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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.

Bays Final Logo Brown

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.

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On December 13, Bays Mountain Park lost a treasured member of its family. One of the wolf pack’s elder members, Tanasi, had to be given humane rest due to the aggressive progression of myelopathy, a debilitating degenerative disease affecting the spinal cord and nervous system. He was 11 years old.

Tanasi arrived at Bays Mountain Park late May 2007 as a pup from Bear Country U.S.A., located in Rapid City, South Dakota. During his time at the Park, thanks to his sweet-natured personality and friendly spirit, Tanasi captured the hearts of staff, volunteers, and visitors alike very early on as a pup and grew to become a well-respected Alpha Male within the pack. Tanasi’s name is derived from the Cherokee meaning Tennessee.

Since the habitat’s first three grey wolves were introduced to Bays Mountain Park in 1992, wolves have been an integral part of the Park’s educational efforts for schools throughout the region. Thousands of students and patrons attend wolf programs each year, and visitors often attend the Park specifically to see them in a natural woodland setting.

Eight wolves complete the current pack following Tanasi’s passing, including Tanasi’s sibling, Netar. In the wild, wolves live an average of six to eight years. In captivity, since 1992, Bays Mountain Park has had two wolves live to be a very senior 13 years old.

If you have any photos or memories of Tanasi, please share them on Facebook and tag Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium or Instagram and tag @baysmountainpark.

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

Tanasi  the wolf

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Lifeguarding isn’t just for the summer at the Kingsport Aquatic Center’s year-round facility. Join the KAC in learning the ins and outs of water safety this December, which will enable you to apply for its daytime lifeguard openings.

The American Red Cross Lifeguard Training Course provides entry-level lifeguard participants with the knowledge and skills to prevent, recognize, and respond to aquatic emergencies. The course also teaches how to provide care for breathing and cardiac emergencies, injuries, and sudden illness until emergency medical services personnel take over.

This December session is a four-day intensive course, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily December 27 through 30. Upon completion of the course, participants will receive an American Red Cross Certificate for Lifeguarding/First Air/CPR/AED that’s valid for two years.

The course is $200 for non-members and $175 for members, with a $75 registration deposit. Please note that this course begins with a swim test, and failure to pass the test will result in a forfeiture of the $75 deposit, so please be prepared. The last day to register will be the day before the course begins, December 26.

For more information about the swim test and what’s needed to participate in the course, please visit http://bit.ly/KAC_learn and navigate to the American Red Cross Lifeguard Training section. To register, please visit or call the KAC at (423)343-9758.

Any person with a certification, whether earned at the KAC’s December course or not, is welcome to apply for a position as a daytime lifeguard at the KAC. The hours will be 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, and the KAC offers competitive pay and plenty of opportunities for growth. Apply online today to become a part of fun, flexible work environment at the KAC.

To learn more about the Kingsport Aquatic Center or apply for the lifeguard position, please visit swimkingsport.com

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The newest Kingsport park is ready for kids of all ages and abilities to come play! Join us for a special dedication on Thursday, December 13, at 4:00 p.m. with a ribbon cutting, a visit from Santa and free carousel rides.

Carousel Park, located at 350 Clinchfield Street next to the Kingsport Carousel, features unique playground equipment such as a crawl tunnel, tree house structure with slides, bridge and climbing wall, a web crawler and a music area with various instruments, such as congas, chimes and vibraphone.

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

The City of Kingsport’s Assistant City Manager for Operations, Ryan McReynolds, recently received the 2018 Public Works Leader of the Year award by the Tennessee Chapter of the American Public Works Association (TCAPWA).

The Leader of the Year program honors excellence and dedication in public service by recognizing career service achievements of individual public works professionals and officials, from both the public and private sectors. As one of the most prestigious awards presented by the Tennessee chapter of the association, the Leader award is given to honor the public works professional’s career, in which he or she demonstrated excellence in public works, services and infrastructure in his or her community through advancement of public works services and technology.

McReynolds has been with the City of Kingsport for more than 14 years and has over 24 years of public works experience. His Civil Engineering degree, coupled with a Master of Business Administration, provides the citizens of Kingsport confidence that the city is moving services forward while maintaining the lowest cost structure. The departments that McReynolds ultimately oversees include drinking water treatment and distribution, wastewater treatment and collection, stormwater management, streets maintenance, sanitation collection, traffic management, fleet operations, property and building maintenance, transportation planning and the city’s engineering division.

“We are blessed to have such a wonderful team within Public Works,” explains McReynolds.

When pressed to describe the department’s success, he explains that combining Mayor and Aldermen support with the dedication and ownership of the city’s workforce provides the right recipe for success.

“Our board fully understands the expectations of the citizens evidenced by their financial commitment to the city’s infrastructure. Our employees are our neighbors and truly care about the future of Kingsport,” stated McReynolds.

The city has moved forward in many ways under the direction of McReynolds.

  • PaveKingsport: the city’s sustainable paving program that allows for every road to be paved in a 20-25 year cycle
  • Automated Garbage, Recycle & Leaf Collection: the conversion enhanced the service level while lowering the cost structure
  • Automated Water Meter Reading: provides a safer work environment while lowering the cost structure
  • Raw Water Tunnel: construction of the tunnel has provided a protected source of drinking water for the next century
  • Wastewater Treatment Plant Rebuild: ensures that we are protecting our citizens and environment

“Our employees understand that they have the privilege of running the city’s operations on a daily basis,” said McReynolds. “Not everyone has that privilege – not everyone can go home at night knowing that they produced water clean enough to mix with baby formula, that they cleaned the streets and removed the trash for their neighbors, or that they provided a safe passage through city traffic.”

For more information about APWA’s awards program, contact Rhonda Wilhite, Awards & Chapter Relations Associate, at (816) 595-5261 or rwilhite@apwa.net.

Ryan McReynolds at booth

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The Kingsport Aquatic Center is happy to invite you to Santa’s South Pole Swim.

On Saturday, December 8, from 6 to 8 p.m., bring your kids for a holiday pool party at KAC’s indoor facilities. Don’t worry—the water’s warmer than the Antarctic Ocean. In addition to regular pool time fun, guests can join in the reindeer games, paddle board with the elves, and learn how to sled in the water.

All pre-registered kids under 12 will also be able to decorate a stocking to take home, provided by the KAC. Extra stockings will be available on a first-come first-serve basis, so the KAC strongly recommends pre-registering for the event to ensure your child gets to decorate a stocking.

Stocking decoration is reserved for children aged 12 and under, but all are welcome to swim. Pre-registration costs $5 per ticket. All day-of swimmer tickets will cost $5, and all spectator tickets are $2. Again, pre-registration is recommended to guarantee a stocking.

Purchase your tickets for Santa’s South Pole Swim by visiting the Special Events page at swimkingsport.com. For more information, please call the KAC at (423)343-9758.