Charlie, one of seven canines that volunteer to help children to improve their reading skills at the Kingsport Public Library

KINGSPORT — Seventy-five volunteers, including seven canines and their handlers, logged 2,133 hours at the Kingsport Public Library in 2010, an investment of time and energy valued at more than $44,000.

“It would be impossible to meet the needs of our customers without the support of our library volunteers,” Library Manager Helen Whittaker said Thursday. “We all work hard to stretch our budgets and provide the best possible services at the lowest possible cost. Without our Library volunteers, there is no way we could meet that mission and offer the variety of programming we currently offer.”

So, who are these volunteers and what did they do?

Volunteers at circulation are busy shelving materials, notifying patrons about overdue books, book availability and the arrival of requested books, and creating duplicate barcodes to put on the front of books to speed future checkout.

In particular, the Kingsport Public Library would like to commend June Presley, Cecil Frye, Mary Lou Townsend, Betty Casey, Dottie Shockley and Barbara Maston for their tireless effort in circulation.

Meanwhile, cataloging, a critical task to maintain a properly functioning library, featured the assistance of BreAnna Gordon, Gracie Rossie, and Jolly Hill, who also assists the Archives with sorting and filing.

“Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State for a reason, and no where is that more readily visible than here at the Kingsport Public Library,” Whittaker said.

Volunteers in reference participated in several special projects that may prove particularly lasting in benefit to the community.

One project involves inputting cemetery data from old catalog cards into Excel. The cemetery project started years ago by collecting information from tombstone inscriptions in Sullivan County cemeteries.

“By transferring the information into Excel, the public will be able to search this information online by cemetery name and family name,” Whittaker said. “This database often includes birth and death dates, family names and relationships as well as tombstone inscriptions. Having this data online will help immensely with those who are doing genealogy research.”

Meanwhile, a similar project is indexing newspaper obituaries from 1977 through 1986. Older newspaper obits are already indexed online in the Archives section of the library website, while more recent obituaries are available online at the Kingsport Times-News website. This project, which was started by Edward Elam, will serve those delving into their family roots for years by filling the gap.

Jo Anne Medlin, Patricia Ringley, Suzanne Burow, Sandra McAninch, Linda Odum and Susan Hoover, who also helps with computer classes, are all hard at work, donating their time to complete these two projects, which will soon be available online at

Reference staff spends a lot of time helping the public with resumes, and their efforts are now bolstered by David Redd, who provides free, one-on-one help to patrons preparing resumes, job applications and cover letters, as well as those who are trying to develop job search strategies.

Since many federal forms are only available online and many people lack computer skills, volunteer Jack VandeVate assists in filling out those forms ‚¬ particularly online social services applications such as unemployment and disability.

The Library also features a homebound delivery program run entirely by volunteers, who provide more than 300 items per month to those who cant readily access the library.

Rita Perry and Katherine McDaniel pull the books weekly for delivery volunteers

And the 15 fifteen drivers who deliver materials each month include Lois Felix, Donna McMillan, Susie Mishkin, Linda Morawetz, Heather Nicely, Vince Nicely, Glenda ONeal, Leslie Owen, Barbara Hoskins, Sharon Siirola, Marjorie Sink, Lee Johnson, Phil Steadman, Sue Steadman, and Joyce Winstead.

Youth Services is a particularly fast growing area for the Kingsport Library, and 37 volunteers provide some of the most unique services in the region as the Library works to establish a lasting love of reading in youth. For their efforts in Youth Services, the Library would like to thank Teresa Brickey, Farrah Carter, David Foudy, Carl Gulley and Matthew Parker, Whittaker said.

Also volunteering under the Youth Services umbrella were six volunteers with seven certified therapy dogs. The free reading sessions are one-on-one with the dog and last 20 minutes, and are designed for independent readers in grades 1-5.

“Studies have shown that reading to dogs helps children improve reading skills and build self-confidence,” Whittaker said. “Its fun and the children do not feel judged by the dog. If the child misses a word, the dog just listens and wags his tail.”

Patiently listening to budding readers are Jamie Arrowsmith and Tuck; Sandy Hill and Marlow; Lisa Barnett and Dixie; Cameron Henri and Griet; Rhonda Johnson and Touche and Deacon; and Shannon Lumpkins and Jesse.

Many volunteers, including Catherine Anderson, Tyler Christian, Kaitlyn Clark, Bridget Courtney, Christopher Courtney, Kaitlyn McMillan, Scottie Garber, Courtney Griffin, Yhazmyne Hawkins, Agibail Hooker, Judy Hooker, Rachel Pope, Drew Romance, Judy Russell, Nishan Singh, Denise Johnson, Kelsey Luciano, Katy Mason, Roshan Srinath, worked during the hectic summer reading programs helping with the reading logs, handing out prizes and re-shelving the tons of books read.

And Matthew Parker helped immensely in running the G.A.M.E.R.Z. programs on Fridays.

“And last, but certainly not least, we offer our gratitude to the Friends of the Library volunteers who come in several times a week to empty the book donation bin, sort and price the donations in preparation for the biannual book sale,” Whittaker said. “Then, during the book sale, they work endless hours setting up, selling, and packing up.”

Proceeds from the sale are used as matching funds for grants to purchase public computers, laptops for free public computer classes, online databases, teen furniture, and video gaming equipment.

“For their tireless efforts in all these functions, we offer a hearty Kingsport Thank You to Reggie Martin, Helen Sirett, Gail Preslar, Marian Crowell and Jim Crowell,” Whittaker said.

All programs mentioned in this article are free of charge and can be scheduled by phoning 224-2539 or by visiting


KINGSPORT — Construction of a new 364 space parking garage on Shelby Street will require the closure of the existing surface parking lot beginning January 17. Construction of the new facility is expected to take about six months, with an opening slated for June.

The new Shelby Street Parking Garage will feature free public parking in most of the spaces, replacing the existing 110 surface parking spaces. To be constructed at a cost of $4.5 million, the structure will feature facades on Center and Market streets designed to fit in with existing buildings along those streets.

A limited amount of commercial office/retail/restaurant/loft space will be available on both ends of the building facing Center Street and Market Street once the facility is complete, and new downtown restrooms will be provided in the facility for use during special downtown events such as the Twilight Alive and Bluegrass on Broad concert series.

In the interim, additional free public parking will be provided New Street across from Chef’s Pizza to help accomodate parking needs. For a map of free parking areas in and around City Hall, please click here.‚ To view renderings of the new garage, please click here.


KINGSPORT – City Hall will be closed Thursday December 23 and Friday December 24 in observance of the Christmas holiday season. In addition, City Hall will be closed Friday, December 31, in observance of the New Year holiday.

There will be no change to our garbage, trash and recycling schedules for either Christmas or New Year. Crews will run their regular schedules throughout the Holidays.

The Demolition landfill will be closed on  Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day.

The following parks and recreation facilities will be closed December 23 – 26 and December 31 – January 2: Allandale Mansion, Civic Auditorium, Renaissance Center, Lynn View Community Center and the V.O. Dobbins Sr.Complex. Bays Mountain Park will be closed on December 24 & 25 & on January 1st for the Holidays.

Also, the Kingsport Public Library will be closing at 6:30 p.m. on December 20-21, closing at 5:30 p.m. on December 22, and closed completely December 23 through December 26. The Library will close at 6:30 p.m. on December 27-30, and be closed Friday December 31 through Sunday January 2 in observance of the New Year holiday.


KINGSPORT – Auditors issued a clean opinion on the City of Kingsport’s finances for the 11th straight year, with no audit findings of weaknesses or deficiencies in the fiscal 2010 finances of the City. Kingsport even managed to add a bit to the undesignated general fund reserve despite a tough economy.

Auditors from the firm of Blackburn, Childers & Steagall provided these results late last week to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s‚ audit committee, headed up by Alderman Larry Munsey, Vice Mayor Ben Mallicote and Alderman Valerie Joh.

This is truly an extraordinary report,” Munsey said. “We continue to be engaged in a high number of projects, with $16 million in work nearly completed at MeadowView and work about to begin on the Aquatic Center, as well as a number of road and water/sewer projects. To once again receive a clean opinion should provide great confidence to the citizens of Kingsport that their tax dollars are truly well managed.”

The audit committee will present the audit to the full Board of Mayor and Aldermen at todays work session. According to the report, Kingsport’s unreserved general fund balance stood at $13.15 million, up from $12.9 million in fiscal 2009 despite a tough economic climate.

“I think the credit truly rests with our line workers, managers and department heads who have tightened their belts and done their very best to hold costs down where ever possible,” City Manager John Campbell said Thursday. “Our budget office has also done a great job, reminding staff that our revenues, while stabilized, only continue to grow slowly. And our Finance Department has also done a great job of managing the taxpayers’ dollars and ensuring they are properly accounted for.”

In addition to the growth in the general fund reserve, Kingsport posted another $12.8 million in unrestricted assets in the fleet and insurance internal funds.

“I think Kingsport as a whole has weathered the global financial storm about as well as anyone could have hoped for,” Campbell said. “And Kingsport is well-positioned to come out of the recession stronger than anyone could have imagined.”

Kingsport’s tax rate remains at $1.94 per $100 of assessed property value, the third lowest rate in Kingsport history. And, Kingsport holds high-quality credit ratings from both Moody’s, which rates Kingsport’s debt as Aa2, and Standard & Poor’s, which assigns Kingsport an AA- rating.

Items of concern in municipal audits are ranked in three ways; “material weaknesses” are of major import that jeopardizes the ability to present an accurate picture of city finances; “significant deficiencies” representing serious issues that should be resolved immediately before becoming a material weakness; and “other matters” which are not reported in the full audit.

This last category involves technical issues that should be addressed in the opinion of the auditors to avoid becoming significant issues in the future.

Kingsport posted three “other matters” involving the way internal fund loans are classified; centralization of grant oversight activities; and a lack of SAS-70 documentation on the school system’s online payment processor for school nutrition.

Also, for the 10th straight year, the city’s audit and financial report earned a Certificate of Achievement Award for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association for the FY 2009 Consolidated Annual Financial Report. The award recognizes governments that go beyond the minimum to provide concise and comprehensive annual financial reports.


KINGSPORT – KFD Station 7 won a Career Satellite Notable award from Fire Chief Magazine for architecture and design among fire departments in the United States.

We are very proud and honored to be recognized by the Fire Chief Magazine 2010 Station Style Design Awards as Career Notable. This station came about through a lot of work with our Board of Mayor and Alderman and City Manager, and the hard work of our Fire Department Staff, Chief Scott Boyd, Captain Shea Payne, Engineer J.W. Rogers and Engineer Joel Moore to identify the needs of department and our city. Kingsport Fire Chief Craig Dye said. We also want to thank Beeson, Lusk & Street Inc. for their design efforts to meet those needs.

The 7,374 square bart Station 7 was completed in October of 2009 and serves south Kingsport, Rock Springs and the I-26 & I-81 corridors providing not only fire and medical response but also houses KFDs Regional Haz-Mat Response Unit and a substation for the Kingsport Police Department.



KINGSPORT – All interested persons, particularly Lynn Garden Drive area residents, are invited to attend an open meeting Thursday, December 9, at 6:30 p.m. in the Lynn View Community Center Cafeteria to review future plans for the athletic fields and grounds. Public input is greatly desired by the Parks & Recreation Department, and this meeting represents an opportunity to help shape the future of the site.


KINGSPORT¯»¿¯»¿¯»¿¯»¿¯»¿¯»¿¯»¿ ‚¬ The National League of Cities has awarded its Gold Award for Municipal Excellence in the less than 50,000 population category to the City of Kingsport for the citys Higher Education Initiative.

Two finalists in each population category were selected as winners of the 2010 Awards for Municipal Excellence, with winners announced this week during NLCs Congress of Cities and Exposition in Denver.

You cant help but sense the pride our community has that an organization such as the National League of Cities, representing 1,600 cities and towns across the United States, has recognized the success of our Higher Education Initiative in developing the skills of our local workforce, Mayor Dennis Phillips said Thursday. This award is the result of many, many people in our community who are working together to make Kingsport a great place to live and work. And it once again goes to show what can be accomplished when no one is worried about who gets the credit.

In just 24 months, Kingsport invested nearly $20 million in funding for higher education facilities including the Regional Center for Health Professions and Kingsport Center for Higher Education.

Meanwhile, a public-private partnership between local industry and the State of Tennessee also developed the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing within the Academic Village, providing tailor-made training for local industry and new businesses using state-of-the-art equipment. Up next is the future Pal Barger Automotive Technology Center funded by a private donation of $400,000.

Kingsports Higher Education Initiative also includes two years of free community college tuition for all high school graduates.

Census data indicates that Kingsport has added 1,000 people over the age of 25 with an associate degree since 1999, while the percentage of population over age 25 with a bachelors degree or higher has risen from 18 percent to 24 percent. The City has set a goal of 30 percent of the population with a four-year degree or greater.

In addition to the NLC award, the Higher Education Initiative has been recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with a Siemens Sustainable Community Award as well as an Innovations in Government Award from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.
NLC received nominations from cities and towns in 40 states.‚  Finalists exhibited exceptional public-private partnerships, productive citizen and community collaborations, management of municipal resources, implementation of government policies, project implementation with tangible results and/or the ability to replicate the project in other cities, according to the organization.

More information about the Awards for Municipal Excellence can be found by clicking here.

The National League of Cities is the nations oldest and largest organization devoted to strengthening and promoting cities as centers of opportunity, leadership and governance.

KINGSPORT ‚¬ Liberty arrived in Kingsport this week in the form of a hand-carved carousel horse constructed by Dave Sheppard of Soddy Daisy, Tennessee, while four local horse men are already well underway with their carving at a new workshop in the Lynn View Community Center.

The Kingsport Carousel Project began as a vision of the late Gale Joh, who grew up in New York State in a town which once had two carousels. Today, the vision is a joint effort of community volunteers assisted by the Cultural Arts Division of Kingsport.

My husband very much wanted a carousel for Kingsport, Alderman Valerie Joh said. The town he grew up in had two of them and he really wanted one for Kingsport. He took the idea to his fellow Kiwanians, and never let it drop. This effort is a real act of love towards Kingsport and a tribute to Gale, but it cant happen without the volunteers who already are working on it. And we need a lot more volunteers to come forward too.

Each horse can take up to 400 hours to carve, and the Four Horsemen currently at work carving horses for the carousel include Reggie Martin, Milton Nelson, Ted Heilig and George Gibson. All four have completed a course at the Horsin Around Woodcarving School in Soddy Daisy to learn the craft.

These men have just given a tremendous amount of their time and treasure to this effort, Joh said. But we do need the whole community to get behind the project.
As many as 35 horses will be needed to populate the antique carousel, which is expected to be located near the Farmers Market on Clinchfield Street.

Not only are additional carvers needed, but sanders, artists and painters, mechanics and machinists, electricians, carpenters and woodworkers to build other features and volunteers to help plan and fundraise for what is a community-led project.

And, as part of the effort, Sheppard, of Soddy Daisy, contributed Liberty, currently on display at City Hall. The next step is to raise the funds and acquire a carousel body, and a couple of candidates have already been identified.

To get involved or for more information on the project,‚ click here or call the Cultural Arts office at 423-392-8416.


KINGSPORT ‚ One of Kingsports oldest communities has gained a new lease on life and a new neighborhood as a four-year, multi-million dollar redevelopment project comes to a close.

The city of Kingsport held a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony Monday morning for the Riverview Place neighborhood ‚ a 32-home development on the old Riverview Apartments site ‚ the final phase of the HOPE VI redevelopment project.

Four years ago Kingsport received an $11.9 million HOPE VI revitalization grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grant, along with additional monies from the city, went toward transforming the old run-down dwellings in Riverview and along Sherwood/Hiwassee with new, single-family houses for purchase and rent.

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.

“We thought there was no way a city the size of Kingsport would get this grant, and Im not sure that we really thought we were going to get it,” said Mayor Dennis Phillips. “If you have not stood outside and looked at the houses, it is probably the most amazing thing Ive seen in Kingsport in my life. I would be proud to live here.”

Armstrong Construction began work on the houses in Riverview in October 2009 and completed them earlier this month. The cost of the Riverview Place project, including demolition of the old Riverview Apartments site and new construction, came in around $8.4 million.

“I think we have something Armstrong and its employees can be very proud of. We have a project Im proud of, and hopefully it will be something Kingsport will be proud of for a long time,” said John Leonard, CEO of Armstrong.

For the complete story, please click here to visit the Kingsport Times-News.

Story reprinted courtesy of the Kingsport Times-News

Written by Matthew Lane



KINGSPORT ‚ Construction of Food Citys third grocery store in Kingsport and its first store on the west side of town is officially under way.

Company officials gathered with city and community leaders Monday afternoon for a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the new store, to be constructed on the old Quebecor property on Center Street in the downtown district.

Construction crews are already busy at the site, removing debris and building the stores block walls.

Steve Smith, president and chief executive officer of Abingdon-based K-VA-T Food Stores, the parent of Food City, said he hopes the new store will be under roof by the first of the year and be ready to open next spring.

“Theres no town thats any more important to our company than Kingsport,” Smith told a crowd gathered for the groundbreaking. “This is our third significant investment in this community in the last three years.”

Kingsport is home to Food Citys largest store ‚ a 55,000-square-bart facility on Eastman Road. The company built the store three years ago to replace a smaller one at the same location.

And just a few months ago, Food City expanded its Colonial Heights location.

“And now well be able to make an $8-plusmillion-dollar investment here,” Smith said. “I can tell you that we work with lots of cities and counties and municipalities, and nowhere can I find one that works better with us than Kingsport.”

The downtown store will include 48,500 square feet featuring a drive-through pharmacy, sit-down cafe and Gas-n-Go. The store will create 175 new jobs ‚ half of them full time, Smith said.

In addition, Food City is constructing another 24,000 square feet of retail and office space at the site, Smith said.

The new Food City will sit next door to the Kingsport Farmers Market ‚ a perfect match for a company that purchases millions of dollars in produce from local farmers, Smith said.

“We bought over $6 million of locally grown produce this year and sold it through our supermarkets. That keeps a lot of family farmers working, and were awfully proud of that,” he said.

He said his company also wants to incorporate design features into the store to remember what the property once was. For years, the site was a book manufacturing plant, first as the Kingsport Press, then as Arcata Graphics, then as Quebecor World. Quebecor donated the 20-acre property to Kingsport in 2007 after it closed its facility there in 2006.

For the complete story please click here to visit the Kingsport Times-News. For a video of the event, please click here.

Republished here courtesy of the Kingsport Times-News

Article written by Sharon Hayes