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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

'We Love a Parade - Especially a Christmas Parade"

Santa Claus arrived in the usual pomp and circumstance on Saturday, November 19, 2011 that only Kingsport has to offer.

Click here to see a slideshow of the floats, the units and the people of the Kingsport Christmas Parade, 2011.

After all, the Model City is probably the only city in the world where Santa arrives via a rail passenger car, pulled by two diesel locomotives from Shelbiana, Kentucky, through Southwest Virginia, dropping off goodies to the kids along the way, then arrives at the Kingsport depot, and mounts a fire truck in the city's annual Christmas Parade.


Just like thousands of people lined the tracks of the old Clinchfield Railroad, thousands more lined the streets of downtown to watch and applaud floats, exhibits and parade marchers.

We were also able to catch the Dobyns-Bennett High School Band, just before they took off for the Big Apple to perform in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Like many communities, Kingsport does a lot to bring residents to its downtown, and the annual Christmas parade is no exception.

The Christmas season is officially here. Just remember: Jesus is the Reason for the Season!

Monday, November 28, 2011

News Station Mislabels Shoppers


This news pic is from WBAL-TV, the NBC station in Baltimore.

There's a very important word missing from the caption.

The copy editor at this station, probably meant to caption it "Black FRIDAY holiday shoppers."


Thursday, November 24, 2011

DB Band in the Macy's Day Parade


The Dobyns-Bennett High School Marching Band was selected to appear in the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade in downtown New York City on Thanksgiving Day, 2011.

Click here to see the announcement about DB being selected to march in the parade.

The magic day arrives.. in front of thousands of spectators in New York City, and millions of viewers on both NBC and CBS, the DB Band makes its way down Broadway.

Click here to see the DB Band marching at Times-Square in New York City .

This clip courtesy CBS-TV.

Here's coverage from another angle.

Click here to see the DB Band marching at Times-Square in New York City. This clip courtesy NBC-TV.

Congratulations to the Dobyns-Bennett High School Marching Band, under the direction of Lafe Cook.

Don't forget to catch pictures of the band in the Kingsport Christmas Parade, held downtown on Saturday November 19th. Those pictures are forthcoming.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser: Everybody 'Flipped' Over Our Pancakes

"The Queen Bee was pleased with the Worker Bees who did such a good job at Applebee's."

That was the general feeling that Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni President Virginia 'Jenny' Hankins had, after the Pancake Breakfast fundraiser that the alumni group held at Applebee's in Kingsport on Saturday, November 19, 2011.

The event was the first such independent fundraiser for the Douglass alumni association, outside of the Reunions every two years.

Click here to see a slideshow from the Pancake Breakfast.

"The success of this Pancake Breakfast was a good show of cooperation," Hankins says. "It shows that the Douglass Alumni Association, the 'Sons and Daughters' is still strong. It shows that everybody on the Board is willing to work, even the alumni from out of town. They came and pitched in, rolled up their sleeves, and just dug right in."

While there was plenty of digging in for the workers, visitors who paid a 5-dollar donation, got to dig into some delicious pancakes.

"I probably flipped over 200 pancakes back there," says alumni Vicki (Woods) Smith. "They were mixed pretty good, and they rose up nice and fluffy. Van (Dobbins, Jr.) supplied plenty of sausages, both flat and link) and with the syrup and butter, it made for a good combination."

Hankins was particularly impressed with the New Vision Youth who helped out. Members of the group served as hostesses and waited on tables, with folks who had orders in, getting their pancakes deliveried with a smile and encouragement.

"Johnnie Mae (Swagerty)'s New Vision Youth kids were just phenomenal," she says. "To see them going back and forth from table to table, making sure everybody got their orders and that everybody was fed, was heart-warming. They even helped us by standing out on the street corners with posters they'd made, advertising the event. That brought several visitors in. It was cool that early in the morning, but a couple of them were out there anyway."

"Those kids taught us a thing or two about common courtesy and how to be cordial to people."

There was a steady stream of traffic all morning at Applebee's.. folks coming in with their pre-sold tickets, others just stopping by to make a donation.

"The Applebee's people were wonderful to us," Smith says. "They were so courteous. I'm sure they're used to working in a confined space anyway and I'm sure we were in the way as they were trying to get their things ready for the 11 o'clock lunchtime crowd, but they were so gracious and helpful. It didn't hurt us at all, but I didn't mind slipping them a couple of pancakes because they were so nice to us."

She recalls meeting one familiar face in the back.

"I ran into a young man named Brian that used to work with my son Ryan at the I-Hop," she says. "I asked him how my pancakes were, he said they were good, and I said 'uh huh.. that's where my son got it from."

Hankins also had lots of praise for the Applebee's management.

"Every time I talked to Tim, the manger," she says, "he was alwasy very helpful. Bobby, who opened up for us, went over everything, showed us where things were, and how to operate things. We had the cooking experience within our group, the assemble, and some of our people even worked in restaurant clean-up, so we knew how to work the dishwashers and things. Everything went very smoothly."

"If you couldn't make the Pancake Breakfast," Hankins says, "you missed a lot of camraderie and good fellowship.. seeing the alumni in the community you hadn't seen in a long time stopping by."

She says, watch for more fundraisers like this in the future. Proceeds from this event "will help supply our office with needed materials we need to administer some of our programs that we'll be contributing to. We want to help the different organizations in Riverview and Kingsport and donate to them.. the New Vision Kids, the programs for senior citizens, different groups."

Although Hankins says everybody was 'busy as little beavers,' it was fun to see the beavers and the 'bees' come together for a good fundraising cause.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Does This Bring Back Memories? Riverview 1968 and 2011 - New Memories to be Made

This was flooding in Riverview in 1968. The corner of Carver Street and Douglass Street. Stormwater runoff had no place to go, and the kids had a blast....

...and then there's flooding in Riverview in 2011, November 16th to be exact. This is Martin Luther King Dr. at Carver Street. Pictures courtesy the Kingsport Times-News

Above, vehicles from the transportation department of the city of Kingsport block Martin Luther King Drive to allow deep water to go down after a day of rain Wednesday. At right, a car raises a splashy bow wave as it plows into standing water on the flooded street.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Turkey Bowl in the Douglass Ballfield

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pictures from the 2011 V.O. Dobbins Fall Festival

Click here to see a slideshow of pictures from the Fall Festival on the Douglass Ball Field.

Thanks to Chassy Smiley-Freeman, with Kingsport Parks and Recreation for these pictures.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sons and Daughters of Douglass Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser This Coming Weekend

Folks, please don't forget about our Pancake Breakfast this coming weekend.

It's the first major fundraiser for the Sons and Daughters of Douglass, outside of raising funds for yearly scholarships for our graduating seniors.

We're only asking for a 5-dollar donation (that's f-i-v-e) that will get you a ticket to the best pancakes and sausage you've ever eaten. All the proceeds go towards the operation and programs of the Douglass Alumni Association, D.B.A. the Sons and Daughters of Douglass, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 charity.

The Sons and Daughters of Douglass Pancake Breakfast will be held at Applebee's, at the corner of Eastman Road and E. Stone Drive in Kingsport, this Saturday the 19th, from 7:30 AM to 10:30 AM. There will also be a Sons and Daughters of Douglass Board meeting at Applebee's, at 10:30 AM.

Tickets can be purchased prior to the Breakfast from any Alumni Board member, and will also be available on Saturday morning. Just drop by.
If you cannot attend, but want to support your alumni association, your five dollar donation will still be greatly appreciated. Just drop your check or money order in the mail, made out to:

Sons and Daughters of Douglass, Inc.
(and mail it to)
Ste. 104
301 Louis Street
Kingsport, TN 37660

See you Saturday! And come on an empty stomach!

The End of the Twin Riverview Swimming Pools

A few years ago, Riverview's old swimming pool was closed and filled in.

Nobody was happy to see it go.

A few days ago, Riverview's new twin swimming pools were filled in.

Nobody was happy to see them STAY.

The city of Kingsport is in the final stages of filling in and closing two retention ponds on Louis Street on either side of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex. Government regulations require retention ponds to catch stormwater runoff from roofs, parking lots or land changes during and after new building construction, and then channel that runoff into the nearest storm drains.

The two ponds at Dobbins were the source of many neighborhood complaints relating to flooding, insects and child access.

"They should have never put those ponds in there in the first place," says Jack Pierce, whose home sits directly across the street from the biggest runoff pond. "I think they did have good intentions when they first put them in.. I don't think they meant any harm to the neighborhood. It was just a bad idea, and we're glad they finally saw the light."

It probably wasn't the LIGHT the city saw.. more like, the PIPE.

"About 10 years ago, we had done some sanitary sewer rehabilitation in Riverview," says Dan Wankel, Kingsport's stormwater engineer. "But then, we discovered an unused 24-inch pipeline, just lying there underneath the water lines and the sewer pipe that we had the retention pond tied into. That pipeline we found out, eventually turns into a 30-inch line, and then a 36-inch main down Industry Drive that empties directly into the South Fork Holston River. Tying all the runoff from the Dobbins parking lots and the roof runoffs from the neighborhood into that unused 24-inch main, we determined we didn't need the retention ponds anymore."

"I was able to convince T-DEC (the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation) that, with the receiving stream being the South Fork of the Holston itself being so close by, and no creeks or streams to empty into first, that we could tie the stormwater runoff directly into the river, without impacting any surrounding property."

Having the pond filled in, takes a big worry off its nearest neighbor.

"I've seen water six feet deep in there," says Pierce, "and kids could have gotten in there and drowned. The set-up the city had, wouldn't carry the water away fast enough."

The backed-up runoff ultimately emptied into the river through the main that we found overflowing along Industry Drive one super rainy day. The pressure was so great, that water runoff leaked heavily at the junction manhole to the river. Although the manhole held in place, had it blown, the blast would have blown it over the ridge to Dunbar Street, 500 feet away.

"We put a project together using different funding sources," Wankel says, "and were able to put in the connecting pipe that drains from the parking lots directly into that unused 24-inch main, and then fill in the land above it. The connection was made on Jack's side of the street, because that's where the pipe is."

Pierce says, he doesn't expect too much work out of his mosquito killer this coming spring and summer.

"Still water breeds mosquitos," he says, "and since the water would still be in the pond for several days, bugs would swarm for days."

"It could be nice to sit out on the porch pretty soon."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

NAACP Details Problems with Voting Rights Changes


Dear Calvin,

If Charles and David Koch have their way, millions of eligible Americans won't be able to cast a vote in 2012.

In recent years, the billionaire political operatives have used their vast fortunes to finance the drafting, promoting and introduction of model bills restricting people's ability to vote, and so far legislatures in 38 states have introduced Koch Brothers-supported legislation. All told, this is the most aggressive and widespread attack on the right to vote since the voting rights restrictions that paved the way for segregation.

This week, Brave New Films debuts a new video shining the spotlight on the Koch Brothers and their role in the voting rights attacks. "Koch Brothers Exposed" is a call to action for all Americans concerned about protecting this most fundamental of rights.

Click here to watch the video and then sign the Stand for Freedom pledge today to fight back.

The voter suppression laws take many forms: prohibitive voter registration requirements, sharply reduced early voting periods, government-issued photo ID requirements, and discriminatory laws that disproportionately deny voting rights to people with felony convictions.

As I note in the video, these attacks on voting rights are only the beginning. The reason that you take away somebody's right to vote is so that you can take away the rest of their rights.

Everything we care about is at stake: the right to equal opportunity, the right for every child to attend a quality school, for clean water to drink and clean air to breathe, and basic protection of civil and human rights.

The NAACP is organizing aggressively to stop these rollbacks. On December 10th, International Human Rights Day, we will organize a series of rallies and events around the country. In New York City, we will begin our march at a demonstration outside the Koch brothers' offices, and continue on to a rally at the United Nations Building.

Please join the resistance against these fundamental attacks on human rights. Click this link to watch this new video from Brave New films, then sign the Stand for Freedom petition today and share it with your friends, colleagues and family members.

The NAACP has never stood on the sidelines when the extremists of any era attacked the voting right of Americans. We will fight the Koch brothers and their ilk, and with your help, we will prevail.

Standing for Freedom,


Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO, NAACP

Monday, November 7, 2011

Riverview Seniors Up in Arms About Voter Picture I-D

"Our folk died, just have the right to vote years ago.. why change the rules now?

Mrs. "Miss Pinkie" Horton

It was a cool, sunny Saturday morning, when Mrs. "Miss Pinkie" Horton set out to take her sister-in-law Bernice to get a new photo I-D. A photo I-D is now required to be able to vote in Tennessee.

"I saw it in the paper that she needed to have that, and I've always voted at the Civic Auditorium," she says, "so we went there."

Apparently unbeknownst to 84-year-old 'Miss Pinkie' and 77-year-old 'Miss Bernice,' photo I-D's are only being done at Tennessee's driver license centers on the first Saturday of every month to avoid the long lines during the week. Furthering the mixup, somehow they got re-directed to the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex, a building totally locked up for the weekend.

"I've always had a driver's license that did not require a picture," says 'Miss Bernice.' "Having a picture cost more, and any little place where I could save money, I do. My license with no picture has always been my identification. It's crazy for them (state lawmakers) to require photo I-D's now. I wondered why they did that, and, thinking about it you know, I think I know why now."

Thinking about a change that did not seem necessary, the two sisters-in-law were in complete agreement about why a photo I-D is now required to vote in Tennessee. In fact, they are quite blunt about it.

"I think they're trying to keep black folk from voting for Obama," says Miss Pinkie. 'Miss Bernice' was just as vocal.

"I think they (state lawmakers) are just putting one more thing in the way to keep the black seniors and the other elderly, from being able to vote," she says.. "because they know we're voting for Obama."


The photo I-D measure was sponsored by House Republican Caucus Chairman Debra Maggert (R-Hendersonville), who says the law is "a needed tool to prevent voter fraud." A story in the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported that Tennessee Republicans have said there have been episodes in the past, plus other cases that have likely gone undetected because the state has not required voters to present a photo I-D. ABC News reports that states with strict voter photo I-D laws more than tripled in 2011.

Meanwhile, Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) has gone so far as to offer rides to anyone needing to get to the driver's license centers to get a photo I-D for people who need one to vote.

Two sisters-in-law from Kingsport's Riverview community would have probably taken him up on that offer.

Since 'Miss Pinkie' is still driving at the age of 84, she already had a photo I-D in the form of a Tennessee driver's license, so for her sister-in-law, Douglass website manager Calvin, who was working at V.O. Dobbins that Saturday, directed them to the Tennessee driver's license center for Sullivan County, the only authorized place to get a state-issued photo I-D on the first Saturday of every month.

That center is 14 miles from Kingsport, just north of Blountville on U.S. Highway 11-W.. an almost 30-mile round trip for the Riverview seniors.

"Traffic wasn't too bad," says 'Miss Pinkie.' "People zoomed by us, but that was all right. We can't get in a hurry, and I don't like to drive very fast."


As luck would have it, a news crew from WCYB-TV, Channel 5 was at the driver's license center, doing a story on photo I-D's. 'Miss Bernice' was interviewed for the story, but because the story was aimed from a positive viewpoint on the ease of getting a photo I-D on Saturday, she says, she did not get to tell the reporter what she really thought of the new requirement. She says, she was disappointed that she was never asked if there was a negative aspect to having to have a photo I-D to vote.

"If they would have asked me that, they might have heard a different story," she says.

'Miss Bernice' did receive a driver's license with her photo on it, but says, she felt as if she was being held hostage having to pay extra for her picture, just to be able to vote.

"It was a put-down for me," she says. "Saturday was the only I could do it, and then I had to catch a ride, drive 30 miles, to get a photo I-D on a driver's license that I don't need. We had to use the gas and risk all those fast drivers and it was like, nobody was listening to us once we got there. They were nice enough, but I don't like being forced to get one just to vote."

"No matter," she says. "I'm voting for Obama anyway."


The irony of the situation is not lost on the seniors.

"Why is a photo I-D necessary now?" 'Miss Bernice' wants to know. "I was able to vote before and nothing was wrong. We had to sign our name, we had to prove our address, we had to show where we had voted before, and that was it. Now we have to show them a picture of us. What was wrong with the other stuff? We're the same people we were before. What difference is it gonna make?"

"They're trying to pull the wool over our eyes," 'Miss Pinkie' surmised. "You have a spirit about you, that tells you what people are up to. They're trying to keep our folk from voting for Obama again. Our folk died just to have the right to vote. We (African-Americans) had to have a special law back in the 60's just to be able to vote (the Voting Rights Act of 1965)."

After that 30-mile round trip they had just made, 'Miss Pinkie' ventured a sobering observation.

"Seems like you almost have to die now just to be able to vote."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fall Flowers in Riverview


Reading to the Little Ones