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The City of Kingsport has been recognized by Cartegraph with a High-Performance Government Operations award for the impeccable work of Wastewater Collections.

Kingsport’s Wastewater Collections worked very hard in 2019 to best serve citizens. Maintaining compliance and reducing environmental risk is critical when it comes to water and wastewater operations. Kingsport was able to streamline processes with sanitary sewer overflow procedures and documentation. As a result, field crews are spending half the time documenting responses, costs per task have been reduced by 30% and office staff compile reports two days sooner. For 2019 alone, this equated to efficiency gains and an incredible $15,000 in savings to taxpayers. Kingsport is very proud to have such an efficient and effective process improvement in Wastewater Collections.

“The changes were a team-based effort, with staff actively participating in their role to make this a positive change for each other and the community we serve,” said Kristen Steach, public works asset manager.

Cartegraph is a leader in operations management software and services and has only granted 12 organizations the High-Performance Government award this year. This prestigious honor recognizes government agencies, higher education institutions, utilities and businesses that leverage modern operations management technology to solve problems, work smarter and improve their communities.

The organizations that were recognized by Cartegraph rose to the top based on their accomplishments in several core areas, including infrastructure management and improvement, operational efficiency, citizen engagement and data-driven decision-making. The winners were honored at a CarteCon Online virtual awards ceremony.

This is the fourth time Kingsport has been honored with the High-Performance Government award—a great accomplishment unmatched by other communities. This goes to show that our Public Works team is striving every day to make Kingsport a great place to live.

For more information about Public Works, please click here.

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Please note: This article is Part One of a Development Article series, highlighting new changes in the development process in Kingsport.

The City of Kingsport is seeing a dramatic influx of people who want to call Kingsport home, and that has caused a spike in residential development to meet the demand.

Over the past six years, Kingsport has seen a rapid increase in the construction of new apartment units. To date, the occupancy rate of those units is either completely full or above 90%, and the demand for single-family housing also has greatly escalated. To meet that demand, the city has taken a close look at all things related to development.

According to the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors, Tri-Cities home sales were up 13% from last year. Market trends point to a regional home price sweet spot between $200,000-$399,999. This data, paired with the increase in home sales and a demand for a certain price point, only validated the claim that Kingsport needed new housing at a recognized high demand price point.

During a city strategic planning session in February, Alderman James Phillips expressed a desire for a housing summit. Over the course of a few months, both local and regional realtors, bankers, builders, design professionals and developers met with city officials.

“We sat down and took a hard look at our processes and our regulations to make sure that we were on par with our neighboring communities” said Jessica Harmon, Assistant to the City Manager. “During these various meetings, discussions centered on what changes needed to be made to the current development processes and regulations that would assist with the need for new housing stock while maintaining the quality of new subdivisions.”

The housing development feedback gathered from stakeholders was incredibly valuable and has helped to ensure that changes will benefit everyone involved. The Planning Department used this feedback to compare the city’s practices with those of surrounding communities.

This evaluation resulted in several changes, some of which include:

  • Implementing a clearly defined, efficient development process.
  • Making the city’s most popular zoning district more flexible regarding what can be built after comparing the district to other nearby cities.
  • Reviewing subdivision regulations to ensure that they are user friendly and on par with other surrounding jurisdictions.

An important change within the Planning Department included giving staff the authority to approve all subdivision proposals (minor and major, preliminary and final) instead of sending to the Planning Commission. This change allows rapid approvals for straightforward subdivision plans, which can mean a significantly shorter time for a developer to have a project up and running. Knoxville is the closest jurisdiction to Kingsport that handles subdivision approvals this way.

“Expectations for builders, developers and design professionals will be clear on the front end of the process,” Harmon said. “To help advance the process even further, the city development team is also meeting once a week to get through projects and answer questions.”

New software for the city’s Building Department also will help streamline the development process. This new software is a permit/inspection/code enforcement/planning tool utilizing land management. It integrates with other city software to ensure that all development-related staff are on the same page and informed – and it will provide real-time inspection updates to builders/contractors.

“Our updated software will help streamline a lot of daily tasks in the Building Department,” Chief Building Official Keith Bruner said. “From issuing electronic permits to quickly updating progress reports on active code enforcement cases, this is a big step forward for Kingsport.”

The city already is seeing promising results from these recent changes. At the Oct. 20 Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, several rezonings were approved to pave the way for more than 200 new housing units.

It’s been said that Kingsport is great for builders and developers to work with. Through this process revamp, Kingsport has now positioned itself to be the best in the area – and that’s a title to be proud of.

The city is far from finished, however, and will continue with its efforts now and in the future to make Kingsport the best place to build, work and live.

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Water Services heroes

Have you ever wondered about your water and the process it goes through to get to you?

Kingsport’s water treatment plant currently maintains 22 water storage tanks and treats around 15 to 16 million gallons daily. Keeping and treating all of that water is only possible due to the hard work of these Water Services Heroes: Wayne Case, Tim Gibson, Keith McGaha and Jody Winegar. Let’s take you through the process that your water goes through and see just how important our heroes are.

Water Plant Operators – Wayne Case & Tim Gibson

Wayne started with the city 29 years ago and Tim started 23 years ago. Both Wayne and Tim are certified plant operators with grade IV licensing. By obtaining the grade IV certification, each of these operators are qualified to run the water plant. “It’s important to know what you are doing,” said Wayne. “To be qualified and certified is important for this position.”

Water treatment plant operators manage all aspects of daily operations to meet customer demand: pumping, treatment and water quality. They must accurately perform bacteriological tests, keep records and prepare clear and concise reports of water operations as required by state and federal regulations.

Wayne and Tim both are very knowledgeable of the daily operations and understand the importance of providing quality drinking water to the public. “You have to care,” said Tim. “You care about the product and service you are providing. I care about my grandkids and the water they drink, now and in the future.”

First, our water is surface water, which comes from the South Fork Holston River. From the river your water flows through a tunnel under John B. Dennis Highway. This tunnel transports raw river water to the pump station located near the water treatment plant. The pumps move your water to the plant for the treating process.

 

Water Distribution – Jody Winegar

When you think of how water travels to your home or business, waterlines are involved. Whether a new water connection is installed or an existing line is repaired, Jody Winegar may have had a hand in this work.

Jody started with the city 27 years ago. As a water maintenance foreman, he knows the daily operations of the distribution system. “I take pride in providing quality service to our customers,” said Jody. “Public health is very important.”

Jody oversees four maintenance crews, and coordinates work to be performed. This may be scheduling new water connections, repairing existing lines, water valve prep work for paving projects or dress up work after tasks are completed.

Whether Jody is working with the crews or in the office, he is communicating the following – “Treat people like you want to be treated and earn their trust.”

Your treated or finished water is pumped into the distribution system for public use. Waterlines take the water to water tanks or towers where your water is stored until it reaches your tap.

 

Technical Services – Keith McGaha

Keith McGaha started with the city 6 years ago. As a technical service worker, he knows the importance of a water meter working properly and the accuracy involved. A typical day for Keith may be installing water meters, reading the meters, marking for potential leaks, and handling low pressure checks.

“I want to do the best I can,” said Keith. “I want to know the meters are reading accurately for both the customer and the city. This also helps with generating revenue, and water loss.”

Remember people like Keith, who are dedicated to the installation and maintenance of your water meter; that it’s reading and measuring accurately.

Your treated water flows through the lines and water meter for usage.

 

Our Water Service Heroes

Water is a precious resource needed by all living things. Kingsport is lucky to have such great Water Service workers and a great water source right here in our city. It’s our job to make sure it stays clean for years to come. One way our city is ensuring this is through the Raw Water Intake Project.

The purpose of the Raw Water Intake Project was to ensure a safe, reliable and continuous supply of drinking water to meet the needs of our current customers and for generations to come. It included construction of a new raw water tunnel and a new raw water pump station at the water treatment plant, eliminating the use of existing pumps and transmission lines.

Through the completion of this project and the continued efforts of our Water Service workers, safe drinking water is a resource available for all of our citizens. The next time you reach for a glass of water, think of our Water Service Heroes and their commitment to providing this important resource to you.

After all of this, your water has made its way to your home, school, or business, and is at your fingertips. Enjoy a glass of water. Kingsport’s water. Your water.

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Kingsport Area Transit Service will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by offering half-price Dial-A-Ride ticket books for $12.00 (which includes 24 tickets per book) for the entire month of November.

The 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act is a time to reflect on a law that has made a positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities in our country. This anniversary is also a time to set goals and expectations for the future in order to create equal opportunities for disabled individuals. Upon passage in 1990, Congress clearly stated its intent to ensure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities. All KATS vehicles are equipped with ADA lifts and ramps to support and ensure this accessibility. The Dial-A-Ride van service is an affordable, reliable, safe and efficient way for Kingsport residents to travel to numerous destinations. Eligibility requirements apply.

“We want to thank our current Dial-A-Ride customers through this promotion, as well as attract new riders who can benefit greatly from the Dial-A-Ride service,” said Transit Director Chris Campbell. “This is definitely a situation where spending a little money up front will save a lot of money over time as these tickets do not expire.”

The Dial-A-Ride half-price ticket book promotion has become a popular annual event. Tickets may be purchased at the KATS downtown terminal, located at 900 East Main Street, via cash, check, credit or debit. Tickets may also be purchased directly from the drivers. Cash and checks are the only form of payment accepted on the vehicles. Drivers do not carry cash and cannot make change.

For more information about KATS and the services they offer, please visit kingsporttransit.org or call 423-224-2613.

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Want to experience Bays Mountain Park’s trails in a whole new way? Thanks to Reedy Creek Bicycles, now’s your chance to hit the trails on your mountain bike—at night.

Join a group of riders for a thrilling three-hour journey through the forest on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, November through February. Each ride begins at 6 p.m. and lasts one to two hours, and will be led by Reedy Creek Bicycles. There’s no age or skill level restrictions for this free program!

Riders should arrive early in time for a prompt 6 p.m. departure—sorry, no late arrivals will be permitted to catch up. Please wear appropriate safety gear for mountain biking, including a helmet. Flashlights or headlamps are recommended. If you’re new to night rides or mountain biking in general, stop by Reedy Creek Bicycles in downtown Kingsport where their knowledgeable staff will have you ready to ride in no time.

All riders should be prepared to complete and sign a waiver before hitting the trails.

2020-2021 Night Ride Dates
November 10 & 24

December 8 & 22

January 12 & 26

February 9 & 23

All dates are subject to weather and trail conditions. Bays Mountain Park thanks Reedy Creek Bicycles for partnering again on this fun, unique offering!

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

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With the help of Daytime Tri-Cities, the winners of the Annual Kingsport Art Guild Members’ Show will be announced on their Monday, November 2 broadcast. Prizes will be awarded to members and the winning artwork will be displayed in the Renaissance Center Art Gallery on the 2nd floor.

Sponsored by the Eastman Credit Union, the show features fine art that meets the Guild’s high caliber specifications. All pieces entered are new to the guild gallery and meet the mission of the Kingsport Art Guild to preserve and promote fine art in the Tri-Cities Region. This is the first of the Kingsport Art Guild sponsored 2020 – 2021 shows, being judged by the William King Art Museum Education and Curatorial Staff.

“This show is very special to the Guild,” said the show’s co-chair, Kristi Beverly. “Entry into this particular show is a benefit to our members. We are a community of friends who challenge one another to continually improve on the best of our abilities. Membership is open to every level of artist, and this show is a fantastic opportunity for everyone from beginners to professionals.”

The public is invited to view the show in person and to vote for the 2020 People’s Choice award! The virtual show will be featured on the Kingsport Art Guild’s Instagram and Facebook pages, where voting instructions will also be provided. Follow the Kingsport Art Guild and look for #kagshow2020 to see all of the entries and vote. The show will be open to the public from Monday, November 2 through Monday, November 30.

Please visit www.kingsportartguild.com/ for more information about the Annual Kingsport Art Guild Members’ Show and other upcoming events.

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The Greenbelt extension near Exchange Place to the Cleek Road pedestrian path is now officially complete. To commemorate the occasion, there will be a virtual ribbon cutting held on Wednesday, November 4 at 2 p.m. on the Parks and Recreation Facebook page.

This new extension, made possible through a generous grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, has allowed the city to lengthen the trail by about a mile on the Exchange Place side. Now that construction is finished, walkers will have the option to forgo the large gravel hill approaching Exchange Place and enjoy a less strenuous stroll to Cleek Road. The trail also allows access to beautiful vistas of the area’s farmland as well as a view of a waterfall.

While there is currently no available parking or trailhead access at Cleek Road, the newly extended trail can be accessed from the Indian Trail and Exchange Place trailheads. The city hopes that this newest section of the Greenbelt will be a valuable addition to the Kingsport community.

The Kingsport Greenbelt is a ten-mile walking and biking trail more than 20 years in the making. It stretches from one end of the city to the other, from the Exchange Place to Riverfront Park. This new section of the trail includes a raised boardwalk similar to other spots on the Greenbelt. The Greenbelt is not just open to walkers and recreational runners, but to cyclists and skaters as well.

Due to the location and social distancing protocols, there will be limited attendance at the ribbon cutting. If any media personnel wish to attend the ceremony, please RSVP to MaxinePoole@KingsportTN.gov.

We invite and encourage residents to tune in to the Facebook Live coverage of the event to see the unveiling of the newest part of the Kingsport Greenbelt. To watch the event, please visit the Parks and Recreation Facebook page on November 4 at 2 p.m.

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Over the past few years, Kingsport has made purposeful gains toward building and maintaining strong neighborhoods. The Neighborhood Commission, PaveKingsport, Neighborhood Cleanups, Coffee with Cops and many other efforts have gone a long way to strengthen Kingsport’s wonderful neighborhoods. Additionally, ensuring that neighbors are properly maintaining their property and that community nuisances efficiently handled are foundational to building strong neighborhoods.

The City of Kingsport utilizes Code Enforcement to ensure we are meeting citizen’s expectations related to these issues. Over the past year, City Manager Chris McCartt assembled a task force to review efforts being done well, areas needing improvement and any opportunity for immediate impact.

“After reviewing the city’s operations and benchmarking with other communities, the task force determined that the city has the right people in the right positions, but needs to bring those positions together to work as one team,” said Deputy City Manager Ryan McReynolds.

This realignment will provide the citizens a less fragmented and more responsive structure related to code enforcement. To that end, all enforcement related to properties and community nuisances are now integrated within the Building Department under the direction of the Chief Building Official Keith Bruner.

Citizens are encouraged to report suspected code violations to 423-224-CODE (2633). Additionally, at their last business meeting, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen invested $100,000 toward code enforcement. This funding will go toward taking care of high grass and demolition of structures where the owner is absent. In either case, the city will place a lien on the property to recover their cost.

Upcoming improvements related to Code Enforcement include connecting citizens to the city via a new app through SeeClickFix. The SeeClickFix app is soon to replace YourGov as the city’s primary tool to engage the citizens in reporting issues throughout the city. It expands the citizen’s ability to not only report, but report and interact with the city on issues related to Public Works and Code Enforcement.

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After a successful work day installing three new libraries on October 24, The Kingsport Neighborhood Commission has now installed five Little Libraries all around Kingsport. These libraries are stocked up with books and ready for eager readers to come by and borrow them. The five libraries are located in a handful of Kingsport’s neighborhood parks so that they can be easily accessed by the community. You can find the Little Libraries in Borden Park, Hammond Park, Dale Street Park, Preston Forest Park, and Highland Street Park. There is also a Little Library at V.O. Dobbins that was previously installed.

With the assistance of the Inventor Center, who helped design and build the structure of the libraries, all five libraries are now well-stocked for all of our book-loving neighbors. Special thanks also goes to Kingsport Parks and Recreation for helping to choose locations and providing assistance with the installations. Now, anyone who walks past can open up one of the libraries, choose a book to read, and borrow it. The book can then be returned to any of the Little Libraries in Kingsport, or you can replace it with another book. Books can also be donated to add variety to the available literature.

“This project is a great opportunity to encourage reading all across Kingsport,” said Kingsport Neighborhood Commission Chair, Ted Fields. “We have a variety of different books inside the Little Libraries now and more books will be added and swapped out over time. I hope this will encourage a greater sense of community as well, for readers of all ages.”

You can now see these Little Libraries scattered throughout Kingsport, inviting people who walk by to take a book and read something new. The Kingsport Neighborhood Commission is very proud to bring these libraries to the Kingsport community!

The next Kingsport Neighborhood Commission meeting will be held on November 19 at 6 p.m. in the City Hall Council Room, located at 225 W. Center St. in downtown Kingsport. All meetings are open to the public, and neighbors are encouraged to come share their thoughts and concerns with the commission.

NC Members Deborah Mullins little library

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The City of Kingsport encourages residents to Be Loyal, Buy Local and enjoy a variety of upcoming holiday shopping and entertainment events during November.

Holiday Open House
Thursday, Nov. 5, from 5-8 p.m., downtown Kingsport
The Downtown Kingsport Association presents this official kick-off to the holiday season, with downtown businesses offering holiday specials, refreshments and holiday cheer. Visit Downtown Kingsport Association on Facebook to find a list of participating businesses and restaurants.

The Christmas Connection Artistic Creations Fair
Friday, Nov. 13, from noon-7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 14, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 15, from noon-4 p.m.
Kingsport Civic Auditorium, 1550 Fort Henry Drive
Now in its 41st year and sponsored by the Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts, this shopping event features creations by regional craft artists and is free to attend. Visit https://arts.kingsporttn.gov or call 423-392-8414 for details.

Drive-in Movie Night: “Home Alone”
Saturday, Nov. 14
Parking lot opens at 6 p.m., movie starts at 8 p.m.
Cherokee Street Public Parking Lot, 100 block of Cherokee Street
Grab a friend and come enjoy the holiday escapades of the classic film, “Home Alone.” Tickets are $10 per car and can be purchased at https://www.downtownkingsport.org. A limited number of tickets will be sold.

Small Business Saturday
Saturday, Nov. 28
Be Loyal, Buy Local every day, but especially on this national celebration of local, independent businesses. Now more than ever, it’s important to support friends and neighbors operating Kingsport businesses.

Cyber Monday
Monday, Nov. 30
Don’t forget that you can Be Loyal, Buy Local from the comfort of your home by shopping at the websites of independent Kingsport businesses.

Additional events coming in December include Jingle & Mingle on Thursday, Dec. 3, and Christmas Crafts Show at Kingsport Farmers Market on Saturday, Dec. 5.

If there are changes to any of these events, participants should check the respective websites or Facebook pages, along with the This Is Kingsport Facebook page.

Those wishing to participate are encouraged to take all necessary COVID-19 safety precautions such as wearing masks in public spaces, observing social distancing and washing hands frequently. Anyone who is sick should not participate.