Highlighting Heroes: Water/Wastewater Facilities Manager for Kingsport Public Works

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“What this does is provide us with more reliability, replace outdated infrastructures, and make water treatment more secure,” said Niki.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.

Highlighting Heroes: Communications Supervisor for Kingsport Dispatch

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 www.npstw.org.

Highlighting Heroes: Archivist Saves Kingsport’s Past for The Future

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 www.kingsportlibrary.org.

To learn more about the Archives of the City of Kingsport, please visit www.kingsportlibrary.org/archives or call 423-224-2559.

Highlighting Heroes: City Information Queen 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!

Highlighting Heroes: Senior System Analyst Barbara Lane

 

Barbara Lane was hired over 4 decades ago. She still works for the city today.

“I love creating and working on new projects. I enjoy getting things done that will help people get the information they need. I love working with people.”

Barbara Lane is a senior system analyst for the city of Kingsport. Hired in July 1970, Lane has been with the city longer than any other city employee. In her 46 years, she has seen where the city has been and has watched the city grow to where it is today.

After graduating high school, Lane started in the water department as a cashier. There were no computers, no internet, no email – people just paid their bill with cash.

When the city first started using computers in the early 70’s, Lane became a computer operator who keyed in time cards, meter readings and more. Through self-study and a few classes, she learned the skill of computer programming. She started to develop applications from scratch for city departments.

With sharpened programming skills, she moved to information services. This is where she’s been ever since, becoming a Senior System Analyst in 1984.

Her strength is programming. Some of her recent project examples include reports which balance sales tax for utilities and fleet maintenance. She’s also working on a program that will allow city departments to electronically send, receive, and sign documents.

She also writes programs for different applications such as meter reading on iPads and the Click2Gov portal.

Lane is also working on giving the water/utility customers an option of having their statement emailed instead of receiving it in the mail.

“When I look at a project that’s helped people, I feel good about myself and the different departments I work with,” said Lane.

Lane has seen, or been a part of, most of the major growth in Kingsport over the past 40 years. During this time, she’s loved being a part of a team propelling a change in the right direction for the city.

It is because of people like Barbara Lane that Kingsport is where it is today.

Highlighting Heroes: Fleet Maintenance Manager Steve Hightower

steve hightower

Mechanic to Manager: A Lesson in Change

Loyalty is what Steve Hightower knows. Leadership is what he does.

From his roots as a mechanic to his past twenty years as a manager, Steve knows that change is a must. For Kingsport, Steve creates positive change that yields efficiencies, time and time again.

Steve is the Fleet Maintenance Manager for the City of Kingsport. This department keeps fire trucks, police cruisers, snowplows and all of public works’ vehicles running smoothly.

With 37 years on the job, Steve continues to find innovative ways to increase productivity in his department.

During his time as manager, the fleet department received these recognitions:

  • Top 100 Green Fleets Nationwide – given to those who use alternative fuels for city vehicles
  • Emissions Reduction Award – given by the Governor for the State of Tennessee,
  • 1-star certified green fleet award – also given by the State of Tennessee

In order to receive these recognitions, Steve and his department works hard to improve all city vehicles. “These awards shows us, and the tax payers, that we are going in the right direction,” explained Hightower.

The “green” fleet is now over 40 vehicles, which has reduced fuel costs 34% in the last year. Currently, the city is saving $1 per gallon by using propane instead of gasoline.

Steve’s dedication to his job allows him to feel a sense of pride in what his department has accomplished through this recognition and others like it.

From his early days as a mechanic, Steve understands the importance of his job. When asked what his department does, Hightower responded, “It’s our job to make sure all of the departments can provide services to the city.”

Often Steve and his team’s work is not seen by the public. However, their role in the community is undoubtedly important.

Inspiring Steve is simple. “The opportunity to make sure that any fire truck or police car is getting where it needs to go at any time to ensure safety. They can get their job done because of the work we do.”

 

Highlighting Heroes: Police Officer Jim Clark

Jim Clark

Kingsport Police Officer Serves For Others

Officer Jim Clark protects communities through strong communication channels.

Since 1992, Clark has been serving as Direct Patrol for the Kingsport Police Department. He loves his job because it allows him to become involved and connect with residents. He strongly believes communication between the police department and the residents they protect is the most important aspect of community safety.

Clark has seen first-hand the positive effect communicating with residents has on his job. After working closely with Kingsport communities and getting to know the residents, he created trusting relationships. These relationships allowed Clark to connect with residents and instill that he was there to keep them safe.

Once communication flowed more freely, residents started reporting things they saw to Clark. Eventually, these communities slowly because a more safe and secure environment for residents.

“What we do is sometimes social work, or we’re a preacher or law enforcement,” said Clark. “We see people at their worst sometimes so we have to be able to do it all.”

Through his efforts, he’s helped residents and other officers understand how important trust, communication and safety is for everyone.

Bill Donoho

Highlighting Heroes - Bill Donoho

Kingsport Firefighter Follows In Father’s Footsteps

Bill Donoho has been working for the City of Kingsport for 27 years. Donoho is a fireman, engineer, and paramedic. At a young age, Donoho was inspired to become a firefighter by his father, who helped start the first responder program in the state of Tennessee. Donoho got involved with the medical side, started taking fire training classes, and fell in love with the job.

Donoho risks his safety every day, but still has a strong love for his job. “My favorite part of the job is to be able to help people in need,” stated Donoho in a recent interview.  While the scariest part, according to him, is most obviously going into a fire, but maybe not for the obvious reason. He described going into an active fire as nerve-racking because “you never know what is going to happen, you don’t know what’s there. Most of the time it’s like running in with blinders on. You never know what you’re going to run into.” Donoho states he’s had many close calls while on the job, and has even fallen through floorboards and had debris fall on top of him. Donoho, however, just considers this all part of his job, and easily accepts these risks every day that he goes to work.

While he enjoys his work, certain parts are harder than others. Donoho describes the toughest part of his job as the physical and mental fitness required to deal with the job itself. Firemen need to maintain their physical fitness to be able to do their job, but according to Donoho, the mental fitness aspect is even harder. He stated that, for many, the job doesn’t stop when they leave the station; many firefighters take the job home with them. Being a fireman requires not just physical strength, but mental strength as well.

Bill Donoho is a firefighter, engineer, and paramedic for the City of Kingsport, and he is a true hero within his community. Donoho works hard both on and off the clock to help make Kingsport a better, safer place. He not only values his job, but believes in the difference he is making to improve his community and to help those in need.

Rodney Dye

Rodney Dye - Highlighting Heroes

City Worker Brings Joy to Child’s Life in a Simple Way

Rodney Dye, a City of Kingsport Public Works employee for over 17 years, has gone above and beyond his job title to inspire and form a bond with a local child.

Dye was first introduced to the little boy, Creed, by attending church with Creed’s grandmother. “She would always ask for prayer requests for him when he was first born, because he was really sick and had a lot of heart issues. So we always prayed for him.” Dye, being part of the city’s waste management team, eventually became in charge of their garbage pick-up, where the boy would always be outside smiling and waving at him during his weekly route.

Creed’s grandmother eventually got in touch with Dye, expressing to him how much his simple smiles and waves meant to the young child. “After knowing his story and all the problems that he had in life, it just touched me, knowing that something that simple was bringing joy to his life,” said Dye about the experience.

After speaking to Creed’s grandmother, Rodney Dye decided to invite him to the City of Kingsport’s Public Works day, a yearly event that helps showcase the City’s Public Works Department and its involvement in the community. When Creed and his family arrived at public works day, Dye showed the boy the garbage truck up-close, helped him inside it, and even let him play with some of the controls.

After seeing the child’s amazement at Public Works Day, Dye decided he wanted to do another small act of kindness for Creed. Calling in a favor, Dye obtained some toy trucks that resembled the garbage trucks driven by him and other city employees.

Dye gave the trucks to the boy, knowing how much they would mean to him.

According to Dye, he and his wife now visit Creed at his grandmother’s house, where Dye and Creed play with the toy trucks together. “He laughs, smiles, and enjoys the fun and the attention. It really is a blessing to see how far he’s come. He’s a sweet child, and it’s good to see him smile after all he’s been through.”

Rodney Dye is a city employee that truly cares for the people within his community. Dye is one of several city employees that collect trash from the 50,851 citizens, 20,765 households, of Kingsport every week. His job is to collect waste from those on his route, but he decided to do so much more.

Dye, the second Kingsport employee to be highlighted in the Highlighting Heroes: People Behind the Service campaign, shares his story of how our city employees don’t just come to work to do their job – they go above and beyond the call of duty and have proven that there is more to city employees than meets the eye. These hometown heroes are what make Kingsport such a one of a kind place.

Melanie Adkins

 

Melanie Adkins - Highlighting Heroes

Melanie Adkins

Melanie Adkins is the first city employee to be highlighted by the campaign. She is the sole person in the Code Enforcement department and a vital part of maintaining and improving the beautification of the City of Kingsport. This means violations, such as houses looking like junkyards, abandoned and foreclosed properties, as well as homes that have remained unmaintained for weeks or even months at a time, have become her primary focus.

These large-scale infractions within our city limits affect more of the community in its entirety than the smaller infractions, and have therefore become the top priority of this city department. While there are many violations, the limited resources provided to this department, combined with the strong growth within the city, have steered this program to work avidly on improving the more significant infractions.

“We have made great progress in Kingsport in the area of Code Enforcement. When properties are cleaned up, dilapidated buildings are demolished or new structures are built, there is a renewed sense of pride in the community,” commented Code Enforcement Coordinator Melanie Adkins.

Codes enforcement used to cater more towards individual complaints and minor aggravations that had a very minimal effect on the community. Now, as the community has changed and grown, the focus of codes enforcement has become more strongly directed at improving the community as a whole.

By beautifying our city, Adkins and the communities she serves are not only making their environment a cleaner, more attractive space, but also contributing the overall attractiveness that Kingsport is striving to reach.