this year will be a drive-through event from 1 PM to 2:30 PM at the V.O. Dobbins Community Center, 301 Louis Street.


The theme this year is "The Love of Giving to all Grandparents," and this year features different desserts and delicacies.  

The first 50 grandparents will receive a free appetizer from Texas Road House.  

The event is free to the public, rain or shine.

From humble beginnings in the Head Start cafeteria, to an apartment on Booker Street, to the Boys Club and the Civic Auditorium, and to the V.O. Dobbins Center, Grandparents Day has served hundreds of seniors on their special day since 2003.  Organizer Johnnie Mae Swagerty says for the past couple of years, "the pandemic has changed the menu and the order of delivery, but has not dampened the spirit to honor the grandparents in our lives."

The Grandparents Day Dessert Luncheon is sponsored by the New Vision Youth, South Central Kingsport Community Development Corporation, Kingsport Parks and Recreation, Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Texas Road House, Girls Inc., Children of the Community, 2 Do Better, and the Central Baptist Church Food Ministry.   For more information, contact Johnnie Mae Swagerty, 423-429-7553.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Righting a Terrible Wrong against Blacks: Defeating "Good Ole-Time 'Good-Ole-Boy' Virginia Politics"

 


'These men were executed because they were Black and that's not right': VA Governor Northam pardons Martinsville Seven who were executed in 1949 rape case

This story courtesy the Richmond Times-Dispatch, via the Bristol Herald-Courier
August 31, 2021
 

Seven Black men executed 70 years ago for the rape of a white woman in Martinsville were granted posthumous pardons Tuesday by Gov. Ralph Northam acknowledging they were denied due process of law and received racially-biased death sentences.

Four of the "Martinsville Seven" died in Virginia's electric chair on Feb. 2, 1951, and three on Feb. 5, 1951. The executions were carried out over pleas for mercy from around the world -- the most executions for a crime against a single person in state history and one of the largest in U.S. history.

"These men were executed because they were Black and that's not right," said Northam, addressing at least five relatives of the seven and dozens of advocates in the Patrick Henry Building Tuesday. The room broke out in applause, shouts, crying and hugging he announced he was going to pardon the men.

The pardons do not address the guilt of the seven, but serve as recognition from the Commonwealth that they were tried without adequate due process and the death sentences were racially-biased, said Northam's office.

For much of Virginia's history the death penalty for rape was largely, if not exclusively, reserved for African Americans. From 1908, when Virginia began keeping central execution records, to 1951 when the seven were executed, all 45 persons put to death for rape in Virginia were Black.

"Race played an undeniable role during the identification, investigation, conviction, and the sentencing of" the seven men, states the pardon which notes each was found guilty in trials by juries of all white men.

The Martinsville Seven were: Joe Henry Hampton, Frank Hairston Jr., Booker T. Millner, Howard Lee Hairston, Francis DeSales Grayson, John Clabon Taylor, and James Luther Hairston.

Tuesday was Grayson's birthday. He was the last of the seven to die. Former Richmond Sheriff Andrew J. Winston was a young city magistrate in 1951 when he witnessed Grayson's execution. In a 2004 story about the Martinsville Seven in the Richmond Times Dispatch, Winston, since deceased, said of Grayson, "He was very composed. It appeared to me that they must have given him a sedative."

"I would think they'd almost have to," he said.

Descendants of some of the men, including former Richmond mayor Rudolph McCollum Jr., a great nephew of Grayson and nephew of Millner, and James Grayson, of Baltimore, Grayson's son, were on hand for a meeting in the governor's office Tuesday.

Before the meeting began Tuesday, McCollum, noting he was meeting some relatives for the first time, said, “It’s almost like a family reunion. The circumstance are weird but it’s a beautiful thing."

Prior to Northam's announcement, McCollum, given a chance to address those in attendance, said of the executions, "It's one particular wound that continues to mar Virginia history."


PRESS PLAY BUTTON ABOVE: Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issuing pardons for the Martinsville 7

James Grayson said, "I'm looking for forgiveness. I want closure. I want them to be able to realize that somebody cares."

The seven pardons bring the total number of pardons issued by Northam since taking office to 604, more than the previous nine governors combined, from Charles S. Robb onward combined, said his office.

His office said Northam has acted on over 2,000 pardon petitions and that the large number of pending petitions is due to an influx received since he took office, coupled with the thousands of petitions that were pending review when former Gov. Terry McAuliffe took office in 2014.

Northam announced new steps to streamline the pardon process in May.

The pardons for the Martinsville Seven appear to be the first posthumous pardons granted in state history. While recognizing the punishments were unjust, they are not absolute pardons. All seven men were said to have confessed to some involvement in the Jan. 8, 1949, attack in the 32-year-old woman.

Guilt was not contested in their appeals. Instead, famed civil rights lawyers of the time, Oliver Hill, Martin A. Martin, Spottswood W. Robinson and Roland D. Ealey and others used the state's stark execution record to argue unsuccessfully on appeal that the death penalty for rape was applied in a discriminatory manner, reserved largely if not entirely for Blacks.


A petition requesting pardons was sent to Northam in December. It read in part: "The Martinsville Seven were not given adequate due process 'simply for being black,' they were sentenced to death for a crime that a white person would not have been executed for 'simply for being black,' and they were killed, by the Commonwealth, 'simply for being black.'"

Among the organizers pushing for pardons were Liz Ryan and Pamela Hairston and groups such as The Martinsville Seven Initiative Inc., the Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop, law students and graduates from the William & Mary Law School.


Above, the families were invited to meet with Northam Tuesday, August 31st, presumably to make their case for a pardon in person. Instead they got a welcome surprise.

After the executions of the Martinsville Seven, three more men, all Black, died in the electric chair for rape, the last in 1961. In 1977 the U.S. Supreme Court ended rape as a death-eligible crime.

"This is about righting wrongs," said Northam in a prepared statement. "We all deserve a criminal justice system that is fair, equal, and gets it right—no matter who you are or what you look like. I’m grateful to the advocates and families of the Martinsville Seven for their dedication and perseverance. While we can’t change the past, I hope today’s action brings them some small measure of peace."

By Frank Green, fgreen@timesdispatch.com


Friday, August 6, 2021

Community Cookoff Cookout Last Big Bash of the Summer in Riverview

This story appeared in the Kingsport Times-News, August 5, 2021 by Calvin Sneed.  Story and pictures copyrighted.


With school starting back up in Kingsport, the letter 'F' won't look bad on a community report card right now.  That's because this coming Saturday, it will stand for 'F'riendship, 'F'amily, 'F'un, 'F'ellowship and 'F'ood.


The 5th annual Community Cookoff Cookout is being held at the V.O. Dobbins Community Center on Saturday, August 7, 2021 from 4 PM to 10 PM in the ballfield on MLK Drive at Louis Street.  That's right beside the Riverview Splash Pad.


"It's the last big outdoor community bash of the summer," says organizer Ryan Smith.  "We do this every year because most of us were raised with lots of neighborhood cookouts during the summer and we all ended up eating a little bit at each house just about every day.  We were already used to everybody else's cooking, then school started back up and we were back to eating at home.  On Saturday, we'll give you that last community taste of summer once again."


This year's Community Cookoff Cookout begins by commemorating August 8th, the historic celebration of Emancipation Day in Tennessee during which President Andrew Johnson freed his personal slaves 158 years ago.  
After cancellation last year because of COVID-19, the theme for this year's cookout is an all-out tribute to the Riverview food legends that many folks grew up with.  "We'll have fried baloney sandwiches, mild pepper hamburgers and fried potatoes with onions just like Rev. (Curtis 'C.E.') Edge used to make at 'Edge's Place,' says Smith (Edge's Place was a popular neighborhood eatery on Lincoln Street). 


"More recently, 'Sarge's Place' was also a favorite restaurant because of Army veteran Master Sgt. James 'Sarge' Swafford's Jeep burgers and Tank burgers," he says.  "I'm going to make that 'love dust' special sauce invented by Rev. Edge that he passed down to Sarge to use in his restaurant.  Then, there was the barbeque chicken and ribs on the backyard grills of many homes in the community on weekends.  And we haven't forgotten the fried fish... years later, whiting fish is still one of the most-liked types of fish around.. we'll also have plenty of that," Smith says.


Baked beans will also be served, along with other items like salad, mac-n-cheese, cowboy beans, corn on the cob, and three different kinds of potatoes, mashed, fried and chips.

Two years ago for the Cookout, Smith says his team prepared more than 700 hamburgers, wings and hotdogs.  This year for the hundreds of people expected, it's no different.

"Come hungry," he laughs.


Among the games, door prizes, bike giveaways, free haircuts for the boys and hair styling for the girls, plus the DJ music in the ballfield, the Cookout also features an attraction for the kids from three years ago that nobody expected would become popular.  It's a homemade 100-foot water slide, an idea that Smith had seen on social media.


"Two years ago, all we needed was some baby oil, water and a roll of plastic that we stretched out," he says.  "Before we knew it, children were running and sliding on it, there were soap suds all over the place and the kids loved it.  We knew we had something going when all the children from the nearby Splash Pad came over and started sliding.  Once they figured out how it worked, there was no stopping them.  We had no idea we would empty out the Splash Pad with something we just made ourselves.  It was an instant hit, so we're bringing it back for the children."


Sponsors for this year's Community Cookoff Cookout include Central Baptist Church, Full Gospel Mission Church, Mt. Zion Holiness Church, St. Mark's United Methodist Church, the Children of the Community neighborhood group, the New Vision Youth, the 2 Do Better group, the Appalachian African-American Cultural Center, Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium, KHRA, South Central Kingsport Community Development Corporation, the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, Kingsport Parks and Recreation, Kingsport Fire Department, Clark Funeral Chapel and Cremation Service, the Tennessee-Virginia Fellowship against Racism, Taylor's Plumbing and Home Services, Jeff's Pipe and Muffler, Burlington, Southern Dwellings, Turner Paving and Sealing, EAV Express AV, DJ Gimme Jimmy, Rachel's Cleaning Service, Carew Cuts Barber Shop, Southern Roots Salon, Crown Cutz Academy and the Taylor-Made Barber Shop.

Local restaurant sponsors include the Texas Roadhouse, Chili's, the Hot Dog Hut on John B. Dennis, El Loco Taco Taqueria, Buffalo Wild Wings, O'Charley's, Applebee's, Papa John's Pizza, and the Waffle House.  Smith says the list of sponsors keeps growing every year.  "They love to be involved in the Kingsport community," he says.


While last year's cookout was postponed because of COVID-19 and from the phone calls and emails he's been getting, Smith says Kingsporters are anxious to get together and celebrate the end of summer before school kicks back into high gear.

"It won't be long until everybody is forced back inside by the cold weather," he says. "COVID kept us away last year, and we're coming back to continue what's become an annual tradition in the city."


By the way, add one more word to friendship, family, fun, fellowship and food on Saturday.  
'F'ree.  The Community Cookoff Cookout is free.  The food, the activities... everything on site is free of charge.

"Everybody is invited to come out to the party for Summer 2021's last big bash," says Smith.


Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Happy 98th Birthday, Mrs. Icey Belle Jones!

 

The children of Mrs. Icey Belle Jones are sponsoring their mother's 98th birthday on Saturday, August 7th, 2021 with a BBQ Luncheon from 12 Noon to 3 PM.

This is a family-only celebration taking place at the V.O. Dobbins Community Center, 301 Louis Street, Kingsport, TN.  In addition to her children, there will grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.

In addition to the family luncheon, the family is inviting her home church, the Shiloh Baptist Church and the community-at-large to participate in a drive-by greeting, through the parking lot from 3 PM to 4 PM on the back side of V.O. Dobbins that faces Wheatley Street.  

The drive-by will be led by her daughter Clara Lewis, who will distribute gifts of appreciation while they last.


Contacts:

Clara Jones Lewis (240) 475-7980

Annie Jones Lewis (240) 300-1682


Thursday, July 29, 2021

Page Morrison Lyon remembrance

 

A memorial service for Page LeJean Morrison Lyon, 65, of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands will be held on Sunday, August 1st, 2021 from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM in the chapel of the Clark Funeral Chapel and Cremation Service in Kingsport, TN.

Page LeJean Morrison Lyon passed away unexpectedly on April 28, 2021 at her home in St. Croix at the age of 65. 

Page was born March 28, 1956 in Kingsport, TN to Betty Louis Smith Morrison and Arthur Freeman Morrison, Sr.

Page attended the Douglass Elementary School and was a graduate of Dobyns-Bennett High School, graduating in 1974.  She moved to Alaska where she worked in administration, and then moved to St. Croix to open a dive shop with her then-husband Jonathan.  Page was currently working as a caretaker for the elderly in St. Croix.

She is survived by her daughter Amanda Lyon (Matthew Montcalm) and granddaughter Matilda Montcalm of Lancaster, PA;  her second husband Jonathan Lyon of Wasilla, Alaska;  her brother Arthur Freeman Morrison, Jr. (Margaret) of Crestview, FL;  her sister Marie Scott of Kingsport, TN;  and her aunt Joanne Harris Osborne (Edward) of Fort Worth, TX.

She was preceded in death by her mother, Betty Louise Smith Morrison;  father Arthur Freeman Morrison, Sr.;  brothers Donald Morrison and Carlos Morrison;  and first husband William Bond.

Please send charitable donations to the St. Croix Animal Welfare Center.

Clark Funeral Chapel and Cremation Service, 802 East Sevier Avenue, Kingsport is proud to serve the family of Page LeJean Morrison Lyon.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Charles "Chuck" Smith remembrance

 

Charles “Chuck” Edward Smith, Jr., age 65, of 100 Williams Valley Court, Madison, TN, departed this life on July 3, 2021, at the Skyline Medical Center.

Charles was born the second child to the union of Charles “Joe” and Dorothy Smith, December 14, 1955, in Kingsport. TN.

After graduating from Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport, TN, he attended Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN, and East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN. He worked in the construction industry for several years before starting his own company, Charles Smith Construction, LLC.

He was a member of Faith Is The Victory Church, served as an usher, and sung special music with his wife, Sonya Smith.

Charles was preceded in death by his parents Charles “Joe” Smith and Dorothy Smith, and a brother, Paul “Pete” Crockett, Jr.

Survivors include his wife, Mrs. Sonya Smith; two sons, Dino Bradley, of Johnson City, TN and AJay (Mia) Greene, of Atlanta, GA; three daughters, Alexis Yates, of Kingsport, TN, Meiosha Greene, of Jacksonville, FL, as well as a special adopted daughter, Dyamond (Jonathan) Tucker, of Nashville, TN, all of whom he loved dearly; three sisters, Pauletta Sensabaugh, of Kingsport, TN, Kay (Lou) Perkins, of Manassas, VA, and Yolanda Smith, of Knoxville, TN; and two brothers, Rodney (Roma-Mashburn) Gambrell, of Kingsport, TN and Garland Riley; six grandchildren, a host of nieces, nephews, aunts, an uncle, cousins, and extended relatives and friends.

Charles was a very devoted husband, father, and brother who will be sadly missed by many but never, ever forgotten.

A celebration of life service will be conducted Saturday July 24, 2021 at 3:00pm at Central Baptist Church 301 Carver St. Kingsport TN. The family will receive friends from 2:00pm until the hour of service. Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.clarkfc.com or www.facebook.com/clarkfuneralservice

Professional service and care of Mr. Charles “Chuck” Smith Jr. and family are entrusted to Clark Funeral Chapel and Cremation Service Inc. (423) 245-4971.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

V.O. Dobbins, Sr. to be Inducted into the KCS Educators' Hall of Fame

What's your memory of V. O. Dobbins, Sr.?  You remember... Mr. Dobbins.... Mr. D.... "Festa" Dobbins?  Was it a memory of him teaching you in a class?  Was it eating the vegetables he grew in his garden for lunch at Douglass?  Was it fatherly advice at Central Baptist Church where he was a deacon?  Was your memory at the end of a paddle in his office in the above picture?

The Douglass Alumni faithful are being summoned to recall those memories and honor the steadfast rock in our Douglass School legacy.  All Douglass Alumni are requested to be inside the DB Dome in Kingsport on Monday, July 26th at 11 AM.  Please spread the word!

On that day, former Douglass principal V.O. Dobbins, Sr. will be inducted into the Kingsport City Schools (KCS) Hall of Fame.

"We had several nominees for 2020 postponed from last year because of COVID, and there were three for 2021, including Principal Dobbins," says KCS Communications Director Andy True.  "After judging the strict criteria our selection committee holds to each nominee, Mr. Dobbins was at the top of the list for both years.  To be able to hear the stories of obstacles Mr. Dobbins overcame in leading Douglass Elementary-High School during that time frame in Kingsport's history... the strong leadership.... the moral leadership.... the visionary leadership that he had for the children of our community is very inspiring."

"The stories about his involvement in his students' lives just kept coming and coming," he says.  "The reverence to which his students speak of him is awe-inspiring.  It speaks to his overwhelming involvement in their development."

"We at the Kingsport City Schools are thrilled that V.O. Dobbins, Sr. is in the Class of 2021 inductees, and we hope that all of his students, indeed, everyone that was influenced by him, can join us in honoring his legacy."

"He did indeed overcome a lot of obstacles," says his son Van Dobbins, Jr.  "He was able to teach all of us how to deal with things in life that were not quite right, like bias and prejudice.  He taught us there were ways to work around those things that would be positive to us later on in life.  He always said that despite the fact that somebody might not like you, there were non-violent ways of dealing with that you could learn from."

What does Van think his late father would say if he knew he was being inducted into the KCS Educators Hall of Fame?

"Nothing," laughed Van.  "It's hard to explain.  He'd be honored, but being honored was never his intention.  He would keep any acknowledgment of it to himself and you'd never know how he felt about it.  His concentration was always on helping others and not himself.  To Daddy, awards were OK, but then he'd ask 'what did I do to deserve an award?'  Nothing that he felt, he should not have done."

Again, the induction ceremony for the 2020-2021 KCS Educators Hall of Fame will be held at 11 AM, Monday July 26th, in the Buck Van Huss Dome at Dobyns-Bennett High School.  After parking in the DB parking lot, visitors should enter on the right, at the lower dome area at the outside scrolling door (that's at the bottom of the ramp that faces the baseball field).  That way, folks can enter there and be on the same level as the basketball floor and won't have to walk up the ramp to the dome lobby, then back down stairs to the floor.  Entering on the ground floor will save you some steps.

"Today, we as educators stand on the shoulders of the ones who came before us," says Andy True.  "They laid the foundation that our school system in Kingsport and the surrounding area built on and now teaches from.  We always hold the Educators Hall of Fame ceremony right at the start of the next school year so that our  teachers going into the next school year can be inspired by what the inductees went through."

"V.O. Dobbins, Sr. was critical to that foundation as an administrator," True says.  "To be able to honor his legacy is incredibly humbling, and we urge all who were touched by his benevolence to join us in this ceremony."

\

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

After a 2-year COVID break, Rhythm in Riverview Comes Back to the Ballfield

 

"It was very dry in the ballfield... almost lonely and sad-looking.  There was nothing to look forward to, no excitement, no nothing."

Brenda Watterson of Kingsport is describing the two years since the last Rhythm in Riverview event during Fun Fest.  COVID-19 canceled the annual concert last year.  "The pandemic separated us from our family and friends," she remembers.  "Everybody was just shut in."

But not this year.


Excitement is building as the food, the togetherness and the fun of Rhythm in Riverview is back in business on Monday, July 19th at the V.O. Dobbins Community Center ballfield, located at MLK Drive and Louis Street in Kingsport.  The free event is Fun Fest's largest concert at the beginning of the 8-day festival.



"It's just a great atmosphere and a huge, wonderful crowd," Fun Fest director Emily Thompson says, remembering years ago when the event started.  "Rhythm in Riverview adds one more level of diversity in the music mix that makes up Fun Fest.  In this particular event, you start off with gospel and you end with the party.  It's great to see how that has evolved over the years, and we know that people have been hoping to come out there and get together again after two years of Covid."


On Monday, July 19th in the Dobbins ballfield, the popular Kids Central, sponsored by Ballad Health, Niswonger Children's Hospital, Indian Path Community Hospital and the city of Kingsport kicks things off with children's activities involving health and wellness from 2 to 6 PM.   Overlapping from 5 to 7 PM will be the annual Gospel Fest, featuring Christian singer Tobias and the Full Gospel Mission Youth Community Choir.   Kingsport native and aspiring actor-singer Rashad Hunter, a.k.a. Bomani Shad will also entertain the crowd with his positive rap music about making the right life choices and getting a good education.


Eleven vendors, a record number for Rhythm in Riverview will be on hand with arts and crafts, clothing and information areas and among them, the food booths.  "Everything from chicken and fish to snow cones, to funnel cakes to Philly steak, even cheese egg rolls," says organizer Johnnie Mae Swagerty.


Speaking of food, a 'newbie' debuts in the food line at the event this year.  "The Weatherby" will serve up familiar foods, but with a different experience that will probably stand out among the fish sandwiches, the funnel cakes, the hot dogs and the iced cones.  Professional chefs Mark Spencer and Curtis McGhaugy's specialities feature southern cuisine with a gourmet twist.  "The signature sandwich that Mark created," says co-owner Jason Robertson, "is coincidentally called the 'Weatherby.' 


What is the Weatherby?  "It's a baked spaghetti and meatball sandwich."

Holey moley.

"That's exactly what you're gonna say when you taste it," says Robertson.  "It's a totally different experience to what you're used to."  Other featured entrees include fried bologna between two maple donuts with a fried egg... a chicken tortilla nacho, a vegan nacho and also a pork belly taco.




Robertson recalls an upcoming event where the organizer asked if they could do turkey legs.  "After gourmet sandwiches, designer tacos and nachos that look like they belong on the cover of a magazine, we're like, 'what's a turkey leg?" he laughs.  "We can do it for the customer, though."


At 7 PM, it's time to put on your dancing shoes.  Headlining the night are the Extraordinaires from Hickory, North Carolina, a band that founder Rusty Bunton says, will not let you stop dancing.  "If you've been up dancing and you're tired and you go to sit down, here we come with another good song to dance to.  We play everything for everybody:  Earth, Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, Tower Power, Kool & and the Gang, Beyonce, Blackeyed Peas, Bruno Mars, the Commodores, Lakeside, Bobby Brown," he says.  "But then, we sneak in Def Lepard, AC-DC and Journey.  We even step back into the 1940's and 50's with the Clovers, Nat King Cole and others."

"Uh oh," perked up Brenda Watterson.  "The Clovers?  Oh my goodness, that's some mainline stuff right there.  I danced to their music many a year ago.  Now you're talking my language.. that's back from when old school was new school," she laughed.


The Extraordinaires has nine players in the musical group, seven of them vocalists.  Bunton's son also is one of them.  He says the band is always changing up the routine so that the lead singer is not always the same person.  "If you're not lead singing, then you're singing backup vocals," he says. "In addition to guitars, drums and percussion, there's also a four-piece horn section, and within that horn section is a guest trombonist with a familiar background.  Varney Green led the late blues icon B.B. King's band in Nashville.  He's gonna help make it an unbelievable show," says Bunton.

"We want people to enjoy what we do," he says.  "It's gonna be one massive party.  We flat throw it down."



All that is music to Brenda Watterson's ears.  After two years of no activity, very little contact with family, friends and fellow Fun Fest lovers, she's bringing her lawn chair and staking out a familiar spot right in front of the Rhythm in Riverview stage.  She says she'll have enough food, energy, friends, family and excitement to keep her company.

"Rhythm in Riverview is like a big family cookout that you don't have to plan," she laughs.  "Everybody can't come to your little family cookout, but everybody can come to this one."

Rhythm in Riverview is sponsored by Eastman, South Central Kingsport Community Development, Inc., Kingsport Parks and Recreation, KHRA and the New Vision Youth.


Thursday, July 8, 2021

Kingsport's New Vision Youth Only Local Children's Group at State Meeting

 


The New Vision Youth group of Kingsport has always had a lot of spirit.  Whether it be at local community events and programs, birthday parties for seniors, neighborhood parades or school activities, you'll always spot them.  The New Vision youngsters are always the most excited participants there.


Now the entire state of Tennessee knows about their spirit.


Kingsport's New Vision Youth group representing Sullivan County just returned from the Tennessee Teen Institute with a huge accolade.... they had more individual Spirit Award winners than any of the other 94 participating counties in the state.

The New Vision Youth Group was the only youth group from Kingsport at the gathering.


The Tennessee Teen Institute (TTI) is a five-day youth leadership and prevention camp sponsored by the Jackson (TN) Area Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency.  It's held yearly on the campus of the University of Tennessee-Martin.  The statewide conference brings together more than 400 teenagers from across the state to help them deal with teen issues like peer pressure, bullying, violence, suicide, teen pregnancy, teen health and substance abuse.  The idea is to recognize problem issues and hopefully stop them before they get started.  The education is done through programs, exhibits, discussions, question-and-answer sessions and interventions.


The kids are split up into various groups where they get to meet other kids from around the state.  It's thought that the interactive nature of the experience gets them to talk about issues among themselves, while the programs offer them solutions.  Institute staff and administrators guide them through the discussions.


This is the 12th year that New Vision has participated in the Institute, and all 26 Kingsport-area New Vision Youth members representing Sullivan County received Spirit awards.  Director Johnnie Mae Swagerty also took four chaperones to the camp two weeks ago and they themselves also received Spirit leadership awards.  "It's easy for the chaperones to get the children excited about TTI," she says.  "The kids look forward to it every year.  They get to renew friendships they've made, plus make new ones.  Many of the kids were shy at first, but once the program begins and they meet other students, the shyness quickly goes away."


One of those shy kids used to be Keyonna Benson of Kingsport (on the far right in this picture).  Coming from a single-parent household, she says she immediately bonded with other shy children in the New Vision Youth group as a child about 10 years ago.  Growing into teenhood, she learned about issues like the dangers of substance abuse, the harmful uses of tobacco and e-cigarettes, drinking and driving, and bowing to peer pressure.

"Growing up, the peer pressure was almost too great," she remembers.  "Fellow students wanting me to smoke with them, go drink, party.  If you didn't do that with them, then you were an outcast.  That was never fun."


She remembers coming to the TTI camps as a New Vision member while growing up and feeling better than when she first arrived.  "I have to say it helped bring me out of my shyness," she admits.  "It was great to be around people who share positive messages in the New Vision Youth, but then to find many others at the camp from around the state with the same message made it refreshing and fun at the same time."

"We actually had something to talk and be excited about," she says.

Keyonna graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School in 2019.  Today, she has an associate's degree from Austin Peay State University and is working on her bachelor's degree.  She's also now on the Tennessee Teen Institute staff, helping to mentor students just as she was guided, to make the right decisions in life.  She considers herself a New Vision Youth and TTI success story.


"What makes TTI so special is that the kids yearning to make those positive decisions have found someone who roots for them," she says, leading a cheer, top left on the back row in this picture.  "There is a huge support system that's here all year long, not just the five days of the camp."

Keyonna is also proud of the New Vision Youth group and its Spirit Award recipients.  "Getting a spirit award isn't just about cheering the loudest or being the most involved," she says.  "As administrators, we look at how much genuine energy you put into the program and its message.  It doesn't matter how quickly you finish a project, it's how you finish it.  Your passion, your enthusiasm, your positive attitude, how the project becomes you."


"All of the kids go home with better ideas on how to deal with the problems of being a teenager," she says.  "At the TTI camp, we hope to equip them to go back home and face the challenges better than when they came.  They do that by sharing the same messages together."


"Even though the camp is over for 2021, we still talk to the kids who attended, no matter where they live," Keyonna says.  "At some point we've all needed the help and encouragement to deal with the pressures of teenage life.  TTI is just one week out of the year, but the support and the love the kids get from the program is year-round."  

"And those friendships last a lifetime."