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Thursday, February 1, 2007

Kingsport City Hall Town Meeting Concerning Extra HOPE VI Funds for Riverview

They sat.. they listened.. and hopefully, for the people of Riverview and the Douglass Alumni, they'll act.

Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips, City Manager Ray Griffin, Jr. and the Board of Aldermen took part Wednesday afternoon, January 31st, in a roundtable discussion with members of the Riverview Community and the Douglass Alumni Association, concerning the use of extra money that will be left over from the 12-million dollar HOPE VI federal grant that has been awarded to the City of Kingsport.

Most of the money will be used to tear down the Riverview Apartments, and build beautiful, single family homes on the streets where they are right now, but there will be extra money left over, and the hope is, that money will be spent on special projects in Riverview that residents can enjoy.
About 20 concerned Douglass Alumni and residents of Riverview attended the roundtable discussion.. Central Baptist Church pastor Dr. Anthony Daniels led the group in an opening prayer, and then it was down to business.

Among the people attending, Edward Horton spoke to the city government officials, saying he'd lived in several places and never thought he'd be back living in Kingsport, whose appearance he says, has changed quite a bit. He told the group, his new impression of Kingsport is that it seems to be a good place now to retire to. Edward says, Kingsport now has activities and facilities for seniors that he'd never thought the city would have, which makes it an attractive place for people to move back to.

Stella Robinette, parttime employee with Kingsport Parks and Recreation, suggested that the city consider designating space in the Douglass School building for programs that nurture children that don't have the proper guidance at home. She says, programs like that would be a good, positive addition to the community, and the closeness of the Douglass School building would give them a sense of family.

Nathan Bly was also present at the meeting. The Section 8 program he administrates, will help Riverview residents financially with their transition from home rental, to home ownership.

Members of the Douglass Alumni Association presented ideas that members have long fostered for years.. they want to see space in the Douglass High School building for Douglass Traditions, to keep the traditions and history of the School alive and in place, so that its historic significance to the Community, the City of Kingsport, and Upper East Tennessee would never be forgotten. All trophies, certificates, honorariums, and statues that were taken away to other schools when Douglass closed, would be returned to the trophy case in the Douglass High School building (the original trophy case is still of it are in the PHOTO section).

Representatives of the Kingsport Housing Authority, the agency that will dispense the HOPE VI funds to local Riverview residents for the building of the new homes, also made a presentation to ADD a new gymnasium to go alongside the Douglass Gym there now. The new gymnasium would be large enough to accomodate Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) events. KHA representatives C.J. McCord and Terry Cunningham also said among the renovations planned for the Douglass building, the American Red Cross and the Kingsport United Way would also have office space there, the Douglass Auditorium would be upgraded to be used for community events. A suggestion was also made to provide office space for the Douglass Alumni Association, which would be a BIG plus for the organization.

Mayor Phillips, City Manager Griffin and the Aldermen listened to the proposals, and they all seemed very receptive to what they heard, the Mayor saying, improvements like the ones mentioned, would also empower and impact other neighborhoods in Kingsport. The end result is, they are definitely considering all the proposals they heard, with the emphasis being on exactly how much money will be left over. A decision may be forthcoming hopefully in 30 to 60 days.