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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010: The Day the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex Rejoins the Riverview Renaissance!

The date has finally been selected.

Friday, September 24th, 2010.

Please mark your calendars and make plans to be at 301 Louis Street in Kingsport, Tennessee 37660 on that day.

That's the historic day the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex will be re-dedicated back to the people of Riverview and the citizens of Kingsport. The exact time on Friday the 24th is TBA, although, after 3 P.M. seems to be a good bet.

Erica Yoon —
FROM JUNE: 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.

"It's been a long time coming," says Chris McCartt, Kingsport's assistant city manager. "We're still doing a few of the little things to finish up, but most of the work is done, tenants are moving in, schedules are starting to come together."

"Now we hope to celebrate the re-opening in a big way."

In conjunction with the Douglass Alumni Association, the city has big plans for the celebration, McCartt says.


"First, there is the official ribbon-cutting for the building," McCartt says. "That is the official kick-off to life getting back to normal in the Riverview community, and to the events planned for that day and night. Right after that, we will move a short distance to the area where the Douglass School Historical Marker from the Tennessee Historical Commission will be unveiled at its permanent site. A lot of work went into getting that marker, and it is worthy of celebration. In addition, there will be tours of the finished building. Later, we're planning a concert for the community with food and fellowship, to celebrate getting the building back up functional and operational."

The history of Douglass High School, its building and its heritage is not being lost on the celebration.

"It was, after all, the largest elementary and high school for African-Americans in the Greater Kingsport area, including Hawkins County and Scott County, Virginia," says McCartt. "The fact that over the years, we have been able to maintain that and renovate it into a modern facility, while preserving that history, is very significant."

The V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex is now divided into three distinct areas to benefit the citizens of Kingsport. Business, community and recreational.

"On the business side, you've got the three-story tower housing many of the city's non-profit agencies," says McCartt. "I don't know of another city in Tennessee that has all of its non-profits under one roof for the one-stop convenience of it residents. Then, there is the recreational side.. two fully-functional gymnasiums, along with the Douglass ballfield. Finally, you've got the community side, the area where the residents of the Riverview neighborhood can come together for events, meetings, concerts, and activities."

"We think folks will benefit from the new space that the renovation has given us."

Right in the middle of that renovation, is the new Douglass Alumni Association office. The office is located just off the huge Douglass Community Room on the first floor of the Louis Street side of the building.

"The Douglass Alumni Association will serve a much-needed presence in the building," says McCartt. "The city went into the renovation first and foremost with the intention of housing the Alumni Association because of the good it represents in the community. Alumni will be able to manage their affairs, the association board will be able to conduct their meetings, and the alumni website will be able to collect news and information necessary to the community in the office, which is being furnished free of charge. That was a mandate from the start of the process."

From the public art inside the building, including a bust of Frederick Douglass himself, to the historic school auditorium seats to be scattered throughout the building, to the cultural items and artifacts of the community, everybody has been talking about the transformation of the old school building.

"I've always said that Kingsport has not celebrated its 100th birthday yet," McCartt says, "and here we are, in a position to celebrate history that belongs to all of its citizens, right here in this building."

"We want everybody to put Friday afternoon, September 24th, 2010 on their calendars," he says. "We want folks to come from all over.. if you're out of town, come on home. This is a celebration for the ages. We want the Douglass Alumni to come on down.. come on back home and help celebrate. It's their building, too. We want this to be a homecoming. This building is in honor of Frederick Douglass, V.O. Dobbins, the teachers, the students, the neighborhood, and we're proud to welcome it back into the fold as one of Kingsport's premier buidings. If anyone has any ideas for the celebration, just let us know..the agenda for the 24th is very loose and flexible."

"The city is excited and the community is excited, and we want to celebrate that excitement together in one huge party on the 24th of September."