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Photo of Sean Surgener with text that reads "Highlighting Heroes: these are the people behind the service"

It’s a weekly tradition for most Kingsport residents to take garbage carts to the curb the night before their garbage pickup. But for some residents, the garbage crew comes right to their door with the city’s back door pickup service.

Chances are, if you participate in the back door service, you’ve met this month’s Highlighted Hero, Sean Surgener.

What exactly does Sean do? Back door service is a paid garbage pick-up where the city sends a crew member, like Sean, to collect your garbage at your door. This differs from the usual garbage pickup service in that, instead of leaving your garbage carts at the curb, they are personally collected from your door. This service can be extremely helpful for citizens who might struggle to take the garbage carts to the curb every week. Some citizens may also qualify for disability or low-income waivers for this service.

Sean Surgener started working with the city four years ago, and he recognizes the importance of providing quality service to our citizens.

“Yes, it’s garbage collection,” Sean said. “However, I’m there to do the best I can for our citizens. I’m on their property and I want to be mindful and never leave a mess.”

Every Thursday is dedicated to the backdoor garbage pickup service. Sean enjoys getting to see all of the familiar people on his route and meeting new customers along the way.

“I have met so many wonderful people on my route,” Sean said. “I’ve earned their trust and I want to do a good job for them. It’s the little things that allow you to create a bond. Most of the folks on my route are on a first name basis with me. They know what time I will be there, and some make their way out to talk.”

So many of our citizens appreciate the hard work that goes into garbage pickup. One citizen, Mary C., wanted to thank Sean personally.

“You are the ideal employee—dedicated, committed, hard-working and best of all, always smiling, which is truly remarkable,” Mary said. “Thank you for being such a valuable employee to our city.”

It’s inevitable that households generate a fair share of garbage, and our garbage crews work hard every day to ensure all of our citizens’ garbage is collected and disposed of properly. The next time your garbage gets picked up, remember people like Sean who are dedicated to providing quality service to our citizens.

“I want to represent the city the best I can,” said Sean. “I know by providing this service that I’m able to help others. I want to treat them like I want to be treated.”

For information concerning backdoor garbage pickup service please call 423-229-9451 or visit

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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.


Corder FamilyEvery time you take a sip of clean water, every time you drive safely down a street in Kingsport, you have the Corder family to thank.

Mike and Tony Corder are brothers who both work for the City of Kingsport and have been serving the community for 21 and 20 years, respectively. Before entering into employment with the city, they worked together at the cotton mill. Now, as they continue their tradition of working together, a new generation joins them. Mike’s son, Clay, has been working for the city for 3 years now, following in his father’s footsteps. Though the three Corder men work in different divisions of Public Works, there are times when their jobs overlap, giving them the opportunity to work alongside family.

Mike Corder is a Traffic Maintenance Technician and as such, he realizes the importance of road safety. “Safety first is my main goal,” says Mike. “To know the streets are properly marked and the signs are visible is the first step in keeping drivers and pedestrians safe.”

Part of his job with the city includes installation and maintenance of roadway markings and signs, but he also sets up work zones and message boards. These are essential to ensure that any sudden traffic changes can be carried out safely, with no accidents. Without people like Mike, roads would not be correctly marked and would certainly become unsafe.

Clay Corder, Mike’s son, is a Technical Service Worker in Water Services. The water meters he installs, maintains, and reads daily help to regulate the water to Kingsport homes and businesses. He knows the importance of a water meter working properly, and the accuracy involved with that. “I want to do the best I can,” Clay said. “I want to know the meters are reading accurately for both the customer and the city.”

Tony Corder is a Crew Leader in Water Services System Maintenance. His job usually revolves around the installation and upkeep of waterlines around the city. Whether new installations or repairs, Tony and his team may be the ones performing this work. “I feel our crew does a good job,” Tony said. “I want to do as good a job for our customers as I would do at home.”

When you think of water being our most valuable resource, remember people like Tony who are dedicated to the installation and maintenance of your waterlines. “Water is essential. It’s like you don’t miss it until it’s not there,” Tony said.

These three men do their very best every day to provide essential services for the City of Kingsport. All of them are very appreciative of the opportunities they have been afforded with the city. The hard work and dedication of these three heroes is highly valued and their ongoing efforts help the City of Kingsport to continue to thrive.


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How many times in the past year have you attended a Kingsport event? Whether it was a parade, a Fun Fest event or an Evening at the Market—Kristie Leonard helped make it happen.

Kristie, who started with the city 12 years ago, plays a crucial role in a streamlined event process that makes submitting event applications easier than ever. She is the key contact for anyone who wants to host an event in Kingsport. Instead of fumbling through contacts and clicking through websites to find information on hosting an event, organizers can contact Kristie for anything from small-scale gatherings to Fun Fest-sized events.

“I may be the first person that someone connects with in our city,” Kristie said. “I may be what they judge our city on. So I’m very careful about how we deal with different organizers, making sure that we give good customer service, answer their questions and be as helpful as we can for them.”

Kristie partners with many city departments from Police to Public Works to ensure every event goes off without a hitch. This departmental teamwork is something unique to Kingsport.

When she isn’t organizing events, Kristie is running the Kingsport Farmers Market. She is in charge of receiving and sifting through vendor applications to make sure that the market gets a large variety of high-quality goods. She also helps bring programs to the market, like Saturdays with the Chef and Market Jams.

Kristie strives to bring a “front porch feel” to the market and make it a place where people know and trust their neighbors and come out to visit with them. Her hard work is paying off: For the second year in a row, the Kingsport Farmers Market has been voted the Best Farmers Market in East Tennessee by Tennessee Magazine.

“Our vendors are amazing,” Kristie said. “What I do is bring people to the vendors so they can sell their goods.”

Kristie’s top priority is the safety and happiness of Kingsport’s citizens. Whether she’s coordinating events or running the farmers market, Kristie enjoys the roots of her job.

“It’s always fascinated me how governments work,” Kristie, who majored in political science, said. “At the same time, I also get to enjoy the creative side. I don’t have a boring day.”

People like Kristie, who are dedicated to seeing Kingsport grow into the best it can be, are what make Kingsport such a great place to live. Next time you take a stroll through a Kingsport event or prepare some produce from the market, remember people like Kristie who are dedicated to bringing what’s best to the city.

Want to hear more from Kristie? Visit to listen to her conversation with City Manager Chris McCartt on Kingsport’s podcast “From the City Desk.”



David Mason
David Mason

David Mason – Construction Projects Manager

From beginning to end, David is proud to have a hand in every major project the city has completed over the past 10 years.

David’s job is extraordinary because he works on projects within the city, all the way from conception until completion. He does his best to get involved on city projects at the start. He coordinates and directs the architects, engineers, and contractors into successfully representing the city that he is proud to call home. According to David, no two projects are ever alike, which keeps things interesting.

“I’ve had the privilege of working on numerous projects in the city, and each one is different,” said David. “I love how different each project is, and how you learn something new from the experience and the people involved in each one.”

Kingsport has seen a lot of major projects in recent years, from the construction of parks and the Aquatic Center, to the renovating and replacing of old buildings. One thing is for sure, David’s passion for the work he does has helped keep the projects going. David works as the Construction Projects Manager for the city, overseeing and facilitating new improvement projects all over the area. Despite not growing up in the area, the significance of his projects brings new and existing families closer together within the city, especially Centennial Park.

“It’s been fascinating and rewarding to see the city go through her centennial and come together to celebrate its history,” said David. “It’s wonderful to see that everyone cares so much about the community that they’re from, or that they are a part of now.”

Centennial Park has many important and significant architectural details that David helped plan and organize. The overall circular layout of the park mimics the theme of the original master plan for the City of Kingsport, making it a reflection of the entire city. In addition, the circular path around the park is made up of 44 granite bands inside the concrete, all which hold facts or historical events from the city throughout its 100 years. All of the small details like these that David works to incorporate into his projects showcase his passion and love for the City of Kingsport.

“Watching the unveiling of the Centennial Park was very special for me. Seeing the kids run through the fountain for the first time and seeing the joy on their faces really made it all worth it. That’s what I do this for, moments like those.”

No matter the project, large or small, David is a major reason that it becomes a success. He works hard on Kingsport’s projects to make sure they help bring the community closer together through growth and development. Whether you’ve seen this hero at work or not, David’s fingerprints are most certainly on any new project the city has produced in the past decade.

Tony Dingus
Tony Dingus

Tony Dingus – Sign Technician for City of Kingsport

Tony has the experience and expertise to take his talents anywhere in the nation, but he chooses to stay in Kingsport.

Throughout Kingsport, Joel, known to most as Tony or “Doc,” has a special role in keeping the city running smoothly. Doc is a Sign Technician in the Traffic Department, and has worked for the city for nearly 30 years. Not only is Doc a dedicated employee, but he also has a hidden musical talent that makes him a true treasure for the city.

Introduced to music at the age of 13, Doc quickly grew and developed his musical talents into what they are today. He started out playing the bass guitar, which eventually evolved into him learning how to play the mandolin and the dobro. By the time he was 16 years old, he was playing the steel guitar.

Although he knows how to play many instruments, his true passion lies in the dobro. The dobro is a wood-bodied acoustic guitar with a metal resonator built into the body. In recent years, Doc’s skill has evolved into teaching students how to play. He teaches classes at East Tennessee State University when he is not working for the city. He’s been presented with many opportunities to work with professional musicians and travel to play his music, but he continues to stay in Kingsport.

“I love the city I work for,” said Doc. “I place a high value on the job I do and the wonderful people I work with.”

Doc’s city job entails striping the roads, helping with traffic patterns during events, and keeping signs throughout the city up-to-date. He has witnessed a lot of change over the course of time he has worked with the City of Kingsport. The equipment he uses every day to paint the roads, for example, has been consistently upgraded and improved. The equipment upgrades for his department have made painting the roads an easy and convenient process, for both motorists and equipment operators alike.  The newer painting equipment also allows the distribution of hot plastic to be used in place of regular paint, preventing the lines from fading and having to be repainted as often.

According to Doc, the biggest change he has seen with the city has been growth. Doc is constantly impressed and loves to think back to what the city used to be like compared to its impressive size today.

“When I first started working here, Lynn Garden wasn’t even a part of Kingsport. The city has just grown so much over the years, and it’s pretty amazing to be a part of that growth.”

Tony is a one-of-a-kind hero for Kingsport. The City of Kingsport is his home, and there is nowhere else he’d rather be.


Niki Ensor
Niki Ensor

Niki Ensor – Water/Wastewater Facilities Manager

Niki performs a life sustaining service – clean drinking water for our city.

Niki Ensor leads her team to provide clean and healthy drinking water for Kingsport residents – an essential service for any community.

Niki is the Water/Wastewater Facilities Manager for the City of Kingsport. Hired in 1998 as an operator in the water treatment plant, Niki eventually moved up to her current position. Her main responsibility is to make sure residents of Kingsport have the water they need to go about their daily lives.

“We are able to provide this service so that our community can live and thrive and build, and then they can have a great quality of life within our beautiful city,” she explained.

Her current project, the Raw Water Project, is nearing completion. The project replaces the current infrastructure and equipment that has reached the end of their usable life. The new infrastructure will change how water pumps in the plant for treatment. Using gravity, water will flow through a new tunnel and be pumped into the plant. The new infrastructure is more efficient and will provide Kingsport with clean drinking water for the next 100 years.

“What this does is provide us with more reliability, replace outdated infrastructures, and make water treatment more secure,” said Niki. “Now pumping operations will happen on-site at the water treatment plant, reducing the risk for single points of failure.  It’s really a tremendous project.”

Niki enjoys being involved in projects that go above and beyond the minimum requirements of water departments across the state. She and her team strive to better the quality of life for everyone in Kingsport. The water/wastewater team takes great pride in their department. They often receive recognitions for their efforts.

Recently, the water department won the Distribution Operational Excellence Award and the EPA Safe Drinking Water Partnership Award for the eighth year. The wastewater treatment plant has received several National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) Peak Performance awards for their exceptional compliance record.

Niki Ensor is a Kingsport Hero because of the hard work and dedication she puts into providing the city with the clean and safe drinking water it needs to stay healthy and thrive.

Nancy Fender
Nancy Fender

Nancy Fender – First Responder in Kingsport

Her job is to get help to the citizens of Kingsport when they need it most.

Nancy Fender is the communications supervisor for the City of Kingsport. She leads the team of 18 dispatchers that respond to all 911 calls. Nancy makes sure emergency responders and residents get critical information during an emergency.

Nancy oversees the department that encourages the citizens of Kingsport to feel safe and protected, but her job entails much more than that. Her responsibilities include training operators, troubleshooting technology and keeping detailed operator call records. She works as city liaison to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, informing them of statewide issues and concerns. Nancy is always working to make the city a safer place.

Over 29 years with this department, Nancy has witnessed a lot of changes take place. She could recall one change in particular that lead to the most memorable moment in her career.

“In 1991, dispatch decided to start training responders on what to do during basic medical emergency situations,” explained Nancy. “This new training gave us the ability to help callers with CPR or emergency first aid instructions until paramedics got onto the scene.”

Two weeks after completing her training, Nancy took a call that would put her training into action – a woman was giving birth and needed help.

“After asking a few questions it became clear that the birth was happening immediately,” recalled Nancy. She stayed on the phone with the woman, gave her instructions and helped ensure her daughter and new grandson made it safely through the birth.

“I’ll never forget that experience. I helped bring a new life into the world, and probably saved the mother’s life in the process.”

To everyone she works with, Nancy’s pride and commitment to her position in the city is obvious. Her leadership, dedication, and compassion have earned her statewide recognition. Her outstanding work has earned her the award for the Telecommunications Supervisor of the Year for the state of Tennessee. Nancy goes ‘above and beyond’ her duties to help the people of Kingsport whenever she can.

Nancy Fender is one of many emergency dispatchers all over the country who work tirelessly to help people around them. In recognition of their efforts, April 9 – 15 is National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.

This weeklong period is a time to celebrate and thank people who dedicate their lives to serving the public, like Nancy. To find out more about National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, please visit

brianne wright-hero
brianne wright-hero

Brianne Wright leads the way in preserving our city’s history

The lower level of the Kingsport Public Library contains Kingsport’s heritage and the woman who holds the key is Brianne Wright, the archivist for the City of Kingsport.

Her department has been important over the years, but never as important as during our city’s centennial year. Through her archiving efforts, the city is able to remember the past while looking to the future.

“I’m very proud to have helped the archives blossom, grow and become so extensive,” said Brianne Wright.

Brianne started working in the Archives in 2007. Her job is to preserve and protect the city’s history as much as possible for our current and future residents. Her and a few dedicated volunteers work to keep the archives running smoothly.

During her years as archivist, Brianne has collected meaningful pieces of Kingsport history. Photographs, artifacts and documents from residents, businesses and organizations fill the shelves of the archives.

“The City Archives has a large impact on the community because it’s where we keep our community history for future generations to enjoy,” said Brianne.

Through her archives work, she’s become very passionate about this community. Families that recognize their elders in a photo that’s been published or put on display call and email Brianne.

“I love hearing from family members that recognize someone in one of the archive photos,” Brianne said. “It’s really awesome when you help make those family connections.”

Photo displays of sporting events, graduating classes and local landmarks can be found in city hall. She’s also written two books about the city’s unique history.

Her most recently published book and one of the official centennial publications is ‘On This Day In Kingsport History.’ The book shares 365 historical facts or events that happened in Kingsport, one for each day of the year, over the past 100 years.

The archives showcase the rich history surrounding our Kingsport community and how the roots of the community still touch us today. Brianne helps keep our great city alive through her job every day.

For more information Brianne’s book or to purchase a copy, please visit the Kingsport Public Library located at 400 Broad Street or online at

To learn more about the Archives of the City of Kingsport, please visit or call 423-224-2559.

Anne Adamson
Anne Adamson

Anne Adamson understands the importance of a first impression for our city. She’s our city’s ‘Information Queen’ and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Anne uses her experience and wealth of knowledge to provide residents a correct answer to any question they might have. With the city for over 11 years, she gained familiarity with all departments and offices. Anne can recall almost any phone number you may need or the address of a city building.

On average, she fields 60 to 100 calls a day with questions about court, vehicle tags, water bills and more. Over 50 residents come through City Hall in a day and she’s able to direct them to the correct department or give them an accurate phone number to resolve their issue.

“I work really hard to listen and understand the problems or concerns people within my community are having,” said Adamson. “I know it’s my job to help them get correct, accurate information.”

Anne has been all over the world, but if you ask her what her favorite place is, she’ll say Kingsport. While passing through East Tennessee to visit family in California, Anne said she was immediately taken with Kingsport. After relocating here, her love for Kingsport has continued to grow. She attributes this love to the sense of community and closeness felt by herself and all the city residents.

“I started working for the city when I moved here,” said Adamson. “Because of the people I have met and the great community atmosphere, my love for the city continues to grow.”

Anne’s job is to connect people with the information they need, but she does so much more. Anne befriends the citizens of Kingsport on a personal level and has built relationships with many of them. According to Anne, people even bring their animals in to see her, and always seem to recognize her wherever she goes.

“I know everyone in Kingsport, just about,” said Adamson. “When they see me out somewhere, they always ask me what I’m doing and why I’m not down at City Hall!”

Some residents have been so impacted by the help Anne has given them, that they come in to City Hall just to pay her a visit.

“I’ve got regulars that come in just to see me all the time too, and it’s really wonderful.”

Anne Adamson is a city employee who helps hold this community together. She is an everyday hero who puts her all into her job. Her dedication to the city and her position is very apparent to anyone she meets. We’re very thankful to have someone like Anne welcoming people to our city!