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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Southern Ledger launched by Tri-Cities native

Click here =>

Check out this new publication new first class publication by Sam Jordan, a native Bristolian, a graduate of Tennessee High School and of Vanderbilt University. He most recently served as a Legislative Assistant for Congressman Bill Jenkins during the last two years in Washington D.C.

  • The Southern Ledger is The Source for News and Culture in the Southeast, offering two quarterly journals, sports analyses, music commentary, and a very broad range of regional, national and global news. There’s also a section featuring significant stories of each of the southern States. The two journals, Sissy’s Life and Gardens and Southern Writers feature nationally recognized contributors and writers.
  • The Home Page highlights Southeastern News; Business, Finance and Markets; Sports; and Entertainment and Lifestyle.
  • There is also a substantial business analysis generated by Stockgroup, providing detailed, current information on US Markets. The viewer can also track their individual Stock Portfolio at no charge; see My Stock Portfolio,
  • Several local writers are featured including Brandon Story, Kim Holloway and Jeff Byrd. (Brandon's article includes a bluegrass video).
  • The Southern Ledger will also be featuring Pod Casts.

Please forward to your friends and contacts throughout the Southeast!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

HonorAir in Tri-Cities?

Last year, I traveled with my 81-year old father to Washington to see the WWII memorial. In fact, I believe I wrote about it. I’ll search and send again. Until then….please read on.

-----Original Message-----
From: []


I was hoping that you might be interested in some news about the good works of one of Jerry and Betty Fritz’s childhood Kingsport friends. This is about the deeds of Col. Henry T. Johnson, USAF, retired. Henry was a 1963 D-B graduate with us and is an Air Force Academy grad. His father was W. Pope Johnson, DDS, our family’s dentist until he retired and they were members of Waverly Road Presbyterian Church with my family. What a wonderful family they were!

After retirement, Henry settled in the suburbs of Hendersonville, NC (Laurel Park) and has been very active in community affairs there, as United Way director and as Laurel Park Mayor as well as some that I probably do not even know about!

I’d offered him my UT – AF football tickets in September and he already had tickets, but we communicated via e-mail several times about the game. He sent me some info on a very wonderful project and I looked at the web site that he pointed me to and copied some Hendersonville News info to save. I was wondering if this is something that you’d like to publish in one of your “blog things.” Henry said it was fine and if you’d like to communicate with him about it in more detail, his e-mail address is I’d feel really good to see a hometown fellow get some well-deserved publicity.

What a wonderful community effort this is! We will be watching the CBS Sunday Morning program this Sunday, September, 24th. Apparently this is a “first” for this type of event. I wonder how many WWII veterans are still alive in the Tri-Cities area? Could this be a community effort that the Tri-Cities folks would be interested in? Living in Northern Virginia at this time makes it difficult for me to do much organization as I don’t have the appropriate contacts in the Kingsport area. If someone is interested in a local Tri-Cities HonorAir program, I’ll write the first contribution check for $250.00. In the last e-mail I received from Henry, it looks like he will be working on making a task list so that other communities could do this too.

Thanks for reading my communication and attachments.

One attachment is a newspaper article I copied.

Betty Fritz

Oak Hill, VA 20171

August 31. 2006 12:00AM
HonorAir to touch down in D.C.

Jennie Jones Giles
Times-News Staff Writer


About 220 veterans who fought and sacrificed in
Europe and the Pacific during World War II will visit their National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., thanks to the generosity of the residents of Henderson County.

"What we're doing has never been done," said Frank Schell, a member of the HonorAir Committee.

All the county's World War II veterans who signed up are being taken as a group to visit the memorial, at no cost to the veterans. Residents have set an example for the rest of the nation to follow.

"This community has done something never seen," said HonorAir Chairman Jeff Miller. "We're going to print up a guide for any other community who wants to do this."

Within six months, residents young and old rallied together, raised more than $100,000 and volunteered their time as guardians to honor the county's World War II veterans.

"We're here because of the support and sacrifice you gave us," Schell said to the veterans who gathered in one of two orientation meetings Wednesday at the Opportunity House.

"We're so proud of you,"
Henry Johnson, commmittee member and mayor of Laurel Park
, said to the veterans. "From the heart of this community, thank you very much. You are the parade and the rest of the community is standing on the side clapping."

The veterans and guardians will travel in two USAir 737 Boeing jets from the
Asheville Regional Airport to Washington. One jet will leave Sept. 23 and the other group of veterans will travel Sept. 24. The jets are larger than the normal planes that arrive and depart from the Asheville Regional Airport
. A special ramp is being brought to the airport, along with additional security staff. Each person traveling on the planes will receive one free parking pass.

"USAir and Homeland Security are embracing you like you can't imagine," Miller told the veterans.

Upon arrival in
Washington, veterans and guardians will board motor coaches and travel to the Washington Mall to tour the memorial and have a box lunch. There will also be an opportunity to tour the Korean War and Vietnam War memorials and the Iwo Jima Memorial. A visit will be made to Arlington National Cemetery

"We want this to be one of the best days of your life," Schell said to the assembled veterans, who represent all military service branches and range in age from their late 70s to 102.

There will be a couple of surprises built into the itinerary, Schell said.

"Lots of things will happen we're not telling you about," Miller said.

The guardians are paying their way, with some guardians taking commercial flights earlier each day so veterans on a waiting list could have their seats. As a result, there is no longer a waiting list of veterans, Miller said.

"The guardians are giving their time and money in support of the greatest generation," Schell said.

"My father was in the Air Force," said
Mills River
firefighter Rick Livingston, who is volunteering his time as a guardian and EMT. "Both my parents taught my brother and I we should return something to the community. It's an added incentive to be able to return something to those folks who did so much for this country."

Through fundraisers, donations and grants the residents of
Henderson County
raised more than $100,000 to charter the jets and motor coaches and pay for other expenses.

"I'd like to see the new memorial," said Navy veteran Melvin Wieland, who saw service in the Pacific and
theaters. "It's an honor to all of us."

"It'll be an interesting trip," said Marine Corps veteran LeRoy Hawkins.

Army Air Corps veteran J.H. Stepp is also looking forward to seeing the memorials. He will be accompanied by his grandson, J.H. Stepp IV, who serves in the National Guard and volunteered as a guardian.

Veterans must arrive at the
Asheville Regional Airport before 7:30 a.m.
on the day of their assigned flight. Guardians will be there to assist the veterans with paperwork, tickets and security.

One medical doctor and three emergency medical technicians will be aboard each flight.

Three motor coaches will be awaiting the veterans upon arrival in

The jets are expected to arrive back at the
Asheville Regional Airport between 7:30 and 8:15 p.m.
each day.

Veterans must bring a photo identification. If any medication is needed, the name on the medication must match that on the photo identification.

Manual wheelchairs, walkers and canes can be brought if needed. Electric wheelchairs will not be allowed. There will be wheelchairs and scooters at the memorial for veterans who may need the help.

No oxygen tanks will be allowed, but oxygen concentrators are allowed.

Veterans may bring light rain gear, an umbrella, cameras and cell phones. No sun lotions, creams, food or water can be brought onto the planes. Food and beverages will be provided on the flights.

Veterans are also reminded that pocketknives, scissors and lighters are not allowed on the planes.

Each veteran will receive a phone call from an assigned guardian in the next few days. Any questions about the trip or what is allowed on the plane should be given to the guardian.

For more information about HonorAir or to make a donation, visit

The American Legion Post 77 in Hendersonville, N.C. raised $2326 for HonorAir through their spaghetti dinner on Saturday August 19, 2006. “We served over 365 dinners last Saturday night,” said Ed Schaffer, spoke person for The American Legion. “We were very happy with the turnout for this event. So many people wanted to come out and support our World War II Veterans and help make this trip to Washington, D.C. possible,” he added.

All proceeds from this event go directly to the Honor Air Fund and will help our local World War II Veterans go to Washington, D.C. to see their memorial. “This spaghetti dinner was a wonderful fundraiser for HonorAir not only in terms of funds raised but also in getting the word out about the importance of this project,” said Jeff Miller, chairman of the HonorAir project. “The American Legion has done so much to support this project, and their efforts continue to be invaluable to ensuring this event happen,” he added.

Honor Air is a program organized by local volunteers to pay tribute to our Henderson County World War II Veterans, by sponsoring tours to Washington, DC, to visit their World War II Memorial. More than 200 local veterans are signed up for these one-day tours, which are scheduled for Saturday, September 23, and Sunday, September 24, 2006. The veterans and their guardians will travel by chartered aircraft from Asheville, NC to Washington, D.C. Upon arrival, they will board motor coaches and travel to the Washington Mall to tour the World War II Memorial and enjoy a box lunch. There will also be an opportunity to tour the Korean War Veterans, Vietnam Veterans and Iwo Jima Memorials. If time permits, the coaches will make a slow, respectful tour of Arlington National Cemetery before returning to the airport.

For more information about HonorAir or to make a donation please visit

Friday, September 22, 2006

What's not wrong with (Kingsport)

Here’s an excerpt from Roanoke that sounds very much like Kingsport/Tri-Cities…..

What's not wrong

By Stuart Revercomb


….they continue to try to re-create us in a fabricated vision of their own, or one recommended by some distant consultant, who says, "this is what we did in Charlotte, or Greenville or Phoenix or Tallahassee . . ."

We are not a major banking center and we never will be. (But that doesn't mean we can't offer the kind of incentives that will attract quality businesses.

BMW did not build a mega-manufacturing plant here. (But massive manufacturing plants aren't necessarily the best way to spark "smart growth.")

Tourism and travel will never be our lifeblood. (But restoring the 611 and offering weekend rail excursions to Explore Park or Blacksburg might be a creative way of cranking up tourism dollars as we honor our past.)

We do not have a major university downtown. (Though we can certainly maximize the possibilities that exist with Virginia Tech.)

So what's left?

I'll tell you what's left -- the best reality of all.

A medium sized town with a quality of life quotient that is off the charts for most of its citizens; a valley with an incredibly family-friendly environment that offers a balanced blend of cultural and educational opportunities as well as an unhurried pace that is refreshingly out of step with the majority of cities so many of our leaders seem to worship ... a valley so rich in scenery, natural beauty and character that people that come to visit here constantly and without fail exclaim, "Do you have any idea what you have?"

"No," I usually reply. "We really don't."

I once hired an individual, who six months later was offered almost two times what our company had paid him to come to Roanoke. But he didn't leave. When I asked him why, he told me that he had lived everywhere from Texas to Pennsylvania, but had never found any place quite like our valley. He then paraphrased the paragraph above and said, "I'd be a damn fool to leave." (Eventually we did increase his pay to make sure we kept him, but the true character of Roanoke did the rest.)

Play to the God-given strengths of this valley and watch it shine.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Kingsport gives green light to Starbucks, Panera

Reedy Creek Terrace is a proposed 40,000 sf specialty shopping center located on Eastman Road across from Blockbuster Video.


The developer identified the initial anchor tenants as Starbucks, Panera and FedEx/Kinko’s.


The center is projected to generate at least $8,000,000 in annual retail sales with a property value of at least $5.1 million.


Last night, the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen agreed to reimburse the developer up to $200,000 for a traffic signal if he meets certain performance criteria (which includes specifically landing Starbucks and Panera/St. Louis Bread Company and investing $4,000,000 in property improvements).


The center is projected to open in Spring 2007.


For leasing information, contact Ball Realty at 423.626.9393.



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Monday, September 18, 2006

Rising coastal insurance rates have residents fleeing inland

Major Economic And Demographic Shifts From Hurricane Katrina

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina reveals significant population shifts, huge losses for insurance companies, and a collapse in real estate values.

"In some Mississippi Gulf Coast towns, Katrina's powerful 28-foot-high storm surge did not leave a single structure standing. There was nothing for evacuees to return to. The destruction of housing and infrastructure in St. Bernard Parish, a low-lying 40-mile-long peninsula extending southeast from New Orleans, rendered most of it uninhabitable.

Many evacuees were able to return in a matter of days, but many more were not. New Orleans' population before Katrina struck was 463,000. Claritas, a private demographic data-gathering and analysis firm, reported that after the hurricane New Orleans' population shrank to 93,000. By January 2006, it had recovered to 174,000. By July 2006, the city still had only 214,000 residents, less than half of its pre-Katrina population.

...After a point -- as storm risks multiply and insurance rates rise -- real estate prices start to decline. To cite an extreme example, how much is a building lot worth in St. Bernard Parish, now largely abandoned, or in the low-lying parts of New Orleans?

As rising seas and more powerful hurricanes translate into higher insurance costs in these coastal communities, people are retreating inland. And just as companies migrate to regions with lower wages, they also migrate to regions with lower insurance costs."

Source: Tom Paine Common Sense, Aug 17, 2006

Full Story: America's Eco-Refugees





Monday, September 11, 2006

Kingsport Wins Prestigious National Award

KINGSPORT, Tenn.The Kingsport Convention and Visitors Bureau (KCVB) is for the third time a shining example of tourism awareness.   The KCVB’s Barbara Kite and Sissy Smith accepted the 2006 Shining Example Lantern in Arlington, Virginia Wednesday, September 6 during the Federal State Tourism Summit of the Southeast Tourism Society. 


The KCVB received this award for promoting tourism awareness with its 2006 See America Week activities.  During the week of May 13-21, the KCVB friendly high jacked travelers passing through, awarded Caught in the Act of Hospitality awards and dropped in on local DJ’s with the goal of getting the word out on how important tourism is to our local economy. 


“It is truly an honor to go up against some very large cities and for Kingsport to be chosen for the third time.  To be recognized by our industry peers for our efforts to promote the importance of tourism is truly a mark of distinction,” said John Scott, Executive Director, KCVB.  “I am very proud of our staff and the work we do here for the community.”


The Shining Example Awards recognize outstanding contributions to the advancement of tourism in the Southeastern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia & West Virginia.  The award in the Tourism Awareness Category was given to one organization out of the 11 southeast states that make up the society. 


The KCVB also won this award in 2003 and 2001.


The Southeast Tourism Society is a non-profit, membership organization dedicated to the development of industry organizations & professionals and the promotion of tourism within and to STS member states by sharing resources, fostering cooperation, networking, providing continuing education, cooperative marketing, consumer outreach, advice & consultation, governmental affairs and other programs.


The KCVB is a partnership between the Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce and the city of Kingsport.  Its mission is “to market the city and provide services to meeting and convention planners, tour operators, and business and leisure travelers by serving as a tourist development program of the Kingsport Chamber in partnership with the city of Kingsport.”  For more KCVB news, visit



Bring it to Kingsport!

Tennessee's Bright Spot!


Angela Andreae

Director of Communications

Kingsport Convention & Visitors Bureau

151 E. Main Street

Kingsport, TN 37660


423-392-8833 (Fax)



Thursday, September 07, 2006

On TV tonight

6:00 pm Sep 7


National Geographic channel (locally on Charter Cable channel 52)


“Tools of the Trade” featuring the rebuilding of I-40 through downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, dubbed “SmartFix 40”.


I happened to catch this on TV last week, so I can tell you first hand it’s definitely worth watching!


It’s a fascinating piece that explains the roadbuilding process and the specific pieces of heavy equipment required to do the job.  It highlights bridge & tunnel construction, blasting, and performance=based pay for completing the job on time.


It’s my understanding this is the largest construction project in Tennessee history.


To learn more about “SmartFix 40”, go to




Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Newcomers to Kingsport

Read the statistics below from only one month.  I think you’ll be surprised to see the impact of newcomers on Kingsport’s future economy!


If you know a newcomer, please remember to extend a friendly hand and make them feel welcome.


Did you know?  In the month of August, 2006, there were 108 newcomers to Kingsport.


52 were relocations from elsewhere in Northeast Tennessee (defined as the 376 zip code).

10 were relocations from elsewhere in Tennessee (outside the 376 zip code).

14 were relocations from Virginia

32 were from out-of-state (excluding both TN and VA)


60% chose to live inside the city limits of Kingsport.


Where did these out-of-state relocations originate?


In the month of August 2006, the top donor states were:


1. Florida

2. Ohio

3. North Carolina (tie)

3. Illinois (tie)

4. New York (tie)

4. California (tie)

4. Maryland (tie)


The remaining relocations to Kingsport for August 2006 came from:








West Virginia






Monday, September 04, 2006

Don't worry, be happy

I’m often hit with the statement, “There’s nothing to do around here”. 

I typically reply, “Well, what do you want to do that’s not around here?” 

After a pause, I often get a statement like, “Well, if we just had _________, then I’d be happy”.

My experience is that many people spend enormous amounts of time trying to “find” happiness.   

Happiness can’t be “found”, it comes from inside.  (It’s in our own backyard, didn’t we learn that from Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz?).

What will make you feel fulfilled? What will truly make you happy? 

Whatever it is, you won’t have to leave the Tri-Cities to find it. 

I’m inspired by the following insight….


Whatever you decide

If you allow others to define happiness for you, then you're not going to truly experience it. If you allow others to dictate what your dreams should be, you will never reach them.

The way to surely and reliably realize your dreams is to choose the ones that have real meaning for you. The way to know happiness is by allowing it to be what you want it to be.

Happiness is whatever you decide it is. And as such, it is always well within your reach.

In any circumstance, happiness is yours to define and to know. No outside factor, no other person, no twist of fate can keep happiness away from you when you allow it to flow out from you.

Putting conditions and restrictions on happiness keeps it at a distance away from you. Let go of the restrictions, and happiness is free to fill your awareness.

The smallest, plainest, simplest moment can be fertile ground for the most extraordinary happiness. Let happiness be from you, and it will absolutely be with you.

- Ralph Marston


Friday, September 01, 2006

Kingsport named district of excellence by School Nutrition Association

KINGSPORTKingsport City Schools was recently named a District of Excellence in Child Nutrition by the School Nutrition Association (SNA).

Only three school systems in Tennessee, including Kingsport City Schools, were named as Districts of Excellence in 2006. About 70 school systems nationwide have received the honor. 

This prestigious award recognizes school districts that score 80 percent or higher on SNA’s Keys to Excellence, in covering nutrition and nutrition education, administration, communications and marketing, and operations.  The Keys to Excellence provides a standard way for school districts to compare their program to the industry’s model of practice while helping meet their goals to serve healthy, delicious food in a cost-effective way.

“We’re honored to receive this School Nutrition Association designation because it recognizes the effective planning and productivity of our School Nutrition Services department which helps make school meals delicious, nutritious, and economical,” said Dr. Richard Kitzmiller, Superintendent of Kingsport City Schools. 


Kingsport City Schools School Nutrition Services department is directed by Linda Holland and includes more than 70 employees system-wide. The department is responsible for feeding an average of 5,000 meals per day with a self-sustaining budget. 


SNA is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country.  The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals.  Founded in 1946, SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children’s health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.


For more information, contact Linda Holland at (423) 378-2106.

Kingsport City Schools
Contact: Amy Greear, Community Relations Coordinator (423) 378-2123
August 28, 2006



Kingsport is located on the Tennessee-Virginia border at the crossroads of I-81 and I-26 near the geographic center of the Eastern U.S. This city of 50,000 in a metro of 308,000, was planned by renowned American planner John Nolen in his office at Harvard Square. Located in the lush green foothills of the Tennessee Valley, it is surrounded by the Southern Highlands and mountain lakes. Kingsport is home to Marriott’s and thousands of acres of unique, natural amenities at Bays Mountain and Warriors Path Parks. The natural geography provides a temperate, well-balanced climate with four seasons and a natural shelter from extreme weather. Population growth has also been well-balanced, ensuring you will not outgrow your decision to relocate. With no personal property taxes, special assessments, or state income taxes on salaries/wages, you’ll find that Kingsport has a very low cost of living coupled with an exceptionally high quality of life (see for yourself at The regional airport (TRI) has direct flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Orlando and St. Pete/Clearwater with easy access, parking, and virtually no security lines. The public education system was planned by Columbia University and Newsweek has repeatedly recognized the local high school as one of the best in America. Year in and year out our graduates go on to the top colleges and universities (and without costly private school tuition fees). Harvard also recognized Kingsport in 2009 with the Innovations in American Government Award for its higher education initiative. What are you waiting for? It’s time to leave the high costs, traffic jams, and stress behind and discover this hidden gem.