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Thursday, January 29, 2009


Click on photo for larger version

Jan 29, 2009, 9:19 pm

KINGSPORT, TN - Moments ago, the Dobyns-Bennett wrestling team defeated Knoxville South-Doyle 57-18 in the first substate match ever for either team.

D-B (22-6) advances to the State Tournament next Friday and Saturday in Clarksville.

The team hoisted Head Coach Buzzy Mann high into the air in celebration.

It is Dobyns-Bennett's first appearance in the state team tournament.

Watch for media coverage tonight and tomorrow on WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Kingsport Times-News and

Tomorrow night, D-B wrestles Sullivan South and Daniel Boone in The Dome at 5:30 pm. A win in both matches will tie the school record for most wins in a season.

The Tribe returns to action on Tuesday February 3 at 6:30 for Senior Night against Elizabethton and Chuckey-Doak in The Dome.

Varsity Team:
103 lbs - Brandon Joyner
112 lbs - Jordan Vaughn
119 lbs - Adam Mann
125 lbs - Austin Mann
130 lbs - Bobby Lemaster
135 lbs - Trent O'Brien
140 lbs - Brad Hoover
145 lbs - Keith Gilliam
152 lbs - J.J. Jordan
160 lbs - Mark Erwin
171 lbs - Steven Breen
189 lbs - Craig Carter
215 lbs - Evan Earles
285 lbs - Zack Fleming

Head Coach: Buzzy Mann
Assistant Coaches: Jeremy Smith, Joe Carter
Volunteers: Kevin Goldsburg, Ricky Watterson

Click on photo for larger version:

Pal Barger donates to new downtown Kingsport education facility

Media Contact:
Karen Jenkins
Tele: (423) 926-9494, ext. 111

KINGSPORT, TN -- Restaurant chain founder and Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award-winner Pal Barger announced a major donation to the City of Kingsport and the Northeast State Community College Foundation today.

The donation will provide the home for an advanced automotive educational facility in downtown Kingsport, complementing the City of Kingsport’s major investment in workforce development through the Kingsport Academic Village. Barger says the donation is part of his commitment to education and his own life-long passion for learning.

“What sets Pal’s Sudden Service apart from other restaurant chains is our understanding that Pal’s is really an educational institution in its own right,” said Barger. “Every year, Pal’s helps scores of new employees learn important job skills they will use the rest of their working lives. Given the struggles all states face in funding higher education, even in good times, I understand how donations such as this one are critical to institutions like Northeast State Community College in creating similar learning opportunities for all the people of our region.”

Barger worked directly with Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips to craft the purchase agreement on the land and building owned by Free Service Tire and Auto Center, located at 337 West Center Street downtown. The automotive repair and maintenance facility will be transformed into a hands-on laboratory and learning facility for students enrolled in Northeast State’s automotive technology program. At the same time, the renovated facility will compliment the expansion of the new downtown educational complex.

“Pal Barger is a visionary who continues to be a key resource for our city’s future,” said Mayor Dennis Phillips. “He understands the importance of a well-educated workforce to the success of our region. Once again, Pal is showing the way, stepping up and making our region a better place to learn, live and work.”

The $400,000 donation by Barger to the Northeast State Community College Foundation enabled the purchase of the land and building from Free Service Tire and Auto Center. Free Service will continue operations at the West Center Street location for about a year, and then move its Center Street operation to a new Kingsport location.

The Center Street location will then become part of the downtown’s Academic Village that already includes the Kingsport Center for Higher Education, Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Regional Center for Health Professions and Regional Center for Applied Technology.

Northeast State will renovate the existing building, where Free Service currently provides a complete line of automotive repairs and service, and add an automotive body and paint training center. The new addition to the curriculum will expand the automotive technology program, which offers associate of applied science degrees.

“I congratulate Mayor Phillips, the Board of Aldermen and Northeast State President Dr. Bill Locke for the innovation they’ve shown in making education far more accessible through the downtown Academic Village and this new automotive technology center,” Barger concluded.

In recent years Barger has donated the former Skoby’s restaurant facility on Konnorock Road to Virginia Intermont College for a culinary training program and played a key role in the construction of a new athletic field house at Dobyns-Bennett High School.

Pal’s Sudden Service is a 21-unit restaurant chain in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. The chain is the only restaurant to earn the U.S. Department of Commerce’s highest recognition for business excellence, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and is the only two-time winner of Tennessee’s Quality Excellence Award.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The ABC's of building a school

Flexibility is key component of area’s new schools - Kingsport ...
Jan 17, 2009 ... But John Adams Elementary is, in many ways, a whole different ball game. ... At John Adams, I have to build and furnish a brand new library. ...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

First resident moves into Hiwassee HOPE VI house

First resident moves into Hiwassee HOPE VI house

January 16, 2009

KINGSPORT — When Helen Bunting moved out of Riverview Apartments more than a year ago, she did not think she would be moving into one ...

Monday, January 26, 2009

True or false: City annexations into Sullivan County are to blame for declining enrollment

Sullivan school enrollment projected to decline

January 17, 2009

True or false: City annexations into Sullivan County are to blame for the declining enrollment in county schools. That’s mostly false...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Campbell upbeat about city's present, future

Campbell upbeat about city’s present, future

January 17, 2009

KINGSPORT — City Manager John Campbell gave an update on the state of the city to the Kingsport Kiwanis Club on Friday, touching on fi...

Friday, January 23, 2009

A special invitation from the Mayor

10 a.m.
Wed Jan 28
corner of West Center and Revere Streets
Downtown Kingsport

Join the City of Kingsport and Northeast State in recognizing the generous contribution of a prominent Kingsport citizen who provided funding for the first major expansion of Kingsport's Academic Village!!! The Academic Village will now contain 5 major buildings in its Downtown Kingsport campus.

1. RCAT - Regional Center for Applied Technology
2. RCHP - Regional Center for Health Professions
3. KCHE - Kingsport Center for Higher Education
4. RCAM - Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing
5. _______ (come hear more on Wednesday!)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How are you adapting to the new economic realities?

Here is an opportunity for coverage in the Wall Street Journal. Seriously!
  • Did you or your business take a lemon and make lemonade?
  • Did you use a job cut as an opportunity to seek higher education or make a life-changing transition?
  • Did you start your own business?
  • Did you relocate seeking a higher quality of life at a lower cost?
  • Do you have an insightful way for families to save money?
Hi Jeff – I have a friend from graduate school who is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. We occasionally discuss story ideas together.

He called me yesterday and is interested in coming to TN to do a story on ways in which people are adapting to the new economic reality that we all are facing. This could be a human interest story relating to personal experiences of individuals or families, or it could be about how businesses are changing and adapting. Anything unusual or different (good or bad) is especially interesting.

Please tell respondents to send their stories or comments to

Tyler K. Clinch
Chief Financial Officer/SVP
f1rst Community Bank
Kingsport, TN

Rachel's Story - 1 year later

One of my most popular blog posts last year was the story of Rachel Reed, who survived a seemingly-unsurvivable car crash on I-26.

Here is an opportunity to meet her in person and hear her story - 1 year later!

From Shea Payne, Kingsport firefighter, first responder to the scene of the crash, and teacher of "The Oasis"...

"Rachel will be at The Oasis at Higher Ground Baptist Church (1625 Lynn Garden Dr, just off I-26) on Wednesday night Feb. 4 at 9:00pm. She will be there to share her story 1 year later, almost to the day. (Feb.8 is 1 year). We are inviting whomever would like to come to hear her incredible story. The Oasis meets in the student building each Wednesday night at 9:07 pm . We are really excited about this night and hope to have many of her friends and family come. We are asking any who wish to please come and hear her story also."

Reminder - Kingsport City Schools Rezoning 2009/2010

KINGSPORT – The Kingsport Board of Education approved a school rezoning plan to alleviate crowding at several elementary schools and populate the new John Adams Elementary School in 2009.

The rezoning plan will impact approximately 250 students in elementary and middle schools. Zones affected include Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson and Roosevelt Elementary Schools, as well as Robinson and Sevier Middle Schools. An additional 193 students will be rezoned to the John Adams Elementary School.

Families living in these areas will be rezoned to the following schools effecting during the 2009-10 school year:

Malabar Heights, Bowater Dr, Pinebrook Place - area rezoned from Jefferson to Jackson Elementary affecting approximately 34 students (boundaries include Stone Drive, Idlehour Dr., and Brookside Dr. to the northern city limits)

A portion of Sevier Terrace will be rezoned from Jackson to Roosevelt Elementary affecting approximately 25 students (boundaries include Stone Drive, Morrison St, Hampton Ave. and Tranbarger Dr.)

All homes in the Cooks Valley community previously zoned for Jefferson will be rezoned to Johnson Elementary School affecting approximately 119 students (boundaries include Memorial Blvd to the southeast city limits)

Students living in the Warpath “triangle” of Memorial/John B. Dennis and Fort Henry will be rezoned from Johnson to Jefferson Elementary affecting approximately 76 students (boundaries include Memorial Blvd., John B. Dennis and Ft Henry Dr.)

Students living in Bailey Ranch, Rock Springs, Hemlock Park, I-81 & I-26 corridors, Sullivan Gardens, Moreland Drive, Willowbrook and Ward Place who previously attended Johnson Elementary will be rezoned to John Adams Elementary affecting approximately 193 students. Additionally, students living in the annexed areas of the Rock Springs community will attend John Adams Elementary.

Jefferson, Johnson, John Adams and Kennedy Elementary Schools will serve as the feeder schools for Robinson Middle School.

Jackson, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Washington Elementary Schools will continue serving as the feeder schools for Sevier Middle School.

For more information, contact the Kingsport City Schools Office of Community Relations at (423) 378-2123.

2007 Personal Income Figures Released

Personal Income in millions of dollars:

Chattanooga = $17,007

Lexington, KY = $16,656

Tri-Cities (combined) = $14,319

Roanoke, VA = $10,368

Kingsport-Bristol, TN-VA = $8,925

Spartanburg, SC = $8,100

Johnson City, TN = $5,394

Morristown, TN = $3,425

Cleveland, TN = $3,161

Academic Village - an investment in the future

City officials envision Academic Village as investment in future Kingsport Times News - Kingsport,TN,USA “As far as we know there are no other cities making this kind of local commitment,” said Jeff Fleming, deputy city manager. “Hopefully, these are the kinds ...

The Club at Kingsport Town Center

Visit and register for 'The Club' to take advantage of these savings...

Current deals:

20% off Claire's
$10 off Aeropostale
$20 off Christopher & Banks
$25 off CJ Banks
50% off Trade Secret
$10 off Biolage at MasterCuts
Buy one get one 50% off at Spencer's
Buy one Auntie Anne's pretzel dog, get a free pretzel

Win over $200 in gift cards from Downtown Kingsport

Go to

Be sure to register for the Big Deal Giveaway! (>$200 in gift cards from Downtown Kingsport)

Current deals:
$50 OFF Learning Assessment in January
Buy One entrée, Get Second entrée ½ OFF!
$20 OFF Full Body Detox
BOGO ½ OFF — 2009 Calendars
FREE Home Warranty — $400 value
1 FREE Tire Mount & Balance
Biolage Shampoo — 1 Liter for $14.99
30% off any single item
20% off any one item
FREE Nutritional Consultation w/ Sign-Up Previous Deals

Previous Deals:
20% Discount on Energy Efficient Windows
20 minutes FREE in spa capsule massage
2009 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 only $18,988
Buy 2 Appetizers, Get 1 FREE
Two Steak and Shrimp dinners only $15.99
FREE breadsticks w/ purchase of large pizza
$200 off closing cost

Sullivan's new scorecard

Sullivan partnership revamping its ‘Scorecard’ of activities Kingsport Times News - Kingsport,TN,USA Those are some of the reasons NETWORKS, a joint effort of Sullivan County, Kingsport, Bristol, Tenn., and Bluff City, has expanded its Scorecard, ...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Community invited to celebrate D-B football

The 2009 Football Awards Banquet will be held at the Quality Inn on January 24 beginning at 6 pm. Fans, family and friends are encouraged to attend, support and honor these student athletes. Tickets are $20 each. Contact Rick or Sandy Bateman at 246-1109 or

With a 10-0 regular season, Coach Graham Clark's 2008 D-B football team extended its lead as the "Winningest Football Program in Tennessee". Coach Clark extended his personal coaching record to 180-36, the 2nd highest percentage of wins for a Tennessee coach with 100 or more games.

Next year, TSSAA realignment brings an end to the 16-year existence of the Big East Conference. D-B captured the conference championship 13 times. Beginning next season, the Indians return to regional competition similar to the school's other athletic programs. This means no more weekly trips to Knoxville and a renewal of annual rivalries with South, Central, East, Volunteer, Tennessee High, Daniel Boone and David Crockett.

14 Indians reaped all-conference honors, 2 were named players-of-the-year,and 3 were named All State. Zack Fleming participated in the East-WestTennessee All Star Classic and will participate in the Tennessee-KentuckyBorder Bowl this month.

2008 Dobyns-Bennett Football Honors:

Sr - Jamie Crawford (Big East Offensive Player of the Year, 1st team 2007and 2008)
Sr. - Zack Fleming (All State, Big East Defensive Player of the Year, 1stteam 2007 and 2008)
Sr - Ryan Church (All State, Big East 1st team 2008, 2nd team 2007)
Sr - Ashlon Adams (All State, Big East 1st team 2008)
Sr - Will Bateman (Big East 1st team 2007 and 2008)
Sr - Justin Sylvester (Big East 1st team 2007 and 2008)
Sr - Andrew Tompkins (Big East 1st team 2008)
Sr - Craig Mitcham (Big East 2nd team 2008)
Sr - James Templeton (Big East All Academic 2008)
Sr - Alex Rich (Big East All Character 2008)
Jr - Patrick Hansen (Big East 1st team 2008)
Jr - Jason Michael (Big East 1st Team 2008)
So - Chris Sensabaugh (Big East 1st team 2007, 2nd team 2008)
So - Derrick Steele (Big East 1st team 2008)

Upcoming dates to remember: Jan 24 - 6 pm, Banquet at Quality Inn

Feb (last week) - QB Club Annual Meeting at Field House

Mar 19-22 - Bristol Race fundraising

Local athletes to compete in KY-TN Border Bowl this weekend

Sat, Jan 17, 1 pm
University of the Cumberlands
Williamsburg, KY

The Border Bowl promotes high school football in Kentucky and Tennessee. The objective is to provide an ALL-STAR game featuring the top players in Kentucky and Tennessee. This game allows players to have one more opportunity to play, practice and battle it out for the rights to the border. It also allows high school seniors to gain additional exposure and perhaps earn a scholarship for college. Each player must be nominated by a coach. All player profiles are reviewed by a panel of coaches from their home state. Attendance at the 2008 Border Bowl held at the University of the Cumberlands, James H. Taylor, II Stadium, in Williamsburg, Kentucky, exceeded 5,500, including more than 20 colleges.

Zack Fleming, Dobyns-Bennett
J.J. Goforth, Morristown West
Preston Frye, Sullivan East
Isaac Kinley, Science Hill
Tyrell McKinney, Morristown West

Plaintiffs drop Rock Springs annexation lawsuits

Rock Springs to become part of the City of Kingsport

Plaintiffs drop Rock Springs annexation lawsuits
By Matthew Lane
Published January 12th, 2009

KINGSPORT — With less than a week to go before trial, a group of Rock Springs residents who filed suit against Kingsport to prevent being annexed agreed to have their lawsuits dismissed.

Monday, January 05, 2009

D-B Band Fiesta Bowl Results & Video Coverage

Congratulations, Dobyns-Bennett Band!

You can watch the video at:

D-B is at the 64 minute mark (you can fast forward)

D-B's results:
3rd Place - Overall
1st Place - Schools With Enrollment <2,499
2nd place - Percussion

2008-2009 Results

FIELD PRELIMS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

98.00 Lawrence Central HS, Indianapolis, Indiana
94.15 Grove City HS, Grove City, Ohio
91.25 Dobyns-Bennett HS, Kingsport, Tennessee
89.65 Homestead HS, Ft. Wayne, Indiana
89.30 Lincoln Way East HS, Frankfort, Illinois
86.65 O'Fallon Township HS, O'Fallon, Illinois
86.15 Winter Park HS, Winter Park, Florida
84.95 Lakeshore HS, Stevensville, Michigan
82.80 MOC-Floyd Valley HS, Orange City, Iowa
82.75 Chandler HS, Chandler, Arizona
82.25 Rincon/University HS, Tucson, Arizona
81.80 Salem HS, Salem, New Hampshire
81.00 Foothill HS, Pleasanton, California

FIELD FINALS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

98.20 Lawrence Central HS, Indianapolis, Indiana

97.45 Grove City HS, Grove City, Ohio
95.00 Dobyns-Bennett HS, Kingsport, Tennessee
94.15 Homestead HS, Ft. Wayne, Indiana
92.50 Lincoln Way East HS, Frankfort, Illinois
88.95 Lakeshore HS, Stevensville, Michigan
88.05 Winter Park HS, Winter Park, Florida
87.45 O'Fallon Township HS, O'Fallon, Illinois

1 Lawrence Central HS
2 Dobyns-Bennett HS

CLASS B (School enrollment 2499 and under)
93.25 Dobyns-Bennett HS, Kingsport, Tennessee
93.15 Homestead HS, Ft. Wayne, Indiana
90.75 MOC-Floyd Valley HS, Orange City, Iowa
87.65 Salem HS, Salem, New Hampshire
84.90 Rincon/University HS, Tucson, Arizona
83.70 Lakeshore HS, Stevensville, Michigan
81.15 Indiana Area HS, Indiana, Pennsylvania

Sunday, January 04, 2009

$40,000 in Kingsport, TN is worth how much in other cities?

Hint: Kingsport has an enviably high quality of life AND one of the lowest costs-of-living in the U.S.!!


Click the link below to view a spreadsheet comparing Kingsport to cities in the region, state, and nation.

Kingsport CodeRED

City contracts with phone alert system to improve communications

KINGSPORT – Kingsport Public Works officials have entered a contract with CodeRED Emergency Notification System to provide utility customers with updates on service schedule changes and service interruptions.

CodeRED is a high speed automated phone system capable of delivering up to 60,000 calls per hour. Operated via secured Internet website, alert messages can be authorized from any location and delivered directly to citizens via the telephone. “We saw a need to be able to reach the citizenry and ratepayers for various public works issues,” Public Works Director Ryan McReynolds said Tuesday. “One example that comes to mind is whenever we adjust garbage the collection schedule for a holiday week. Ensuring that our citizens get this information is a daunting task. Even if we use all of our traditional methods, getting the information to 100 percent of our customers is very difficult. So we evaluated what method of communication could touch the most people.”

Designed to be innocuous, non-emergency notifications will be phoned out during daytime hours. The system can also be used for notifying the public of traffic disruptions, water outages or other disruptions of city services.

Currently, CodeRED calls are targeted by Internet mapping, which means that a few customers in outlying areas of the City might be missed.

To ensure your phone number is included in the Kingsport CodeRED database, please call 229-9451. In particular, individuals with unlisted phone numbers, those who have changed their phone number or address within the last year, or who use a cellular phone as their primary home phone, should call to register. Cell phones or unlisted numbers will be held solely for contact purposes, and will not be sold or redistributed.

“With public participation, over time, updated phone listings will help us improve our targeting,” McReynolds said. “We looked at many possible systems, but in our investigations, we have found that telephone calls are the most economical and effective mass communication tool we can find.”
The first Kingsport CodeRED message was delivered Monday prior to the Christmas holiday informing citizens of the revised holiday garbage collection schedule.

“This system delivers a higher level of service to our citizens,” McReynolds said. “It increases understanding of our garbage system operations, but also lets folks know about scheduled water outages, when service might be restored in the case of unscheduled outages, or inform our residents of any potential emergency situations.”

The Kingsport contract provides 50,000 minutes of calls. Monday’s city-wide garbage schedule announcement only consumed 4,000 minutes.

“We certainly intend to limit the volume of these messages, but unlike telemarketing calls, they do provide useful information to our residents,” McReynolds said. “We will certainly be evaluating possibilities for wider usage of the system.”

McReynolds said the system, at an annual service cost of $15,000, is far more efficient than other systems now on hand at the city, which are restricted by limited staff and phone lines.
“If you figure the average person could make one call and leave one message every 90 seconds or so, it would take a ton of staff time just to cover a fraction of what this system can do in just a few minutes,” McReynolds said.

716 families from 34 states moved to Kingsport July-Dec 2008*

*This data indicates the origin of families relocating to Kingsport. It is not intended to imply a net gain to the existing Census Bureau population estimates.

Top states moving to Kingsport (July-Dec 2008)

1. Virginia
2. Florida
3. North Carolina
4. Georgia
5. Kentucky, Michigan
6. California, New York, South Carolina
7. Ohio
8. Indiana, Maryland
9. Pennsylvania, Texas
10. Vermont

Top cities moving to Kingsport (since July 2006)

1. Johnson City, TN
2. Church Hill, TN
3. Bristol, TN
4. Gate City, VA
5. Elizabethton, TN

Click here to view the full report:

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Kingsport -- 10 years later

The year was 1999.

My son was 8 years old. My daughter was 4 years old.

Eastman Chemical was finding its feet as an independent company after spinning off from Kodak 6 years earlier. Several local manufacturers were facing downsizing, restructuring, or closure.

A new Board of Mayor and Aldermen had just been elected.

Mayor Jeanette Blazier called for an Economic Summit with 60 community leaders at MeadowView.

There was concern about the sustainability of Kingsport's economy.

There was concern about overdependency on the manufacturing sector and a need for diversification.

There was also the realization that the city's demographics were unbalanced -- specifically the lack of college-age residents.

So, where are we now?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the Kingsport MSA:

2,521 more residents were employed in Nov 2008 than Nov 1998

While 10,500 manufacturing jobs were lost...

5,400 healthcare jobs were added

2,800 leisure/hospitality jobs were added

1,300 natural resources/mining/construction jobs were added

600 financial jobs were added

500 information jobs were added

Drilling down to the City of Kingsport proper....

2000: 17,638 employed city residents
2007: 19,159 employed city residents

by occupation...

Management, professional, and related occupations
2000: 6,002 or 34%
2007: 6,619 or 34.5%

Service occupations
2000: 2,685 or 15.2%
2007: 3,192 or 16.7%

Sales and office occupations
2000: 4,852 or 27.5%
2007: 5,105 or 26.6%

or by industry....

2000: 1,365 or 7.7%
2007: 1,411 or 7.4%

2000: 3,651 or 20.7%
2007: 2,955 or 15.4%

Wholesale trade
2000: 658 or 3.7%
2007: 776 or 4.1%

Retail trade
2000: 2,389 or 13.5%
2007: 2,378 or 12.4%

Transportation and warehousing, and utilities
2000: 515 or 2.9%
2007: 790 or 4.1%

2000: 341 or 1.9%
2007: 404 or 2.1%

Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing
2000: 981 or 5.6%
2007: 1,293 or 6.7%

Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services
2000: 1,206 or 6.8%
2007: 1,227 or 6.4%

Educational services, and health care and social assistance
2000: 3,303 or 18.7%
2007: 4,473 or 23.3%

Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation, and food services
2000: 1,771 or 10.0%
2007: 2,110 or 11.0%

Other services, except public administration
2000: 907 or 5.1%
2007: 987 or 5.2%

Public administration
2000: 478 or 2.7%
2007: 308 or 1.6%

The median family income for city residents increased by 20% (from $40,351 to $48,351)

The median household income for city residents increased by 13% (from $30,524 to $34,391)

The number of college-age city residents increased 26% (2,554 in 2007 vs. 2,025 in 2000)

The % of city residents who are college-age increased from 4.5% to 5.6%

It is important to highlight these are *residents*, not just those who commute into Kingsport to take college classes.

2007 American Community Survey (City of Kingsport):
Median Age: 42.6
Median Household Income: $34,391
Median Family Income: $48,351
15-19 yrs old: 2,219 or 4.8%
20-24 yrs old: 2,554 or 5.6%

2000 Census (City of Kingsport):
Median Age: 41.9
Median Household Income: $30,524
Median Family Income: $40,351
15-19 yrs old: 2,513 or 5.6%
20-24 yrs old: 2,025 or 4.5%

So, ten years after the Economic Summit of 1999, Kingsport is well on it's way to realizing its vision for a diverse economy with balanced demographics.

On the cloing day of the 1999 Summit, my 4-year-old daughter joined the Mayor for a photo opportunity of Kingsport's future.

Today she's in her freshman year of high school and I feel much better about her future.

Kingsport's vision is indeed paying dividends.

A State-by-State Look at Interstate Resettling

Is Florida in a funk?

Friday, January 02, 2009

Kingsport is pretty remarkable

“As long as you try to balance that and create a holistic community where people can live, work and play, if you can crack that formula, then you have done something that is pretty remarkable. And I think Kingsport is pretty remarkable.” - Jeff Fleming

Kingsport sees record year for new investment
By Sharon Hayes

Published December 30th, 2008

KINGSPORT — For most of the nation, 2008 has been a year of economic hardship, as the worst recession in years took hold and wouldn’t let go.

But for Kingsport, 2008 was a record year for new investment and double-digit increases in sales tax collections.

“In this economy, Kingsport looks really good relative to the rest of the country,” said Jeff Fleming, assistant city manager for development. “In this kind of economy, people wonder how we do it.”

Since 2006, Kingsport has posted $370 million in new construction, including retail and commercial office buildings. The city has posted record investment for two consecutive years — $164.5 million in 2007 and $180.9 million in 2008.

New retail centers make up a lot of that investment.

Kingsport Pavilion — the city’s newest retail destination with stores such as Target, Kohl’s, Old Navy and Dick’s Sporting Goods — now generates $96 million in retail sales.

East Stone Commons — a shopping center featuring stores such as Hobby Lobby, Ross, T.J. Maxx, Pier One and PetSmart — generates $50 million a year in sales.

New shops and restaurants are also being constructed at the new Reedy Creek Terrace along Eastman Road.

Downtown Kingsport has posted record reinvestment for loft and restaurant development.
And the Kingsport Town Center, formerly the Fort Henry Mall, is preparing to undergo a $35 million facelift beginning next year.

Kingsport’s new shopping opportunities have helped boost the city’s sales tax collections. Those collections are up 11 percent year to date.

Meanwhile, Kingsport and Sullivan County have the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the state. In October — for which the latest statistics are available — the unemployment rate for the metro Kingsport area was 5.7 percent, down from 5.9 percent in September.

“While we are absolutely not immune to the national economic climate, we have been very steady and predicable year in and year out. We haven’t gone up in unemployment rates drastically, and we haven’t gone down in unemployment rates drastically,” Fleming said.
Kingsport’s industrial base is holding steady despite tough economic times. Most recently, Domtar announced it would expand operations at its Ridgefields converting plant and add 15 to 20 new jobs next year.

Eastman Chemical Co. announced it would cut $100 million in expenses next year to avoid companywide layoffs. Eastman is still moving forward with a $1.3 billion plan called Project Reinvest to upgrade its Kingsport facilities and expand production here.

Miles Burdine, chief executive officer of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, said the city’s economy is dependent on Eastman, which employs about 7,000 people here. And what Eastman is doing to remain competitive in a national recession just makes good business sense, he said.

“Their peers and competitors are doing things such as laying off hundreds of thousands of people. But Eastman has chosen to take some logical steps to keep from having those sorts of cutbacks,” Burdine said.

He said that by keeping its core work force intact, Eastman will be better prepared to handle the increase in business when the recession ultimately ends.

Kingsport’s medical community also made strides in 2008. Holston Valley Medical Center continued work on its $100 million expansion, and Holston Medical Group recently completed its $40 million medical office complex on Stone Drive.

And the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center announced an expansion this year. Eastman, which owns the hotel side of MeadowView, will invest $15 million to add two 55-room towers, bringing the total number of rooms to 305.

The city, which owns the conference center side of MeadowView, is adding a new executive conference center at the site.

Burdine said MeadowView was a risky investment when it was built more than a decade ago. Today, the facility generates tourism revenue and tax dollars for the city, and it’s helped spur new investment construction in that part of town.

“The payback has meant so much to Kingsport,” Burdine said. “The expansion of MeadowView and the addition of the executive conference center is such a smart move.”

Fleming said Kingsport’s strong economy is due in part to its people.

“We are naturally a very conservative lot. We don’t historically go out and get lots of loans and overstretch our credit. We live within our means. We actually have a goal of paying off our house one day, whereas many people across the country, that never crosses their minds,” Fleming said.

“The whole situation is a strong reflection of the character of our people. It is beginning to differentiate us from the rest of the country when it comes to the way we think, act and conduct our business,” he said.

Fleming used the analogy of the tortoise and the hare, saying Kingsport represents the tortoise, moving at a slow and steady pace to finally win the race.

“We are steady and predictable, which is a very valuable quality in today’s economy,” Fleming said.

He said Kingsport’s collective psyche has changed in the past few years. Now, city leaders are more willing to take chances for the good of the community, he said.

“We realized that we were largely responsible for our own destiny. It took us getting out of our comfort zone to be able to be in the position we are today,” Fleming said.

For instance, city leaders approved tax increment financing to help jump-start retail development. And they approved funding for higher educational facilities in the downtown district, realizing that new jobs come to cities with an educated population.

“The world is changing, and we’re going to have to change too if we’re going to adapt. And education is a key to that,” Fleming said.

“Our commitment to doing what we have to do locally rather than waiting for the state and federal government to do it for us is very unique nationwide,” he said.

Kingsport won national accolades this year in recognition of its willingness to advance the education of its citizens. The city was chosen as one of three communities in the nation to receive the inaugural Siemens Sustainable Community Award. Fleming accepted the award in April on behalf of the city at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center’s National Conference on Corporate Community Investment at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif.
During the ceremony, Kingsport was recognized for Educate and Grow, which allows qualified graduates from Sullivan County’s high schools the chance to attend college tuition-free at Northeast State Technical Community College for two years.

In addition, Kingsport was recognized for its efforts to establish the Regional Center for Applied Technology, a satellite campus of Northeast State in the downtown district. Today, the city is expanding those educational efforts by developing the Regional Center for Health Professions at Kingsport and the Kingsport Center for Higher Education, as well as the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

“We’ve had to do things that we normally would prefer there to be a clear line between the private sector and the government. We’ve had to get out of that comfort zone and partner where it makes sense in an effort to position Kingsport to achieve all that it can achieve,” Fleming said.
“Sometimes you have to do those things in order to be competitive with your neighbors and nationally,” he said.

Fleming said Kingsport’s efforts are paying off, as more than 2,700 families from 44 states have moved here in the past two years.

“We are trying to develop in a very sustainable way, and that means basically that we are trying to grow in a way that is responsible for our economy, our environment, our housing market, our hospitality and tourism market, our medical environment, and our industrial environment,” Fleming said.

“As long as you try to balance that and create a holistic community where people can live, work and play, if you can crack that formula, than you have done something that is pretty remarkable. And I think Kingsport is pretty remarkable.”

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Kingsport nets clean audit for Fiscal Year 2008

KINGSPORT – Kingsport garnered a clean opinion of its financial statement for fiscal year 2008 from auditors Blackburn, Childers & Steagall, and rectified all four findings reported in the prior year.

“This audit represents what the citizens of Kingsport expect from their local government, transparency in financial reporting and responsibility with the taxpayer dollar,” Kingsport Audit Committee Chair and Alderman Larry Munsey said Tuesday. “I’m pleased to note that city finance staff corrected four items identified in last year’s audit, while auditors, whose job it is to go over things with a fine-tooth comb, only found three items in need of some work going forward into 2009. By any measure, our city continues to stand on firm financial ground.”

Auditors noted in their 2008 findings the need for a change in the way property purchases and sales are recorded by the Kingsport Industrial Development Board; better record keeping on the disposition of city capital assets; and better segregation of duties within payroll processing.

“We’re very pleased with this report, and already have projects underway to address the findings on capital asset recording and payroll processing,” Kingsport Finance Director Jim Demming said Tuesday. “The third finding on KIDB is just a matter of changing from net reporting to include all costs related to property acquisitions and sales.”

Demming also noted that the addition of a new internal auditor position and realignment of finance staff duties should quickly correct the findings.

Meanwhile, as of June 30, Kingsport posted $14.84 million in its unrestricted fund balance for 2008, with another $3 million to be added over the next few years as the general fund is repaid funding it advanced for the construction of Cattails Golf Course. Board policy is to maintain a minimum of $11.4 million at all times.
City Manager John Campbell said the pace of city government has quickened with regards to a number of key areas, including the development of a higher education center; greater internal support for job recruitment and retention efforts; expansion of commercial and tourism development; and implementing technology to increase efficiency.

“We have the staff in place to ensure we offer the greatest transparency possible,” Campbell said. “At the same time, we continue to operate well within the self-imposed debt limit of 10 percent of assessed property value, with new capital projects funded by the debt service roll-off as old debt is paid off.

“Without a doubt, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen is making sound investments that position our community for continued growth, which is how we keep property taxes low for everyone.”

Kingsport City Government is organized into six reporting units, starting with the general fund which covers emergency services, development services, leisure services and administration.

Five enterprise funds include the water fund, for the production and distribution of clean water, funded solely by user fees; a sewer fund, again self-supporting through user fees; a solid waste fund for garbage collection and disposal, reported separately but funded through property taxes; and two funds that cover MeadowView Conference Center and the golf course.

Collectively, enterprise funds reported $16.3 million in cash as of June 30, a strong cash position Campbell said he intends to maintain.
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.