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Kids to Parks Day—that’s every day, right? Of course, but this year Bays Mountain Park is celebrating the official Kids to Parks Day on May 18.

Kids to Parks Day, launched in 2011, is a nationwide celebration of the great outdoors. It’s designed to connect kids and families with their local, state and national parks public lands. By discovering and exploring public lands, kids across the country can learn about stewardship and enjoy outdoor recreation. Teaching our kids to appreciate and enjoy public lands is a great way to foster future outdoor enthusiasts and create the next generation of park stewards and caretakers of these important places.

Visit Bays Mountain Park on May 18, 2019 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for some great, kid-friendly activities. There will be interactive tables throughout the animal habitats marked with bright balloons from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. These tables will focus on many different topics: Bird Calls, Snakes, Frogs and Turtles, Beekeeping Life and more.

The park will also provide “Nature Neighbors – Spiders,” a program catered to children, in the Discovery Theater at 1 p.m. This program is $3 per person for non-members, and tickets will be available at the Nature Center shop on Kids to Parks Day.

Standard entrance fees and other park program fees apply. For more information on Bays Mountain Park, please visit baysmountain.com or call 423-229-9447.

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Calling all artists, artisans, creatives, and craftspeople of all trades! Applications are being taken for those wishing to exhibit in this 3-day event, which is by invitation only. All applications are reviewed by a selection committee, taking various factors into consideration in order to create a high quality, attractive show having a good mix of artistic and crafting creations.  Application deadline is July 1, 2019.  There is no cost to apply.

The Christmas Connection, an event sponsored by the City of Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts, is celebrating 40 years of artistic creations in 2019! A very well established cultural event in Kingsport, the event hosts the region’s best craftspeople, artisans, artists, and creatives.  People from our region and beyond look forward to The Christmas Connection year after year.

This year’s event will take place the first weekend in November, Friday through Sunday, at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium.

DATES/HOURS:

FREE Admission to the public!

Fri. Nov. 1:  12Noon – 7PM

Sat. Nov. 2:  10AM – 5PM

Sun. Nov. 3:  12Noon – 4PM

Applications deadline is July 1, 2019.

To access the vendor application from the city website, and for more information visit www.EngageKingsport.com.

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We see the Sun and the stars every day, but how much do you actually know about them? On May 11, visit Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium at its celebration of Astronomy Day to learn about the celestial objects our planet calls neighbors.

The Bays Mountain Astronomy Club hosts a yearly celebration of the International Day of Astronomy each year at the park. This free, fun-filled day is a great Saturday activity for the whole family where you’ll learn all about the science and hobby of astronomy.

The club will provide fascinating displays and hands-on activities that educate about astronomy, telescopes, careers and education in astronomy, the Sun and so much more. Over the course of the day, the club will also host Solar and Nighttime Viewings where you’ll have the chance to see the Sun, the stars, the Moon and more up close through powerful telescopes.

Astronomy Day Schedule

1-4:30 p.m.: Displays and information (walkway in front of Nature Center, or inside
Nature Center if raining)

3-3:30 p.m.: Solar Viewing at the dam
8:30-9:30 p.m.: Nighttime Viewing at the Observatory

All non-planetarium astronomy activities are free with park admission on Astronomy Day. Tickets to the planetarium shows currently playing, “First & Farthest” and “Appalachian Skies – Spring,” are $5 for non-members and free for members and children under six.

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Summertime is pool time, and the Kingsport Aquatic Center is here to make sure you or your children are ready to dive in and swim. Summer swim lessons begin this June.

There are four sessions of summer lessons in June and July. All group swim lessons at the Kingsport Aquatic Center are American Red Cross certified. Swim lessons are offered in group, private, and semi-private settings to best suit your child’s needs or your schedule. Summer sessions are eight classes long, Monday through Thursday for two weeks. If you’re unsure of your child’s swim skills, a swim test can help the KAC determine the correct class level for them.

If you are an Aquatic Center or YMCA member, lessons are $50 for your first child and $45 per additional child in your household. If you’re a nonmember lessons are $60 for your first child and $55 per additional child. Scholarships are available for qualifying applicants.

Registration begins in person and online at 8 a.m. on the dates listed below, and will close at 5 p.m. on the final day. To make online registration easier, please create an account before the day of registration. If an account is created after 5 p.m. on Friday and before 8 a.m. on Monday, you will not receive a password until Monday at 8 a.m. Google Chrome and Firefox are compatible web browsers. YMCA members who plan to register online need to show their YMCA card to the KAC front desk staff before registration in order to update the system to reflect your YMCA membership.

Summer Schedule for Group Lessons

  • Session 1
    • Registration: 5/11-5/31
    • Class: 6/3-6/13
  • Session 2
    • Registration: 6/15-6/16
    • Class: 6/17-6/27
  • Session 3
    • Registration: 6/29-7/5
    • Class:7/8-7/18
  • Session 4
    • Registration: 7/20-7/21
    • Class: 7/21-8/1

For detailed class descriptions and times, information on private lessons, or to set up an account to register for lessons, please visit swimkingsport.com or call the Aquatic Center at (423)343-9758.

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Do you know how to stay safe around the water? What about how to keep your kids safe, or what to do in the event of an aquatic emergency?

May is National Water Safety Month, and the Kingsport Aquatic Center is here to teach you the tips and tricks you need to know to stay safe not just at its pools, but around any body of water you and your family visit.

“It’s so important to be familiar with basic water-safety skills, especially during summer months when people are more often in the water,” said Kari Matheney, director of the Kingsport Aquatic Center. “Learning to swim and the exposure to the water safety skills and messages that swimming lessons offer provide a lifelong foundation for drowning prevention.”

Join the KAC for International Water Safety Day on May 15, where staff will be on hand with free information and demonstrations on this vitally important topic. Visit from 4 to 7:20 p.m. for mini swim lessons, a movie on water safety and more!

International Water Safety Day schedule

  • 4-4:45 p.m. – Longfellow’s W.H.A.L.E. Tales – Legion Room
    • Movie on water safety
  • 5-5:20 p.m. – Backboarding Demo – Outdoor Leisure Pool
    • Lifeguard demo on spinal/head injuries
  • 5:30-5:50 p.m. – Mini Swim Lesson – Outdoor Leisure Pool
    • Free lesson & placement tests
  • 6-6:45 p.m. – Longfellow’s W.H.A.L.E Tales – Legion Room
    • Movie on water safety
  • 7-7:20 p.m. – Mini Swim Lesson – Indoor Warm Pool
    • Free lesson & placement tests

All year round, the Kingsport Aquatic Center is dedicated to water safety. This month, visit the KAC’s social media pages to learn some important tips about how to stay safe. Saving lives is easy if you practice water safety. This Friday, May 10 at 2 p.m. at the KAC, Vice Mayor Mike McIntire will officially declare May as Water Safety Month in Kingsport.

To learn more about the Kingsport Aquatic Center, please call 423-343-9758 or visit swimkingsport.com.

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Summer is almost here, and with it comes long afternoons of hot sun. The Kingsport Aquatic Center will be your perfect place to cool off and have some fun when the Outdoor Water Park opens on May 13 at 10:30 a.m.

The Outdoor Water Park is no neighborhood pool. A day pass or water park season pass gives you access to the 900-foot Eastman Credit Union lazy river, two waterslides, a climbing structure with water cannons and the lily pad crossing as well as all the indoor pools. Rent an outdoor cabana for the perfect shady spot for your family to relax between all that aquatic adventure.

“The Kingsport Aquatic Center is the ideal place to relax and have some splashing fun without having to fight traffic,” said Aquatic Director Kari Matheney. “We have something to do for every age in a family-friendly environment.”

The Kingsport Aquatic Center’s summer season also comes packed with programs and events. Swim lessons, lifeguard training, swim clinics and the Junior Viperfish Swim Team are great ways for swimmers of all abilities to learn and grow their water skills. When FunFest rolls around, the KAC will host a pool party, a cardboard boat race and more.

This May is Water Safety Month, and the KAC will celebrate and educate all month long, with a day full of learning on International Water Safety Day on May 15. The KAC will host the MATE International ROV Competition on June 20-22. The summer rounds out with Back-to-School Movie Night on August 3.

Don’t forget that the KAC offers more than just a pool to swim in—there’s water aerobics classes all summer long, too. The ever-popular lazy river classes and poolside yoga will start back in June as part of a full slate of water aerobics.

The Kingsport Aquatic Center would also like to take this moment to remind everyone to be mindful of safety this summer. As always, please wear shoes in the parking lot and do not let children roam the lot unaccompanied. The KAC is taking every step possible to ensure your safety during the construction of a new pool this summer, but we encourage you to practice good safety habits as well.

“With a lot of activities occurring at the facility this summer, we encourage our guests to be aware of their surroundings and be vigilant both inside and outside the waterpark areas,” said Matheney. “We have a new road at our entrance and additional vehicular traffic in the lot, so watching out for small children, wearing appropriate footwear upon entering and leaving the facility, and observing any area closures due to construction will assist us in making your visit as pleasurable as possible during our expansion process.”

Admission at the KAC is based on industry standards. Upon arrival, children will be required to take off their shoes and be measured. If the child is 48” or taller, their admission to the park is $10. If the child is less than 48”, their admission cost is $8. Seniors are $8 and children two and under are free with a paying adult. Remember, visit after 4 p.m. and receive half-price admission!

Water Park Season Passes that grant you access to all the KAC’s pools from May through September are also available, as well as monthly and annual memberships. Visit swimkingsport.com for pricing and information.

Outdoor Water Park hours beginning May 13:
            Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
            Wednesday and Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
            Sunday: noon to 6 p.m.

On Memorial and Labor Days, the entire KAC will be open 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. On July 4, the entire facility will be open 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Beginning August 5, the Outdoor Water Park will be open 4 to 8 p.m. during the week, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

To learn more about the Kingsport Aquatic Center or purchase your Water Park Season Pass, please visit swimkingsport.com.

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The effort to name our region continues to move forward, and the next step is to ask our citizens. It is important we hear from those who live and work in our region. They have relevant stories to add and insight to offer, which will assist North Star, the consulting firm, in developing a name recommendation that works for the region. While one opinion is simply that – an opinion – a collection of opinions can be powerful.

Please take a moment to complete the survey here. It will take about 15 minutes, and only one completed survey is allowed per IP address. The link will be available until Wednesday, May 22.

For more information on the regional naming initiative, please visit www.nameourregion.com.

Previously released on April 26: An Effort to Unite Our Region

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In an effort to encourage students to learn about and develop an interest in agriculture and where their food comes from, the Kingsport Farmers Market in partnership with Kingsport City Schools, is hosting Agriculture Literacy Week May 6th – 11th.

Throughout the week, in celebration of Agriculture Literacy Week, volunteers from the City of Kingsport, Kingsport City Schools, Kingsport Public Library and Keep Kingsport Beautiful will read a book with an agriculture theme to second and third graders at Kingsport City Elementary Schools. After the reading, the book, Right This Very Minute, will be donated to each school’s library for the students to check-out and enjoy.

The Kingsport Public Library is also joining in on the celebration with their story time series. Their Preschool Storytime on May 7th and Time for Two’s Storytime on May 9th, will be centered on the agriculture theme. Both story time sessions will be from 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. For more information about these offerings, please visit http://www.kingsportlibrary.org/.  

Other activities will include Kids at the Market day on Wednesday, May 8. Here the students will engage in activities at various booths provided by:  Kingsport City Schools, Dobyns-Bennett Agriculture class, Dobyns-Bennett Culinary Arts class, Sullivan County Extension, Keep Kingsport Beautiful and Kingsport Farmers Market. 

For more information on the Kingsport Farmers Market, or to sign up for our monthly newsletter, please visit kingsportfarmersmarket.org.

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There are few things more valuable to a fresh college graduate than hands-on work experience. Recently, the City of Kingsport’s Information Technology Department partnered with Northeast State Community College to give students just that.

“You’re always going to get that question at job interviews, ‘What kind of experience do you have?’” said Tom Huskisson of the city’s IT Department. “This partnership is a great way for students to get that experience.”

At Northeast, students in the Computer and Information Sciences program have to complete a capstone course and project to earn their associate’s degree. Huskisson, who taught at Northeast from 2008 to 2017 and continues teaching as an adjunct professor while working for the city, always wanted to give students an opportunity to work on projects that were more than theoretical.

So he decided to bring the students to work with him.

Huskisson coordinated with Dr. Donna Farrell at Northeast to bring 33 of her capstone CIS students to work with Kingsport’s IT Department. From February to April, the students assisted on all kinds of projects from extracting data from police databanks to manning the IT help desk. Huskisson wanted to give the students a cross-curriculum experience, not just in their particular concentration such as networking or cyber defense. In a small department like Kingsport’s—which has six people—you wear a lot of hats.

“We’ve done work like this in lab settings,” student Tony Feathers said, “but when you go and do it hands-on, that’s very different. I would always say, ‘Man, I hope we get to do some cool stuff today.’”

Huskisson said that the students were a great help to the department, allowing them to complete tasks they might not normally be able to with their small team. It’s also important, Huskisson said, for students to get a chance to learn “soft skills.” It’s one thing to know how to fix a problem with fiber cables; it’s another skillset entirely to be able to communicate with your team and ask questions.

“One of the biggest things I’ve learned from this project,” student Steven Jones said, “is that these people that are employed are learning every single day. They admit when they don’t know everything, and that was the experience that affected me the most.”

Huskisson hopes to continue this partnership—and grow it even more. The IT Department is in early stages of developing a networking apprenticeship position in partnership with Northeast, which would be the first apprenticeship of its kind in the state of Tennessee.

Farrell’s goal with her capstone students, in this and every project, is to make her students well-rounded, competitive job applicants. She and Huskisson said their goal is to get other local organizations and companies to facilitate similar collaborations with Northeast to give students and businesses even more opportunities to grow and benefit from one another. “We have great students at Northeast,” Farrell said. “We have intelligent students with experience who can do this work.”

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Load up the mountain bikes and head to Bays Mountain Park this weekend for two back-to-back biking days.

On May 4 and 5, Bays Mountain Park and SORBA Tri-Cities bring you two exciting events perfect for bikers of any skill level looking to get out and have some fun. Whether you’re familiar with Bays Mountain’s 32 miles of biking trails or hitting them for the first time, it’s sure to be a great time.

Bike @ Bays – Saturday, May 4                    
This annual mountain biking festival begins at 10 a.m. and lasts till 3 p.m. Join SORBA for all kinds of fun, educational mountain biking activities including demos and group rides. This event also commemorates National Women’s Mountain Bike Day. Bays Mountain Brewing Company will be on site selling beverages, and Texas Roadhouse and a food truck will be on hand for your hunger needs. Free admission to event participants. For more information, visit sorba-tricities.org.

Aiyana XC Mountain Bike Race – Sunday, May 5
Sponsored by Reedy Creek Bicycles, All Trails Cycling and Achieving Balance, Aiyana XC is a cross-country mountain bike race held at Bays Mountain Park. The course is six miles—five of fast, flowy single track and one mile of gravel road. Staggered start times offer riders of all ages and skill levels a chance to race, whether you’re trying for a medal or just for fun. Please register online by visiting usacycling.org, or register on-site up to 15 minutes prior to the start of each race. Registration costs vary for each race. For more information, please click here.

To learn more about mountain biking at Bays Mountain Park or for a full schedule of race times, please visit baysmountain.com.