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Join the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club in viewing the transit of the planet Mercury across the face of the Sun!

A transit is when a celestial object, like an inferior planet (Mercury and Venus), pass directly in front of the Sun. If you are on the correct side of the Earth to see this event, and have proper solar filters, then you’ll see a tiny dot slowly travel across the face of the Sun.

If you still have your solar glasses from the solar eclipse of 2017, then use them to see if you can spy Mercury’s tiny disk against the Sun. Remember, it is unsafe to view the Sun without proper eye protection!

The next transit won’t be until 2032—so don’t miss out. This free, public viewing will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Park’s Observatories. The transit will begin at 7:35 a.m., but we have to wait for the Sun to clear the trees to be able to see it. The event is weather dependent, so if it’s very cloudy or rain, we won’t be gathering. Please note that the Park’s admission fee still does apply.

To get ready for the viewing, stop by the planetarium to see the main feature playing through November 10, “The Transit of Mercury featuring ‘Solar Quest.'” This is a unique showing in the planetarium theater that includes a short from Buhl Planetarium all about the Sun. Visitors will learn about Mercury and the upcoming Mercury transit on November 11 from a live presentation created by Bays Mountain Planetarian, Jason Dorfman. The live content is rich with great full-dome animations, use of the Carl Zeiss ZKP-4 star projector, and a fun activity! The show runs about 40 minutes. Park guests are also invited to a viewing of the Mercury Transit on November 11 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Quick guide to Bays Mountain’s Planetarium
Main Show – Tuesday-Friday at 4 p.m. | Saturday & Sunday at 1 & 4 p.m.

Alternate Show – Saturday & Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets: $5 for non-members, free for members and children under 6

Don’t forget—every Saturday evening through November, visit the observatories for StarWatch, an hour-long program that lets you enjoy the splendor of the night sky at Bays Mountain’s observatories. November’s dates and times are November 2 at 7 p.m., and November 9, 16, 23 and 30 at 6 p.m.

To learn more about Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium, call 423-229-9447 or visit

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Ronnie Hammonds, a dedicated member of Kingsport’s Public Works team, recently announced his plans to retire this December.

When Hammonds started with the City of Kingsport in November of 1978, the city limits were generally contained within John B. Dennis and Stone Drive and the city population was about 31,000.

Starting in the engineering division, Hammonds worked out of City Hall where he met Rose, his wife of almost 39 years. He then transitioned to asphalt foreman, followed by public works specialist and finally was placed in the role of Streets & Sanitation Manager. Under his leadership, the city has been able to progress in many areas that have enhanced the service level while maintaining or lowering the cost and improving employee safety, such as automated waste collection.

Over the years, Hammonds has won various accolades from the American Public Works Association including the Roger Clark Award in 2007, the Larry Eddins Award in 2009 and finally the Public Works Man of the Year for Tennessee in 2014.

“It’s difficult to think about our public works department without Ronnie Hammonds,” said Ryan McReynolds, deputy city manager. “He’s dedicated his time, talents and knowledge to Kingsport over the past four decades.”

His retirement plans include spending time not only with Rose, but also with his 3-year-old granddaughter Grace.

Ronnie Hammonds

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What’s our place in the universe? Can you “hear” gravity? Two new shows at Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium answer these questions and more this November.

The new alternate feature, “Under the Milky Way,” begins on November 2 and highlights our very own Milky Way galaxy. Learn about the structure of our galaxy and how it was formed, and take a look at our continuing understanding of what our galaxy is and how large it is.

The show’s second feature is a live presentation utilizing some of the wonderful capabilities of our Carl Zeiss ZKP-4 star projector, as well as our digital projection system. Viewers will see our current night sky and learn how we fit into the Milky Way. The program concludes by transforming our position on earth and travel down to the southern hemisphere and spy the two largest dwarf galaxies that orbit us, the Magellanic Clouds. “Under the Milky Way” runs for about 35 minutes.

“Einstein’s Gravity Playlist,” the new main feature, premiers on November 12. This program explores the ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves. Albert Einstein first predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916, and a century later, scientists detected these waves using incredibly precise laser technology here on Earth. In honor of this long-anticipated detection, the scientists who created the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017. In this show, viewers follow Lucia, a PhD student in physics, on an exploration of how gravitational waves are formed, how they move through the Universe, and how scientists like her work to hear them.

“Einstein’s Gravity Playlist” was created through a collaboration between Montana State University’s eXtreme Gravity Institute, the Department of Physics, the School of Film and Photography, and the School of Music. The runtime is about 35 minutes.

Quick guide to Bays Mountain’s Planetarium
Main Show – Tuesday-Friday at 4 p.m. | Saturday & Sunday at 1 & 4 p.m.

Alternate Show – Saturday & Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets: $5 for non-members, free for members and children under 6

To learn more about Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium, call 423-229-9447 or visit

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The beloved Christmas Connection is celebrating 40 years of bringing some of the region’s best arts and crafts vendors to Kingsport. Whether you are refreshing your home décor, trying to find that perfect gift, or treating your taste buds, the Christmas Connection is here to connect you just in time for the holiday festivities! You can find unique gifts and support artisans in our region. Admission is free all weekend.

As the weather turns colder, the Civic Auditorium will be filled with a warm holiday glow to put customers in a holiday mood for shopping. The sights, sounds and smell of Christmas will surround shoppers as they shop from over 60 artisan vendors.

Country crafts, home décor, fine woodcrafts, leather crafts, handmade soaps and lotions, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, stained glass, herbal products, hand-built pottery, fabric crafts, needlework, American Girl doll clothing, pet accessories and clothing, candles, dichroic glass, handmade greeting cards and paper art, snowmen, santas, reindeer food, candied pecans, lavender products, miniature figurines, baked goods, and much more will be available for purchase from these talented artisans and crafters.

Make sure to take your taste buds into the West Room, where you’ll find the “Sugarplum Café.”  This special café is exclusive to the Christmas Connection, providing mouthwatering sandwiches, soups, and snacks for the shopper on the go, or those wanting to linger longer for a meal. Outside, attendees can purchase treats from the food truck favorite Auntie Ruth’s Doughnuts.

Joining the merry 40th celebration, talented local musical groups will provide live music from the stage, to serenade customers as they shop.  Shoppers also have the opportunity to learn about the replica of the Santa Train being built, as a part of the Kingsport Model Train Project.  Model Train volunteers will be on hand to share their knowledge and talent with the public and explain this craft form in more detail.

Whether you have been visiting the Christmas Connection for 40 years or you are trying it out for the very first time, this artisan and craft fair has something for you!  Kingsport’s Annual Christmas Connection, a free admission event, is to be held November 1-3 at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium and is sponsored by the Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts.

Friday            Nov. 1            12 Noon – 7 PM
Saturday        Nov. 2            10 AM – 5 PM
Sunday           Nov. 3            12 Noon – 4 PM

For more information on the Christmas Connection event, please visit or call 423-392-8414.

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Fall is here and while not many leaves have hit the ground yet, the City of Kingsport loose leaf pick-up crews are ready. The city has six routes that progress across city limits from west to east and it takes roughly 6-15 working days for crews to get through all routes. The routes are posted on the City of Kingsport website. To access the route listings, search ‘leaf line’ on the homepage of or visit the sanitation webpage.

“The most efficient way for loose leaves to be picked up is in a line along the front of the property,” said Ronnie Hammonds, streets and sanitation manager. “If residents can rake their leaves into a line along the front of their property, but not in the street, it makes it easier for the crews to pick them up.”

Leaves racked into the street wash into storm drains where they can clog up storm sewer pipes. Leaves should be free of debris, such as trash, rocks and sticks.

Citizens will not receive a specific date for their loose leaf removal, but can follow the routes online to get an approximate date. Bagged leaves will be picked up on the regular yardwaste pick-up day. To determine when your next yardwaste pick-up day is, search your address in the Find My Services function on the homepage of

For more information, please call 423-224-242.

Notice is hereby given that the City of Kingsport will be holding a public hearing in the Conference Room of the Kingsport Civic Auditorium, 1550 Fort Henry Drive, Kingsport, Tennessee on Thursday, October 17, 2019 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. to receive comments and questions from the public concerning the City’s applications to the Tennessee Department of Transportation for federal grants to assist in the development of two separate projects, including (1) the “West End Greenbelt”, and (2) the “Brickyard Bridge and Trail”.  The West End project extends the current Greenbelt from Rotherwood Drive to Lewis Lane along the south side of Netherland Inn Road and West Stone Drive (SR 1 / US 11-W). The Brickyard Bridge and Trail project includes construction of an ADA-compatible bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the CSX Railroad tracks in Downtown Kingsport, which will be connected to a multi-use mobility path that will extend to Martin Luther King Jr Drive. Citizens are encouraged to attend and provide input on these proposed projects and grant applications.  Note ADA facilities are available, including transportation to and from this meeting. The project will be under the guidance of federal and state regulations, including Equal Opportunity and Title VI requirements.  For further information about this public hearing and related questions regarding ADA facilities and transportation, please call William A. Albright with the City of Kingsport at (423) 224-2677 or e-mail

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October is spooky season, and the Kingsport Aquatic Center is celebrating with the annual Pumpkin Plunge from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on October 12.

Join your favorite Toy Story characters for a party in the KAC’s indoor pool area. There will be pumpkin decorating, treat bags, and all kinds of games to play—and, of course, plenty of swimming fun. Don’t forget to stop by Little Bo Peep’s sheep petting zoo!

All ages are welcome, but pumpkins and treat bags are for children ages 12 and under. Pumpkins will be first come, first serve. Tickets are $5 per swimmer if purchased in advance, or $7 on the day of the event. Adults are welcome to swim, too, but any adult who only wants to spectate should purchase a $2 spectator ticket. Visit to get your tickets!

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

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StarWatch, Bays Mountain Park’s night sky observing sessions, begin this Saturday, October 5.

StarWatch is an hour-long program that allows the public to enjoy the splendor of the night sky at Bays Mountain’s observatories. Attendees can typically see star clusters, nebulous gas clouds, colorful multiple-star systems, distant galaxies and the Moon and planets if up.

Hosted by the Bays Mountain Astronomy Club & Bays Mountain Planetarium, StarWatch offers you the chance to get a look through the park’s large telescopes.

The observing sessions are held each Saturday night in October and November. Viewing starts at 7:30 p.m. on October 5 and 12, 7 p.m. on October 19, 26 and November 2, and 6 p.m. on November 9, 16, 23 and 20.

These programs are free to the public. If there is inclement weather, a free alternate live tour of the night sky in the planetarium theater will be available.

For more information, visit or call 423-229-9447.

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Genealogy of families is not only important, but also fun to discover! During Family History month, the Kingsport Public Library will be hosting its fifth annual genealogy workshop series every Thursday in October from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The workshops are free and you do not have to register to attend.

The genealogy workshop series will feature four speakers on key topics of interest for those looking into their family’s history and genealogy. These topics are geared to all levels of experience and offer something for everyone, from beginners to advanced genealogy enthusiasts.

Speakers and topics will include the following:

October 3:  Sheila Hunt, Executive Director, Sullivan County Archives and Tourism:

  • Genealogy in Historic Sullivan County

Finding your ancestors in Sullivan County can be easier than you think! While Sullivan County records were burned during the Battle of Blountville in September 1863, the Sullivan County Regional Archives contains many records and manuscripts to help with your research. In addition to resources at the archives, the presentation will include some unique tips for researching your ancestry.

October 10: Kari Roueche, Family History Blogger:

  • What’s New, FamilySearch?

Come get a refresher on building your tree on FamilySearch and learn about recent changes and improvements.

October 17: Jessica McNeely, Holston River Regional Library:

  • More Than Just a Name: Researching Females in Your Family Tree

Too often researchers are caught up following the males in their genealogy. If your family tree is looking a little male dominated, this workshop is for you!  Join us at this session to learn tips and tricks for finding your female ancestors and to understand that they are more than just their names.

October 24: Lori Thornton, Professional Genealogist:

  • 2:00-3:00 p.m. Benefits and Cautions of Using DNA in Genealogical Research

Integrate DNA testing into your genealogical research. Determine your goals and select the right test by understanding the types of DNA tested and companies offering such tests. Understand privacy concerns, particularly those related to law enforcement’s use of some testing databases.

  • 3:00-4:00 p.m. Working With Your DNA Results

Understand in-common matches, colored dots, ThruLines, and other tools provided by Ancestry DNA, the world’s largest autosomal DNA testing company. Upload Ancestry DNA data to other DNA companies and third-party companies and use their tools for even greater success.

Visit or call the reference desk at 423-224-2539 for workshop details.