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How many times in the past year have you attended a Kingsport event? Whether it was a parade, a Fun Fest event or an Evening at the Market—Kristie Leonard helped make it happen.

Kristie, who started with the city 12 years ago, plays a crucial role in a streamlined event process that makes submitting event applications easier than ever. She is the key contact for anyone who wants to host an event in Kingsport. Instead of fumbling through contacts and clicking through websites to find information on hosting an event, organizers can contact Kristie for anything from small-scale gatherings to Fun Fest-sized events.

“I may be the first person that someone connects with in our city,” Kristie said. “I may be what they judge our city on. So I’m very careful about how we deal with different organizers, making sure that we give good customer service, answer their questions and be as helpful as we can for them.”

Kristie partners with many city departments from Police to Public Works to ensure every event goes off without a hitch. This departmental teamwork is something unique to Kingsport.

When she isn’t organizing events, Kristie is running the Kingsport Farmers Market. She is in charge of receiving and sifting through vendor applications to make sure that the market gets a large variety of high-quality goods. She also helps bring programs to the market, like Saturdays with the Chef and Market Jams.

Kristie strives to bring a “front porch feel” to the market and make it a place where people know and trust their neighbors and come out to visit with them. Her hard work is paying off: For the second year in a row, the Kingsport Farmers Market has been voted the Best Farmers Market in East Tennessee by Tennessee Magazine.

“Our vendors are amazing,” Kristie said. “What I do is bring people to the vendors so they can sell their goods.”

Kristie’s top priority is the safety and happiness of Kingsport’s citizens. Whether she’s coordinating events or running the farmers market, Kristie enjoys the roots of her job.

“It’s always fascinated me how governments work,” Kristie, who majored in political science, said. “At the same time, I also get to enjoy the creative side. I don’t have a boring day.”

People like Kristie, who are dedicated to seeing Kingsport grow into the best it can be, are what make Kingsport such a great place to live. Next time you take a stroll through a Kingsport event or prepare some produce from the market, remember people like Kristie who are dedicated to bringing what’s best to the city.

Want to hear more from Kristie? Visit to listen to her conversation with City Manager Chris McCartt on Kingsport’s podcast “From the City Desk.”



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Join the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club in viewing the transit of the planet Mercury across the face of the Sun!

A transit is when a celestial object, like an inferior planet (Mercury and Venus), pass directly in front of the Sun. If you are on the correct side of the Earth to see this event, and have proper solar filters, then you’ll see a tiny dot slowly travel across the face of the Sun.

If you still have your solar glasses from the solar eclipse of 2017, then use them to see if you can spy Mercury’s tiny disk against the Sun. Remember, it is unsafe to view the Sun without proper eye protection!

The next transit won’t be until 2032—so don’t miss out. This free, public viewing will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Park’s Observatories. The transit will begin at 7:35 a.m., but we have to wait for the Sun to clear the trees to be able to see it. The event is weather dependent, so if it’s very cloudy or rain, we won’t be gathering. Please note that the Park’s admission fee still does apply.

To get ready for the viewing, stop by the planetarium to see the main feature playing through November 10, “The Transit of Mercury featuring ‘Solar Quest.'” This is a unique showing in the planetarium theater that includes a short from Buhl Planetarium all about the Sun. Visitors will learn about Mercury and the upcoming Mercury transit on November 11 from a live presentation created by Bays Mountain Planetarian, Jason Dorfman. The live content is rich with great full-dome animations, use of the Carl Zeiss ZKP-4 star projector, and a fun activity! The show runs about 40 minutes. Park guests are also invited to a viewing of the Mercury Transit on November 11 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Quick guide to Bays Mountain’s Planetarium
Main Show – Tuesday-Friday at 4 p.m. | Saturday & Sunday at 1 & 4 p.m.

Alternate Show – Saturday & Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets: $5 for non-members, free for members and children under 6

Don’t forget—every Saturday evening through November, visit the observatories for StarWatch, an hour-long program that lets you enjoy the splendor of the night sky at Bays Mountain’s observatories. November’s dates and times are November 2 at 7 p.m., and November 9, 16, 23 and 30 at 6 p.m.

To learn more about Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium, call 423-229-9447 or visit

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Ronnie Hammonds, a dedicated member of Kingsport’s Public Works team, recently announced his plans to retire this December.

When Hammonds started with the City of Kingsport in November of 1978, the city limits were generally contained within John B. Dennis and Stone Drive and the city population was about 31,000.

Starting in the engineering division, Hammonds worked out of City Hall where he met Rose, his wife of almost 39 years. He then transitioned to asphalt foreman, followed by public works specialist and finally was placed in the role of Streets & Sanitation Manager. Under his leadership, the city has been able to progress in many areas that have enhanced the service level while maintaining or lowering the cost and improving employee safety, such as automated waste collection.

Over the years, Hammonds has won various accolades from the American Public Works Association including the Roger Clark Award in 2007, the Larry Eddins Award in 2009 and finally the Public Works Man of the Year for Tennessee in 2014.

“It’s difficult to think about our public works department without Ronnie Hammonds,” said Ryan McReynolds, deputy city manager. “He’s dedicated his time, talents and knowledge to Kingsport over the past four decades.”

His retirement plans include spending time not only with Rose, but also with his 3-year-old granddaughter Grace.

Ronnie Hammonds