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City Manager Chris McCartt presented a balanced budget with no tax increase to the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Alderman last month. The BMA completed the second and final reading of that budget last night by unanimously approving the FY-22 budget.

The FY-22 budget saw a return to normalcy compared to this time last year when the BMA approved a drastically reduced General Fund budget in the midst of the early days of the pandemic. The FY-22 budget allows many department budgets to return to pre-pandemic levels, providing a returned focus to capital improvements along with a continued commitment to increase the rainy day fund.

“While preparing the FY-22 budget, over the last couple of months, I found myself reflecting on where we were one year ago,” McCartt said. “Thankfully, we find ourselves in a position where the future is much clearer and promising than a year ago.”

McCartt is required to present a balanced General Fund budget each year to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The budget, made up of many parts like the operating fund, water and sewer fund, and the school system, guides the city’s spending each year.

“The budget isn’t a one-time event, but an ongoing process,” McCartt said. “We’ve been working on the FY-22 budget since November and closely monitoring our primary revenues in hopes of providing the funding we had to cut during the pandemic. Fortunately, we have seen strong growth in both sales tax and property tax revenues, which has helped cover the losses experienced in other funds that were significantly impacted as a result of the pandemic.”

Despite a significantly reduced capital budget for FY-21, city staff is preparing to manage over $35 million in general government capital projects in the FY-22 budget. City projects such as the bicycle pump track at Brickyard Park, renovations to the new John Sevier Middle School, and numerous improvements to the city’s water and sewer system are among some of project that will be funded in FY-22.

Other upcoming projects for this year include the Nature Center balcony rehab at Bays Mountain, Senior Center improvements, numerous improvements to our parks and community centers, and continuing the sustainable paving plan.

“Since establishing the sustainable paving program in 2016 (FY-17), we have worked hard to leverage additional funding at the state level while at the same time looking for ways to increase local dollars,” McCartt said. This year we have nearly $3 million in local general fund money allocated for paving our local roads.”

Partner agencies, such as Downtown Kingsport Association, Symphony of the Mountains, and Keep Kingsport Beautiful, which had funding cut or reduced last year will see funding restored in FY-22 to levels seen in FY-20.

For more information regarding the budget presentations, please go to www.kingsporttn.gov and search ‘budget.’

This event is a collaborative effort of community leaders throughout the Tri-Cities. Our goal is to create an event “where everyone can come together” and experience cultural diversity while being educated on the history of Juneteenth and African culture.

Please like and follow our Facebook page(https://www.facebook.com/TriCitiesJuneteenth) and stay tuned for updates on all the wonderful things we have in store for this year’s event and years to come. We’re kicking off this year in the beautiful city of Kingsport and we hope to see you there!

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Juneteenth Celebration poster

Aaron Cole poster

Mobile Vaccine poster

Juneteenth Wrestling Camp poster

Bike Show poster

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Join the Kingsport Aquatic Center on Thursday, June 17 for a fun afternoon dedicated to safe swimming! The KAC is participating in the World’s Largest Swim Lesson, an event created by the World Waterpark Association to promote the importance of swim safety worldwide.

“Water safety is very important to the KAC,” said Programs Supervisor Madison Gump, “so we’re excited to participate in this global event again this year.”

Swimming is a life-saving skill for children and a vital tool to prevent drowning, the second leading cause of unintended, injury-related death for U.S. children ages 1-14. Research shows risk of drowning can be reduced by 88 percent if children participate in formal swimming lessons between the ages of 1-4. Yet, a survey conducted by the American Red Cross in 2014 found that more than half of Americans (54 percent) either can’t swim or don’t have all of the basic swimming skills.

At 2 p.m. on June 17, the KAC will host a free swim lesson for all ages. Learn important skills that will keep you and your kids safe in and around the water this summer!

Swim lessons save lives, and the KAC offers American Red Cross-certified swim lessons year-round for all ages and abilities. To learn more about swim lessons at the KAC, visit swimkingsport.com or call 423-343-9758.

The World’s Largest Swim Lesson is free with KAC daily admission. Visit wlsl.org for more information about the WWA’s effort to promote swim saf

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Are you a lover of all things Jeep? Join Bays Mountain Park for its first-ever Jeep Fest on June 19, celebrating this iconic all-terrain vehicle that’s perfect for adventuring. This event is hosted by Leadership Kingsport as one of its Community Impact Projects.

“With Bays Mountain celebrating 50 years this year, we wanted to help with the celebration by creating events for everyone to enjoy,“ said Vanessa Bennett, Kingsport Chamber of Commerce Executive Director of Operations & Talent Development and Leadership Kingsport coordinator. “The team—Sheriff Jeff Cassidy, Aiesha Edwards, Terry Hughes and Aimee Light—worked together to create Jeep Fest. We’re excited to bring this iconic sport utility vehicle to Bays Mountain.”

Jeep owners can register their vehicle to showcase at the park and compete in five categories for prizes. Only 50 vehicles spaces are available, so be sure to grab your spot before they run out! The awards categories are:

  • Vintage
    • 1986 and older Jeep, Willys, Jeepster or Military Jeep
  • Stock
    • 1987 to present Jeeps; no modifications, factory jeep wheels are required, tires must be of a stock size available for the Jeep from the factory
  • Modified
    • Unlimited modifications, must be street legal and have a Jeep Body
  • People’s Choice
  • Best In Show

All Jeep enthusiasts are also invited to come check out the vehicles on display and vote on the People’s Choice award. Electric 94.9 will also be broadcasting live from the mountain!

Jeep Fest begins at 10 a.m. and lasts until 4 p.m. Registered Jeeps begin placements at 9 a.m. Please note that this event is limited to the common area, and no vehicles of any kind are permitted on Bays Mountain Park trails.

Judging begins at 3 p.m., and awards will be announced at 4 p.m. The cost to register your vehicle for Jeep Fest is $50. You must pre-register your Jeep online via Eventbrite.com here.

To learn more about Bays Mountain Park, visit baysmountain.com or call 423-229-9447.

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Join Kingsport Public Library and the Friends of the Kingsport Public Library for the next in the Behind the Book series on June 10 at 7:00 p.m. Behind the Book will feature discussions with regional authors and illustrators to find out more about their books. The discussion will be held virtually via Google Meet (link available at www.kingsportlibrary.org).

Larry D. Thacker is the next author in the series. A native of Kentucky who now lives in Johnson City, Thacker has had his poetry published in over 170 publications. He also is the author of Mountain Mysteries: The Mystic Traditions of Appalachia, several full poetry collections, and numerous short stories including his latest short story collection, Working it Off in Labor County: Stories.

“We want to provide a platform to local authors to connect with the public,” said Kate Woodworth, librarian at Kingsport Public Library. “The authors represent a variety of genres so the community can experience a wide range of literary interests.”

Upcoming Behind the Book discussions will feature J. Dianne Dotson. Visit the Library website, www.kingsportpubliclibrary.org for more information or contact the Kingsport Public Library at 423-224-2539.

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American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day is coming up on June 5, so it’s time to get excited about Tennessee’s beautiful trails.
 
“National Trails Day encourages people to discover their local trails, become active concerning trail issues and share their excitement for the outdoors,” said Renee Ensor, parks and recreation program administrator.
 
To celebrate the day, Kingsport’s Parks and Recreation is having a contest to get people out walking on some of Kingsport’s trails. To participate, post a picture of yourself at the Greenbelt, Borden Park or Lynn View track to the Parks and Recreation Facebook page. You will then be entered to win a free shelter rental for up to three hours.
 
To learn more about Kingsport’s parks, please visit www.kingsportparksandrecreation.org/.
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The Kingsport Senior Artisan Center will be hosting an open house on Tuesday, June 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Lynn View Community Center, located at 257 Walker St.

Established by the Kingsport Senior Center in April 2010, the Kingsport Senior Artisan Center provides a Consignment Gallery for regional artists and craftspeople ages 50 and older to market and sell their creative artwork.

Located in the Lynn View Senior Center Branch Site, the Artisan Center offers patrons a variety of juried art works including pottery, painting, basketry, wood crafts, knitting, crocheting, photography, jewelry and more.

“The Artisan Center not only displays your art but has also gotten me into two craft fairs so far,” said John Sinnette, senior center member. “Also, because we are members, we get reduced fair fees. I highly recommend you join.”

The Senior Center invites all Kingsport residents to come meet the artisans and see the newly renovated Artisan Center. Refreshments will be available, and music will be provided by The Ukulele Strings.

For more information about Kingsport Senior Center, please visit seniors.kingsporttn.gov/.

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Saturdays with the Chef makes its return to the Kingsport Farmers Market on June 5. This Discover how to take advantage of those peak season produce items with creative tips and new recipes from local chefs!

“We’re excited to be able to bring back some of our programming this season,” said Market Manager Kristie Leonard. “The Kingsport Farmers Market is a great place to shop, but we also strive to be a place where people can learn something new too.”

Saturdays with the Chef is a free cooking demo series showcasing local chefs and their recipes using produce available at the Kingsport Farmers Market. Copies of each chef’s recipe will be available at the demo and online, and free samples are also available at each demo.

The series takes place every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. in June and July at the Kingsport Farmers Market. There will be no event on July 3 due to the holiday weekend.

Come sample cooking from featured chefs from Main Street Pizza and other local businesses, then buy the ingredients to make it at home while you’re at the market. Purchasing from farmers market not only boosts the local economy, but also is a great way to provide healthy and fresh food for you and your family. This is also a great time to support local chefs and restaurants as they recover from the pandemic.

The series is sponsored by Food City, Visit Kingsport and the City of Kingsport.

For more information on the Kingsport Farmers Market, please visit kingsportfarmersmarket.org.

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Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium announced at its 50th Anniversary public presentation today that the park will construct a new legacy trail in honor of its golden anniversary.

This trail will be the first new path through the park in nearly a decade and will take hikers, bikers and runners along a scenic ridge. The completed trail, which is expected to be three to four miles when complete, will be a contour trail along the south slope of the north ridge of Bays Mountain.

“We’re excited about what this new trail brings to the park,” Park Manager Rob Cole said. “It may end up as one of our most popular trails.”

The new trail will help alleviate traffic from current trails, as well as add more variety and work towards creating a complete look within the park using single track trails. It will be easy to intermediate, and will provide a new route to the iconic Fire Tower via Azalea Trail. It will also become the longest trail in the park. Please see below for an approximate map of the proposed route.

This 50th Anniversary project was made possible thanks to donations provided by Woody Reeves and Visit Kingsport. The trail concept and proposed design is a product of the 50th Anniversary Community Service Subcommittee’s efforts, led by Chair Tony Williams. The Community Service Subcommittee is part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee.

The estimated completion date for the legacy trail is fall of this year.

To learn more about Bays Mountain Park, visit baysmountain.com or call 423-229-9447.

Bays Mountain Park 50th Anniversary Legacy Trail map

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Search for the natural secrets of Bays Mountain Park with the Bays Mountain Nature Quest. This fun, family-friendly activity for all ages launches today as part of BMP’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.

Nature Quest is a free activity booklet that helps kids and their families explore the park through 30 different scavenger hunt-style challenges, from finding a beaver lodge to figuring out what fills the reservoir. Activities range from easy to hard, and are marked in the booklet with paw print difficulty levels.

Completing 10 items on the Nature Quest earns a prize! You can submit your booklet at the Nature Center gift shop to redeem your prize.

For more information and hints on the quest items, visit baysmountain.com/nature-quest on your phone browser and keep it loaded while you hike around. Please note that internet may not be available in all areas of the park. Remember, Bays Mountain Park is a nature preserve: leave no trace, take only photographs and leave only footprints.

This project was put together by the Education Subcommittee of Bays Mountain’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee. You can find the booklet in the Nature Center, or visit baysmountain.com/nature-quest to access a PDF version to print at home.