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Monday, June 28, 2010

"Women Who Make A Difference:" 2010 Women of Excellence Recognition Dinner

They are five women that we know you have heard of.

They are five women who are silent leaders in the community in various aspects of life in the African-American neighborhoods they grew up in, lived in, and made a difference in, with quiet determination.

They are five women, who would just as soon, not have the spotlight put on them.

But they are five women who deserve recognition, and as much of it as we can give them.

The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Pi Omega Omega Chapter of Kingsport and Johnson City, has honored, from left to right, Ms. Melissa Stukes, Ms. Charlotte Chopin, Mrs. Mary Alexander, Mrs. Pinkie Horton, and Reverend Pam Hoard, as its 2010 Women of Excellence. The five honorees were the guests at a recognition dinner, sponsored by the chapter on Saturday evening, June 26, 2010 at Food City. It's the 10th annual recognition dinner, with a silent auction to raise money for the organization.

"It's important that we all get recognized for what we do," says Linda Calvert, president of the local chapter. "These are the unsung heroes that may not be recognized the other major organizations, and we want to show them that we, our communities, appreciate what they do to make our communities better."

So, let's take a look at this year's honorees.

In the Lifetime Achievement category, is Mrs. Pinkie Horton of Kingsport. Mrs. Pinkie was born in Lynch, Kentucky, the mother of 9 children with the late Ray Horton Sr. She has 67 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren, and 16 great-great grandchildren. She organized 5 choirs at the Central Baptist Church and was a member of the Senior Choir between 1968 and 1975. She's now a member of the Shiloh Baptist Church.

"I think everybody in the community knows her and her contributions, not just as a matriarch in her family, but as long as I've lived in Kingsport, I continue to hear from people about how they used to go to "Miss Pinkie's" house. When Miss Pinkie's children were eating, everybody else's children were eating, too. And when Miss Pinkie's children were getting good ole-fashioned mama discipline, there was enough to go around for everybody else's child who just happened to be there."

Mrs. Mary Alexander of Johnson City, is the honoree in the Politics-Community Outreach category. Mrs. Mary is from Johnson City, and was the first African-American elected to the Washington County Commission. She's also a charter member of the Johnson City Regional Planning Commission, and a former member of the Johnson City Historical Zoning Commission and the Downtown Visioning Steering Committee. She currently serves as director of the South Central Kingsport Weed and Seed Office, of which Mrs. Calvert also serves.

"I'm very much aware of what an integral part Mrs. Alexander plays in the development of community policing and neighborhood relations," Mrs. Calvert says. "She has many political connections in the Tri-Cities, and her vision of helping residents establish a model community to live in, is a very positive one."

In the Business category, Ms. Charlotte Chopin is the owner of Hair Additions in Johnson City. She's been in business for herself for the past 5 years, and offers business professional advice for clients, as well as TLC for one aspect of appearance women find the most important.

"All women like to look good," Mrs. Calvert says, "and Ms. Chopin provides the materials at an affordable price that enhance their appearance. We all like hair and hair extensions, and she's been very successful at it. At the same time, there are so few minority business owners, particularly female business owners. It's difficult keeping a small business going, and we wanted to give her the recognition and encouragement she deserves."

"Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!"--- Psalm 34

The Reverend Pam Hoard is the honoree in the Religion category. She was appointed to the pastorship of the Russell Chapel in Rogersville in June, 2010. Born and raised in Church Hill, Tennessee, Rev. Hoard began her ministry under the Rev. W.R.W. Douglas, at the Lyons Chapel AME Zion Church in New Canton, one of the oldest African-American churchs in East Tennessee. She received her first appointment to the Petersburg AME Zion Church in Rogersville in 2004. She is married to William H. Hoard and they have 3 sons. She is a Microsoft Certified Professional, and is an IT Support Specialist for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

"I think all of God's Servants know what each other has to go through, to spread the Gospel," Mrs. Calvert says. "Rev. Hoard is very much a recipient for recognition. The Russell Chapel AME Church is also one of the oldest churches in the area, and the decision to reassign her to that church, just came at the end of the AME Conference in Kingsport a few days ago. We are very pleased to recognize her in the area of religion."

Teaching our children in today's fast-moving society is no easy task, but Melissa Stukes is well up to the task. She's the honoree in the area of Education. Ms. Studkes was born in Sumter, South Carolina, receiving her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from the College of Charleston, and a Master's Degree in Elementary Education, concentrating in Curriculum and Instruction. She is currently a 3rd Grade teacher in the Johnson City school system, and is pursuing a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership.

"To recognize a young African-American woman education is always something special," says Mrs. Calvert. "Ms. Stukes has only been in Johnson City for 3 or 4 years, but has already established herself as a very competent and capable instructor. Not only is she engaged in educating children, but she's also involved in lifelong learning, which is to be commended."

The Pi Omega Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority also awarded its 2010 Educational Scholarship to Ms. Ashley Craft, a graduate of Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport. She has been accepted at ETSU, and has chosen a career in the nursing field. Her compassion and desire to assist others and make a viable contribution to the community, were major factors in her selection of the nursing vocation.

"We always look forward to next year," says Mrs. Calvert. "When the ceremony ends here, we immediately start working on next year, seeking to improve on the goals of the organization. We'll assess what we could have done better, what worked great this year, with the desire to improve the process for next year, to honor more women who serve as inspirations in the community."

A First-Hand Look at the Gulf Oil Spill

Just got back from the Gulf Coast, where I witnessed first-hand the Gulf oil spill in the part of western Florida that I visit every year. Volunteers are combing Pensacola Beach, trying to collect the oil whenever it washes ashore, which is every few minutes.

I didn't want to get too close, but it was close enough for me. I did not take pictures of the birds and the wildlife dead from being covered in was very gruesome and sad.

Click here to see a slideshow of the oil spill and cleanup efforts at Pensacola Beach, Florida the week of June 21, 2010.

Click here to see a live feed of the oil spewing from the ocean floor, from CBS affiliate WKRG-TV, Mobile, Alabama.

New Vision Youth Prom: "Dancin' to tha Beat"

It's the kind of prom that looked and sounded just as formal as those at Dobyns-Bennett, Sullivan Central, South and North.

But the prom goers who attended THIS one, have a few years to go before they reach high school.

The fifth annual Youth Prom, sponsored by New Vision Youth and the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Community Services Division, brought together neighborhood youth from ages 5 to 13, in a spirit of music, snacks and fellowship. The event was free to kids and their parents.

Click here to see a slideshow of the 2010 New Vision Youth Prom.

Click here to access downloadable pictures from the 2010 New Vision Youth Prom.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - Folks, I highly recommend viewing the pictures. The prom-goers were very professional in their demeanor, and they took some very good pictures!)

The theme of the event was "Youth with Smiling Faces."

"The kids enjoyed themselves," says Johnnie Mae Swagerty, New Vision Youth director. "We just wanted to show them how to get along with each other, how to use manners, and how to treat each other. The guys learn how to be mannerly to the ladies, by seating them, seeing if they need anything to drink.. just have a good time, being gentlemen."

Food included free pizza, chips and fruit drinks.

The event was held at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium Saturday, June 26, 2010 from 5 to 8 p.m and was chaperoned by community volunteers and parents.

One of the highlights of the event, was the dancing, with music supplied by DJ Smiles. Some of the cutest couples were demonstrating their versatility on the dance floor, much to the delight of their parents. Sometimes, it was difficult to say who was having the most fun, the kids or their parents.

"The parents were very helpful," Johnnie Mae says. "They helped with the decorations, getting the refreshments set up. Everybody really had a good time this year."

This year's King and Queen are Michael Bell, a 7 year old 3rd grader from Lincoln Elementary School, and 9 year old Annalisa Richardson, a 4th grader also from Lincoln.

So what did the kids learn from the prom?

"They learned that they are somebody," says Johnnie Mae. "Whether they win King and Queen or not, they are still important. They are kings and queens in their own way."

"Showing that they can come out and meet other people with self-esteem to be proud of themselves," she says. "Everybody gets along good at these proms, dancing and socializing and being the life of the party...that's good for 'em."

"They can dress up, look nice, be hospitable, be somebody, and look good, too!"

Residents help spruce up Borden Park


Borden Park is located in the Borden Village community of Kingsport and is one of the oldest parks in the city.


KINGSPORT — One of Kingsport’s oldest parks has been given some attention lately by the neighborhood residents as part of the local Weed and Seed program.
“The Weed and Seed program participated earlier this year in an outstanding park cleanup day. It focused on several areas in the South Central Community, but a considerable amount of effort was given to Borden Park,” said Chris Mc-Cartt, assistant to the city manager. “They picked up trash, limbs, there were minor repairs made, and then recently the same group participated in painting the community building inside the park.”

Borden Park is located in the Borden Village community of Kingsport and is one of the oldest parks in the city. The park includes picnic shelters, a walking trail, two playground areas, basketball court, tennis courts, a Frisbee golf course and community center.
McCartt said the park is widely used — noting the grounds were recently used for the city’s summer playground program, the pavilions are used for parties and socials, and the community center has housed programs of the city’s parks and recreation department. The Mountain Empire Tennis Association used the tennis courts, and the basketball court and Frisbee course are also used by residents.

One of the last major projects at the park took place last year when Kingsport renovated the ten- nis courts — repaired the surface, painted and striped the courts, and installed new nets. The recently painted community center opened in 1975 and was painted by volunteers using donated paint from Pittsburgh Paints of Kingsport.
Kingsport police have taken a greater role in patrolling the park, trying to curb drug-related activity taking place on the grounds and in nearby houses. In addition, the residents in the area have worked hard to improve the look of the park.
“There’s less trash and a higher amount of respect for the park as a result of the work the folks are doing,” McCartt said. “It’s not a Domtar or Eastman park as far as the level of activity, but it is still a very popular park.”

Sunday, June 27, 2010

V.O. Dobbins renovation project nearly complete


A dedication of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex is slated for mid-August.


KINGSPORT — A multimillion dollar renovation and expansion project at the V.O. Dobbins Community Center is nearly complete, marking another major milestone in the transformation of the Riverview community.
And with the renovation comes a new name for the facility — the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex.
V.O. Dobbins 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 and was named Douglass High School.
Today, the complex is primarily home to the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency — a social service agency that offers programs for lowincome, elderly, homeless and disabled people in the region.
Kingsport began renovating the 46,000-square-foot facility over a year ago, adding 50,000 square feet of new space including another gymnasium and a new 28,000-square-foot, three story nonprofit wing. Cost of the project — $8.4 million.

Erica Yoon —
Chris McCartt, assistant to the city manager of Kingsport, and Jeff Fleming, assistant city manager for development for Kingsport, tour the new nonprofit wing at the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex.

Chris McCartt, assistant to the city manager, said the nonprofit wing has been completed, and the remaining renovation work is scheduled to be complete by July 15 — 10 days after the original target date. UETHDA officials have already moved back into the building.
“A couple of change orders have stretched the time out, but the nonprofit wing is done. The rest of the building is not done, but it is on schedule to be completed,” McCartt said. “Tenants are moving in, our staff is moving back in, and the Head Start classes are operational.”
The Times-News recently took a tour of the facility, including the nonprofit wing, the new gym and the original building.

Erica Yoon —
Rick Calkins, with David Abby Flooring out of Knoxville, works on tiling the floors in the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency and Head Start wing at the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex.

Overall, the interior of the building has received a fresh coat of paint, new drop ceilings, new windows, new carpet and tile, new and renovated showers and bathrooms, a new elevator, and a repaved parking lot with new curbs and gutters. The original school colors of blue and gold are featured throughout the old facili t y.
Crews plan to refinish the floor of the old gym and have installed new air conditioning and Plexiglas on the side of the seating. A space has been created at the gym for a game room and fitness area, which could include foosball, air hockey and a pool table.
A major addition at the property includes a new 11,000-square-foot gymnasium with a regulation-sized basketball court, which doubles as space for two volleyball courts. Two hundred seats are available, and McCartt said the court could be used for AAU events or both could serve as an emergency shelter. Four party/rental rooms are located between the two gyms.
The Douglass Alumni Association now has a space in the newly renovated building — a meeting room area located between the old building and the nonprofit wing. Three trophy cases have also been built in the complex, where the original trophies of Douglass High School will be relocated.
The complex will also include a police substation, computer lab, a courtyard with new playground equipment, and office space. Work to build a 9,000-square-foot community room — a requirement of the HOPE VI project in the Riverview community — is currently under way and should be complete by August or September, McCartt said. Cost of this phase is $1 million.
Future features of the complex could include a book/DVD vending machine (similar to the Red Box machines), a basketball court near the tennis courts, and public art.
The new nonprofit wing of the complex stands on the site of the old auditorium — a feature that could not be saved or renovated due to asbestos. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved contracts with several organizations earlier this month and plans to approve five more next month.
Nonprofit organizations lined up to go into the new wing include the Neighborhood Service Center of UETHDA and Mountain Region Speech and Hearing on the first floor, the United Way on the second floor, and on the third floor ALS, Susan G. Komen, the Palmer Center, Kingsport Tomorrow, the American Legion and Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
The only space not under contract is a small incubator suite on the first floor, McCartt said.
Rent for nonprofits is $5.10 a square foot, which includes custodian services, water, electricity and general maintenance of the facility. Kingsport is not paying for the phone or Internet service of the tenants.

HOPE VI project on pace to wrap up by autumn


By Matthew Lane

Erica Yoon —
Wesley Dunn of Bond Masonry lays brick recently at one of the new houses in the Riverview community as part of the HOPE VI redevelopment project. Most of the homes are under roof and bricked, right. The targeted completion date for the project is Oct. 1.

Most of the new homes in the Riverview community as part of the HOPE VI redevelopment project are under roof and bricked. The targeted completion date for the project is Oct. 1. Photo by Erica Yoon.

KINGSPORT — All of the HOPE VI houses along Sherwood Road and Hiwassee Drive have been sold, and more than 30 families have qualified for the rental units currently being built in the Riverview community. In the coming months, both phases of the redevelopment project should be completed, officials said this week.

More than three years ago, Kingsport received an $11.9 million HOPE VI revitalization grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The idea was to use these funds toward a $30 million redevelopment of two distressed city neighborhoods.

The first phase replaced 29 houses along Sherwood and Hiwassee with 24 new, affordable homes, while the second phase called for 32 rental houses and duplexes built on the old Riverview Apartments site and six additional houses built in the Riverview community.

Last year, city officials and the development company on the project — Cornerstone Housing of Maryland — discovered a series of problems with the 24 houses along Sherwood and Hiwassee — poor masonry work, drainage issues, and problems with the concrete steps and driveways.

That repair work has been completed, said Doris Ladd, director of the HOPE VI project.

“All of the homes have been re-bricked, and the big parts are completed. We’re focusing on the yards right now,” Ladd said. “Given the time of year, the contractor has elected to do sod instead of seeding, which they believe will have a better chance. One yard has been in place about a month and looks really good.”

Ladd said the brick matched up as close as possible to the original color (given the original brick was not being produced any more) and the homeowners had good cooperation and understanding during the three-month repair process. Ladd said the HOPE VI staff worked hard to minimize the impact on the residents.

“We’re just pleased to be able to finish it and bring it to a conclusion,” Ladd said.

All of the homes along Sherwood and Hiwassee have been sold, and HOPE VI officials would like to add another six homes on the vacant lots in that neighborhood owned by the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority. Ladd said this would not happen until later this year or early next year, with the funds for the project coming from the sale proceeds of the original 24 houses.

As for the Riverview phase of the HOPE VI project, Ladd said a couple of weeks ago work was about 60 percent complete. The last foundation was poured last week, and most of the homes are under roof and bricked.

“We have six that we will be getting certificates of occupancy next week and start leasing,” Ladd said, noting the targeted completion date is Oct. 1.

Sixteen single-family houses and eight duplexes are going up on the old Riverview site, along with six off-site houses — all of which will be public housing rental units. The houses are roughly 1,500 square feet and in the same model as those built along Sherwood and Hiwassee, with the houses being three bedroom/two bath and the duplexes being two bedroom/two bath.

Maria Catron, the HOPE VI Community Support Services coordinator, said the KHRA has 32 families eligible and qualified to move into the Riverview homes.

“We have a good mix. Some single parents with small children, some married folks with small children, and some that have teenage children,” Catron said. “They are very excited. We’ve got our first two residents who are original residents moving back, and they’re overjoyed.

“When they saw the homes they said they would have never dreamed to get to this point.”

Catron said 101 households are on the waiting list, with 39 of those households being original Riverview residents. Of the households that are on the list, 32 are completely eligible, of which 17 are original residents. Of the total eligible households the KHRA has 13 elderly/disabled households and 19 working/school households.

“These units are intended for families geared toward self-sufficiency, and the object is in five years these families will be out in the private market and we’ll be rotating a new group in,” Ladd said.

Residents in the Riverview homes pay 30 percent of their adjusted annual income as rent.

In addition to the two main phases of the HOPE VI project, the KHRA would also like to see development along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, possibly commercial and some housing. The KHRA owns most of the property along that road.

The YouthBuild project has also built four houses in the Riverview community, with plans to build a couple more, Ladd said. The KHRA facilitates the sale of the houses, all of which have been sold.

YouthBuild USA is a community development program that works with troubled young men and women 18 to 24 years old helping them earn a GED, learn job skills, and work on building affordable housing.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Neighborhood Watch meeting scheduled

• KINGSPORT — A Neighborhood Watch meeting will be held Tuesday beginning at 5 p.m. at Bethel AME Zion Church, 812 Mapleoak Lane, in Kingsport. Contact Mary Alexander at 392-2578 for more information.

Fifth annual Youth Prom set for Saturday

• KINGSPORT — The fifth annual Youth Prom, sponsored by New Vision Youth and the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Community Services Division, will be held Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium. The free event is open to youth ages 5 to 13 throughout the Tri-Cities area. This year’s theme is “Youth with Smiling Faces.” Music will be provided by D.J. “Smiles,” and a king and queen will be crowned. The event will include free pizza, chips and Capri Sun drinks. There will be parent volunteers and chaperones at the prom. Individuals or groups that might like to donate refreshments or volunteer should contact New Vision Youth Director Johnnie Mae Swagerty at 429-7553 or Mark Kilgore with the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Department at 224-2489.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Central Baptist Church's 92nd Anniversary Celebration

The Central Baptist Church, Riverview's oldest church, celebrates its 92nd anniversary this year.

Click the play button under the TV screen to see part of the annivesary sermon.

Click here to see a slide show of the anniversary celebration, taken by Lina Bradley.

Click here to see downloadable pictures of the anniversary celebration, taken by Lina Bradley.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

CALL TO ARTISTS: Art Work for V.O. Dobbins

The City of Kingsport, through the Arts Council of Greater Kingsport, will be purchasing artwork to hang in the new non-profit wing of the renovated V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex. While there is no theme for entry subject matter, works of local interest are encouraged.


* Local and Regional Artists
* Work produced in a classroom, or under instruction is not eligible.
* All works must be ORIGINAL and two-dimensional.

ENTRY FEE: $25.00 membership in the Artist Registry. Go online to set up your registration, then mail the $25.00 check made payable to: Arts Council of Greater Kingsport," along with your entry form. Limit of two digital images. Ditychs and triptychs will count as one entry. Work must have been completed in the last five years.

SUBMISSIONS: Entries will be judged from digital submission. Each artist may enter up to two digital entries. CD's and digital entries are due by June 30, 2010 at 5 PM.

* Images should be J-PEG documents named as follows: last name, first initial, underscore, image number, underscore, image title. Example: Jane Smith's first image would be "smith_j_night sky.jpg".
* The longest slide should not exceed 1800 pixels at 72 DPI (6" on the 300 DPI)
* CD's can be mailed along with entry form; digital entries should be emailed to

FRAMING REQUIREMENTS: All work must be framed and ready to hang. Please, no clip frames, saw tooth hangers, or sandwich frames. Shipped work must be framed using Plexiglas. Work must not exceed 60" in width. The Selection Committee and Jurur may reject any piece that differs significantly from the accepted digital image.

* Artists of the top ten entries will be notified by July 9th to bring piece in for Selection Committee to make final purchase decision.
* Accepted entries will be posted on our website on July 20th at 12 Noon.


Mail entry form, along with $25.00 Artist Registry fee to:
Arts Council of Greater Kingsport
1200 East Center Street
Kingsport, Tennessee 37660

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Deborah Jean Davis: In Memory

It is with a great deal of sadness that we learn of the passing of Deborah Davis last week.

Sad, because just more than a year ago, we sat down with Deborah on a cool Saturday morning on Carver Street, as she was celebrating the move into her new home, one of the first Youth Build homes in Riverview, and one of the first in the Tri-Cities.

Sad, because she was so excited about finally having a home of her own.. something she would own, to pass on to her children and her children's children.

Sad, because that time has now arrived.

Click here to read the story of Deborah Davis and her new Youth Build Home, written on April 15, 2009.

Even as we talked, her excitement was tempered with the realization that her health was not the best it could be. Each time I saw her in Riverview, she fussed about her pictures in the article, fussing that always made me smile.

At the end of the article, she mentions having a mortgage-burning party in 30 years to celebrate the success of her first home ownership.

She now has a home, that requires no mortgage, no light bill, no phone bill. All expenses are paid for. Deborah will indeed, have that mortgage-burning party in 30 years with us, and it will be surrounded by the Heavenly Host.

RIP, Deborah. By God's Grace, you and the others Douglass Alumni and Riverview neighbors we have lost in the past few years, live on in our hearts, minds and souls.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

American Red Cross Newsletter: Douglass Alumnus to Nashville To Help Victims

On May 1st, the rain began and the rain continued until the area from Middle Tennessee to West Tennessee received between 13 and 20 inches in a little over 24 hours! It's rated as the worst flood in 1,000 years! Our volunteers began their response Sunday, May 2nd; the ERV and more volunteers left on Monday and again more later, so that even now, several are still on the job! 18 volunteers from our chapter with 9 from Greene County and Lakeway Chapter (Morristown and Greeneville) have been on site. Volunteers participated in Driving & Feeding on the ERV's. Sheltering, Damage Assessment, Transportation and Case Work.

Our chapter volunteers who worked in the feeding area in Nashville post for picture beofre heading out for their run. Jim Brice estimated they distributed about 50 meals each day! In the picture left to right: Willard Gullion, Tim Hopkins, Jim Brice, Stewart Chapman, Pat Castle, Larry Nelson, Norm Wilson, and Shirley Xue. Figures show as of May 20th, a total of 65 ERV's have been used in the flood response.


Virginia was born and raised in Kingsport and still lives there. She became interested in the ARC watching the devastation on TV concerning Katrina. Having been recently retired at that time, she saw an opportunity to help. She made a call, took some training and was sent to Louisiana soon after. She stayed in Louisiana for 3 weeks, came home for a couple of weeks and was sent to Hurricane Wilma for 2 weeks. Since 2005 she has worked on 9 DRs. To keep active locally, she signed up to work the Call Center in 2007. If she is not on a DR, she usually signs up to work in the Call Center as much as possible.

YouthBuild Accepting Applications

• KINGSPORT — YouthBuild is accepting applications for its latest program. Applicants must be 18 to 24 years old in need of a job, skills and a GED. Call 765-9325 or come by the YouthBuild office at 908 Martin Luther King Drive in Kingsport. Youth-Build USA is a community development program that works with troubled young men and women 18 to 24 years old helping them earn a GED, learn job skills, and work on building affordable housing.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fifth Annual Youth Prom set for June 26th

• KINGSPORT — The fifth annual Youth Prom, sponsored by New Vision Youth and the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Community Services Division, will be held Saturday, June 26, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium. The free event is open to youth ages 5-13 throughout the Tri-Cities area. This year’s theme is “Youth with Smiling Faces.” Music will be provided by D.J. “Smiles,” and a king and queen will be crowned. The event will include free pizza, chips and Capri Sun drinks. There will be parent volunteers and chaperones at the prom. Individuals or groups that might like to donate refreshments or volunteer should contact New Vision Youth Director Johnnie Mae Swagerty at 429-7553 or Mark Kilgore with the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Department at 224-2489.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

2010 Little Miss Vision Pageant

Every queen starts out as a princess.

And 8 little princesses took part in the Little Miss Vision pageant Saturday night, June 5, 2010 at the Kingsport Renaissance Center. The theme of this year's event was "Attitude, Ability and Appearance," a theme the girls carry with them all year long.

To see a slideshow of the 2010 Little Miss Vision Pageant, please click here.

To see downloadable pictures of the 2010 Little Miss Vision Pageant, please click here.

"The pageant is all about the girls," says Little Miss Vision Director Lillian Leeper. "If you want them to have a good attitude, ability and appearance, let us try to help them establish that. It's a year-long commitment to teach them how to have good self-esteem and positive thinking."

Contestants this year were K'Miyah Williams, Ja'Naya Hamler, Da'Nayjah Somerville, Qu'edence Somerville, Makyaih Goodwin, Abriana Bateman, Ta-Tionna White and Olivia Huff. "We were small in number this year," Mrs. Leeper says, "but big on talent. The girls enjoyed getting to show off their abilities."

Emcee for the pageant was Anthony Adams, who took some ribbing from the nickname we all know him by: "Peanut." He kept the audience both amused and interested in the next thing on the program. Our own resident comic and resident cut-up Xavier "Tim" Hall had the crowd in stitches, trying to relate to a microphone that was set up way low for the girls to introduce themselves.

The girls started out by introducing themselves in true pageant form, to let the audience and, more importantly, the judges, get familiar with their personalities, their abilities and their charm. Several times, during other on-stage events, the girls came back in different dresses with different presentations and routines they learned, especially for the pageant.

During the different contestant interludes, Casey McClintock gave a moving serenade on the saxaphone and the clarinet, with some ole-time gospel favorites. His beautiful renditions had the crowd with tears in their eyes.. a hidden talent from within the community that just about everybody knew has musical abilities, but may not have heard them demonstrated.

And then, there was Tiara Jordan.. talk about 'tears in your eyes.' Her gospel renditions, combined with a deep, soulful voice that reminded us older folks of a young Aretha Franklin, had many people on their feet several times. Like Casey, she put her heart into every note, and there was no doubt that her voice was sincere.

Two praise teams took the Written Word and put it into graceful motions, a feat not easy to do, except for the able. For His Glory and Nevaeh from Gate City, Virginia have performed at events before, with the same results: enough soul and emotion to proclaim, "we are having church up in here tonight!"

The judges had the most difficult job, as each contestant charmed them with their individual personalities. Judging the competition this year were Jackie Charles of Rogersville... Terry Kasmire, owner of Sugar Mama's Waxing and Beading in Kingsport and Asheville... Paula Michelle Snapp of Rogersville, retired trooper with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and wife of Lyons Chapel Pastor James Snapp... and official counter tabulators Jacklan Reece, who is with the For His Glory Praise Team... Victoria Price, who is in the marching band at Dobyns-Bennett... and Monica Roller, a student at Northeast State majoring in Education.

Little Miss Vision Pageant 2009 winner Ayona Barlow has worn the crown proudly over the past year, also bonding with this year's contestants. Her favorite part of being Little Miss Vision, she says, is making new friends and getting to do "fun" things that only girls can do.

As the competition drew to a close, time to announce the winners chosen by the judges:

Miss Congeniality: Makyiah Goodwin

2nd Runner-up: Makyiah Goodwin

1st Runner-up: K'Miyah Williams

And the winner is.. the 2010 Little Miss Vision: Qu'edence Somerville

To the tunes of "Isn't She Lovely?" by Stevie Wonder, amid thunderous applause, Ms. Somerville posed for pictures, smiled for the crowd, and seemed to enjoy the happiness from her fellow contestants the most.

And so the story goes.. Little Miss Vision organizers are already starting on next year's contest. To do that, girls have to come into the program right now. The deadline is June 28, 2010.

"If we could get the community behind us," Mrs. Leeper says, "they would see how good this is for the girls and how much they love it. The winner gets to ride in the Kingsport parades and everybody gets to see and meet her, but all the girls will come to the Swim Party this summer. They're also getting to do elegant things, like to the Barter Theater in Abingdon, Virginia this year.

"The best thing is that the girls really enjoy the fellowship," Mrs. Leeper says.
"They get to run around with each other, bond together and meet new friends. They get to go out to dinner, things like that."

"I think it's the friendship. That's the most important thing."

And for next year's pageant?

"We're coming back next year.. bigger and better."

Bethel A. M.E. Zion Church Announces 101st Session of the East Tennessee and Virginia Annual Conference

Beginning June 8 through June 13, 2010, Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church, 812 Maple-Oak Lane, Kingsport, Tennessee, will host the 101st Session of the East Tennessee and Virginia Annual Conference.

Bishop Warren M. Brown, Fort Washington, Maryland, Presiding Prelate of the Mid Atlantic II Episcopal District of the A.M.E. Zion Church which comprises AME Zion Churches in the Mid-Atlantic II Episcopal Area, and comprising the Philadelphia and Baltimore, Virginia, East Tennessee-Virginia, India, London-Midland and Angola Conferences will be the presiding bishop.

Conference Theme: “TRUSTING IN AN UNCHANGING GOD IN UNCERTAIN TIMES”. Scripture reference: Proverbs 3:5-6.

Please click here to see last year's brochure on the 100th anniversary of the A.M.E. East Tennessee-Virginia Conference.

Pastors, delegates, and congregations from West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee representing 22 churches will be in attendance.

All evening worship services, which begin at 7:30 p.m., are open to the public. Be lifted up by dynamic preachers and joyful music in praise.