farmers market logo

The Kingsport Farmers Market will begin its 2020 season on Saturday, May 23. In order to keep vendors and market-goers as safe as possible, some operations have changed.

“We’re excited to get the season underway,” said Kristie Leonard, market manager and Special Events Coordinator for Kingsport. “But for us to be able to open and continue to operate this season, this won’t be our market as usual.”

At the direction of the Sullivan County Regional Health Department, the market will implement new protocols for guests and vendors alike.

The most obvious change will be in how you enter and exit the market. There will now be designated, clearly marked entry and exit points, as well as signage inside the market to help visitors navigate the new vendor layout. To create adequate space between vendors, parking has been modified (see map). Overflow parking is available in the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce lot.

The CDC and the SCRHD recommend that people wear masks when visiting public places like the market.

All market programs, including Saturdays with the Chef and the Homegrown Gardening series, have been suspended until further notice. Anyone who needs to redeem SNAP benefits may do so at the market kiosk.

So what do market visitors need to prepare for?
– If you feel sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, stay home.
– Be alert and follow all posted signage in the market.

– Maintain at least six feet of space between yourself and others. Look for physical cues like tape, chalk and signage to help you remember.
– Be prepared to shop quickly and efficiently. Farmers markets are often social place, but it’s important right now to refrain from socializing in groups for a long period of time.

– Only touch produce you intend to purchase. Allow vendors to help you with produce.
– Please bring small bills or exact change to limit cash transactions.
– You may bring reusable bags, but please do not pass to vendors to fill. Your vendor will hand bagged products to you for you to place in your bag. Vendors will have a limited number of paper and reusable bags on hand.
– Do not eat on site—take all foods to go.
– Wash all produce when you arrive home.
– Please respect vendors by leaving adequate space between yourself and them. Do not go behind a vendor table.
– Leave your furry friends at home. To maintain the quick and easy flow of customers through the market, only service animals will be allowed at this time.
– Wash and sanitize your hands often.

Wednesday markets will begin on June 3. To learn more about the Kingsport Farmers Market, please visit kingsportfarmersmarket.org.

farmers market map

 

parks and rec logo

The Kingsport Parks and Recreation department has made the difficult decision to cancel its Summer Program for 2020. While the decision is one out of caution for the safety and health of summer program participants, staff have come up with unique and fun ways kids can still get involved and have fun this summer!

“We realize a lot of kids look forward to summer camp with us every year and we know it is always important to engage in mental and physical activities,” said Parks and Recreation Program Administrator Renee Ensor. “We are excited to offer some new family oriented programs this year, which provide a variety of leisure time choices.”

Here are the programs your children can chose to take part in:

  • Summer program in a box
    • This box will include six themed weeks; each week will have games and crafts pertaining to that theme. The box will also include a t-shirt, water bottle, sunglasses and more! Every week the parks and recreation staff will have scheduled zoom calls with the kids to do some physical activities and games.
    • Registration is required – May 18-29
    • Fee: $20 per box/$15 after first child
  • Pickleball
    • Outdoor pickleball at the Borden Park court. We will have scheduled time slots on Mondays and Thursdays from 9am-1pm. Open to ages 14 and above. The scheduled time slots will not exceed more than 10 people and the parks and recreation staff will be disinfecting the pickle balls at the end of each time slot. Participants must bring their own paddles. To register you must call (423) 224-2489 or email ReneeEnsor@KingsportTN.gov
  • NBA 2k
    • Staff will be hosting a virtual NBA 2k tournament and season.
    • Ages 8-12
    • Participants must have their own gaming console and NBA 2k game. No equipment will be provided.
    • Contact (423) 343-9723 or TravisSensabaugh@KingsportTN.gov to register
    • Registration date: May 22-June 5
  • Fortnite Fridays
    • Parks and Recreation staff will be hosting virtual Fortnite Fridays where participants will be able to play Fortnite games with others and parks and recreation staff.
    • Ages 6-12
    • Participants must have their own gaming console and Fortnite game. No equipment will be provided.
    • Contact (423) 343-9723 or TravisSensabaugh@KingsportTN.gov to register
    • Registration date: May 22-June 5
  • Travel Trainer
    • Parks and Recreation staff will be going throughout different communities to bring the workout to you. Staff will be doing simple fitness instruction and all equipment will be provided. Classes will not exceed more than 10 people and the staff will designate spots for participants that will meet the 6 feet apart guidelines. Contact (423) 343-9723 or email TravisSensabaugh@KingsportTN.gov to find out dates, times and locations.

Additional programs for disc golf, archery, tennis, walking, cornhole toss, nutrition, health/wellness and much more will be offered later this summer.  Stay tuned and check out Kingsport Parks and Recreation on social media for more information about these exciting opportunities.

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

kingsport aquatic center logo

The Kingsport Aquatic Center will begin a phased, limited reopening on May 18.

Some operations have changed to comply with the Tennessee Pledge. The KAC’s priority is safeguarding both guests and its team, so we are following guidelines from the CDC, the White House, the State of Tennessee and the Sullivan County Regional Health Department.

KAC’s COVID-19 Reopening Operational Hours (beginning May 18)
     Monday – Friday: 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday: Closed for deep cleaning

At the direction of the SCRHD, the KAC can allow no more than 10 people in the indoor pool area at any time for lap swim and individual exercise in a lap lane. Pool time must be reserved in advance by calling our front desk at 423-343-9758 to ensure ample pool space and social distancing protocol.

 All guests are strongly encouraged to wear masks while at the facility unless actively swimming. If you are sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home.

  • Lane reservation does not guarantee entry. A KAC membership, daily admission purchase or Kingsport YMCA membership is required for entry.
  • No groups will be allowed at this time.
  • Locker rooms will be closed during Phase 1 to limit congregating as much as possible. Please arrive already prepared to swim with suit on under your clothes. Locker rooms will not be available for showering and changing after your swim.
  • On deck showers are available and should be used before entering the pool. On deck bathrooms will also be open.
  • Please enter through the main entrance. To minimize interaction with doors, you will enter the pools on the parking lot side of the HMG Competition Pool, then exit through the double doors between the play pool and lobby.
  • If you would like to use pool equipment, you can check it out from the front desk, then return it to the labeled “used” bins on deck. This allows the KAC team to properly sanitize all pool equipment.

According to the CDC, there is no evidence that Covid-19 can be transmitted through properly treated and maintained water.  The KAC checks the water chemistry hourly, and guests may review this information upon request.

At this time, the KAC plans to open the warm pool and new outdoor lap pool for lap swim and individual water exercise on June 1. Swim team practice and aerobics classes are projected to resume in mid-June.

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

Bays Final Logo Brown

After much deliberation, and out of an abundance of caution, Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium has made the difficult decision to cancel Summer Day Camp for 2020.

The park will begin issuing refunds this week to anyone who has already completed paid registration. Those who paid their registration fees via Eventbrite will be refunded to the same account/method of payment used to confirm the reservation.

“Although we are extremely disappointed, this is the correct and proper decision,” Park Manager Rob Cole said. “We remain hopeful, however, and anxiously await our campers’ return in the summer of 2021!”

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

library logo

The Kingsport Public Library is now providing a much needed service to help the public get through this current crisis. Kingsport Public Library Reference Librarians will now be available via Skype to provide assistance with applying or certifying for unemployment benefits on the Tennessee Unemployment website. You can also sign up for a Skype session with a Librarian to work on a resume. Sessions are available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

As many citizens may be inexperienced with the unemployment benefits process, this service is a wonderful resource. Register for your own Unemployment Assistance Skype session using the Kingsport Public Library website under the EVENTS tab. You will need an email address and a smartphone, tablet, or computer with a mic in order to register. You will then be contacted by email to Skype with the librarian at the time you sign up for. A Skype account is not required. For questions about registration, email referencelibrary@kingsporttn.gov.

If you have found yourself in the unexpected position of having to search for new employment, there are resources available to start looking for work. Visit the Kingsport Strong website (kingsportstrong.com) to find an updated list of businesses that are hiring in our area.

If you have any questions, you can call 423-229-9465 during normal library hours. For more information, please visit kingsportlibrary.org.

kingsport logo

As our cities and counties move forward with reopening plans and procedures, local leaders remind citizens that we are not returning to “normal.” Our new normal will look different, with business and health precautions remaining a large part of everyday life. It is more important than ever to continue safe practices to avoid a spike in COVID-19 cases. These best practices – as outlined by the CDC and local health departments – have helped to keep the number of positive cases low in our region.

While facilities resume operations, it is imperative that everyone:

  • Keep adequate social distance – maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and others when out in public.
  • Limit gatherings – per Gov. Bill Lee, gatherings must be limited to 10 or less people.
  • Wash hands – wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Wash your hands before eating or preparing food, after using the restroom, after coughing or sneezing, and after going anywhere in public.
  • Avoid touching your face – avoid touching any part of your face, especially eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wear a cloth mask – masks not only lower the risk of you breathing in airborne viruses but greatly reduce you spreading a virus, even if you don’t feel ill. We now know that some of those positive for coronavirus are asymptomatic. Please use cloth masks and save medical-grade PPE for medical and frontline personnel.
  • Disinfect surfaces – take time to disinfect all spaces, from work to vehicle to home. Clean frequently used items like mobile phones and keys.
  • Stay home – if you’re feeling sick or think you might be sick, stay home.
  • Avoid nonessential travel – at this time, it’s still best to avoid traveling outside the Tri-Cities area and to only leave your home for essential activities.

Area government leaders and health officials recognize the importance of reopening our area but doing so safely is crucial to its success. The path forward is a cautious one, as the safety and health of our communities remains the top priority.

With the best practices in mind, Kingsport will be following the Sullivan County Regional Health Department’s Public Health Order #2 starting Monday, April 27. Kingsport will issue an amendment next week to the current city declaration to put the order in place.

The order closely follows Governor Lee’s plan and his Tennessee Pledge plan for businesses. Restaurants and retail should follow the Tennessee Pledge plan for their reopening, paying special attention to the protecting employees and protecting customers guidelines.

The Sullivan County Regional Health Department plan lists special situations that our business owners and residents should be aware of. Those include:

  • SCHOOLS AND ORGANIZED YOUTH ACTIVITIES (e.g. camps) that are currently closed remain closed.
  • VISITS TO SENIOR LIVING FACILITIES AND HOSPITALS shall be prohibited. Those who do interact with residents and patients must adhere to strict protocols regarding hygiene.
  • LARGE VENUES ( e.g. sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship) can operate under strict physical distancing protocols while following guidance issued by State of Tennessee specific to type of business. See Tennessee Pledge.
  • Elective surgeries may resume, as clinically appropriate, following CDC protective guidelines, and specific guidance issued by the State of Tennessee.
  • Dental Offices/healthcare practices may open while maintaining social distancing and following CDC recommendations with appropriate PPE and specific guidance issued by the State of Tennessee.
  • Other non-essential businesses may open but adhere to strict social distancing guidelines, use precautionary measure, and follow guidance issued by the State of Tennessee specific to business type.
  • Personal contact business (i.e., barber shops, nail salons, cosmetology business, etc.) that cannot maintain social distancing measures may not reopen until appropriate safety guidelines have been developed by the Tennessee Department of Health.

Our city’s directive is to maintain compliance with the health department’s public health order. Residents should watch for more information to be released next week in regards to the city’s plan for opening city and government facilities.

For more information or for questions, please contact the Sullivan County Regional Health Department at 423-279-2777.

 

Resources:

City of Kingsport COVID-19 Information

Sullivan County Regional Health Department Public Health Order #2

Governor Lee’s Tennessee Pledge

kingsport logo

Due to a degraded market, Kingsport is putting its recycling program on pause starting May 1. In the meantime, residents should continue to put out their recycling cans as normal.

“This is due to a national trend that has drastically impacted Kingsport’s ability to market the majority of the material collected,” said Deputy City Manager Ryan McReynolds.  “The largest material the city collects, mixed paper, was being sold for $88 per ton. Currently, it costs negative $3.75 per ton, meaning our partner [WestRock Converting Company] has to pay people to take it.”

In December 2019, the BMA voted to extend the current contract with WestRock Converting Company for another two years. However, in March, Kingsport received a separate request from WestRock for an additional $35/ton tipping fee, which results in an additional $115,000 cost to the city’s sanitation budget.

While it might seem sudden, the city of Kingsport is dedicated to continuing a long-term recycling program after the pause.

“With the pause on our recycling program occurring now, it gives our sanitation department time to review other options for the future of the program,” said McReynolds. “It doesn’t make sense at this time for us to spend time and money collecting this material, sending it out of our area and more than likely, having it end up in a landfill anyway.”

One of those options is to look at having the recycling program work done locally. If recycling is able to be done locally, it will help create jobs and boost the economy. It also gives Kingsport the ability to market its own materials, resulting in a better value for taxpayers.

Residents won’t see a disruption in service, however. The city asks everyone to stick to his or her current routine, but just to be aware that the same truck will now pick up both the recycling and garbage cans until the recycling program starts up again.

For more information, please call 423-229-9451.

library logo

The Kingsport Public Library has a wide variety of digital resources available to library card holders during this time. If you do not have a library card, you can now register for an Ecard in order to access their online resources.

An Ecard provides access to ebooks, audiobooks and digital magazines available through READs, RB Digital and other ebook platforms. You can also find craft tutorials, patterns and more with Creativebug, the number one inspirational resource for crafters and makers. If you’d like to learn about genealogy while spending time at home, you can access Ancestry and the Newspaper Archives to find out more. Other digital resources can be found on the Kingsport Public Library website.

To request an Ecard, all you have to do is complete a short form on the library website and an email with the Library card number will be sent. Applications submitted outside of normal library hours (Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) will have a longer response time.

If you have any questions, you can call 423-229-9465 during normal library hours. For more information, please visit kingsportlibrary.org.

library logo

We are living through a historic moment in time and the Kingsport Public Library and Archives wants to capture, document and preserve your stories and memories about life during the COVID-19 Pandemic. History is normally associated with the past but we are making and living history right now! Let’s document life in Kingsport and add our story to this global historic event.

“This project provides us with the unique opportunity to document how the Kingsport Community experienced this unprecedented and extraordinary time,” said City Archivist Brianne Wright. “The information collected will be an invaluable resource for future generations by providing firsthand accounts of everyday life during the pandemic.”

 

Ways you can share…

There are plenty of ways to share your story. You can write about it by keeping a diary, keeping copies of letters to family and friends or writing poetry. You can take pictures of your environment or your community. Drawing, painting and video blogging are also a great way to record how you’re feeling during this time.

Business owners can maintain records that show how businesses are responding to the crisis, saving things such as social media graphics, e-mails, business announcements and mail correspondences. You can even save your social media posts to show how you are reacting in your personal life. Visit kingsportlibrary.org to find the form where you can share your COVID-19 stories.

 

What should I include?

The Kingsport Public Library and Archives is specifically focusing on those impacted citizens that are living and working in the City of Kingsport. With that, this project is open to everyone—we welcome all age groups, genders and walks of life. Entries from a wide variety of people with different jobs, community roles, family styles and different impact experiences will help bolster the historic value of this collection.

Maybe you’re working from home, trying to homeschool your kids, caring for elderly parents or neighbors, working as an essential employee or not working at all due to layoffs and furloughs. When you share your daily activities and how your life has been impacted, your experiences will be preserved as part of our city’s historic narrative. Become a part of history tomorrow by sharing your story today. Visit kingsportlibrary.org to find the form where you can share your COVID-19 stories.

Visit www.kingsportlibrary.org for more information.

kingsport logo

The City of Kingsport will no longer be accepting in person water/utility bill payments at the Justice Center. Starting Monday, April 13, customers who wish to pay their water bill in person will now have to visit the old KATS transit center building, located at 109 Clay Street.

Customer Service will be closed to the public Wednesday and Thursday for the move and will be closed for Good Friday, April 10. Customer Service will reopen in the old transit building on Clay Street starting Monday morning, April 13. Individuals wishing to open a new utility account and establish service or obtain a business license will continue to do so by appointment only. Please call 423-343-9860.

City officials still urge residents to stay home right now due to the safer at home health order issued last week and only leave their homes when necessary.

There will be no water cut-offs during the crisis, and in addition, there will be no late fees or non-payment fees.  When the pandemic has passed, customer service staff will work with customers to structure a repayment arrangement that can last up to 12 months.

Customers have several other options for payments and are encouraged to utilize them.

  • Mail payments (utilities only) to PO Box 880, Kingsport, TN 37662
  • Mail payments (anything) to 225 W. Center St., Kingsport, TN 37660
  • Pay online at the city website KingsportTN.gov
  • Pay over the phone by calling (423) 343-9860
  • Drop box located outside city hall
  • Pay in person at 109 Clay Street
  • Pay in person at First Horizon Bank drive thru

If customers need to speak with Customer Service, they can be contacted as follows:

Thank you for your patience during this time.