Because it was her first visit, she says, she spent an hour and a half just getting ready.
The 67th annual dinner celebrated several of the year's accomplishments, among them the groundbreaking for Project Inspire, Eastman Chemical's $1.6 billion dollar economic development investment, to be built in the Riverview neighborhood across Wilcox Drive from Eastman's headquarters.
"Riverview is not the 'dead' community that it used to be," Releford continued. "It's a thriving, vibrant area with room to grow on either side of the railroad tracks. Its core residents are committed to good citizenship and harmony. I think it's a sign of respect that Eastman shows to Riverview to not only have their headquarters in our neighborhood, but that they think enough of us to have their world headquarters right across the street from us."
Company presidents and vice presidents abounded at the dinner. Eastman Chemical... Domtar... Food City... WJHL-TV, WKPT-TV... the Edinburgh Group... Wellmont Health... Wilson, Worley, Moore, Gamble & Stout... the Bristol Motor Speedway... BAE Systems... Indian Path Medical Center... King University... not to mention their employees, husbands and wives.
At the Douglass Alumni table were president Releford and his wife Vivian.. Alumni Board Vice President Louetta Hall... Vicki Smith, board secretary... Thelma Watterson, also board recording secretary... Andra Watterson, also board financial secretary... Wallace Ross, Jr., past board sergeant at arms... Calvin Sneed, permanent board member in charge of the alumni website and public relations... Linda Bly, alumni board member, and guests Greg and Nat Manes. Seated nearby at the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment table were alumni board treasurer Sheila Leeper and New Vision Youth Director Johnnie Mae Swagerty. At the also nearby Eastman table were alumni board permanent member Van Dobbins, Jr. in charge of alumni food service and his wife Dr. Dorothy Dobbins, and also Paul Montgomery, V-P, Community Relations and Corporate Services at Eastman Chemical Company.
"What was good, was that there were Douglass alumni and descendants not just at our table," says Watterson. "We were scattered around the room, at big tables and small tables. That made me feel welcome. We are indeed part of the bigger community in many ways."
Later, for people who brought their dancing shoes, the musical band Jessie's Girls brought crowds to the dance floor in a total, non-stop dance-a-thon. The band featured 5 female dancers with strong vocals, a 4-piece band with horns, and two male party hosts. The crowd rocked into the Meadowview night.
"We might all work separately at our jobs," Watterson says, "but this night was the time to play together, and I'm glad the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni were a part of that."
SEE A SLIDE SHOW OF THE DOUGLASS ALUMNI BOARD AT THE 2014 KINGSPORT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE DINNER
Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.