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Monday, March 31, 2008

Meeting of the Douglass Alumni Association: One Day, Passing The Torch

The "Future" Sons and Daughters of Douglass are on the minds of the Douglass Alumni Association.

Plans are underway to revive the Ebony Club at Dobyns-Bennett High School, and to lend an ear to the direction of the group, the Douglass Alumni Association is extending the arms of fellowship to the club. The idea is to help the students remember their heritage, and remind them that OUR heritage as Douglass Alumni, is THEIR heritage as Douglass Alumni descendants.

"We want them to come to our meetings, and join our discussions about community programs, goals and achievements," says Douglass Alumni President Doug Releford.

The Ebony Club was a powerful and influential organization of African-American students at D-B. The club sponsored several events at D-B, including fashion shows, talent shows, parade floats, and events like door-decorating at Christmas time. Former member Jeff Faulkerson is working to get non-profit status for the club.

At its Saturday, March 29, 2008 afternoon meeting, the Douglass Alumni Board of Directors voted to send invitation letters to all potential members of the revived Ebony Club, and also former members of the club, recognizing them as offspring of Douglass Alumni. They are all invited to attend the next meeting of the Douglass Alumni Association on Saturday, April 26th at 1 PM, in the Fellowship Hall at St. Mark's Methodist Church. All board members are asked to bring a covered dish for lunch on that day.

Also discussed at the meeting was the format of the upcoming Slater/Tennessee-Douglass/Virginia reunion coming up this summer in Bristol. At their reunions, the reunion organizers break down the events and charge participants per event, an idea the Douglass Alumni Association is talking about.

Board members also got updates on several community projects, including the Douglass School renovations, and the progress of our non-profit application to the Internal Revenue Service.

Horace Curry Update

He's slowed down a bit, but it seems Horace Curry is still raring to go..

So many people have been asking about him, and I kinda lost track of him when he got out of the hospital. Once I tracked him down, I thought I would just pay him another visit.

Curry was discharged from Parkridge Medical Center about two weeks ago, after suffering a mild stroke, and developing bacterial meningitis. He's currently residing at the Health Center at Standifer Place in Chattanooga, and tells me he can't wait to get out.

Luckily, bacterial meningitis is the kind that is treatable, and once the doctors got rid of that, he's now devoting much of his time to rehab, which he has every day, to build his strength back up and reuse some muscles that the stroke tried to rob him of.

He's the same ole Horace Curry.. still feisty, still opinionated, missing folks, remembering everybody, and still loves chocolate. During our visit, I told him everybody has been asking about him. Everybody who visits, usually sneaks in a little chocolate bar or something for him. He asked me a lot about what Riverview looks like now, and whether everybody who had to move out of the apartments, was coming back when the new homes are finished. I told him, I sure hope so.

Although he's anxious to get out of the nursing home, nobody knows when or if that will be, and nurses say he's much better now than he was, when he first arrived. He's doing well at rehab, and is even walking slowly on his own to the restroom and down the hallway. He says he understands he's got to take baby steps, instead of giant steps, and that rehab comes in levels and goals.

If you'd like to visit him or send him a card, his address is:

Horace V. Curry
Room 730
Health Center at Standifer Place
2626 Walker Road
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37421

He'll be glad to hear from you.

"Tell everybody thank you for thinking about me," he told me. "I think about everybody often. I don't know when I'll get out of here, but I'm ready to go right now."

Minnie Earl Owens Lyons Funeral Arrangements

KINGSPORT — Minnie Earl Owens Lyons, 93, passed away Tuesday (March 25, 2008) at Asbury Place in Johnson City.

She was born Feb. 14, 1915 in Greenville, S.C. to the late Samuel and Lula Owens.
Prior to her moving to Kingsport, she was a member of St. Mark United Methodist Church in Taylors, S.C. She graduated from Sterling High School, the Class of ’39.
Mrs. Lyons was a member of Shiloh Baptist Church in Kingsport, for over 60 years. Prior to her illness, Mrs. Lyons was active in a number of ministries at Shiloh, deaconess, senior choir, Golden Saints Bible Study, director of decorations, Annie Hickman Missionary Society and honorary usher. She also served in the community. Mrs. Lyons was a member of the Women’s Service League, the Voguettes, and many other organizations.
She also enjoyed traveling and dancing and was an avid baseball fan. Minnie took great joy in growing flowers and beautiful plants and she enjoyed cooking and welcoming guests into her home.
She was preceded in death by her faithful husband, Richard C. Lyons, Jr.; three sisters, Mrs. Maggie Owens Featherstone, Mrs. Inez Owens Smith and Mrs. Lacunice Owens Johnson; three brothers, Samuel Owens, LeRoy Owens and Orelious “Reel” Owens; one great-granddaughter, Mackenzie Leigh Lyons; one niece, Mrs. Gloria Johnson Cheeks; and two nephews, J.W. Johnson and Joe Brunson Owens, Sr.
Surviving are her son, Roxy B. Lyons, Sr. and wife, Manon,Largo, Fla.; two grandsons, Roxy B. Lyons, Jr. and wife, Laura, Knoxville, Tenn. and Rodney E. Lyons and wife, Jessica, Atlanta, Ga.; one granddaughter, Veronique A. Lyons, Virginia Beach; one great-grandson, Roxy B. Lyons, III, Knoxville; one niece, Mrs. Marion Webb and husband, James, Columbus, Ga.; and two nephews, Billy Johnson and Bobby Johnson of Taylors, S.C.; as well as a host of great-nieces and nephews of South Carolina.
The family will receive friends Tuesday from 12 noon to 1 p.m. at the Shiloh Baptist Church, 712 East Sevier Avenue, Kingsport, Tenn.
Services will follow with Dr. Kenneth Calvert officiating.
Graveside services will immediately follow at Oak Hill Memorial Park.
The family would like to thank the wonderful caregivers at Asbury Place of Johnson City for their services. May God continue to bless you all.
Please visit for on-line condolences.
Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Homes, Kingsport, is serving the family of Minnie Earl Owens Lyons.

Chit'lins and Fried Fish: New Vision Annual Fundraiser

The smell of boiled chit'lins and fried fish brought the folks out to a Riverview-South Central fundraiser, that filled most tummies to bursting.


The 2008 Chit-lin Strut and Fish Fry was held this past Saturday, March 29th at the Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church in Kingsport. The event raises money for the church's New Vision Youth and its programs.

"The money raised by the fundraiser, goes to give scholarships to area college students," says organizer Johnnie Mae Swaggerty, New Vision Youth Director. "We also provide college students with care packages, including toothpaste, school supplies.. anything that a first-year college student needs."

Traffic was slow at first in Bethel's Fellowship Hall (can you REALLY eat chit'lins at high noon?), but word spread about as fast as the smell. Pretty soon, folks were lined up to get a plate of fixings, and a bowl of chit'lins, just like Mama used to make.

Fried whiting fish was also on the menu (for those people who could LOOK at the chit'lins and not eat them). Both delicacies came by themselves, or in a plate of brown beans, cornbread, slaw and tea. Fish sandwiches were also available.

And what about that scented candle spotted next to the pot of boiling chit'lins?

"It's there," Johnnie Mae says, "so the smell won't go up into the Bethel sanctuary and into the pulpit, and Rev. Pierce won't go off on us. Folks may not get the Holy Word, if they're thinking about the 'chit'lin word."

"We bought 160 pounds of chit'lins," says Johnnie Mae, "but by the time we got through cleaning them and culling them out, they weighed 103 pounds. We also got a case of whiting fish. New Vision parents really helped us get everything ready for the fundraiser."

"It's been a good crowd for the chit'lins," she says.. "Every chit'lin got ate, and every fish got sold."

"It's been a good day for the New Vision Youth."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Clifford (Tody) Hughes, Jr. Funeral Arrangements

KINGSPORT — Clifford Kenneth (Tody) Hughes, Jr. born Oct. 4, 1948 made his journey home March 28, 2008.
He was a member of the Fall Branch Church of Christ. Tody attended Prospect Elementary in Gate City, Va. where he grew up. He also attended Douglass High School in Kingsport and graduated from Gate City High School in 1967. He attended computer school in Maryland and worked as a computer programmer at Holston Defense, Mason Dixon, Raytheon, First National Bank and TVA. Currently employed at Dean’s Foods in Johnson City as a computer analyst.
Mr. Hughes is survived by his wife of 37 years, Mrs. Joni Hughes; his son and wife, Marcus (Jamie) Hughes; his daughter and husband, Mrs. Jada (Bruce) McGee; his James, Halie, grandchildren, Dalvin, Lexis, Kaylee Hughes; his sister, Mrs. Patricia (Jack) Anderson, Gate City, Va..
The family will receive friends Tuesday from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Fall Branch Church of Christ prior to the funeral service.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the church.
Interment will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Holston View Cemetery in Weber City, Va.
Condolences and expressions of love may be sent to the family via email at:
Clifford Kenneth (Tody) Hughes, Jr. and family are in the care of R.A. Clark Funeral Service, Inc., 423-245-4971.

Mr. William C. Fugate Funeral Arrangements

KINGSPORT — Mr. William Charles Fugate, born June 2, 1944, has gone home to be with the Lord after a long battle with illness. He won’t have to suffer anymore.
William C. Fugate better known as Charlie or Bill worked at A.F.G. plant and served in the U.S. Army. He was a faithful member of the Central Baptist Church. He was a member of Clinch Mt. Lodge. He also belonged to the Tennessee Association of the I.B.P.O.E.W.
He was preceded in death by his sister, Ms. Alzenia Fugate; father, Mr. William D. Fugate; and his mother, Mrs. Lola M. Fugate.
He leaves to cherish his memory his loving wife, Mrs. Joann Fugate; sons, William C. Fugate Jr. and Clinton Fugate; daughter Ms. Tonia Fugate; seven grandchil dren; devoted mother-in-law, Mrs. Dallas Waterson; one aunt, Mrs. Nellie Bent of Detroit Mich.; sister-in-law, Mrs. Linda Bly; several nieces, nephews and cousins; and devoted nephew, Stacey Bly.
A special thanks to Wexford House, Wellmont and FMCNA C e n t e r.
Family will receive friends from 6 p.m. until the hour of service.
Funeral services will be conducted at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Central Baptist Church with Minister Billy Pearson officiating.
The interment will be held at the VA National Cemetery, Mountain Home, Tenn. Thursday at 11 a.m. The cortege will depart from Central Baptist Church at 10a.m.
Condolences and expressions of love may be sent to the family via email to
Mr. William Charles Fugate. and family are in the care of R.A. Clark Funeral Service, Inc., 423-245-4971.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Suggested Names for the New Riverview Development


So far, these are the names sent in, that have been suggested for the new HOPE VI development, that replaces the Historic Riverview Apartments:

Riverview Manor
The Gates at Riverview (with the spirit of a new gateway of change)
Riverview Crossing (with the spirit of crossing over to a new era)
Riverview Legacy Homes
Riverview-Douglass Legacy Homes
Riverview - A Good Place to Come Home"
Riverview Place (this name was given to HUD because a name had to be submitted
for the HOPE VI application---this name wasn't binding and can be
Riverview Gate
Riverview Estates
Riverview-Douglass Trail
Riverview Colony

If you have any name suggestions, please send them to:

Of the ones we get, we will send the most popular name as a suggestion to the folks at the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority. It will be the name the people of Douglass-Riverview say, they like the most. I've now been told, their chosen name will be given the most consideration.

Of course, the final decision will be KHRA's, but our suggestion will be a gage of what the Douglass-Riverview people like.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Riverview's Next Door Neighbor Idles Its Brick Plant

A few employees will remain at Kingsport's General Shale Operations to handle sales and shipment of brick already in inventory.





KINGSPORT — General Shale has temporarily halted production at its Kingsport brick plant, idling nearly 50 employees.
Mark Kinser, vice president of marketing and corporate development for the Johnson City-based company, said Monday General Shale notified workers at its Kingsport facility last week that operations here would cease for the time being. About 48 people were temporarily laid off.
“The current state of our economy and the slowdown in the construction industry has gotten us to this point,” Kinser said.
“What we’re looking for now is a pickup in business conditions that will allow us to hopefully ship the inventory in place to allow us to start the plant back up.”
Kinser said the Kingsport brick plant now has record inventory levels being stored on site. The company opted to temporarily suspend production until the economy improves and sales resume.
Kinser said government statistics show that residential building permits were down 36 percent in February this year versus the same period a year ago. That trend is impacting General Shale at various locations around the country, he said.
“The thing I want to stress is — this is strictly a temporarily layoff. And it’s strictly due to the current state of our economy.”
Kinser said a few employees will remain at the Kingsport operation to handle sales and shipment of brick already in inventory.
This isn’t the first time declining market demand has impacted the company’s Kingsport operations. In November 2006, General Shale shut down its oldest brick plant here and laid off about 40 workers at the site, citing a downturn in the nation’s housing industry.

Paul “P.D.” Robinson Passing

LONGVIEW, Tex. — Paul ‘P.D.’ Douglas Robinson, 46, of Longview, Tex., and formerly of Kingsport, died Friday (March 21, 2008).
He was born Feb. 11, 1962 in Kingsport.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Margaret Kate Watterson.
He is survived by his father, Willard Robinson; two sisters and three brothers, Bruce Leeper (Columbia, S.C.) wife, Beverley Leeper (Columbia, S.C.), Donnie Robinson (Kingsport) wife, Rita Robinson (Kingsport), Kathy Robinson (Kingsport) and Susan Robinson (Kingsport) companion Wayne Ford, Jeff Watterson (San Antonio, Tex.) wife, Tonie Watterson; three aunts, Zeola Leeper (Church Hill), Louise Washington (Elk Grove, Calif.), Thelma Dulaney (Knoxville) and Esie Long (Church Hill). He leaves a host of nieces and nephews, friends and family.
Funeral services will be conducted at 6 p.m. Friday at Lyons Chapel in New Canton.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Last Notice to Pick Up a Souvenir Brick from the Historic Riverview Apartments

We have put aside over 300 bricks for distribution to anyone that requests an authentic brick from the demolition of the Riverview Housing site. They are stacked up beside the U.E.T.H.D.A. utility building on Wheatley Street. Any additional bricks can be hauled away by D.H. Griffin, as we no longer need them.

Special Called Meeting Of The Douglass Alumni Association Board of Directors

There will be a special called meeting of the Douglass High School Alumni Board of Directors for this coming Saturday, March 29th, at 1 PM.

The meeting will be held in the Fellowship Hall at St. Mark's United Methodist Church on Maple Street. There are several items of interest that require the Board's attention for this meeting.

FOOD SUGGESTION: Food is optional, but the New Vision Youth IS having its Chit'lin Strut & Fish Fry” at noon on Saturday at Bethel.. Chit'lin dinners are $6, and fish dinners are $5. All dinners come with brown beans, cole slaw, fried cornbread patties or corn bread, and tea. Separate fish sandwiches are $3, and a beans and cornbread meal is $2.

Instead of bringing something to eat, just stop by the Chit'lin Strut and Fish Fry. Your money would be going to a good cause.. scholarships for the New Vision Youth..

Again, the board meeting time is 1 PM on Saturday, March 29th.

Underage Drinking Topic Of Meeting

• KINGSPORT — Weed & Seed South Central Kingsport Community Development will hold a town hall meeting from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. April 3 at the Renaissance Center. The topic will be underage drinking and encouraging parents to talk to their children before they start drinking. According to Weed & Seed, kids who drink before age 15 are five times more likely to have alcohol problems when they are adults. For more information contact Mary H. Alexander, Weed & Seed coordinator, at or 392-2578.

New Vision Youth Hosting Fish Fry

• KINGSPORT — New Vision Youth will present the second annual “Chitterlings Strut & Fish Fry” at noon Saturday at Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church, 812 Maple Oak Lane, Kingsport. Chitterlings dinners are $6, and fish dinners are $5. All dinners come with brown beans, cole slaw, fried cornbread patties or corn bread, and tea. Fish sandwiches are $3, a beans and cornbread meal is $2, and fried chitterlings samples are free. All proceeds support the New Vision Youth Scholarship Fund and First Year Freshman College care package and Splash Pad. For more information contact New Vision Youth Director Johnnie Mae Swaggerty at 246-6623.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lost Historical Riverview Plaque Found!

It was just an old bronze plaque, as worn and weathered as the scrappy and gnarled men who probably crafted it.

"The plaque represented hope," says former Riverview Apartments resident Ozine Bly. "As soon as you came through the Underpath underneath the Clinchfield Railroad tracks, one of only two ways into Riverview, there it was at the base of the flagpole flying the American flag."


Placed between the first of the units of the Historic Riverview Apartments built back in 1940, the plaque heralded the apartments as one of the many major accomplishments of the Works Projects Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps.

"My mother always said, that plaque identified the community," Mr. Bly remembers. "Back in the 30's and 40's, it represented a new beginning, when folks moved over from the crowded conditions of Dale, Maple, Oak and Walnut Avenues into the new Riverview neighborhood."

The Riverview Apartments stood for years as a prime example of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal policy, designed to bring Americans out of the poverty of the Great Depression. When the W.P.A and the C.C.C. workers were not building projects like McKellar Field (now Tri-Cities Airport), and the Memphis-to-Bristol Highway through Johnson City, Greeneville and Morristown (now U-S Highway 11-E), other workers were busy constructing housing for communities in the area.

The Riverview Apartments in Kingsport were part of that historic construction work.

According to old photographs, plaques and flagpoles were tradition with many housing projects of the W.P.A. Growing up in Riverview, the plaque was largely unnoticed and usually ignored, as residents walked by and children played underneath it. Because of deterioration at the base and probably thoughts of liability if the pole fell, both the plaque and the flagpole were removed back around 1993. The flagpole was thought discarded for scrap metal, and the plaque disappeared, its whereabouts unknown.

Until now.

"We discovered the Riverview Apartments plaque in a maintenance storage area owned by the City of Kingsport," says Terry Cunningham, executive director of the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority. "We were cleaning up the building for an upcoming inspection, and accidently happened across it."

"It's in pretty good shape," he says, thankful that someone thought enough of it to put it away.

The plaque had been the subject of conversation among former apartment residents who remember it well.

"I remember that old plaque well," says former resident Ozine Bly. "The flagpole had a marble base, and it was mounted on that. I thought they took the plaque away because of vandalism. Anybody could have taken a pry bar to it"

"We knew the plaque might be around somewhere, and ever since we announced the replacement of the Riverview Apartments for the HOPE VI Development, we've kinda been on the lookout for it. I'd just about given up hope of ever finding it, even looking into the possibility of replacing it."

"I'd like to see it displayed prominently in the community," says Mr. Bly, "possibly with our Douglass High School trophies and other memorabilia in the new display case planned for the renovated building."

"I am very glad to locate this piece of Riverview history," says Cunningham, "and we are determined to have it placed in a prominent place in the new development."

"When you see it," Mr. Bly says, "you can see where we've been. Look at any NEW Riverview sign, and you'll see where we're going."

In Case You Were Wondering Where The Drug Traffic Went When It Left Riverview

16 facing charges in Kingsport drug sting

Kingsport Police Chief Gale Osborne credited the arrests to the joint efforts of citizens and police.



KINGSPORT — On Wednesday, Kingsport Police Chief Gale Osborne announced in a press release that the department’s partnership with community members in the Borden Park and Highland areas of the city has yielded promising results.
Osborne said police have charged 16 suspects with various drug offenses as a result of an ongoing undercover investigation launched in response to complaints expressed by citizens at a community meeting in November. Of those, 13 have already been arrested, while three remain at large.
At a November meeting with the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Osborne acknowledged that the Borden Park and Highland areas had suffered an increase in drug-related crime over 2007.
Drug-related arrests in Borden had increased by about 30 percent since the year before.
In Highland, 46 people had been arrested on more than 100 charges. In Borden, 38 people had been arrested on more than 90 charges, Osborne said.
In Wednesday’s news release, Osborne said the citizens’ willingness to be involved in community policing has allowed the community to contribute to the ongoing investigation by being the department’s “eyes and ears on the streets.”


Much is being written and spoken about the increased drug problems in areas of Kingsport, now that the drug dealers have been effectively driven out of Riverview.

Most of the concerned letters to the editors of the Kingsport Times-News have come from, or about, the Highland Addition, across Center Street from Dobyns-Bennett High School, and also the east side of Eastman Road. Your Douglass Website has shared some of the letters with you recently.

So I decided to see for myself how bad the problem is in the Highland Neighborhood. I spent several hours of a pleasant Saturday afternoon in quiet observation of its streets.

The Highland neighborhood is a seemingly quiet section of front-porch homes in Kingsport, built close to the streets, and also close to each other. Almost every home has an alley in back. You'd think on a Saturday afternoon with temperatures in the mid 60's, front porches would be crowded with folks relaxing, talking, just settin'.

Such togetherness breeds family-type atmospheres where everybody knows their neighbors. It would seem surprising such a neighborhood that sports several American flags hanging in yards would become a haven for drug dealers.

I saw several children, both black and white boys and girls playing ball, and trying to ride skateboards in the streets.. unashamed, unabashed youth, close to the sanctuaries of their front yards, innocently unaware of what was going on, just a couple of streets away.

Eventually that afternoon, what I witnessed is the same type of drug activity that swarmed parts of Riverview like a plague only a few short months ago. It quickly became painfully and nervously apparent to me, why there were no folks sitting on their front porches.

They might be afraid to.

The young man leaning into this car, at first tried to wave ME down when I drove past him (I have blurred his face because as of this writing, I know of no charges filed against him). Never met him before, never saw him before. The second time I drove past him, he said in my passing window, "'sup, what'd ya need?" I kept driving. As I checked my rear view mirror, I saw that ultimately, he was successful in his motives, when I soon observed this Ford Taurus stop, and he leaned over inside.

It only took several seconds, then the car drove off, and the young man went back to his friends in the car across from him.

WOULD he have sold me drugs?

"I'm not surprised he, or anybody else around here, tried to wave you down," says Jeff Salyer, who no longer lives in Highland, but who is in the neighborhood every day, tending to his late parents' home. He saw the actions of the young man when I did.

"This neighborhood has gone from the quiet, peaceful, working-class neighborhood I grew up in, to one where drugs are everywhere, and people are afraid to be outside for long."

Mr. Salyer remembers a big drug bust this past summer, just down from his parents' home, pointing to a house across the street. "Three or four police cars surrounding that house down there," he says.

And that wasn't the first time he's seen that in the neighborhood.

He mentioned a specific area of the Highland neighborhood that he says, is a problem area, and I drove by there.

I observed several people, all white except for one black youth (again, the faces are blurred because at the time of this article, I am not aware of any charges placed against anybody).. the first time, I got an inquisitive stare from a couple of the boys. They were seemingly oblivious to anything else going on around them, and they certainly were not afraid of a stranger in the neighborhood. The second time I drove past them, the black youth with them had disappeared, and after passing them this time, I got upraised arms from one of the remaining boys, a clearly recognizable, "what's up" gesture in the drug-selling culture.

WOULD a drug sale have occured? I did not give the situation time to find out.

"Riverview ran them (the drug dealers) away," Mr. Salyer says, "and they came over here."

"The city needs to do something."

"Kingsport installed cameras in the Riverview community last year in an effort to curb drug trafficking. As a result, police say, criminal activity has spilled over into other neighborhoods.. our most important tool is the citizens that decide to live in a safe community and are willing to work with us to make it safe," Chief Gale Osborne told the Kingsport Times-News in an article.


But the only problem with that is, according to Mr. Salyer is, a lot of people are afraid of repercussions, telling me this the day before the Times-News article was published. "We still have a lot of old people who've been here all their lives," he says, "and they're worried what might happen if they report it."

"In this neighborhood now, everybody's dogs are always barking," says Mr. Salyer, "and there are lots of unfamiliar faces. If that Weed and Seed program that Riverview got, could help them, maybe it could help us, too."

"This is my home. Something's got to be done to save the neighborhood."


The Highland neighborhood has a distinctive "community home" feeling to it, just as Riverview does. But drugs are so prevalent in today's society, and drug dealers always scout out places they think are vulnerable.. Before the residents know it, their neighborhood is infested with the rats and roaches of a drug culture.

But shine a light on rats and roaches, and they go scattering. The lights came on in Riverview after years of pleading, prodding,and gunshots, and the rats and roaches ran like scared.. well, rats and roaches. It can happen in Highland, too.

I am certainly not an expert on the drug culture, I can only compare it to other areas that I have covered in my years as a news reporter.

The Highland neighborhood situation is bad, but it is not as bad as Riverview was. It will definitely get that way, though.

Quite soon.

Highland's residents must band together NOW.. just like the citizens of Riverview did. But you cannot just run in there with more cops and light-pole cameras, and expect the problem to disappear.

It won't.

First ask yourself as a resident.. how committed am I as a resident and a human being, to rid my beloved neighborhood of the pestilance that invades it?
Once that question is answered, residents will need to band together with one thought: "WE WILL NOT TOLERATE DRUG DEALING IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD," then go from street to street on foot, looking for suspicious activity, not being afraid to stare suspicious people straight in the eye. When you spot something out of the ordinary, no matter what it is, jump on your cellphone and report it to the police. And I'm not talking about "a group" of concerned residents.. I'm talking about EVERY SINGLE resident, being persistant and vigilant. Then, everybody has to look out for each other. Develope a loving, caring spirit about your community and its residents, your neighbors.

Then, and only then, with TOTAL resident involvement, will you drive the rats and roaches, er.. the drug dealers out.

And let this be a warning to other Kingsport neighborhoods.. BEWARE.
Drug dealers will simply run to another vulnerable place where there are no lights shining on them.
Are your lights on?
Are you prepared to fight the long, good fight against drugs and drug dealers?
I certainly hope so.
YOUR community will be next.

---Calvin Sneed

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Filmmaker urges ETSU students to get involved, work hard for success


Photo by Dave Boyd

NET News Service (courtesy the Kingsport Times-News)

JOHNSON CITY — How do you succeed in America today?
Work hard and get an education, just like Spike Lee did.
That was one of the famed director and sometimes controversial filmmaker’s messages to listeners at East Tennessee State University’s Memorial Center Tuesday night.
Lee presented “An Evening with Spike Lee: America Through My Lens,” a program he brings to universities on a yearly basis.
Lee is noted for such films as “Malcolm X,” “She Hate Me,” “25th Hour,” “Bamboozled” and “When the Levees Broke” (a documentary about Hurricane Katrina).
Lee also touched on the presidential election, slavery, the Iraq war, filmmaking, college and other topics during the presentation, which began with a short montage of scenes from some of his films.
“You know, we live in a very, very dangerous time in this country,” Lee told the audience before saying he thought the country was in a depression and referencing the weekend acquisition of financial giant Bear Stearns by JPMorgan for $2 a share. He encouraged voting in November to the students in attendance.
“I would be scared, to be honest, ...” he told ETSU seniors. “We have one of the most important elections coming up in the history of this country.”
Critical of the Bush administration, Lee said the war in Iraq was wrong.
“This I feel is an unjust war,” he said. “We should never have been there in the first place, and to go further than that, the man should never have been in office because the election was rigged.”
Lee hinted at corruption brewing again in the upcoming election as Democrats attempt to allow delegates from Florida and Michigan to be seated at their convention despite those states violating the rules for primaries.
“So once again we have the high jinks, the shenanigans, trying to lead us astray,” he said.
Lee encouraged responsible voting and becoming educated on the candidates by doing research.
“This election is going to decide which way this nation is going to go,” he said.
Shortly before the program began at 7:30 p.m., ETSU alumna Devin Logan said she was attending because Lee was so influential in film and she was interested.
“Actually I just decided (to attend) because I wasn’t sure what he was going to speak on,” she said. “And I wanted to see what he had to talk about. I was just interested.
“He was always edgy. Trying to give the African-American perspective on things. ... And he was not afraid to take risks.”
Lee’s advice to those students in attendance was simple.
“So do yourself a favor,” he said. “And whatever it is you choose to do, you’re going to have to go at it like gangbusters.”

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Riverview Brick Ceremony at V.O. Dobbins-Douglass Gym

"A part of History down, but still Blessings Surround."

That was the theme of the Riverview Brick Ceremony on Saturday, March 15, 2008, where many former residents gathered to received the souvenir bricks they'd requested from the Historic Riverview Apartments.


The apartments were torn down during the month of February to make way for the HOPE VI Revitalization project, during which new single and multi-family homes will be built on the site. Four Youth Build homes for sale are also scheduled to be built there.

The Historic Riverview Apartments were much celebrated during their existence. During the past 70 years, many wonderful relationships were forged as people lived as friends and neighbors. When the announcement was made that the apartments would be torn down, many people longed for a way to remember them, and the souvenir bricks grew from that idea.

After a brief ceremony and words from Terry Cunningham, Executive Director of the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority, the souvenir bricks were given out. Many families who could not make it, had someone there to get their bricks for them. The event was sponsored by the Douglass Alumni Association, the Riverview Residents Association, the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority, the City of Kingsport, and Kingsport Parks and Recreaton.

The bricks also came with a Certificate of Authenticity, which certifies that the recepient received an actual brick from the Historic Riverview Apartments, with the date of their existence, and signed by Mr. Cunningham.

Of the over 400 people who had requested bricks, over 200 were picked up at the event.

A potluck fellowship luncheon immediately followed the ceremony.

Folks who have not made arrangements to pick up their souvenir bricks, need to do so ASAP, as we cannot store them for very long, nor can we guarantee that you will get an intact brick. Please contact Calvin at (423) 421-7784 (, or Johnnie Mae at (423) 246-6623 (

If you'd like to have a commemorative plaque for your brick, there is a business in Kingsport that will print a wonderful one. Vicki Kalonick at Plaques, Etc. will do a marvelous job for you, as evidenced by the one she did for Johnnie Mae on the left. Ms. Kalonick's price is 10 cents a letter. If you like what you see, please contact her at (423) 378-3919 in Kingsport. Her address is 904 East Center Street.

Spring Fling set at V.O. Dobbins Friday

• KINGSPORT — A Spring Fling will be held Friday, March 21, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the V.O. Dobbins Center.

The event, sponsored by the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Department, South Central Weed and Seed program, New Vision Youth and the Riverview Boys and Girls Club, is for 5- to 17-year-olds. Admission is free, and lunch and drinks will be provided.

There will be an indoor carnival, an Easter Egg Hunt, and a Hot Shot contest. Trophies and prizes will be awarded. Entertainment will be provided by the Diversified Dance Ensemble, music by Transitional, and there will be an appearance by Chauntini Carter, the chaplain of the NFL Mom Squad and mother of Aubrayo Franklin of the San Francisco 49ers. For registration call 246-4201 or 224-2489.

Friday, March 14, 2008

James "Jim" Rutledge Passing; Douglass H.S. Alumnus

NEWPORT NEWS - James 'Jim' Rutledge Sr., our beloved father, grandfather and great-grandfather, left to be with the Lord on March 6, 2008, with his family by his side.
He was born Sept. 20, 1937, in Tennessee. He graduated from Douglass High School, Kingsport, Tennessee. As an Army recruit, he fought in the Vietnam War, and eventually settled in Virginia. He was a career maintenance man at area residential-business establishments. He is remembered as a caring man with a great sense of humor and big family values. He was a huge 'Redskins' fan.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Dayton and Ora Lee Rutledge; his sisters, Clara McClintock, Elizabeth Carr; brother, Jackie Rutledge; and former wife, Linda.

James leaves to cherish his memories his children, Cecelia (Tenn), Crystal, Karmaleta (Michael), Linda Rena' (Kenny), James (Diane) and Karen; a brother, Carl Rutledge (Tenn) and his children; 22 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; a host of nieces and nephews.

A funeral service was held at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 13th, at Antioch Baptist Church, 1563 Old Buckroe Road, Hampton, with the Rev. Dr. Raymond Lassiter Jr. officiating. Interment was at the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk, Va.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Smith Brothers Funeral Home or dropped off at 179 Sesco Drive to Crystal and/or 742-18th St., Newport News.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Takin’ it to the Bank


Jackie Sylvester snaps photos of Tremell McGue and Adam Lytle as the members of the Dobyns-Bennett basketball team board a bus Wednesday headed for the state playoffs in Murfreesboro. The eighth-ranked Indians lost to Red Bank 68-62 in the first round.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Found After 42 Years! Douglass Textbooks!

"Everything started.. with these books."

Many of the textbooks from which readin', writin' and 'rithmetic were taught and learned from, have been discovered in lockers at the old Douglass High School in Kingsport.


"I never dreamed those textbooks would have been in those lockers all these years," said Doug Releford, current president of the Douglass Alumni Association. "Although they haven't been used, just seeing them brought back memories of the times and the teachers we had at Douglass."

When Douglass closed in 1966, all of its African-American students were re-assigned to other schools in Kingsport. Apparently, the books were not re-assigned.. Not being needed anymore, they were placed in lockers on the second floor of the school on Louis Street, unbeknownst to anybody.

42 years of dusty storage.

They've been there through eight U.S. presidents, 11 Kingsport Mayors, 13 presidents of the Kingsport Board of Education, 6 Kingsport School superintendents and at least three generations of students.

The historic books were discovered in their dusty hideaway, because the Douglass School building (the V.O. Dobbins Community Center) itself is due for a makeover in just a few short months, and most everything in the building not being used, has to be cleared out.

The books were accidently discovered in the lockers by building maintenance workers, who initially had instructions to throw them out. But once they saw them, Gail Evans and Charlene Hodge, who work in the Douglass School building, immediately alerted Doug and Calvin Sneed with the Douglass Alumni Association, who were able to save them from a dumpster's certain destruction.


Most of the books were hand-me-down's from Dobyns-Bennett, John Sevier and Robinson, just basic noun-verb-adjective English books, and basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division arithmetic books," says Doug. "Very seldom did we get new books, and once the used books got to Douglass, we had to take very good care of them."

"They contained our future."

Finding the books was a surprise.. an even bigger surprise was finding out what was inside the books.

The names of former Douglass students who used the books in class were also discovered by the Douglass Alumni team who surveyed the find. Even though the books were used from class to class, grade to grade, students were allowed to put their names inside, just in case they were found by someone else during the year. Book identification made a difference in classrooms, where everybody was given the same textbook.

For Gail Evans, the discovery was more personal.

"Before my mom passed away, one of the janitors showed me a book with the name "Douglass" on it, and I asked him for it," she says. "Little did I know, that very book had my brother Ricky's name in it. It was his textbook from his school days at Douglass."

Ricky (Richard) Evans passed away in March of 2004.

"I took the book and gave it to my mom," says Gail. "She just smiled and gleamed as she read it. She mentioned how Ricky would have gone crazy over finding it. It was a very special moment, and she was very happy to have it."

The textbook is even more special now. Gail's mom, Mrs. Julia Evans, passed away in June of 2007.

Names like Andrew Dover, Yvonne Reese, Carolyn Dulaney, and even a teacher are inscribed in the books.

"I saw the name 'Cora R. Cox' in one of them," says Gail. "She wrote in the front of it, 'Do Not Take---I'll Lend."


"I remember having several classes using several of the books," says Douglass alumnus Virginia (Jenny) Hankins, as she went through the stacks with Louetta Hall, another alumnus. "Me and Louetta were talking about what a good education we all got using these books, and we wondering what kind of education the kids were getting these days, because they don't seem to have gotten the same kind of education we did at Douglass."

"Stored for 42 years--have I been out of school that long?" laughed Andra (Puddin) Watterson. "I was thrilled to go through some of the books we had, especially near my old locker. That's history right there."

"I'm not surprised they never found a use for them," she says. "Just like our trophies.. when Douglass closed, all of our trophies went to D-B. A few of them were displayed, but most of them were stored away in a back room. It's a shame because, just like folks could have been enjoying the trophies all this time, students could have been learning after school, the basics of reading and arithmetic from these books."

"I am proud the Douglass Alumni Association was able to claim these books before they were thrown away.. it's a honor to remember the legacy these books leave behind," she says.

The historic textbooks are being stored right now outside the school building, and the names in the books are being catalogued. A Book Fair is being planned for the future, where those who owned the books, their descendants and others who used the textbooks in their education, can purchase them as keepsakes.

Because they are basic textbooks, they could even be used as learning materials again.

"The Douglass School Book Fair" would be a fundraiser for the Alumni Association, to be used for scholarships," says Doug Releford. "The money would be staying in the community, for the benefit of our youth."


"We owe it to the history of our school and the education we all received," says "Puddin" Watterson.

"These books are why we are, where we are today."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Prayer Request

Please keep these folks in your prayers, and pray they be lifted up, as they battle life's setbacks..

Dennis R. Long (cancer)
224 Dunbar Street
Kingsport, Tennessee 37660

Carl E. Evans (cancer)
6702 South West Shore Blvd
Tampa, Florida 33616

Horace V. Curry (unknown illness)
c/o Parkridge Medical Center
2333 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37404

Please send them a card and let them know their Douglass-Riverview family is thinking about them.

Claim Your Souvenir Brick This Saturday!

Just a reminder to mark your calendars for this coming Saturday, March 15th.

We will be distributing the souvenir bricks that folks requested, from the Historic Riverview Apartments, at 11 A.M., gathering at the Douglass Gym (V.O. Dobbins Community Center). We'll then go to the place where the bricks are being stored, for their distribution.

The demolition crews from D.H. Griffin have been gathering bricks, as they now clean up the site where the apartments once stood, and they were taken to a secure place to be inventoried. That process is on-going, with the help of Johnnie Mae Swaggerty and James "Moose" Henry.

Johnnie Mae heard from at least 400 people who wanted a souvenir brick, to commemorate the apartments where our ancestors helped raise a neighborhood.

Again, please spread the word.. the brick diveaway will be this Saturday, March 15th, at 11 A.M. We'll convene at the Douglass Gym (V.O. Dobbins Community Center) at that time, when we'll go to the place where the bricks are being kept.

Refreshments will be served afterwards in the gym, where the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority will furnish the lunch entree, and everyone is asked to bring a side covered dish or dessert to go along with it.

The giveaway is sponsored by the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority, the Douglass High School Alumni Association, the City of Kingsport, Kingsport Parks and Recreation, and the D.H. Griffin Demolition Company.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

V.O. Dobbins Center-Douglass School in line for $8 Million Overhaul

Construction is estimated to begin in September and take between 11 and 13 months to complete.

Contributed art
Kingsport officials have budgeted $5.6 million in city funds and plan to apply for $2.2 million in federal funds to make the overhaul of the V.O. Dobbins Center a reality. An artist’s conception of the project is shown above.



KINGSPORT — The V.O. Dobbins Center — one of Kingsport’s historic buildings and a landmark in the South Central community — will be receiving an $8 million overhaul and expansion later this year.
The V.O. Dobbins Center is a city-owned community center located between Louis and Wheatley streets in Riverview. The building served as Kingsport’s “blacks only” school from 1951 to 1966.
City and community leaders have talked about renovating the building for years, but recently the city put the project on its five-year capital improvement plan. City officials have budgeted $5.6 million in city funds and plan to apply for $2.2 million in federal funds to make the project a reality.
Chris McCartt, assistant to the city manager, said once the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approves the funding for the project, the final design and state fire marshal review will take place. Construction is estimated to begin in September and take between 11 and 13 months to complete.
During a recent BMA retreat, Alderman Larry Munsey said the project has been talked about for at least the last nine years, probably longer. “This is something that needs to be done, and we ought to do it.”
The project will involve demolishing 13,600 square feet of the existing building, renovating the remaining 46,000 square feet, and adding just over 50,000 square feet of new space. Conceptual drawings show a new 30,900-square-foot nonprofit center (a smaller, one-story nonprofit building is shown beside it).
McCartt said the city has talked with the American Red Cross and the United Way about being the anchor tenants for these new buildings, which would also have room for additional nonprofit organizations.
“We’ve talked with some (other nonprofits) but we don’t have a definite answer from those folks,” McCartt said.
Other entities likely to locate in the new facility could include the Carver Library (which was located in the Riverview Apartments prior to their demolition), the Douglass High School reunion organization, Head Start, Contact Concern, the Literacy Council and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Alderman Ken Marsh recently asked if the tenants would carry the cost of building the new addition, and City Manager John Campbell has said they would.
Plans also show a 9,000-squarefoot, two-story addition and a new 10,000-square-foot gym. The new gym would be regulation size with space for bleachers.
City leaders envision using this gym in connection with AAU and USSSA basketball tournaments. Campbell has said several times in the recent past, Kingsport is “under-gymed” as a city.
“There are some pieces of the existing V.O. Dobbins Center that will be coming down, some areas of the facility that are beyond repair. To go in and fix those up would be more costly than to accommodate something new,” McCartt said, noting one such area would be the auditorium. “The auditorium is in pretty bad shape. It has issues with water and mold.”
Renovation work on the existing facility will first be to make the building more energy efficient — new windows, restroom fixtures, HVAC equipment. Then, the architects plan to work with the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency (currently housed in the building) on the aesthetics and maintenance of the interior, such as new carpet and tile and other general improvements, McCartt said.
A new playground is called for near the existing ball field, and James Street would be closed and converted into a parking lot. The plan calls for 153 parking spaces to be built for the center.
City leaders see the V.O. Dobbins renovation as a tie-in to the HOPE VI project currently under way in the Riverview community. The HOPE VI project calls for replacing Riverview Apartments with 32 single-family homes and building six additional houses within the Riverview community.
Kingsport received $11.9 million in HOPE VI grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development about 18 months ago. The $30-plus million project also calls for building 24 affordable home ownership units in the Sherwood/Hiwassee area of town.
Campbell has said if Kingsport does well with the HOPE VI project, the results would increase the city’s opportunity to get future HOPE VI funds.
“You’re making HUD look awful good, and you don’t want to commit to something that you don’t carry out,” he said.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Samuel “Sam” T. Wolfe Passing

DETROIT, Mich. — Samuel “Sam” Tomas Wolfe, 44, passed away Saturday (March 1, 2008) at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
He was born in Sullivan County on July 14, 1963 and had previously been employed with A&L Construction.
He was preceded in death by his father, Kay Ronald Wolfe; brothers, David Gilmore, Joe Kay Wolfe and Ronald Lee Wolfe; niece, Kandance Wolfe.
Surviving are his mother, Betty Turner Wolfe, Gate City, Va.; fiance', Barbara Hill, Detroit, Mich.; stepson, Timothy Hill, Detroit, Mich.; sisters, Delores Wolfe, Gate City, Va., Mary Wolfe, Detroit, Mich., and Marlene Davis, Kingsport; brothers, Harold Shoemaker, Kingsport, David Wolfe and wife, Geralet and Timothy Wolfe and wife, Sandy, Gate City, Va.; aunts, Elizabeth Simpson and husband Oscar, Gate City, Va. andLaura Gaines, Los Angeles, Calif.; special friends, Robert Goff and Wilma Lewis; a host of nieces, nephews, friends, and f a m i l y.
Calling hours are from 12 noon to 2 p.m. today at Colonial Funeral Home, Weber City, Va., and anytime at the residence of his m o t h e r.
Funeral services will be conducted in the funeral home chapel at 2 p.m. today with Pastor Steve Templeton and Bro. Nolen Wolfe officiating and speaker Frances Riddle.
Music will be provided by the Hales Chapel United Methodist Choir, Bob Pane and Janice Wolfe Sharpe. Graveside services will follow at Holston View Cemetery. Family and friends will serve as pallbearers. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Sam Wolfe Funeral Fund, P.O. Box 68, Gate City, Va. 24251. Online condolences may be made to the Samuel T. Wolfe family at Colonial Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Riverview Apartment Cleanup Is Almost Complete

The cleanup is almost finished on the site of the former Riverview Apartments.


Bobby Black sent us some pictures from this past week of the mounds of rubbish, waiting to be hauled away. He was an insurance agent in Kingsport for 27 years, and now he pastors the Washington Hill United Methodist Church in Chattanooga.. he, too, has fond memories of the Historic Riverview Apartments.

HOPE VI Executive Director Doris Ladd says, the homeownership program of the government grant is moving along. She says, about 25 families who plan to come back, are going through the qualification process right now. Some of them have credit issues that are being addressed, with methods of clearing up any problems.


As you can see from the pictures, the site is very different from what you would expect.. after all, 13 two-story apartment units once occupied the site, which seems a lot smaller than it used to.

At this time, workers from the D.H. Griffin Demolition Company of Bristol are breaking up the concrete foundations the apartments used to sit on. That concrete will be recycled into usable concrete and gravel for other home and road projects.


The pictures of the site now, paint a lonely picture of what's to come.. the HOPE VI homes won't start until at least the spring of next year, so it's thought that the site will be grassed over until then. Meanwhile, work is progressing on the HOPE VI homes for Sherwood/Hiwassee.

Groundbreaking for two Youth Build homes will be held in about a month. Those will be built along Lincoln Street/MLK Drive, with the other two scheduled for Douglass Street. Please watch this column for a story very soon on those homes.