kats logo

In celebrating their ‘love of transit,’ Kingsport Area Transit Service (KATS) is offering free rides for the entire month of February. The promotion includes free rides all month long on fixed route transit buses, as well as a free ticket book given to Dial-a-Ride 65/ADA/Job Assist passengers who ride in the month of February (one 24-count ticket book per registered rider).

In a continued effort to highlight the many benefits of public transportation, KATS continues to offer various promotional events throughout the year in order to encourage people to try public transit. Free rides in February is the perfect opportunity to try the KATS public transportation system at no cost to you. Make sure you take advantage of these deals and tell your friends and family.

The KATS transit center is located at 900 East Main Street. To learn more about KATS and all the services offered, please visit www.kingsporttransit.org.

Bays Final Logo Brown

All outdoor enthusiasts, from amateur to old hat, need to brush up on their survival skills now and then. This February, the Survival Series is back at Bays Mountain Park to give you a crash course on surviving and thriving in the wilderness.

This series is designed to teach you what you need to know to take care of yourself and others while spending time outdoors, whether here at Bays Mountain Park or any outdoor destination you find yourself exploring. We’ll help you feel safe and prepared every time you step outside.

At 1 p.m. every Saturday in February, gather with park staff to learn about a different outdoor survival topic each session.

  • 1 – Trail Etiquette: Learn some unwritten rules to help govern activity and make the experience more pleasant for all those participating.
  • 8 – Lost in the Woods: Learn a variety of ways to finding your way back to civilization.
  • 15 – Winter Food Survival: Learn what to eat from the wilderness during winter.
  • 22 – Hiking with a Dog: Find out what gear you’ll need when hiking with your four legged friend.
  • 29 – Emergency Shelters: Learn about what materials to use when constructing an emergency shelter.

Park guests can purchase tickets for the Survival Series the day of the event at the Nature Center gift shop for $3 per person. Tickets for Park Association members are free (must show pass at gift shop), and all participants should check in at the gift shop. Attend all the sessions to receive a certificate!

All programs except “Emergency Shelters” will be held in the Discovery Theater in the Nature Center. “Emergency Shelters” will begin at the Farmstead Museum, and all guests should dress for the weather and plan on hiking through the woods. Guests who attend all five sessions will receive a certificate of participation.

For more information on Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium, please visit baysmountain.com or call (423)229-9447.

kats logo

Along with opening the doors to a brand new transit facility last June, KATS also acquired a fresh new look. The significance of the new look, including a new KATS logo, is to complement the new transit facility as well as five new vans and four new buses, while maintaining the reputation of a safe, reliable and affordable transportation service for the City of Kingsport residents.

“The opening of the new transit facility was both significant and exciting due to the planning and prospect of future growth and expansion for transportation opportunities throughout the city,” said Chris Campbell, KATS transit director.

A great deal of time and effort on the parts of many individuals went into selecting this new identifying logo. KATS vehicles are our biggest ‘advertising space’ and the new logo needed to be immediately recognizable, yet visually pleasing, to people throughout the community. The color family of greens and whites remained while adding bright blues to the mix. The simplicity of the cat exudes a message of constant motion and within the outline, the illusions of the beautiful mountains and rivers that define this region are seen.

Looking toward the future, KATS hopes to use the remainder of the land that the new facility sits on to build a transit garage that will house all of the current and new vehicles.

“It is important to protect the investment and longevity of these vehicles,” said Campbell. “Having the vehicles onsite is a key component to ensuring safety, keeping the vehicles in a state of good repair, and consistent productivity.”

To learn more about KATS and all the services offered, please visit www.kingsporttransit.org.

Kingsport has long been known as a kind and compassionate community. Many community organizations care for the homeless in our community with feeding programs, shelters and a variety of other ministries. Recently, the situation has become more complex as issues related to drug addiction and mental health impact many who find themselves homeless. In addition, navigating the complexity of shelter regulations and waiting lists for public housing have left more people on the streets.

With support of many community donors, the United Way of Greater Kingsport (UWGK) has long supported homeless-serving organizations, from nationally-recognized Salvation Army and Family Promise (formerly Interfaith Hospitality Network) to Frontier Health’s domestic violence shelter, Safe House, to more recently adding Hope Haven, a local homeless shelter for both men and women, as a member agency. These four agencies have a bed-capacity to serve up to 85 adults and children experiencing homelessness on any given night, with a nightly combined average of 55 in 2018. In addition to these shelter programs, several organizations provide valuable food assistance services, including the Friendship Diner, Kitchen of Hope, Hunger First, Shades of Grace, and nearly 30 other organizations (feedkingsport.org).

Over the past several years, the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in our community has appeared to grow, despite the Point-In-Time Count (PIT) data remaining relatively consistent. The annual PIT Count is conducted each January by the Appalachian Regional Coalition on Homelessness (ARCH) through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 2019, this data showed approximately 150 people in our community experiencing homelessness, further specified as 50 sheltered, 46 unsheltered and 38 transitionally sheltered. During the summer of 2019, Kingsport City officials received an increasing number of safety-related complaints from downtown businesses and neighborhood citizens. After hearing and investigating these reports, Kingsport City acted with a proactive approach: In the fall, Kingsport City Manager Chris McCartt, and Kingsport Police Chief David Quillin met with the United Way of Greater Kingsport board members to envision a long-term strategy for addressing homelessness in Kingsport. Initial steps forward included:

  1. Survey the existing agencies that provide services.
  2. Form a Homeless Coalition composed of a cross-sector of community members, community leaders and non-profit organization leaders to identify gaps.
  3. Develop a comprehensive action plan.

Both UWGK and the City of Kingsport share a common vision of a safe and compassionate community that offers a well-resourced path to self-sufficiency for individuals experiencing homelessness. To further this vision, the City of Kingsport, in partnership with the United Way of Greater Kingsport, created the Homeless Services Liaison position to oversee the strategic work of “coordinated entry” improvement. In addition, the City has hired a social worker to work full-time with the Kingsport Police Department who will be working with the homeless population to help get them better access to community resources designed to help them. This position would also engage with community partners in the coordination of these services. Both positions were posted in November and subsequently filled.

Jonathan Anderson is the newly appointed UWGK Homeless Services Liaison. With 13 years of experience in the faith-based and nonprofit communities, Anderson is the founder of Engage Tri-Cities and has worked with local organizations in both Kingsport and North Carolina.

The Kingsport Police Homeless Outreach Worker is now Erin Gray. A lifelong Tri-Cities native, Gray is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) with over 10 years of experience through the Department of Children’s Services and Camelot.

Individuals interested in supporting these efforts can volunteer for the upcoming Point-in-Time Count (PIT) taking place on January 22-23rd. For information on how to participate visit www.volunteer-united.org.

Bays Final Logo Brown

Want to help the birds in your backyard? Join Bays Mountain Park for a bird box workshop this January and February.

Spring will arrive in our area before we know it, and with the warmer weather, nature comes alive again. As the season turns, many birds will migrate through East Tennessee—and some will even call it home.

These birds will need somewhere to live, though. Most birds have specific nesting requirements that need to be met, and many experience a shortage of ideal nesting conditions. That’s where you come in! You can support nesting birds in our area by crafting a bird box where they can raise a family in your own backyard.

Bays Mountain Park will have two bird box workshops focusing on two species of local birds. On January 12, you can build a home for the Eastern Bluebird. February 16’s bird boxes are suited for Wrens. Each workshop begins at 3 p.m. and lasts about an hour.

The workshops are $25 per box, and pre-registration is required. Please visit baysmountain.com for registration links. For more information, call 423-229-9447.

The 20th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Parade

KINGSPORT – The 20th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Parade will be held on Monday, January 20, 2020 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.  Parade participates will need to assemble at 11:15 a.m. at the intersection of E. Sevier & Center Street (Formerly Rikki Rhoton Allstate Insurance Co.’s Parking Lot).

The parade route will follow Center Street and end on Shelby Street (City Parking Lot between Kingsport City Hall & The Justice Center). The theme is “ANSWER TO RACISM IS THE LOVE OF CHRIST.”  If you would like to enter a car, float, church/business van, bus, truck, other exhibits or take a 20 minute walk during lunch in the parade, please contact Elder Gwen Collins (TVFAR) at (423) 753-2345 or General Overseer Ronnie Collins (JGII) at (423) 956-0675 or email: gacssccc@aim.com or rcollins.j316@gmail.com

If you would like to contribute to some service projects from January 20 – March 31, 2020 they are as follows:

  • Butterball Turkey, Can Goods, Mac & Cheese, & Rolls $10/family (My Brother’s Keeper & Food City)
  • Tools-For-School $7/child (Joshua Generation & Office Depot)
  • Diapers & Wipes $10/baby (Putting Babies First & Upper East TN Human Dev. Agency)

Make your tax deductible contribution payable to: JGII, P.O. Box 3390, Kingsport, TN 37664-3390.

Parade sponsors include Food City, City of Kingsport, Office Depot, Joshua Generation (JGII), My Brother’s Keeper, Putting Babies First, Tennessee & Virginia Fellowship Against Racism, New Vision, H.O.P.E., & Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency. Please take time to help bring about positive change in the community in which we live and help us Change a Generation

“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” 3 John 2

Love, Peace, Joy, Health, Prosperity, Wealth, & The FAVOR Of GOD Overtake YOU.

MLK DAY 2020 PARADE flyer




kingsport aquatic center logo

Kids can kick off the New Year at the Let’s Glow Swimming Party at the Kingsport Aquatic Center!

On Saturday, January 4, children ages 9 to 14 are invited for a special night where the KAC will dim the lights in our 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 and the beginning of the New Year!

This is a kids-only event for ages 9 to 14. Supervision will be provided by the KAC staff, and parents are welcome to drop kids off or relax in the lobby. Preregistration admission is $7 per swimmer, and admission at the door is $10.

Check-in begins at 6 p.m. Parents will need to fill out a waiver and are strongly encouraged to do so prior to the event to make entry faster. Tickets are available on the Special Events page at swimkingsport.com.

For more information, please call 423-343-9758.

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Last year, the Kingsport Aquatic Center’s 100 Mile Swim Club set off on the Ultimate “Swim” Trip, its biggest challenge to date. The journey continues in 2020, and the KAC wants your help to make it to the finish line!

The original route is a 13,580 mile loop that stretches from Acadia National Park in Maine to the San Andreas Fault in California and every major U.S. landmark in between. Participants worked together to “travel” across the country and hit as many of the 50 landmarks as possible before the end of 2019. The results are in: the 100 Mile Swim Club covered more than 6,500 miles and visited 20 landmarks!

“We don’t quit,” said KAC assistant director Chassy Smiley, “so we decided to continue the challenge into 2020. The club has really enjoyed this theme and learning about each landmark along the way, so we thought, why stop?”

There’s another 7,000 miles and 30 landmarks to swim to this year. Participants will swim at their own pace throughout 2020, and the KAC staff will keep track of individuals’ miles and the club’s collective progress. A map in the KAC lobby displays the entire route as well as fun facts about what landmark the club has made it to most recently.

If this challenge 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 2020 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/.

Bays Final Logo Brown

Start the New Year off on the right foot with Bays Mountain Park’s annual First Day Hike!

Join Bays Mountain Park staff on a moderate guided hike around our frost-covered lake. Following along the Lakeside Trail, hikers will complete an energizing 2.75 mile route on a crisp, quiet New Year’s morning. Please dress appropriately for the weather and bring a water bottle.

“This hike is a perfect way to get energized for the rest of the year,” said Senior Naturalist Megan Krager. “It’ll feel great to already start checking off your resolutions on day one.”

While the First Day Hike is free to attend, you must preregister. Bays Mountain Park will be closed to the public on January 1, so only those registered for the hike will be allowed in. The hike is limited to 50 participants. Please register by December 29.

The First Day Hike begins at 10 a.m. in the parking lot outside the Nature Center. Expect to hike until noon.

Bays Mountain’s First Day Hike is part of a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to encourage people to get outdoors. On New Year’s Day, hikers in all 50 states will hit the trails of their local parks. More than 55,000 people of all ages participated last year, hiking a collective 133,000 miles—more than 50 times the length of the continental U.S.

To register or for more information, please call (423)229-9447. To learn more about Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium, visit baysmountain.com.

kingsport aquatic center logo

Get ready to brave the icy waters for a great cause! It’s time to start picking a charity or organization that you’re passionate about and encouraging your friends and family to support you in the Kingsport Aquatic Center’s 3rd Annual Polar Plunge.

On New Year’s Day, jump into the KAC’s frigid outdoor pools—for charity, of course. The goal of this year’s Polar Plunge is to raise $5,000 collectively for various charities. There is no charge to participate in this event, but the KAC does encourage everyone to raise at least $50.

To join, please create a profile on the KAC’s GoFundMe Charity page at http://bit.ly/KAC_plunge and make a donation to the charity or charities you want to take the plunge for. Check in for the Polar Plunge is in the KAC lobby at 12:45 p.m. on January 1, 2020.

Here are some basic rules and regulations:
– Anyone under the age of 18 must have parent or guardian’s permission
– No pushing other participants into the water—all participants must enter the water by their own choice (it is not required to submerge your entire body)
– No dry suits or wetsuits
– No donations are taken on site by the KAC staff
– No “endurance” contests will be permitted—participants must jump in and get out
– However, yelling is optional

For the more competitive participants, challenge your friends and family to a contest to see who can raise the most money! This is a great—and crazy—way to have fun while donating toward a cause that is close to your heart. What better way to kick off the New Year?

If you’re participating, encourage those who are not wild enough to take the plunge to come out to support you and hold your warm, fluffy towel or robe for when you get out. Come join in the fun and start raising those donations! Spectators are welcome.

For more information on the Kingsport Aquatic Center, please visit swimkingsport.com or call 423-343-9758.