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Friday, September 30, 2011

End of a Short, Historic Era: Knoxville's African-American Mayor Reflects



"Since I was a youngster, I liked reading about current events."

Growing up in East Knoxville, Daniel Brown had a dream. He was just a little boy in a comfortable home on East Vine Street in the African-American neighborhood of the city. He wanted to be in public life, helping people in his community.

A generation later, he helps them and thousands more.

He is the mayor of Knoxville, Tennessee. The first African-American mayor in the city's history. The first African-American mayor of a major city in all of East and Middle Tennessee.

And he is very humbled by the distinction.

"I don't think of myself as Knoxville's black mayor," he said in a recent interview with the Sons and Daughters of Douglass website. "I am everybody's mayor, charged with representing all the citizens of the city. It's a responsibility I accept freely and understand completely, because it is understanding that has brought African-Americans as a people to where we are today. There's still work to be done, but we are moving in the right direction."

To nurture the dream that would ultimately lead him to public service, Brown credits the only three influences in his early life.


"Home, school and church," he says proudly and immediately. "I grew up in a very good home with my mother, my grandmother and my two brothers. My father passed away when I was 10 years old and my mother was determined that we boys would have a strong father figure in our lifes. Our stepfather worked for the Southern Railroad, and both he and my mother gave us, what I consider, a normal life growing up."

"We would have family discussions at the dinner table every night about different current events," Brown remembers. I always like to read the newspaper, and read about what was going on around the country and the world. It always fascinated me, and we all formed opinions about current events. There were some lively discussions that now, I can appreciate having back then."

It was at school that young Daniel Brown first learned how to put his inquisitive mind to work.


"We grew up not too far from the old Austin High School, later Austin-East High School," he says. "It's now Vine Middle School, and it's good to see it still educating young people. As I grew up, I started watching CNN, C-SPAN, and listening to the local news, then the national news. As I got older, I started being able to put local politics in perspective and how they relate to national and world politics."

"It was very eye-opening."

Although he does remember some African-Americans being on the old Knox County court, now the county commission, Brown says he remembers the African-American pioneers that paved the way for people of color in Knoxville's mostly all-white political structure.

THEOTIS ROBINSON, JR ------------------------------------------ CASEY JONES

"The first black person on (the Knoxville) city council was Theotis Robinson," Brown says, "and Casey Jones replaced him on council. Casey and I were the same age, but he graduated a year ahead of me in high school. Prior to that, we didn't have many people of color running for anything."

Brown says, he never thought it possible that an African-American could ever sit in the most important chair in Knoxville.. that of the mayor's office.

"As you know, there is not a majority black population inside the Knoxville city limits, and most cities with African-American mayors have a majority black population, or at least 40 per cent," he says. "Since we don't have at least that percentage in Knoxville, so I didn't think it would happen for quite a while, if it happened at all. I think Casey did run for mayor one, and there may have been others back in the 1800's, but these days African-American mayors are elected in cities that have large or majority black populations, which is not here in Knxoville."

So, how did it happen? It is almost as if Knoxvillians went to sleep one night and woke up the next morning with the first African-American mayor East Tennessee has ever had.

Turns out, it took the Knoxville city council to bring about the distinction.


"Mayor Bill Haslam had just been elected governor of Tennessee, and left a number of months on his term," Brown says. "By the Knoxville city charter, council has to select one of its members to fill out the term until the next election. 5 of our members offered their names to serve as interim mayor, including me, and then we voted."

It took eleven rounds of voting in the selection process, and each time the name Daniel Brown stood out.


"My numbers were pretty high each round," Brown recalls. "I started out with, I think, 2 votes from my fellow council members, then 3, then back to 2, then it jumped up to 4. It would take at least 5 votes, and I consistently stayed at 4. Some of the other council members eventually dropped out, and when one last person withdrew, that put me over the hump with the 5 votes I needed."

"I really didn't know it that day, because we weren't supposed to talk to each other," he says. "I always said to people 'I knew I had at least one vote and that would be my own, but I didn't know how the others voted until the end."

"As they say.. the rest is history."

Mayor Daniel Brown's brief, historic term will end on December 17th. In fact, there will be a runoff in the race for Knoxville mayor on November 8th, between Madeline Rogero and Mark Padgett.

"We were asked by the vice-mayor back during the selection process, if we planned on running for a full term as mayor," Brown remembers. "All of us, including me, said no, and I'm going to try to remain true to that. I do have a lot of people asking me every day, encouraging me to run, but I think, no. I answered no, so I don't think so."


So, what is it like being the mayor of East Tennessee's largest city?

"We have some very good people," Brown says. "They are very familiar with our policy. Mayor Haslam had left a letter on the desk to whomever the mayor would be when he left. It said 'keep some good people around you, and don't take yourself too seriously.' That's good advice. Right now, we're working on the city budget, and many cities are having to raise taxes.. they're laying off city workers. We are not having to do either of those, which is a good thing."

In fact, Mayor Brown submitted a budget of $172.1 million, that features no layoffs, a 2.5 percent salary increase for city employees, $11 million towards employee pensions ($2 million more than the current year), and $34.3 million in capital projects all across the city. His budget will have to be approved by the city council.

Where does Knoxville's African-American mayor see the city in 20 years?

"That's an interesting question," Brown says. "I think that Knoxville is on the cutting edge where we're developing downtown, where people are actually moving to and living. There are more shops and more actcivities going on, and we also need to recruit new industries to increase employment. The city grew by 4,000 people with this last census, and it's obvious that people like our valleys with the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge. They like our mountains at Gatlinburg. Our place in the next 20 years should be in the areas of technology and sustainable growth to support that."

Although Mayor Brown is mayor of all of Knoxville, he has not forgotten his roots. East Knoxville has never escaped the grips of crime.

"I can remember the perception about East Knoxville, but you have crime everywhere, and a lot of it as everybody knows, is drug-related," he says. "The best way to attack crime anywhere is through neighborhood organizations. In East Knoxville, you have a lot of decent, hard-working folk who live there, and the perception that it is crime-ridden is incorrect. Calvin, you should know that, you were in the news media for many years. The biggest problem anywhere in the city is drug use, drug sales, and I don't know how to combat that. If I did, I could make a million. We have a lot of good, hard-working police officers who do know how to fight it, and they're doing the best they can, but we need residents to help be their eyes and ears when they're not in an area."

Mayor Brown is also aware of the traditions in the African-American community, particularly having gone to Austin High School on the former McCalla Avenue, now Martin Luther King Drive.


"I remember that we played Douglass in Kingsport in football and basketball," he says. "I also remember when we played Booker T. Washington down in Chattanooga in football. I wasn't on the team, but I went as a spotter and reporter for the newspaper. It was a close game and we did win, but people started throwing rocks at us. There were some gret rivalries at all these black schools from Kingsport and Johnson City, on down to Chattanooga."

"I'm glad that Douglass High still has their alumni association," says Brown. "It's good to keep those associations going, because folks need to stay in touch with their histories. I've got some good friends in the Douglass association. We need to stay connected with our histories, not just in Black History Month, but all year long. It's important not just for the adults, but for the young people, too."

The mayor also found the idea of one building housing all of a municipality's non-profit agencies intriguing, but admits, in a city the size of Knoxville, it would not be practical.

"That idea works better in smaller communities," he says. "It's a great way to save money, but in bigger cities, the size of the agencies all under one roof, might be cost-prohibitive. I think it's great that Kingsport was able to adapt a building to help its citizens centralize their non-profit needs, and I think it's admirable that they were able to put the old African-American school building to good use. There is always a use for historical buildings like that, especially in the black community."


It's impossible to tell if we have heard the last of Daniel Brown in the politics of East Tennessee government. But one thing is for sure. He knows his place in history, because that history is NOW.

"You have to have a steady home life, a steady educational foundation, and a steady life in the church community," he says.

"No city can survive without those, and hopefully we can continue to offer those opportunities for the citizens of Knoxville, Tennessee."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Anniversary, V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex/Douglass School Building!

Pictures are ready from the anniversary celebration a week ago Wednesday, September 21, 2011, for the one-year anniversary of the completion of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex in September 2010, and the 60th anniversary of the Douglass School Building, which accepted its first students and teachers in September, 1951.

Please click here to see pictures from the anniversaries party!

These pictures are courtesy Chassie Smiley-Freeman of Kingsport Parks and Recreation.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

2011 Youth Gospel Explosion Concert

Time: Friday 4 PM - 8 PM and Saturday 12 PM - 8 PM
Location: Riverview / Douglass Ballfield


There will be free food & prizes for all the children!!!

FLAVOR MENU --- Big fish (whiting & talipia), fried wings, smoked barbeque (chicken salad, pork & ribs), homemade peach cobbler, beans, fries, macaroni salad and slaw.

We have lots of special guests:

SOLOISTS: Mrs. Carol Green, Louisville, Kentucky

Sunday, September 25, 2011

No Memory to Lose: Walking to Remember Alzheimer's Patients

"We are here to stimulate awareness about Alzheimer's Disease. It is hereditary, and anybody can get it at any age, and when it does, it hits like a ton of bricks."

That's the message Virginia (Jenny) Hankins and dozens of other walkers want to get out, as they got ready to take part in the annual Alzheimer's Walk fundraiser in Kingsport. The walk organized on Saturday morning September 17, 2011 along the Greenbelt that follows Reedy Creek at the Eastman Road bridge.

"We're walking for my grandmother Mrs. Eula Cartwright, my mother Imogene Hankins and my aunt Eula Leeper," Hankins says. "All three suffered from Alzheimer's Disease and it was very devastating."

"This is our (group's) way of supporting the programs the local organization offers."

Click here to see a slideshow of pictures from the 2011 Alzheimer's Walk along the greenway in Kingsport.

"The Alzheimer's Walk in Kingsport has been around since 1998," says Tracey Kendall, manager of programs and education for the Alzheimer's Association of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. "The awareness is growing at a tremendous rate, because more people are becoming affected, either by a family member or a friend. Often, families are thrown into turmoil because now they have a family member to care for. The numbers continue to grow in a ripple effect."

The Great Commission Church had a group in the walk. "I'm walking for Mrs. Ruby Brown, the church's First Lady's mother," says Octavia Hampton. "She suffers from Alzheimer's, and, having been a very independent lady, driving herself anywhere she needed to go, it seems like just overnight, the disease took over. At first, she was staying with our Pastor (Matthew Thomas) and First Lady (Pamela), but then as the disease progressed, it go to where they coudn't handle the care and needs that she had. They placed her at Preston's Place II over there on John B. Dennis."

Both Hampton and Hankins joined over 200 walkers walking the greenway in support of the local Alzheimer's chapter. "This is probably our record-breaking year in Kingsport as far as participants," Kendall says. "Our fund-raising goal for Kingsport and the entire Tri-Cities is $165,599 dollars, and right now, we're tracking far short of that. The economy has something to do with that, but we have until June of next year to meet that goal, so our fundraising is not over."

"Today was the 'big event,'" she says, but the fundraising continues. We need it so badly."

Most of the money raised by the Kingsport Alzheimer's Walk stays local, Kendall says. "The only portion of our money that goes out of the area is our researching. Obviously, we're not Nashville, we're not Emory in Atlanta, so we don't have big research projects going on, but we do help support those projects in bigger cities."

The Alzheimer's Walk has a two-fold purpose, Kendall says, " raise awareness, and to raise funds. "The more awareness we draw to the cause, the more people will be diagnosed early and can be treated quickly. That extends the quality of life, because there is no cure for Alzheimer's. The yearly walk is the way we fund our mission.. we want to make sure we are there to answer questions, provide interviews, and most importantly, SUPPORT."

"Without the funds raised by the walk today, we would not be able to support those programs."

Those programs are very appreciated by walkers today, and potential families tomorrow.

"To have your loved one there, but not there," Hankins remembers, "yeah... it was very hard to deal with."

Click here to go to the Alzheimer's Association chapter office based in Johnson City. That office and the website serves upper East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, East Tennessee and other areas in the Mid-South.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

D-B Scores and Highlights!

A reminder that Dobyns-Bennett scores and highlights are available at Model City Sports.. click the icon in the left column to go to Model City Sports, and see Coach Graham Clark get his 200th win!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Building on the past

Photos by Ned Jilton II —

A reception Wednesday marked a double milestone for the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex.

Sixty years ago, in September of 1951, the Douglass Elementary/High School opened its doors to African-American students. This month also marks the one-year anniversary of the completion of the building’s renovation.

Above, Virginia Hankins, seated, president of ‘The Sons and Daughters of Douglass,’ and Wallace W. Ross Jr. look over the circular bench which has engraved the names of all the teachers at Douglass High School and the Oklahoma Grove School.

At left, former Douglass teacher and retired guidance counselor at Dobyns-Bennett High School Jill Ellis talks to the gathering during the anniversary festivities.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

High school students get lesson in finance

Goal of the HOPE program is to give life lessons to students, make them self-sufficient, and help them find money for higher education, including through employment.



KINGSPORT — A group of area high school students got a lesson in personal finance Monday afternoon at a local bank, plus $10 to open a savings account there.

It was part of the inaugural HOPE Educational Summit for 2011-12 in which 25 Kingsport area high school students are participating.

Stella Robinette, president of the nonprofit HOPE — which stands for Help Our Potential Evolve — said the goal of the new program is to give life lessons to students, make them selfsufficient, and help them find money for higher education, including through employment.

“They are our future leaders right here,” Robinette told the group of students and some of the sponsors and presenters of the program at TriSummit Bank in downtown Kingsport.

Monday’s class, taught by Cindy Lemons, TriSummit consumer relationship manager at the downtown branch, was a basic primer in personal finance, explaining about checking accounts, savings accounts and other financial basics.

Robinette told the group that after the $10, the students had to earn the money that went into the savings account.

“This is something that is a huge hole out there in the school systems, education,” Ted Fields, executive vice president of TriSummit over the bank’s Kingsport branches, said of a lack of basic knowledge about personal finance.

Lynn Shipley, founder, president and CEO of TriSummit, said his son got a rude awakening with his first paycheck because of the taxes, insurance and other deductions from his check.

“He called and said, ‘What’s all this stuff?’ ” Shipley said of deductions from a paycheck. “You need to understand personal finance.”

TriSummit is a sponsor of the program, as is the city of Kingsport, Eastman Chemical Co., the Wal-Mart on Fort Henry Drive, the Kingsport Firefighters Association, and Mark Freeman and Associates, an architectural firm, as well as others, Robinette said.

Some of the students have connections with the Boys and Girls Club and Girls Inc.

“My hat is off to Stella Robinette and TriSummit Bank for their involvement in this most worthwhile project,” Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips said. “Any advantage we can give to our young citizens is well worth the time and effort involved.”

Victoria Price, 16 and a junior at Dobyns-Bennett High School, volunteers to help at Girls Inc. She plans to go to college and earn a degree in social work.

Sierra Evans, 17 and a D-B senior, is captain of the color guard of the D-B marching band.

“I look forward to going and visiting the colleges” and looking into fund-raising opportunities for college, Evans said.

She said her plans are to go to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and study to become a physician’s assistant.

Robinette said HOPE grew out of an annual Black History Month celebration and became a 501(c)3 not-for-profit group about a year ago and recently adopted a logo.

The 25 students, ages 14-18, are of various backgrounds, races, religious denominations and locations, including two from Sullivan North High School, one from Volunteer High School and the rest from D-B.

Robinette said the requirements for being eligible for a slot in the program are that the students pay attention, listen, be ready to become leaders, and have no disciplinary problems or other such troubles in their background.

Firefighter Kevin Mitchell of the Kingsport Firefighters Association is to teach the students CPR, and they also will get child care and lifeguard skill classes and visit a Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.

In addition, they are to go to seminars on how to fill out a job application, put together a résumé, apply for college, and learn about possible grants and scholarships.

Robinettte said the plan in the spring is for the group to stop at as many universities and colleges as possible from Kingsport to Nashville, including Vanderbilt University and Tennessee State University in Nashville.

Also, Gray-based Town & Country Realtors agent Lisa Lohoff is to give students input on buying their first homes.

In addition to the educational summit, Robinette said HOPE will continue to hold job fairs and help with job hunting resources for felons entering the work force.

For information on the program or applying for a slot in the program, contact Robinette at 276-6541 or 342-7505 or by e-mail at

To make a financial donation to the program, contact Lemons at 392-5631 or

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

From the President's Desk

On behalf of Douglas Releford, past president, and Virginia (Jenny) Hankins, newly elected president, we would like to thank each and everyone who helped to make our reunion a success.

For fear of unintentionally omitting someone we will not name names. Attendance at the reunion was slightly less than we had anticipated, but none the less we all had a magnificient time.

To those of you who sponsored holes and carts for the golf outting, many, many thanks go out to you. To the ones who planned and organized the event, I don't think words can express the gratitude we have for your persistence to make this event a success.

This year we had a better response from patrons as well as participants. As a result of the golf outtings' success we are planning to have it yearly. The proceeds will allow us to aid more students as they begin their journey to a higher education.

Virginia (Jenny) Hankins, President
Sons and Daughters of Douglass, Inc.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Happy Anniversary, V.O. Dobbins/Douglass Building!

There will be a reception on Wednesday, September 21, 2011, to celebrate a double milestone in the history of Riverview and Kingsport.

In this month, September of 1951, the Douglass Elementary/High School opened its doors to African-American students and parents of the Riverview Community.

Also, the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex will be honored on the one-year anniversary of the completion of its renovation in September, 2010.

Over the long, hot summer of 1951, parents and neighborhood citizens volunteered to help move needed contents of the old Douglass School at the corner of East Sevier Avenue and East Center Street, into the new modern facility at 301 Louis Street. Many of our seniors remember that wonderful time as being the opening of a brand new world to African-American children. There was all new equipment in the chemistry labs, there was a new P-A system, the auditorium was a soundproof, state-of-the-art room which magnified sound, not muffled it, and a new film projector in the upper booth. The cafeteria had all new ovens, sinks and a dishwasher-dryer combination, just like other Kingsport city schools. The building was a blessing to the community.

An interesting note from the Kingsport Board of Education minutes of meetings just prior to the opening, it was determined that the party line that the construction company was sharing with a nearby resident in Riverview would go back to that resident once the building was finished in the next two months, but that, as a school, Douglass needed its own phone line. The measure was approved.

Little tidbits of information like that, are what led to the charm and historical significance of the building.

Years later, after the school closed in 1966 and after years of neglect and deterioration, the city decided to save the building from the wrecking ball that was about to fall, with the idea of expanding the Headstart program, adding another gymnasium, increasing the use of the building by Parks and Recreation, and building an addition to house all, if not most, of Kingsport's non-profit agencies.

Begun in early February, 2009 with the demolition of the Douglass Bandroom, and proceeding through the demolition of the historic Douglass Auditorium in March, 2009, the construction of the 3-story non-profit tower and renovation of the existing building took many long hours of buzzing, heavy pounding of steel (beginning at 6 AM every weekday morning and Saturday) and the laying of that steel into place over most of the next 18 months, at a total cost of just over $9.2 million dollars.

The Riverview neighborhood and the Kingsport community are invited to come celebrate these two milestones in the history of our city, on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 from 4 PM to 5 PM. The commemoration will be held in the Douglass Community Room of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex, and Kingsport Vice Mayor Tom Parham will say a few words on behalf of the city.

Please come out, and say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex, and our beloved Douglass School!

Kingsport’s Kitchen of Hope gets reprieve once more

>‘You don’t have to tell me that the economy is bad or that people are struggling. I see it every day.’
— Geraldine Swagerty



Ned Jilton II —
Volunteers Karen Mokry and Charlene Harris prepare potatoes with chili at the Kitchen of Hope in Kingsport recently.

KINGSPORT — Geraldine Swagerty has seen her allvolunteer soup kitchen teeter on the brink of closure several times since opening 12 years ago. Each time, the odds seemed to be stacked against her. Then something happens.
“It’s got to be God wanting to keep it open. Do you have a better explanation for it?” she asked. “I know it’s him because we are still cooking meals.”
An insurance company that provides a policy for the Kitchen of Hope in downtown Kingsport informed Swagerty in July that unless a new hood ventilation system was installed to meet state code, the kitchen would have to close.

Elizabeth Hartman works to get the desserts ready at the Kitchen of Hope

An appeal from a volunteer worker at the kitchen has gotten the Sevier Avenue location a reprieve, and the Kitchen of Hope is still feeding the hungry thanks to a local contractor who agreed to get the parts and labor, all at a reduced cost.
“Nellie (Vaughn), who does a lot for us, made the call to the insurance company, and we worked out a plan and schedule they agreed to,” said Swagerty, 75, who noted that an estimated $6,000 project to install the new ventilation hood and venting ducts has been cut in half thanks to a donation of personal service.
“We’ll have to pay it in installments, but we’ll get it done. We’ve made it this far,” said Swagerty, who also serves as pastor of Full Gospel Mission, which houses the kitchen in its basement.
The reason Swagerty continues this mission — which has been hurt by theft, equipment failures, reduced donations, and her own health problems — walks through the door six days a week.
“We are now averaging 100 people a day over two and a half hours of serving meals. I don’t think we have had a day where we have not had any less than 60 people per day, even in bad weather. You don’t have to tell me that the economy is bad or that people are struggling. I see it every day, but that is why this kitchen was opened,” Swagerty said.
How does the Kitchen of Hope keep everyone fed? Swagerty does like everyone else, she searches for sales at Kingsport grocery stores and buys in bulk.
“I hit the sales, and we get enough of those staple foods to last us awhile,” she said. “We’ve learned about stretching every dollar till it breaks because we have to spend the rest on upkeep and things we have to do to keep the dining room and kitchen up to standard.”
Never satisfied with resting on her laurels, Swagerty already has identified her next mission — finding a large building in Kingsport that can be a halfway house for women.
“You find all kinds of places that can help a man down on his luck, but not that many for a woman,” said Swagerty.
“I want it to be a place where a woman can have a roof over her head and learn the things she needs to get a job and not have to rely on anyone but herself. I hope I can see that prayer open one day.”
Contributions to the organization can be sent to: Kitchen of Hope, c/o Full Gospel Mission; 740 E. Sevier Ave.; Kingsport, Tenn. 37660.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dobyns-Bennett Classes of '71, '70, and '72 Reunion

The Dobyns-Bennett High School Class of 1971 is holding its 40th year Reunion the weekend of the 30th-1st in Kingsport. The class is also inviting the DB Class of '70 and the DB Class of '72, to join them in the festivities. The schedule is as follows:


Class of 71', Class of 70', Class of 72: Gathering at the D-B Ball game Friday night @ 7:30 PM, J. Fred Johnson Stadium.

Dinner and a D-J, Meadowview Resort and Convention Center. The times are 6:00 PM social hour, 7:00 PM dinner and 8:00 PM D-J. We will have a brief program probably around 7:45. The cost is $50 per person.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Little Miss Vision Pageant Meeting

Little Miss Vision Pageant wants all the Parents to come out and join them for a Meet and Greet. Saturday September 24, 2011 4pm at Douglass Building. Refreshments will be serving. So Parent of Girls from 5-12 years old come out and get more information about our Pageant!!!!

DB Band Tribute to 911

Click here to see the Dobyns-Bennett Band tribute to the 10-year anniversary of 911, 2011.

Sons & Daughters of Douglass Board Meeting Scheduled for Saturday

The Sons and Daughters of Douglass will have a board meeting this Saturday, September 17 @ 1:00 in the Eastman Board Room at the V.O. Dobbins Complex. We need to have a swearing in of new officers at this meeting. To the old officers, we need your presence at the meetings. Your input is still valuable to the organization.

Everyone please check the "Too" list and see who was omitted. If you think of anyone, please forward this note to them or send me their E-mail address or phone number (Wallace Ross, Sandy Wilmer,and Van Dobbins and anyone else I may have overlooked). I will call Pam, Andrea, and Ethel Ruth.

Also we are having pot-luck, so get your favorite food ready to bring to the meeting.

Please have all financial reports submitted to Lillian and Ozine before Saturday's meeting.


Educational Summit Program

Monday, Sept. 19, 4pm we will hold a press conference at TriSummit Bank, 422 Broad Street to announce the launch of a new program sponsored by HOPE and TriSummit Bank.

The “Educational Summit” is a collaborative effort of several community businesses and organizations to educate youth and help them develop themselves into self sufficient individuals.

Throughout the next few months students of the Educational Summit will attend seminars, visit a variety of business and attend public forums in an effort to help them understand what opportunities are available to them once they graduate high school.

The first class will be held at TriSummit Bank and will review with the students various banking knowledge and terminology. Also included in the course study will be:

-CPR classes.
-Training on childcare and lifeguarding skills.
-Visit a Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting.

For more information contact Stella Robinette 423-276-6541

Friday, September 9, 2011

Prostate Cancer Screening

Saturday, Sept. 10 - 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

WANTED: All Concerned Men
Men and Prostrate Cancer
Saturday, Sept. 10 - 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Douglass Room at V.O. Dobbins Ctr.
301 Louis Street

Presenter: Kathy Visneski - Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Kpt. Hematology and Oncology

"The Best Protection Is Early Detection"

Sponsored by: New Vision Youth, Kingsport Parks & Recreation Comm. Services and South Central Kpt. Comm. Dev. Inc.

Contacts: Johnnie Mae Swagerty (423-429-7553)
Chasity Freeman (423-224-2489)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Little Miss Vision Holiday Sale

Little Miss Vision Pageant is selling African American Holiday Expression. Now through Nov.1 2011. Get your order in! Contact to order on Facebook- Little Miss Vision Pageant, Lillian Leeper, Andra Watterson, Pat Watts, Joni Hughes, Pat Winton, Anthony Adams, Lillian Price and Tonia Leeper. Email us your order or

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Kingsport Hobby Lobby Roof Collapse


WJHL-TV Report on Kingsport Hobby Lobby Roof Collapse

Dobyns-Bennett Football

For Dobyns-Bennett football and other D-B sports highlights, please click on the "Model City Sports" icon, in the column to the left.

Josh Harwood has all the sports you want, right there!

He's even got pictures of the action!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bethel AME Church Homecoming Announcement in Kingsport


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jay’s Day set for Friday at Dale Street Park

• KINGSPORT — Jarrett A. Hughes “Jay’s Day” will be held Friday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Dale Street Park. There will be a live performance by OWC — Officially Well Connected from Nashville. The group will perform gospel music. Free hot dogs, chips, baked beans and a drink will be provided. The public is encouraged to bring a lawn chair to enjoy the evening and a purple balloon to tie on the playground fence in memory of Hughes, who was shot to death in his family’s home in August. For more information contact Johnnie Mae Swagerty at 429-7553 or Jarvis Shivers at 297-9052.

2011 DAPS Winners


These are the 2011 winners of AHERN's Distinguished African-American Pastor, Professional, Student and Reporter Awards. The awards were presented at a banquet at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Knoxville on August 19th, 2011.

Not shown is Calvin Sneed, 2011 DAPS Reporter of the Year - he's the one taking the picture.

Dobbins Mural: "Just 'Paint' On, A Happy Face!


It's no secret that the Riverview community is tied directly to its next-door neighbor.

Not only is Eastman Chemical Company headquartered in the community, but a wall of the neighborhood's Douglass School literally faces it right across the street.

So what does Riverview, Eastman Chemical and a wall all have in common?

"The city of Kingsport wanted to do a mural on the side of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex, that makes the building look better on the side that faces Eastman and the entrance to the community," says Kathy Blair of Murals & More in Jonesborough. "Since the Headstart entrance is on that side of the building, the city wanted to incorporate the idea of industry and the idea of kids learning."

Click here to see the progress on painting the Headstart Mural, the finished product, and other murals painted in Kingsport.

The result is a huge mural by Murals & More costing $9,800, on the cafeteria side of the former Douglass School building at the Headstart entrance, facing the Eastman Chemical headquarters. The money came from the "Percent for Art" program, in which a portion of the renovation costs of the building are designated to pay for artwork and other cultural items in the building. As with the Douglass Teacher's Bench, Kingsport has a city ordinance that allows a small percentage of funds for a capital project to be set aside and used for art purposes.

The mural is a combination kids-industry theme, but getting to that point, proved to be the biggest challenge for Murals & More.

"The most difficult thing we had to do," says Mrs. Blair, "was combining the sophisticated look of a bustling industry, with what we call, the 'kidsey' look. When the kids come into the building, the wall is the first thing they see and when folks look at the entrance, we wanted them to see that industry begins with the imagination of children."

Oddly enough, the Douglass building lent itself to the mural-making process. It does that through a series of "interruptions."

"The wall has several protrusions, several things that stick out from it," she notes. "One of the pipes that comes out of the building shoots bubbles almost up to the roof as part of its operation.. you've got bubbles passing up past what used to be a balcony there. Plus, there are two big vents and a big, ugly box and two big round things, I think they're a couple of fans that vent the cafeteria through the outside wall that stick out, and it's a very bland, boring, industrial kind of look. It's not stimulating to a child's mind at all."

"We wanted to incorporate the 'interruptions' into the mural somehow."

So what Mrs. Blair did, was dream up a sequence that would stimulate ANY imagination.

"We made the upstairs a fake balcony with stack stone and columns to match the building, and we used the idea of gears and levers connected by pulleys and ropes," she says.

Combining the "kidsey" look and the "sophisticated" industrial look proved a challenge.

"It's easy to make it all 'kidsey' looking, or all 'sophisticated industry' looking, but putting them both together was hard," says Mrs. Blair.

All of that looked fine on paper, but putting it to brick was an even bigger challenge.

"It was seven weeks of hard work," she says. "First, we painted the bricks with two coats of a good white primer, then we started with our regular house paint. We use Benjamin Moore Exterior house paint. The wall ended up with two good coats of primer, and at least two coats--some places, even three coats of Benjamin Moore paint on top of that."

Much of the time, the weather did not cooperate.

"The weather was our worst enemy," Mrs. Blair says. "Seems like, ever time we do the side of any building, we end up being out there in 105-degree heat index, in 90-degree-pus air temperature. We had that solid for about 3 and a half weeks, every single day. Whenever you put paint on the side of a building that's hot enough to fry and egg on, the bricks just suck up all the paint and you can hardly smear enough paint to stay in place. It's difficult to blend in the paint when it's that hot, but we didn't have any choice. We can't control the weather."

What resulted from all the hard work, is a colorful mural, unusual in its theme, but unique in its approach.

"This is a one-of-a-kind mural that Riverview residents, the city of Kingsport and the surround industries including Eastman, can be proud of," says Mrs. Blair.

Riverview has been the recipient of another mural that is equally as eye-catching. Murals & More also painted the sides of the Riverview Splash Pad building in a safari theme 5 years ago. It was the company's first project on the list in the "Percent for Art" program. In 2006, the city demolished the Riverview Swimming Pool and replaced it with a safari-themed splash pad. Murals & More was hired to paint the four-sided safari mural on the sides of the old swimming pool building. The vibrant colors have proven to be a draw for kids to the Splash Pad.

Another Murals & More painting that has people turning their heads, is a huge mural on Clay Street that raised eyebrows first, then raised spirits.

"That original building on Clay Street had another building torn off of it, leaving a really ugly side with columns that helped support the wall of the building torn off," she says. "Even before the city commissioned us to paint a mural, we had to go in and repair some of the columns, so the mural wouldn't have jagged edges to it. The city wanted us to do another kind of 'kidsey' scene because that part is the Kingsport Child Development center, so we had to also design something that looked good in the other part of downtown."

Murals & More used locals' love of trees to stand out in the painting.

"We made every one of the columns that were sticking out, a tree, and the fact that the columns were sticking out, made the images 3-D images," she says. "In between, we painted treehouses and rabbits, ponds with ducks, racoons in the trees, in a kind of country setting. That's also the new educational corridor in the Clay Street area, and everybody seems to enjoy seeing the mural. It looks so much better than the ugly wall that was there before."

Both murals are examples to the spirit of the communities they serve.

"Dobbins is a wonderful community center now," says Mrs. Blair. "The renovation really improved the area, and the showcase of artwork around the building has increased the value of the neighborhood. I had been reading the history of the Douglass School on the Historical Marker, from when the building first became a school. It's remarkable that 60 years after it was built, the building is still in the business of educating students."

"We hope our mural helps to give the building a new lease on life, along with the renovations."