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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Paralyzed Kingsport Police Officer Passes Away At Home

‘He was such an inspiration. There is so much love and respect from our people and actually anybody that met him.’
— Police Chief Gale Osborne


KINGSPORT — A local police officer known for his “heart as big as the entire outdoors” was found dead in his home Sunday night.
According to Kingsport Police Chief Gale Osborne, Marvin Bell, 44, appears to have died of natural causes. Bell was a 20-year veteran of the Kingsport Police Department, serving in patrol and investigations until six years ago.
That’s when a tree stand he was hunting from broke, sending him to the forest floor below. He suffered a severed spinal cord and was left paralyzed from the upper abdomen down.
“You would think a lot of people would give up, especially when they were so athletically inclined to start with,” Osborne said. “But he didn’t. His attitude was absolutely fantastic. He refused to give up and was determined to come back to work.”
And work Bell did, fighting through his disability to find a niche as the KPD’s intelligence o f f i c e r.
“He was just awesome, not just at being a good community policeman with a good attitude, but he was a real good investigator,” Osborne said of Bell, who also worked the KPD’s sexual offender registry. “Because he was such a people person, people would share a lot of information with him.”
“Intelligence is the basis for everything we do, and he gathered that data,” Osborne said.
Osborne said Bell’s upbeat attitude and determination served as motivation for everyone on the force, helping put their lives and troubles in perspective when needed.
“Marvin would have to get up several hours before anyone else would, just to get ready for the day and come to work,” Osborne said. “He was such an inspiration. There is so much love and respect from our people, and actually anybody that met him.”
Osborne called Bell “the perfect ambassador” for the police department and said the staff will have a rough period of adjustment with him gone.
“People are in shock, and we’ve asked everyone to please pray for his family and everybody that loved him,” Osborne said.
Arrangements have yet to be made for Bell’s funeral.

FREE Basic Computer Classes Offered

If you've never used a computer before, would you like to learn the basics of Internet Word Processing?
If you're pretty well experienced on a personal computer, would you like to perfect your skills, perhaps into a parttime or fulltime job?
If the answer is yes to both of those questions, we've got some free classes that will help you achieve your goals.
Free basic computer classes are being offered at the V.O. Dobbins Community Center in Kingsport.. it's an Introduction to Internet Worksheets and Word Processing.
Two Adult classes are taught on Tuesdays and Thursdays.. the first one is from 9 AM to 10 AM, and the second class is from 2 PM to 3 PM. ADULTS: Don't let the youngsters get the jump on you when it comes to computer skills. Take the free class and know what THEY'RE learning!
Two Youth Classes for children from ages 10 to 18, will begin on May 22nd, also on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The first class will be from 11 AM to 12 Noon, and the second class will be from 3 PM to 4 PM. YOUTH: Wouldn't you like to know something the adults don't know? Take the free class, and stay one step ahead of Momma and Daddy!
Registration is required, and limited classes are open to anybody in the Kingsport, Johnson City, Bristol, Southwest Virginia and Upper East Tennessee area. Call 423-246-6809 to register TODAY.
The Free Basic Computer classes are sponsored by South Central Kingsport Community Development, Incorporated, and the Weed & Seed Program of South Central Kingsport.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Funeral Arrangements For Ronnie Releford

Jasper “Ronnie” Releford
CHARLESTON W.Va. — Mr. Jasper Lawrence “Ronnie” Releford, 57, of Charleston, W.Va, went to be with the Lord on Tuesday (April 17, 2007) following an extended illness.
Born in Kingsport to the parents of Agnes and James J L Releford. He attended Douglass High School until the schools were integrated and then he went on to John Sevier Middle School and graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School where he played football. After graduation, he moved to Charleston, W.Va., where he worked for the state of West Virginia until he was no longer able to work and took an early retirement.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Agnes and James Releford; sister, Gloria Horton; and a brother, David Releford.
He is survived by a special friend, Mary Henry and children, Randal Releford, Ronnie Releford, Monica Releford, David Releford, Jay Gilmore, Kellie Neal, YaDella Miles, Steven Harrison and Lynn Stuart; sisters, Shelia Releford, Clinitina Releford, Truda “Danny Hall, all of Kingsport, Gracie Falls, Sabrina Ross, and Lisa McElrath, all of Atlanta, Ga.; brothers, Douglass (Vivian) Releford, Leland (Marie) Williamson of Kingsport and Bryon Williamson of Knoxville; special brothers, James “Moose” Henry and Harry Smith. He also leaves seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
There will be a memorial service from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. today in Charleston, W.Va.
The family will receive friends at Central Baptist Church on Saturday from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
The going home service will be on Sunday at 3 p.m. at the church with the Dr. Rev. Anthony Daniels officiating.
Interment will be at 11 a.m. Monday at East Lawn Cemetery. The cortege will depart the church at 10:30 a.m.
Expression of love and online condolences can be sent via -mail to
R.A. Clark Funeral Service is in charge of arrangements.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Former Riverview Resident Passes

Washington, D.C. - On Friday, April 13, 2007, Mrs Bernice Edna (Johnson) Hale departed this life by God's infinite wisdom and mercy. Mrs. Hale was born to the late James Johnson and Juanita Johnson Sims on November 21, l927 in Kingsport, Tennessee, where she resided until l962 when she and her husband moved to Washington, District of Columbia.

Mrs. Hale was a longstanding, dedicated member of the Elks, a benevolent organization renown for its educational scholarships, community service and contributions, having first joined the Elks' Dunbar Temple #344 in l951 in Kingsport and was a member on the Myrtle Spears Council, serving for one year as trustee in the Tennessee State Association, and the Dunbar Temple's reigning Assistant Daughter Ruler at the time of her departure from Kingsport.

Transferring her membership to the Washington, D.C. Columbia Temple #422 she continued her work and service with and on behalf of the Elks, attaining Past Grand Daughter Ruler Honors; Loyal Daughter Ruler and assistant financial secretary of the Magnolia Council; Daughter Ruler of Columbia #422; First Assistant Gatekeeper; Tri-state Directress of the Flower Circle Department; President of the Fredia L. Andrews Past Grand Daughter Rulers Circle and honoree at their first "Courageous Women Recognition Dinner" for services rendered over the years; 2nd Vice President of the Past State President's Club, and recipient of the prestigious State President's Achievement and Appreciation Award.

Mrs. Hale is survived by her most devoted, loving, and caregiver husband, Sidney Hale; loving daughter Carolyn Rockymore (Everett) and grandson, Alexander of Burke, VA; brothers Rev. Theodore Powell of Shelbyville, NC and Robert Johnson (Margaret) of Kingsport, TN; aunts Carrie E. Johnson and Forney R. Stevenson of Hickory, NC; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Siblings preceding her in death were brothers Jackie and Bennie McLemore, Randolph Johnson.

Mrs. Hale retired from the D.C. Government Public Schools after 19 years in food service.

"Our strong beauty, we will love, miss and remember you for your love of God, family and friends, your warm and wonderful smile, your energy, your fun-loving ways, your sense of style; and your love of service and commitment to our community. Thank you for the Memories" The Family

Services will be conducted at the Trinity A. M. E. Zion Church, Washington, D.C., Friday, April 20, 2007, with The Rev. William Kelly, Officiating Visitation at 10:00 AM, Elks Ceremony, Funeral at 11:00 AM. Mrs. Hale and the family are in the care of the R. N. Horton Company, 600 Kennedy Street, NW, Washington, DC 20011. (202) 829-9000.

V.O. Dobbins Community Center Renovations Are Now Funded


The Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen has approved a $10 million bond issue, $250,000 of which will be used to renovate the V.O. Dobbins Community Center in the Douglass School Building (the old Douglass gym).
The approval did not come without considerable debate at a BMA workshop meeting, where at least one alderman said he was surprised to see the 10-million dollar bond issue request on the agenda, right on the heels of a $24 million bond issue for improvements and construction in other areas of the city.
In addition to the Dobbins Community Center renovations, the $10 million bond issue will also fund improvements to Gibson Mill Road from Watauga Avenue to Stone Drive, improvements to the Bays Mountain Park Planetarium, road improvements to Fordtown Road, preliminary design work to the Higher Education Center.
The $250,000 dollar Dobbins Community Center renovations are separate from the HOPE VI Revitilization project, part of which funds will completely renovate the Douglass School building the Dobbins Center is a part of. That project is on track to begin sometime in the fall of this year and the winter of next year, and will also add a new main entrance to Douglass School on the Wheatley Street side, and build another gymnasium where the tennis/basketball courts are right now.
Kingsport City Finance Director Jim Demming said the two bond issuances would not increase the property tax rate for city residents in the coming fiscal year.

Douglass Alumnus Passes

Another Douglass Alumnus has left us.
Jasper "RONNIE' Releford passed away Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.
There will be a Memorial Service in Charleston, West Virginia on Friday.
The family will receive friends in Kingsport on Saturday at Central Baptist Church. The funeral will be on Sunday.
These are tentative arrangements for now.
We'll let you know final arraignments as soon as possible.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Top Ten Pet Peeves In The Office


1) Your lazy co-worker gets promoted before you. That is so WRONG!

2) My boss doesn't even know my name.. it's been 3 years, for crying out loud.

3) Who ate my sandwich that was in the fridge?

4) Loud co-worker. Please quit yelling, I'm in the cubicle next to you, you idiot.

5) Co-worker brings kid to work...somebody please tell me when this became a

6) That same co-worker has a 30-minute meeting with the boss, and we have to watch
the kid she brought to work. What is this, the MALL?

7) I hate when I get a million unnecessary responses to an email, because somebody
"reply all.""

8) Co-worker too busy to answer the phone. Put your voicemail on. Just because I
have a notepad, I am NOT your secretary.

9) Please turn off your cell phone at the office. Nobody wants to hear that stupid,
annoying ringtone at work. Ever heard of "vibrate?"

10) I don't smoke. How come I don't get those 10-minute breaks away from my desk
every day?

11) Co-workers who don't clean up their own messes. This place is a pig sty!

12) Do we have to celebrate EVERYTHING? I've gained about 10 pounds eating all of
that cake.

13) We're only co-workers. You don't have to give me funny little nicknames like
Sport, Kiddo, Champ or Dude.

14) Don't you hate it when people listen to their voicemail on speakerphone?

15) If you hate your job so much, just quit. I never wanted to hear about your
problems. I actually like my job!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

2007 Kingsport Health Fair at the V.O. Dobbins Community Center


The 2007 Kingsport Health Fair at the V.O. Dobbins Community Center was a rousing success. Many people took time to stop by, and get checked out for their health. Among the tests done free of charge were diabetes screening, breathing and lung testing for respiratory problems, eye screening, blood pressure tests, and blood sugar testing.
There were also events for the kids, teaching them the value of getting regularly tested for various ailments. The kids learned in a fun-type atmosphere that although the tests can be time-consuming and perhaps hurt a little, it's so very important to be tested and follow through with what the testing may find.
Our seniors in South Central Kingsport also benefited from the Health Fair. Those who came by the Health Fair were tested, but medical students from the East Tennessee State University School of Medicine also went through the Riverview Neighborhood, stopping the homes of those seniors who were sick and shut-in, doing blood pressure testing and other screenings.
This was an excellent event that brought out friends and neighbors, in a community atmosphere that has always been a staple in the South Central Kingsport area.
The 2007 Kingsport Health Fair was sponsored by the Kingsport Housing Authority, Kingsport Parks and Recreation, the South Central Kingsport Community Development Corporation, the Northeast Tennessee Minority Health Coalition, the Health Teams of Central Baptist and Shiloh Baptist Churches, and the ETSU Division of Health Sciences. Thanks to these groups and organizations that make the event a huge success, a toast to your good health!

Gospel Jazz Concert Announcement

Please put this on your calendars (it's also on the website calender, too):

There will be a Benefit Jazz Concert on Saturday, April 28th, 2007 at 6 PM at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium on Memorial Boulevard. The renown area gospel jazz band "Unlimited" will perform songs from its upcoming C-D that's due out this summer. The cost to attend the concert is only five dollars, and proceeds go to the Jalissa Ferguson Park and the new Riverview Splashpad. Doors open at 5:00 PM. For more information, please contact Stella Robinette at 392-4726 or James Smith at 360-8637.

Douglass Reunion Committee Meeting of 4/14/07


Greetings, Sons and Daughters of Douglass!
The Douglass Reunion Committee meeting this past weekend was a good one.. Committee members got an update on their website, including the fact that we've gotten more than 4,000 hits since we signed on. (Thanks for making a great way to stay in touch with loved ones, your Douglass school, and your friends and neighbors in Riverview and South Central Kingsport!).
A decision was also made on one type of goodie to be sold at the event this summer. On sale will be tumblers with handles like the ones in the picture above, emblazoned with the Douglass Tiger logo, for the low price of only seven (7) dollars! They can hold both hot and cold beverages, and it will be a limited edition tumbler. You can order your tumbler now by just sending seven dollars to the Douglass Alumni Association, P.O. Box 1936, Kingsport, Tennessee 37660, and it will be ready for you to pick up when you arrive at the Reunion. You can, of course order as many as you want, for seven dollars apiece. Be sure to include your name, address and phone number if you pre-order. The special Douglass Tiger Tumblers can also be purchased when you arrive, but to ensure you'll get one (they may sell out before you arrive), you might want to go ahead and reserve as many as you want, by placing an order and sending in your money, then picking it or them up when you get to the Reunion.
Don't forget to send in your registration money (100 dollars per person, also payable in installments),
Also, don't forget to have your high school senior apply for a Douglass Alumni Scholarship.. the deadline is fast-approaching. College is not cheap, and every deserving Douglass Alumni descendant needs the chance to get as much funding as possible to further their education. Download the application form by clicking on the scholarship link on the's home page.. fill it out and get it in, pronto!
Our next Douglass Alumni Reunion Committee meeting will be on May 5th, 2007, at 1 PM in the Fellowship Hall at St. Mark's on Maple Street. The meetings are coming quicker now because the Reunion is soon upon us, so if you have a few minutes, drop by, enjoy the fellowship (and the snacks), and help us with the decisions that will make this 2007 Reunion one to remember!

Friday, April 13, 2007



TOP PHOTO: A heavy rain in March 2007 in Riverview produced this area of percolated solid waste between The Hut and the railroad track off Lincoln Street. It was not in a ditch, but in a low area. Its contents are unknown.

BOTTOM PHOTO: The nearest air pollution station to Riverview, monitored by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. It's located at Jefferson Elementary School, and is the pole located on the roof in this picture. The station uses the instruments mounted on the pole to measure the amount of particulate in the air from nearby industries.

"Why are all these people sick?"
That's a question that Samuel Floyd Perry is asking himself every day, ever since he came back home to Kingsport to attend a wedding two years ago. "I was trying to find my old church, Bethel, and a very nice lady who was also a double leg amputee at the knees directed me around the (Mapleoak) Apartments, and later I ran into her neighbor, a former Douglass classmate of mine, who'd also lost a leg to diabetes. She later told me that 1 in 5 black persons, including children in Kingsport had diabetes. The horror of that similarity tormented me for weeks afterward," he said.

"Growing up, we always knew Eastman dumped stuff into the Holston
River," Mr. Perry says, "and I can remember, as a teenager I could go out some nights [too many nights] in Riverview, after Eastman had (what seemed like) poison in the night air! It would cause my eyes to tear and burn, and cause me to gag for air to breathe!! I knew as a teenager, THAT THIS WAS NOTHING GOOD FOR MY HEALTH !"

Mr. Perry is not alone. Others are questioning exactly how many
pollutants they've been breathing and ingesting over the years.

Riverview, because it was nestled within an industrial community (Eastman on the east, the river on the south, General Shale and Penn-Dixie Cement on the east, and the railroad on the north side), has had to tolerate much because of where it's located. Even though most residents of Riverview valued the wonderful industrial neighbors and the jobs they provide, some are concerned about the health of their neighborhood.

So what are the facts?

The following information comes from a brochure called "Discovering Our Community--Phase One," prepared by the group Kingsport Citizens For A Cleaner Environment. Its findings were published in 2005.
A fact sheet from the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion from April, 2004, says death rates per 100,000 people are "typically higher in Sullivan County, compared to the State of Tennessee's average." Specific percentages higher than the state average:

Heart Disease (10 per cent higher)
Cancer (20 per cent higher)
Stroke (10 per cent higher)
Chronic lower respiratory disease (40 per cent higher)
Chronic liver disease (40 per cent higher)
Hypertension (50 per cent higher)

Of course, many illnesses (around the country, and also in Riverview) can be attributed to lifestyle, tobacco use, alcohol use, poor diet, family longetivities, and a general lack of physical activity. But history has shown that some people have family histories and body compositions that allow for diseases to attack easier, once they they're introduced and get a foothold in
the body.

"At the 2005 Douglass Reunion's memorial service," continued Mr. Perry, "20 of our brothers and sisters were memorialized! 20 family members had passed on since the reunion in '03, many of they our age or younger."

"THAT'S NOT NORMAL FOR A COMMUNITY OF 1000 TO 2000 PRECIOUS PEOPLE!" he says emphatically.

First, let's look at air pollution in our particular area, again, quoting from the "Discovering Our Community--Phase One" report.
Looking closely at the area within zip code 37660, the
Environmental Defense Fund's SCORECARD.ORG Environmental Justice website notes that "releases of toxic chemicals is 1.16 times higher (in that zip code) around communities of color, than for whites.
The website also notes that the cancer risks for hazardous air pollutants is 1.70 times higher for people of color than for whites in zip code 37660. There are also 4.17 times as many facilities emitting criteria air pollutants in areas of color (10)than in white communities (2.4) within the same zip code.
According to the same report, few neighborhoods in Kingsport have been located in air pollution "non-attainment areas" for particulate matter in the air like Riverview was when the state started mapping areas like that back in 1979. As a matter of fact, all of Downtown, along with Riverview, was located in a "non-ttainment area." Once Kingsport was labeled in this way, strict cleanup measures became a requirement, and local industry was ordered to find a way to stop the escape of "fugitive dust" from
cement-making, brick-making, wood pulp manufacturing, and other sources.
Many people would say the old Penn-Dixie Cement Company was the major culprit that led to the listing of downtown and Riverview as a "non-attainment area." During a public hearing on new air quality regulations proposed for the area, Penn-Dixie officials were quoted in the Kingsport Times-News as saying the stronger regulations were "hopelessly stringent, and would impose an unreasonable economic hardship on this company." Penn-Dixie Cement went bankrupt in 1983.
Meanwhile, the Mead Corporation said it agreed with the new
regulations, even though it would greatly increase construction and its operating costs. In 1994, Mead's Kingsport Plant was sold to Willamette Industries.
Tennessee Eastman Company said at the time, it was in compliance with existing air polution control regulations. Also in 1994, Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York and Eastman Chemical in Kingsport became separate companies.
The Kingsport Foundry and its air pollution went bankrupt in 2002. The city is now trying to reclaim the site and haul away polluted ground.

Have you noticed, there's not that much of a smell in the air
anymore in Riverview?

In March of 1979, the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen asked for a study on how the city could take a more active role in pollution control. When the price tag came back, the board decided the cost was too much. Among the things the idea would have produced, would have been an air monitoring network of air samples, inspections on pollution sources, a city air pollution board for residents to file complaints with.

In terms of waste disposal sites, of course Riverview itself was built on top of a toxic waste dump, and the General Shale Company still operates a solid waste dump on "The Hill" between Dunbar Street and Industry Drive.
Today, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation reports that within three miles of Riverview, are less than 100 waste disposal sites. They include "Solid Waste Management" sites, Hazardous Waste Sites, closed dumps and landfills, NON-REGISTERED solid waste sites (at least four of
those are within three miles of Riverview, municipal and industrial landfills, incinerators, waste water treatment plants, biosludge ponds (located near Meadowview), settling ponds, and some polluted sites that could eventually qualify as Superfund sites.
Even now, Eastman Chemical ALONE has at least 55 such sites within three miles of Riverview. Other sites in Kingsport (all within three miles of Riverview) include the E.J. Smith Petroleum site at Main and Sullivan Streets, where hydrocarbon contamination was just recently hauled away by daily truckloads. The Kit Bottom Site (which was the old AFG Industries dump site) is located on Horse Creek on the other side of the Sluice of the South Fork Holston River. Cement Hill across from downtown was contaminated with a high level of heavy metals, including arsenic, chromium, mercury and selenium, from when Penn-Dixie used it as a dumping site. Meanwhile, the Holston Army Ammunition Plant had at least two sites near Area A, across Wilcox Drive from Riverview.
Toxic wastes have continued to decrease overall for most of the industries within three miles of Riverview, according to the numbers. But the question remains.. BEFORE THERE WAS STRICT MONITORING OF WASTE DISPOSAL, WHAT AMOUNTS OF WASTES WERE GENERATED AND DUMPED, BEFORE THE E.P.A BEGAN RECORDING AND REGULATING SUCH DISPOSALS?

The answer.. may never be known.

The partners who compiled much of the material in the above report, feel that Riverview may, after all these years and regulations, STILL be at risk. The writers of "Discovering Our Community--Phase One" asked leaders and those who love Kingsport, to continue the journey towards improvement in Riverview and the surrounding community, "recognizing that the city's health is measured FIRST by the health of neighbors who live in the heart that makes the city tick." Since the report was presented two years ago, no city official has addressed the report or the request thoroughly.

This is just not satisfactory for former residents like Floyd Perry, who calls what Riverview's industrial neighbors did years ago, "criminal."
"It's just unthinkable what the Kingsport City Fathers did, putting us on a toxic waste dump," he says, "and we should never leave it alone."

"No matter how pretty they make Riverview," he says, "there will always be death just beneath the surface of the land, if the cries of my young brothers and sisters from the grave are to be believed."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

THE FIRST RESIDENT OF RIVERVIEW: Welcome to the Chemical Capital of Kingsport

PICTURE AT TOP: Artist rendering of the old Federal Dyestuff and Chemical Company, looking from company property behind Dunbar Street, eastward.

PICTURE BELOW, RIGHT: Photo looking in the same direction from March 2007 eastward from General Shale dumpsite behind Dunbar Street towards Riverview. The new Central Baptist Church rises in the background left.


In the late 1930's, industry was booming in Kingsport, Tennessee, the "Model City." The Tennessee Eastman Company was on its way to becoming the largest industry in the state, and within two miles nearby, General Shale, Penn Dixie Cement, Mead, the Kingsport Press, the Kingsport Foundry, The Blue Ridge Glass plant, Borden Mills, and Holston Defense all employed thousands of workers, both black and white.

Without an Environmental Protection Agency to govern how and where solid waste was disposed, most industries used nearby land that the Federal Dyestuff and Chemical Company had been located on to get rid of spent materials and chemicals. On 200 convenient acres between Eastman to the east, the Holston River to the south, General Shale to the west, and the Clinchfield Railroad to the north, every kind of toxic chemical waste imaginable was dumped, most of it vanishing into the ground, out of sight. Folks living across the railroad tracks from the dumpsite reported chemicals bubbling to the surface there during heavy rains.

During the 20's and 30's, Kingsport was not unlike many large American cities, with whites living anywhere in the city they chose, while its African-Americans tended to live between the Sullivan Street and Walnut (now Sevier) Avenue areas. Coincidentally, that was the exact same location where, only 20 years earlier, workers from the now-defunct Federal Dyestuff and Chemical Company used to live and would cross the railroad tracks daily to deal with and dispose of chemicals from the plant. Many blacks moved into what became known as "The Oak Street District," converting the old F. D. & C boarding houses into liveable homes along Sullivan, Dale, Oak, and Maple Streets. A few African-American citizens also settled along the base of Cement Hill, across the railroad tracks from downtown Kingsport. As the city prospered, jobs grew plentiful, more blacks joined their relatives, and soon the area was saturated. Kingsport's African-American citizens appealed to the city for land to expand.

As was common in those days, black citizens were not allowed to live amongst white citizens, and Kingsport was no different than its big-city counterparts. First (and it turns out, the only choice) for a black resettlement was the old site of the Federal Dyestuff and Chemical Company, now a dumpsite. Although it was convenient to work and downtown, many African-Americans balked at the location, knowing fully well the contents of the dumpsite, and knowing that, during heavy rains, dumped chemicals in the ground often rose to the surface.

Because of segregation, the Kingsport City Fathers would not approve many places for its black citizens to locate. It is said that the area behind the Borden Mills plant was offered, and that might have been a good place to be. Although there was a white community already established on the east side of Wilcox Drive, the Borden Mills area on the other side of that, was turned down because many African-Americans did not want to be too far away from downtown, their friends and relatives in the Oak Street District, or Douglass School on East Walnut (now East Sevier) where their children attended. On the other hand, the old Federal Dyestuff and Chemical Company dumpsite was convenient to where they already were. It was across the Clinchfield Railroad from the Sullivan-Dale-Maple-Oak-Walnut Street area, and it was near downtown, the school, and the industries where African-Americans worked. The city leased the old Federal Dyestuff and Chemical Company site from owner Tennessee Eastman (reportedly for one dollar), put down dirt, rock, fill dirt, and sediment. The city sold the land reportedly for 100 dollars a lot, and African-Americans were drawn to that area for what amounted to bargain property. The Riverview Apartments were built in 1940, and eventually the Kingsport Board of Education responded to the still-growing black population by building a new Douglass School building in the community. That, itself was a huge draw to the area.

Some black people who came to Kingsport for job opportunities, had heard about the chemical history of the land Riverview was built on, but the chance for good jobs was just too good to pass up.

"When I first heard about Douglass School," says Thelma Webb, "I had seen an advertisement in a teacher's publication. When I got here in 1957, I thought 'what a marvelous place Riverview is.. the people are so friendly, happy and close." Mrs. Webb was hired as a Douglass third-grade teacher. "Even though I had heard about the dumpsite the neighborhood was built on, my children made friends easily, and I enjoyed the fellowship among neighbors."

After Douglass closed in 1966, Mrs. Webb was one of a handful of Douglass teachers, who chose not to continue her teaching career in the Kingsport City School system. She moved to Pennsylvania to be near her sister and spent the next 25 years there.

Now at home in her native South Carolina, Mrs. Webb says she always wondered about the land the Riverview Neighborhood was built on. "It seemed every year, I would hear from friends in Kingsport who would tell me 'so-and-so died from cancer, this person is sick, that person is ill. What made it so unusual, was that these were YOUNG people getting sick and dying, not the older folks. I always wondered if they were getting sick from the chemicals that were dumped into the ground long before anybody ever got there."

To their credit, all of the industries who used the old Riverview dumpsite eventually "cleaned up their act" in terms of air pollution, and the E.P.A. enacted strict guidelines on how to dispose of hazardous solid waste that comes in their production processes. At least one of them, General Shale continued to dump scrap materials and spent chemicals on land it owned behind Dunbar Street, but it's now in dredge ponds and under special dumpsite dirt liners, under the auspices of federal waste regulators.

Today, that comes as little consolation to the folks who balked at having to move to Riverview when the city offered them nothing else, and years later, many of those residents wonder if they were exposed to toxic chemicals, that, once in the blood stream, may have been passed on to future generations.

"I definitely think the ground that Riverview was built on, needs to be tested," says Mrs. Webb. "Children may still be getting sick that haven't been sick before, and the cause could be something inherited from their parents, absorbed from the air and for years, right underneath their feet."

"Looking back years from now," she mused.. "I'd like to know if I was right."


Monday, April 9, 2007

Riverview HOPE VI Meetings Tuesday---PLEASE READ AND ATTEND

The Central Baptist Church (Fellowship Hall on the right), where Riverview Apartments and Neighborhood Residents will meet to discuss the HOPE VI Revitilization Project on Tuesday, April 10th.

Individual notices have previously been sent to effected property
owners/residents, but this is for anyone else who may be interested.

Specifics for the HOPE VI meetings:


RESIDENTS OF SHERWOOD & HIAWASEE/GREEN ACRES/REALTORS will meet in the Funfest Room of the Kingsport Civic Auditorium.
9 AM to 10:30 AM

******TUESDAY, APRIL 10TH******

*****RIVERVIEW RESIDENTS AND NEIGHBORHOOD will meet in the Fellowship Hall of the Central Baptist Church.
11 AM to 1 PM

The meetings will be moderated by the developer representative (The EDGE
Group) and the architects (Martella Associates & CRW Architects) that have just been contracted for the HOPE VI project.
The purpose is to gather community input regarding the homes and site plans
for the Riverview Apartments Project. Any questions you might have on the homes being built that are replacing the Riverview Apartments can be asked of the contractor that's been picked to tear the present apartments down, and who will build the new single/multi-family homes to replace them.

Sunday, April 8, 2007




When you think of the first resident of Riverview, who comes to
mind? The Gillenwaters? The Cartwrights? The Swagerty's? The Stafford's? The Leepers? The Bonds?
You'd be wrong on all counts, for the first resident of Riverview wasn't a person.. It was a factory.

The first resident of Riverview was the Federal Dyestuff and Chemical Company. That company occupied all of the 100 acres of what is now Riverview, plus another 100 acres to the east of Riverview, across what is now Wilcox Drive and the Eastman ballfields, across Mad Branch, and over to AFG Industries.

Compare the two pictures above; they are the same view, 92 years apart. The one on top is a drawing dated 1916 of the southwestward view towards what is now Riverview, from the alley at the top of the hill at Dale Street. The long mountain in the back at the top of the picture is Bays Mountain. The railroad at the bottom is the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio Railroad--later the Clinchfield, now the CSX Railroad. The round circular building in the back of the plant is the old Roundhouse formerly at the corner of Wheatley and Dunbar Streets, and the low hill to the right of the Roundhouse, is "The Hill" behind the houses on Dunbar Street. Today, Wilcox Boulevard would split the plant down the middle of the drawing. The picture on the bottom is the same view, taken in March, 2007.

"Tennessee Eastman has been in Kingsport for many years but the Federal Dyestuff and Chemical Company Plant was here even before Eastman," wrote Belle Gardner Hammond, whose article is in the Archives Of The City Of Kingsport at the Kingsport Public Library.

"The men at the Kingsport Improvement Company wanted the Dye Plant in Kingsport. They donated two hundred acres of land to the company, and it was the beginning of the industrial era in Kingsport," she wrote. Construction was started on the plant in November 1915, and in early January 1916, the plant filled its first order for dye. It was a small order totaling just $600. The dye was shipped to Taubel Hosiery Mills in New Jersey. The mill’s next order was for twenty tons of dye. Pretty soon, the Dye Plant was a busy place. The company employed one thousand people and for a brief time, more men worked there than any other place in Kingsport.

The Federal Dyestuff and Chemical Corporation's 200 acres was bordered by the Holston River on the south side, and the recently completed Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio Railroad on the north side. Within a year, 29 buildings had been built, making F. D. & C. the first manufacturing facility in Kingsport, predating the Tennessee Eastman Company by two years. 92 years later, the land now comprises the Riverview neighborhood, the current Eastman Chemical company headquarters, the Eastman ballfields, and Mad Branch over to the AFG Industries plant.

The Federal Dyestuff and Chemical Company produced caustic soda, chlorine sodium, hydrochloric acid, and nitric acid on the property. Raw materials brought in by the nearby railroad were coal, sulfur and salt. Combinations of these chemicals also produced nitrobenzene, dinitrobenzene, dinitrochiorobenzene, dinitrophenol, trinitrotoluene, picric acid, aniline toluidine, metaphenylenediamine and beta naphthol. Kingsport was undeveloped at the time, and the 35 chemists and 1,000 workers were brought into the area every day to work, and labor conditions were very favorable to this location.

Unfortunately, there is no documentation to indicate excess or spent chemicals were ever hauled away from the site, and it is assumed that because of the cost, most spent chemicals were simply dumped on site. In the early 20th century, there was no Environmental Protection Agency or conservation groups that mandated safe disposal or storage of spent chemicals. The clay and limestone makeup of the ground in upper East Tennessee allowed any chemicals lighter or heavier than water to not evaporate, but be quickly and thoroughly absorbed into the ground. Also, the nearness of the Holston River permitted any chemicals disposed on site, to easily seep into the caverns, crannies and caves that usually follow rivers in East Tennessee's average terrain. Since there is no written disposal documentation, nor are there living survivors of the plant who remember, nor any state or federal record of such disposal, ON SITE disposal could be assumed, because subsequent companies eventually disposed of THEIR chemicals on the old Federal Dyestuff and Chemical Company plant site.

As stated above, aniline is one chemical identified as being manufactured by the Federal Dyestuff and Chemical Company.. indeed, aniline continued to be produced by Tennessee Eastman's Holston Ordinance Works across Wilcox Drive from present-day Riverview. My research has now uncovered the fact that the building producing aniline was also one of the factories that blew up, during the Great Eastman Explosion of October 4, 1960.

Getting back to the rather properous Federal Dyestuff plant: There was a housing shortage or crunch as it was often referred to in Kingsport during World War I. It was said that the meadows of Kingsport were white with tents during that time. By 1918-1919, there were tents near the area where White City was later built. There were large boarding houses on Dale Street. The boarding houses were a convenient place for the out of town men who worked at the Dye Plant to stay.

There were explosions at the plant. When one explosion occurred, a man was killed instantly and two others who were badly injured, later died. A unit of the building was destroyed. The plant was near enough to the homes to cause people to be very upset by the explosions.

The advent of World War One, brought the need for factories that
could easily produce tear gas, and the Federal Dyestuff and Chemical's production was perfect for that. The company was reorganized into the Union Dye and Chemical Corporation, whose major government contract was for tear gas and explosives, with TNT production located in the Roundhouse building (located at what is now Dunbar and Wheatley Streets). The end of the war in 1918 left
the company with cancellation of orders for explosives and TNT, and
three years later, that company filed bankruptcy. A portion of the plant was acquired by the nearby Tennessee Eastman Chemical Corporation, and is still in operation on the other side of Wilcox Boulevard (that plant portion was operated for years for the Holston Ordinance Works by Eastman).

Eventually in the 1920's, all of the buildings of the Federal Dyestuff and the Union Dye and Chemical Corporations were torn down and as mentioned, since there was no Environmental Protection Agency to oversee the removal and disposal of the chemicals on-site, former workers report that what chemicals were not dumped into the Holston River, were simply dumped into the ground or left on-site. Unfortunately, there is no record that the ground was never cleaned up or reclaimed. Since there were no measurements of the water table or the ground layout under the plant, nobody really knows how much of the ground was poisoned, nor any of its lasting effects. Because of it's poisonous toxicity, the land becomes the dumping ground for nearby industries, including Tennessee Eastman Chemical, Penn-Dixie Cement, General Shale, the Kingsport Foundry, Borden Mills, Blue Ridge Glass, Mead Fibre, and the Kingsport Press.


Saturday, April 7, 2007

"Natural" Highs to Have After Easter

Got this from Doris Calloway, through Jenny Hankins and others:

I was just thinking about some of these "natural" highs - AND the one who makes it all possible - (at least for me) Jesus Christ, the risen Saviour!!...I have some really beautiful flowers in my yard this morning, but the rain showers really kick-started them to blooming. So it is in our lives at some time or another - the rain showers come and sometimes turn into really scary storms, but we have someone to guide us safely thru, and for that, I'm so grateful...Happy Easter, everybody - be safe!! (for the song in my heart!!)


1. Being in love.

2. Laughing so hard your face hurts.

3. A hot shower.

4. No queues at the supermarket.

5. Taking a drive on a pretty road.

6. Hearing your favourite song on the radio.

7. Lying in bed listening to the rain outside.

8. Hot towels fresh out of the dryer.

9. Chocolate milkshake (or vanilla or strawberry!)

10. A bubble bath.

11. Giggling.

12. A good conversation.

13. Finding a $20 note in your coat pocket from last

14. Running through sprinklers.

15. Laughing for absolutely no reason at all.

16. Having someone tell you that you're beautiful.

17. Accidentally overhearing someone say something nice about you.

18. Waking up and realising you still have a few hours left
to sleep.

19. Making new friends or spending time with old ones.

20. Having someone play with your hair.

21. Sweet dreams.

22. Making eye contact with a cute stranger.

23. Holding hands with someone you care about.

24. Running into an old friend and realizing that some things
(good or bad) never change.

25. Watching the expression on someone's face as they open a much- desired present from you.

26. Getting out of bed every morning and being grateful for
another beautiful day.

27. Knowing that somebody misses you.

28. Getting a hug from someone you care about deeply.

29. Knowing you've done the right thing, no matter what other
people think.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Have A Happy Birthday!

Kelsey and Kaitlyn Long, twin daughters of Jerry and Patricia Long, and granddaughters of Mr. and Mrs. Willard Long, celebrate their 11th birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! (Picture courtesy the Kingsport Times-News)

Architect Named For Riverview Apartments Renovation

CLICK FOR A LARGER VIEW of the HOPE VI Riverview Apartments Renovation--the shaded area in the middle of the picture (the street at the right of the shaded renovated area is Lincoln Street, the street in the middle is Booker Street, the street across the top is Carver Street, and the street on the left corner of the shaded area is Douglass Street. The building at the left is Douglass School).

Cornerstone Housing, the developer-partner for the HOPE VI (Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere) project and the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority have awarded the architectural contract for the revitalization of the Riverview public housing development to a joint venture, CainRashWest Architects of Kingsport and Martella Associates of St. Michaels, Md.
“The announcement of the architects for the HOPE VI project puts our community another step closer to the fulfillment of the vision of revitalization for the Riverview community,” Mayor Dennis Phillips said in a news release. “Kingsport will see this project working for our whole community by providing new housing, educational opportunities and jobs for our citizens.”
Luther Cain will serve as principal in charge of the HOPE VI revitalization. Dineen West and Jennifer Martella will share the role of lead architect. Martella will also serve as project manager. Martella and West will conduct site meetings and community input sessions within the next few weeks. Demolition of the existing housing on Sherwood and Hiwassee streets is scheduled to begin this fall, with the construction to follow by end of the year. The demolition of public housing facilities in Riverview is scheduled for late spring 2008. The construction of new housing on this site is anticipated to begin in 2009. The Riverview revitalization project is a collaborative effort between Cornerstone and the KHRA that won an $11.9 million HOPE VI federal grant in 2006. Kingsport was one of only four cities nationwide to win the grant last year.

Monday, April 2, 2007

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