The first weekend in March marks the grand opening of the Inventor Center, a new community space for Kingsport’s creators, makers and artists of all kinds.

The festivities kick off at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 1 with a ribbon cutting. Return to the Inventor Center on Saturday for classes taught by YouTube influencers, and again on Sunday for an open house.

Here are the YouTube maker stars appearing Saturday, March 2:

  1.  Izzy Swan – https://www.youtube.com/user/rusticman1973
  2. Johnny Brooke, Craftedhttps://www.youtube.com/user/craftedmagazine
  3. Fred Sexton , Redneck DIYhttps://www.youtube.com/user/blazingnailgun
  4. Nathan Elliot, Out of the Woodshttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiPGkIebcT4QmEw6P6Lkubw

Located at 118 Shelby Street, the Inventor Center adds to Kingsport’s developing entrepreneurial ecosystem. Places like RCAM, Streamworks, D-B Excel, SyncSpace and now the Inventor Center give Kingsport citizens a place to learn new skills, foster community or build a business.

The Inventor Center comes from a public-private partnership led by the City of Kingsport with Engage Kingsport and the Model City Makerspace. This new facility is a premier makerspace that provides makers the space to develop a variety of skills, as well as unique, specialized equipment they will rarely find anywhere else.

More than just a space to create, the Inventor Center is a place to learn. Through programs and classes for inventors, entrepreneurs and employers, the Inventor Center is focused on creating opportunities that benefit Kingsport as a whole.

Keep reading to learn more about the Inventor Center’s six focus areas.

Makers
Where craft meets science, this group has a strong connection to making (and breaking) things to see what they can create next. This includes woodworkers, engineers, sculptors, hackers, and more.

Community Arts
Here we cover traditional arts and crafts. Whether professional or hobbyist, all painters, printmakers, ones who sew, sculptors, and other traditional artists are welcome.

Social Impact
A primary goal for the Inventor Center is to improve the lives of others. Every class and program gives our community new opportunities to better themselves and build a stronger future.

Entrepreneurs
The Inventor Center aims to cultivate Kingsport’s entrepreneurial spirit by connecting mentors to business owners and startups. Mentors provide advice and guidance, and entrepreneurs can create physical prototypes of their device or product.

Employers
The Inventor Center offers Kingsport employers programs ranging from workplace and equipment training to electronics development and community investment. All programs are designed to strengthen employers and their ability to recruit and provide amenities and training opportunities to employees.

Education
Curiosity, learning, and making are all at the heart of the Inventor Center. Programs designed for elementary to higher education are a top priority.  The Inventor Center aims to connect with other community organizations to provide access to classes and more for students.

The Inventor Center offers a variety of classes for all skills levels, as well memberships for makers, artisans and innovators. Visit http://theinventorcenter.com/ to learn more.

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A new flock of birds landed in Kingsport today—painted birds, that is. The installation of the “Silent Skies Mural Project,” which features portraits of all 678 birds on the endangered species list, began in downtown Kingsport this morning, Tuesday, February 5.

This 24-foot by 50-foot vinyl-printed mural will hang at the corner of Market and Broad Streets, where the “Humanae” mural once hung. The “Silent Skies Mural Project” is a representation of an installation that opened in Vancouver, Canada, last August. That installation featured the original 678 portraits on 8-inch by 8-inch canvases, arranged in a 100-foot mural. Artists for Conservation, a Canada-based non-profit that promotes conservation through wildlife art, launched the collaborative project with an international call for artists.

Kingsport’s own Suzanne Barrett Justis is a Signature Member of Artists for Conservation, and “Silent Skies” features six of her portraits. The windows of her gallery, Suzanne Barrett Justis Fine Art, look out directly onto the wall where the mural will hang. This morning, she was out on the street excitedly taking pictures of the mural installation, which is expected to be done by end-of-day.

“It’s exciting for me as an artist,” Justis said, “but I hope it’s exciting for Kingsport to say, ‘Hey, we have this mural, and one of our own is on it.’”

The idea of printing the mural on vinyl was Justis’ idea. A longtime wildlife and conservation artist who originally studied animal science, Justis believed it was important to bring this mural to as many places and people as possible. While the original installation has hung in Vancouver and Arizona and is now set to travel to China, Justis is working hard to bring vinyl versions to cities and zoos across the country. The Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts worked with Justis to make Kingsport the very first place to host the vinyl installation.

“This mural is bringing awareness to the 678 endangered species of birds,” Justis said. “It’s also letting international artists shine, and it has a call to action to learn more about each species.”

The mural invites people to visit http://www.artistsforconservation.org where they can view each bird portrait online. Prints of each portrait are available for purchase, and the proceeds will benefit conservation education among youth, as well as bird conservation.

The “Silent Skies Mural Project” will hang in downtown Kingsport for six months. For more information, please visit http://www.artistsforconservation.org. To learn more about the Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts, please visit https://engagekingsport.com.

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The Kingsport Farmers Market began accepting online and paper applications for vendors on February 1 for its 2019 season.

Every vendor must reapply for the market each new season. The application is available online by going to https://kingsportfarmersmarket.org and clicking on the “Get Involved” tab and selecting “Become a Vendor.” Those who prefer a paper application can request one during the registration period by calling (423)392-8414.

Before applying, vendors should take time to review the Vendor Handbook on the Kingsport Farmers Market website under the “About Us” tab. This handbook lists the KFM’s policies regarding what types of vendors will be accepted to the Market.

Vendor acceptance, placement and dates granted are at the discretion of the Kingsport Farmers Market staff. All accepted vendors will be notified on or before April 1, 2019.

Though it’s been in operation for more than 40 years, last year marked the first season that the City of Kingsport took over administration of the Kingsport Farmers Market’s seasonal operation. A number of successful programs and festivals made it one of the most memorable years yet, and Tennessee Magazine once again named the Kingsport Farmers Market the Best Farmers Market in East Tennessee.

The Kingsport Farmers Market hopes all its new and returning vendors will help to make the 2019 Market season even more successful.

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This year, the Kingsport Aquatic Center’s 100 Mile Swim Club is setting off on the Ultimate “Swim” Trip, its biggest challenge to date.

The route is set: a 13,580 mile journey that stretches from Acadia National Park in Maine to the San Andreas Fault in California and every major U.S. landmark in between. The Kingsport Aquatic Center is challenging participants to work together to “travel” across the country and hit as many of the 50 landmarks as possible before the end of 2019.

“Some of these places, you might not get a chance to go to,” said KAC assistant director Chassy Smiley. “But with the Ultimate ‘Swim’ Trip, we’ll make it to the landmarks in spirit together and get a chance to learn about each one.”

Participants will swim at their own pace throughout the year, and the KAC staff will keep track of individuals’ miles and the club’s collective progress. A map in the KAC lobby will display the entire route and give information about what landmarks the club has made it to.

If 13,580 miles sounds daunting, remember the 100 Mile Swim Club’s motto: Every mile counts, every yard matters! The Ultimate “Swim” Trip is possible only through collective effort.

Interested swimmers can join the club for $10 for KAC members and $20 for nonmembers. All participants will receive a 2019 100 Mile Swim Club t-shirt, and anyone may join at any time throughout the year.

To sign up for the 100 Mile Swim Club, visit the Kingsport Aquatic Center front desk or call (423)343-9758. For more information about the 100 Mile Swim Club, visit https://www.swimkingsport.com/centennial-swim-club/.

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Kingsport Area Transit Service (KATS) will offer free rides on the bus routes all day long Friday, January 18, to celebrate our Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. If you have considered using Kingsport’s public transit service, now is a great time to try it out with a free ride!

KATS is offering a calendar of yearly promotions for 2019 in order to give the community an opportunity to experience the benefits of public transit as well as to thank those passengers who are already KATS transit supporters. Make sure you take advantage of these promotions, and tell your friends and family members! Visit www.kingsporttransit.org or check out KATS on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the monthly promotions!

WHAT: Free bus rides in honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday

WHERE: Route buses

WHEN: Friday, January 18th, 2019

For more information, please visit www.kingsporttransit.org.

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This month, Bonnie Macdonald retires from the City of Kingsport, a place that’s all the richer for her commitment to creativity and public art.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in promoting, producing and advocating for the arts in this community and in our state,” Macdonald said. “I have been so blessed by my fellow city employees both in my department and throughout the city as well as our elected leadership, who have been willing to help, advise and encourage.”

For the past 14 years, Macdonald has spearheaded the Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts, where she and her colleagues have worked hard to invigorate and connect the local creative community. In 2007, she and the newly-established Public Art Committee had their first major success when they established the city’s first Sculpture Walk. This installation has continued to grow in the years since, and many of the pieces have become part of Kingsport’s permanent public art collection. Any drive through downtown will show firsthand the impact Macdonald has had on this city.

Another project that Macdonald’s team led could easily be considered public art: the Kingsport Carousel. Though it took years to create, the story of Kingsport artists coming together to learn new skills and craft a carousel essentially from the ground up is one that won’t be forgotten.

Macdonald also oversaw the Engage Kingsport Performing Arts series and the annual Christmas Connection craft show in addition to managing Kingsport’s event spaces like the Renaissance Arts Center and the Kingsport Farmers Market building. She also has a long resume of serving on various boards and committees, from founding board member of the Kingsport Ballet to President of the Board of Directors of Tennesseans for the Arts. She has been married to Dr. Scott Macdonald for 35 years, and together they have two grown daughters.

Though Macdonald’s time with the Office of Cultural Arts is at an end, her involvement in the Kingsport arts scene isn’t. She will continue to work with Engage Kingsport, the Office of Cultural Arts’ nonprofit arm, on forging more creative connections and innovations that Kingsport residents will benefit from for years to come.

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The mysteries and wonders of the universe are within reach at Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium. This January, the planetarium presents two fascinating shows: “The Dark Matter Mystery – Exploring a Cosmic Secret” and “Appalachian Skies – Winter.”

The main feature, “Dark Matter Mystery” explores questions that researchers all over the world are trying to answer. What keeps galaxies together? What are the building blocks of the universe, and what makes it look the way it does today? Approximately a quarter of the universe is filled with a mysterious glue—dark matter. Scientists know it’s out there, but what it’s made out of is one of the biggest questions in contemporary astrophysics. In this planetarium show, join scientists on their hunt for dark matter with experiments in space and deep underground. Will they be able to solve the “Dark Matter Mystery?”

“Appalachian Skies – Winter” is the alternate feature for January and February. This show will take the audience on a tour of the evening sky using the spectacular Carl Zeiss ZKP-4 star projector instrument, which generates a stunning star field using fiber optics. Produced in-house and led by planetarium staff, this show will teach guests what constellations and planets are easily visible in our winter skies. By the show’s end, guests will be able to locate these sights for themselves at home.

Beginning on January 2, “Dark Matter Mystery” will play Tuesday through Friday at 4 p.m. and weekends at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Catch this exciting show before its run ends on April 28. The planetarium’s alternate feature plays Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m., from January 5 to February 24. Both shows last approximately 35 minutes.

Planetarium tickets are $5 per person. Children ages five and younger receive free admission with a paying adult, and Park Association members also receive free admission. For more information on Bays Mountain’s planetarium shows or group ticket costs, please visit baysmountain.com or call (423)229-9447.

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Kingsport taxpayers and ratepayers can rest assured their tax dollars are managed wisely. The city once again received a clean opinion for the FY2018 CAFR – Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, the highest opinion a CPA firm can issue. Continuing a long tradition of excellence, this is the 19th year in a row receiving the highest opinion.

The CAFR document is a detailed review of city government (including schools, utilities, and economic development). It covers 37 separate funds and all manner of financial issues from debt to assets.

“Maintaining the public trust is of paramount importance – and the most fundamental metric is how we perform in finance and audit,” said Jeff Fleming, city manager. “This is a statement that our money is properly accounted for and employees are held to the highest standards of financial integrity.”

The auditors found no material weaknesses or significant deficiencies during their review of the city’s financial controls and operations.

The Audit Committee Chair and Vice Mayor Mike McIntire noted that the audit was exceptional. “In my eight years as Chair of the Audit Committee and my extensive experience in the private and non-profit sector, this is the best audit I’ve ever seen, and I am so proud of our Finance Department,” said McIntire.

“Our staff deserves a tremendous amount of praise because they are doing an excellent job of maintaining consistent reporting at the highest level,” said Fleming. “A special thank you to Jim Demming and Lisa Winkle for their diligence.”

S&P reaffirmed the city’s AA bond rating, which was upgraded in 2017, for their financial management assessment of the city from “good” to “strong” due to financial management policies put in place by the BMA. The BMA has adopted a financial management and fund balance policy and continues to make progress on replenishing the city’s “rainy day” fund.

S&P, one of the most respected firms on Wall Street, said of Kingsport’s financial review:

  • Strong economy, with access to a broad and diverse metropolitan statistical area (MSA)
  • Strong management, with good financial policies and practices
  • Strong budgetary performance, with a slight operating surplus in the general fund
  • Very strong budgetary flexibility, with an available fund balance
  • Very strong liquidity, with total government available cash and access to external liquidity
  • Weak debt and contingent liability position, but rapid amortization (66.4% retired in 10 years)
  • Very strong institutional framework score.
To view the CAFR document, please visit kingsporttn.gov and search CAFR or click here.
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From the Tennessee Planning Leadership Council (TPLC), Lynn Tully received the Distinguished Planner Award for her achievements in drafting a comprehensive growth plan of innovative, yet sound principals of planning, sharing of planning expertise through teaching and speaking, and being integrally involved in the continued operation of the accredited city planning program.

Tully has been in the development field for over 20 years with degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology – a Master of City Planning and Bachelor of Science Architecture. She has managed a variety of public sector fields including planning, building, codes enforcement, engineering and economic development.

She has received both AICP and CEcD certifications and is a current member of ICSC, AICP, and IEDC and TEDC.  She has also been active with TAPA and GPA throughout her career. She frequently presents at conferences and recently showcased an innovative housing incentive program with the AARC. Her work in housing garnered an appointment to the Tennessee Housing Development Agency Board from Governor Haslam where she chairs the tax credit committee awarding more than $400M in multi-family bonds for low-moderate income housing units annually.

The TPLC was established by the American Planning Association Tennessee Chapter in 2011 to recognize those members who have illustrated contributions to the Chapter, as well as demonstrated enhancement in planning research and ordinance development, regulation or plan preparation and the overall profession of planning in the State of Tennessee.

Tully is married to David Tully, with 3 sons, Liam, Frederic, and Xavier. She is currently serving as Secretary for the Greater Kingsport YMCA Board, and Scholarship Chair for the Northeast Tennessee Georgia Tech Alumni Club. She is also an Active member of Fall Branch UMC, an avid reader and fly fisherman, and part-time home tinkerer.

For more information, please visit www.kingsporttn.gov.

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The Kingsport Aquatic Center invites you to kick off the New Year in a vibrant way at the Let’s Glow Swimming Party on Saturday, January 5.

All children ages 9 to 15 are invited for a special night where the KAC will dim the lights in its indoor facilities and fill the pools with glow sticks of all shapes and sizes. From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., children can swim in the “glow pools” and play on inflatables while their favorite music plays over the loudspeakers. Children are encouraged to bring their own glow sticks to the party. It’s the perfect way to mark the end of winter break!

Preregistration admission costs $5 per swimmer, and admission at the door is $7. Again, only children ages 9 to 15 will be allowed to swim at this event. Supervision will be provided by KAC staff; parents are welcome to drop kids off. Parents will need to sign a code of conduct/waiver form when they preregister or when paying at the door.

For more information or to pre-register, please visit www.swimkingport.com or call the Aquatic Center at (423)343-9758.