Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thanks, Rev. Collins

I thank the Rev. Ron Collins and his organization for the great work on the MLK march. It’s always a success. I enjoy marching in it. I like the way he let everyone march no matter their color or religion. We marched to the police station for a fellowship talk, and Mr. Nathan Vaughn did a nice speech. The Rev. Collins is truly a man of equality and love. I do appreciate him and what he does in Kingsport. And many blessings to Ms. Johnnie Mae Swaggerty and the New Vision Youth. She is a shining star to the youth and the seniors and the community. I've watched over nine years the events she does in the community. I don't know how she does it. I've asked around and people say she's in their organizations in Kingsport and keeps going and doing good works. I've never seen a youth group stay together that long and how Ms. Swagerty takes time out with other people and support them. I hope the community and Kingsport gives her thanks and hugs. My name is Doretha Everhart of Elizabethton, Tenn. I just had to write. Keep up the good work.

Doretha Everhart

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Medical tests do reveal problems


In response to the article: “Too many Tests?

Routine medical exams get second look.I read this article twice and I am border line on this. Yes, everyone should question medical test being done if you are not “At Risk”. But there are times good Doctors are really concern and want to know what is going on with their patient.

My child was an active child played City Recreation basketball since 5 years old, Jr. and High School basket ball and softball, also was in Pizzazi Ladies and Impact Choir at DB. The fall of 2000 first semester of school, a healthy (Not At Risk) athletic 18 year old VI college student comes into her doctor’s office and says she has blacked out twice, the coach and trainer will not let her come back to practice until they figure out why.

She was not an at risk patient, only health history she had was asthma and severe allergies. With every test she ran came back normal. She referred her to the Heart Center and they ran test and it came back normal.

Both Dr. Susanne Toyne and Dr. Brian Armstrong were not satisfied.

With persistence they continued to find out what was going on. He ordered an Electrophysiology Study and a Right Heart Catheterization on my child. Finally they found she had an anomalous left main coronary artery coming off the right coronary cusp. I was told this was a birth defect! She was also told she would not be able to play sports any more. She was sent to Duke for surgery and they repaired her problem and to this date you cannot tell she had any problems at all except for the scar as a reminder.

I praise those doctors for saving my child's life. She had to redshirt her first year in college from playing both softball and basketball. But her second year she was back on the court and field. There have been a couple college and professional basketball and football players that had the same problem. For them it was too late and they did not discover their problem until an autopsy was done.

Athletic School physicals also don’t catch everything. So to the people in Washington, please be very careful in your decision when you go to vote and make these types of decisions. Weigh all the options, encourage people to ask and question doctors on test being ordered. There are some good doctors out there.

That article really concerns me and I hope that it concerns others as well.

Charlene Hodge, Kingsport

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Belated Party: Happy Birthday, Jai-Jai!

"She touched a lot of people.. she loved being around people."

"Her spirit lives in the people whose lives she was in."

On a cool January day in 2012, Jaleisa Dulaney's friends and family got together to celebrate her 8th birthday. Wishing her "happy birthday" was a ritual every year, because the feisty Jackson School second grader loved parties and getting together with people in the Riverview community.

But this year was different.

This time, "Jai-Jai" as she was known, would not hear the "happy birthday" wishes from her friends.. she would not beam at the presents she received.. she would not taste the birthday cake with her name on it.

Jaleisa would not be here for her 8th birthday.

She celebrated this particular birthday with Jesus.

"Jai-Jai" was tragically taken from her friends and family, in a rollover automobile accident on I-26 on July 14, 2011 near the Meadowview complex south of Kingsport.

Because she was so active as a member of the New Vision Youth Kids, her passing sent waves of shock and grief through the Riverview Community.

"I can talk about it now," says her grandmother Mary Beatty. "I can talk about it now because I know where she is.. she's with the Lord. At times when I think about it, I feel sad, but because she had the ability to make you smile, I try to think about that more. Even when she did something bad and I was angry with her, I would think about something she did earlier and that would make me laugh. How could you scold her when you were laughing? She even had this funny way of laughing, that would make you laugh right along with her."

"Soon, I would forget what I was angry about."

Mary was one of many Riverview residents, who attended a special birthday party held in Jaleisa's honor at the Riverview Community Room of K.H.R.A. at the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex on Saturday, January 21, 2012.

Click here to see a slide show of Jaleisa's 8th birthday party celebration. Thanks to Donna Morrisette for providing pictures of the party.

"It was hard singing 'happy birthday' and her not being there," Mary says, "but it was O.K. because I knew everybody there knew who she was and loved her."

"Everybody has their own memory of 'Jai-Jai.'"

One person considered a special friend was Michael Bell. Michael and Jaleisa were inseparable as friends in New Vision, and no where was that proven more, than at the New Vision proms that Johnnie Mae Swagerty holds every year for the children. Music, food, games, and other activities kept the kids busy.

And then, there was the dancing. For the past 3 years, Jaleisa's date has been Michael.. twirling, swinging, dipping.. they did it all.

We're told, he was devastated by her passing.

"She was the only one he ever wanted to take to the prom," remembers Mary. "He told his mama that he didn't know if he wanted to go to any more proms, because he and his brother miss her very much. They all used to play games together and it's been hard on him. She loved to dance with him, there's no secret about that, and she also loved 'Dancing with the Stars.' In fact, she always wanted to ballroom dance, and one year, I was going to sign her up for ballroom dancing. I actually went to sign her up for it, but I couldn't find the shoes that she needed, so we didn't get to sign up. We still planned to go for it, though."

At her birthday party, friends and family also lit candles in her honor.

"We had four candles," says New Vision Youth director Johnnie Mae Swagerty. "A birthday candle for Jaleisa, and a family candle for her loved ones. Then, we had a candle for her cousin Jalissa Ferguson (who died at the hands of a drug dealer and his stray bullet in the Riverview Apartments in 1995), and a fourth candle for the community."

Swagerty says the candlelight vigil was a moving service.

"No one spoke much during the lighting of the candles," she says, "because words just would not come. The service was very uplifting and afterwards at the party inside the Community Room, Reverend (Ricardo) Dorcean (of the Central Baptist Church) led a prayer, and everyone got to share stories, talking about the good times when she was here. In addition to the birthday cake, we had turkey and dressing, green beans, broccoli casserole, macaroni and cheese, and the local Bojangles Restaurants donated chicken and biscuits. The food was good and everybody had a good time remembering her."

The event ended with the releasing of big, purple balloons into the night air, emblazoned with the words "happy birthday," floating into the sky towards the heavens.

"It was a healing time for the community," Swagerty noted. "For the young people there, her friends, they were kinda happy about the event because it was her birthday and they knoew that if she would have been here, she would have enjoyed it. It took a load off the community's mind about the tragedy of how she left us. A lot of prayers went up and a whole lot of hugs went around that night."

"We'll never forget her, but for that night, closure came a little easier."

That thought is not lost on Grandma.

"I pray for strength every single day," Mary says. "It hits me that she's not here especially in the mornings.. that's when I would take her to the Boys & Girls Club. Then, in the late afternoons whenever I would come home from work, my TV would be on all the time. I knew she was O.K. because the TV would be home. Now when I come home, the TV is not on. It's hard because I look around for her.. I wait to hear her voice, but the air is still. I just ask God for strength, and he comes through with it every time."

"There's just so much about her that you cannot forget," says Mary. "Her smile, her trying to rap.. she enjoyed rapping.. her love of dancing, her curiosity.. she loved to ask questions. She always wanted to know about everything. When she found out what happened to her cousin Jalissa Ferguson, she had so many questions about her.. what happened, how did she get there.. would she ever get to see her? Jai-Jai was curious about everything and she asked about her cousin Jalissa even the week she passed away."

"She doesn't have to ask that question now. She finally got to see her, and Jesus Himself introduced them."

"Happy birthday, Jai-Jai. The two girls are finally together."

Friday, January 20, 2012


To an almost old person,

I never really liked the terminology "Old Person" but this makes me feel better about it.

And if you ain't one, I bet ya you know one!

I got this from an "Old Personal friend of mine"!


I'm passing this on as I did not want to be the only old person receiving it. Actually, it's not a bad thing to be called, as you will see.

•Old People are easy to spot at sporting events; during the playing of the National Anthem. Old People remove their caps and stand at attention and sing without embarrassment. They know the words and believe in them.

•Old People remember World War II, Pearl Harbor , Guadalcanal , Normandy and Hitler. They remember the Atomic Age, the Korean War, The Cold War, the Jet Age and the Moon Landing. They remember the 50 plus Peacekeeping Missions from 1945 to 2005, not to mention Vietnam.

•If you bump into an Old People on the sidewalk he will apologize. If you pass an Old Person on the street, he will nod or tip his cap to a lady. Old People trust strangers and are courtly to women.

•Old People hold the door for the next person and always, when walking, make certain the lady is on the inside for protection.

•Old People get embarrassed if someone curses in front of women and children and they don't like any filth or dirty language on TV or in movies.

•Old People have moral courage and personal integrity. They seldom brag unless it's about their children or grandchildren.

•It's the Old People who know our great country is protected, not by politicians, but by the young men and women in the military serving their country.

This country needs Old People with their work ethic, sense of responsibility, pride in their country and decent values.

We need them now more than ever.

Thank God for Old People.

Pass this on to all of the "Old People" you know.
I was taught to respect my elders. It's just getting harder to find them.

Submitted by Frank Horton

Monday, January 16, 2012

Events in Kingsport pay homage to King’s legacy

An Editorial from the Kingsport Times-News

Today marks the national observance of the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. In a noonday parade in Kingsport, a community luncheon and a candlelight vigil, King’s legacy of nonviolence in the pursuit of justice will be remembered and extolled, as it should.

But if the civil rights leader were alive today, he would surely urge those who seek to honor him and that struggle to make this a day of action, rather than a day of rest and recollection.

That’s not to say there hasn’t been progress, for, of course, there has been. If nothing else, the election of Barack Obama is evidence of that. But there are abundant examples of progress beyond the political and symbolic.

In Dr. King’s time, census statistics revealed that nearly nine of every 10 blacks lived in poverty. Today, more than 40 percent of blacks are solidly middle class. And college attendance rates for blacks are now indistinguishable from whites. Indeed, in many ways, the progress has been so dramatic it tends to obscure the extent of a bigotry that was once a condition of life — and not just in the Jim Crow South.

The world of segregated bathrooms and lunch counters King helped to abolish is as remote in time to the average schoolchild of today as Lincoln’s assassination or the Civil War. It is a world they have seen in pictures, but can never truly know, since they did not live through it. Such is the measure of King’s success in helping to reorder society itself. King’s dream of a world in which people would be defined, “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” is now a touchstone of modern American life.

Dr. King did more than any other single figure in American history to give that dream dimension and meaning. The Martin Luther King Jr. remembered and celebrated today is a figure dramatically invoking that dream of racial harmony at the rally on the mall in Washington, D.C., in 1963.

Virtually forgotten are the later years, after the passage of the Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965, when King started to decry the huge income gaps between rich and poor and began to call for radical changes in the structure of society.

“True compassion,” he said, “is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

All too soon, however, Dr. King’s exhortations would be silenced by an assassin’s bullet in 1968. He was just 39.

From noon until 1 p.m. today, the 12th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Parade will be held in downtown Kingsport. The event will begin at the intersection of East Sevier and Center Street (Rikki Rhoton Allstate Insurance Co.’s parking lot) and conclude at Shelby Street at the city parking lot between Kingsport City Hall and the Justice Center.

The theme of the parade is summed up in three words: “Remember! Celebrate! Act!” Parade sponsors include Eastman Chemical Company, Food City, Office Depot, Joshua Generation, My Brother’s Keeper, Putting Babies First, H.O.P.E., and the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency.

A community luncheon will be held at 1:30 p.m. in the Riverview Community Room at 301 Louis St. It is sponsored by the New Vision Youth and the Kingsport Parks & Recreation Division of Community Service, in partnership with Friends of Distinction and Riverview Residents Association. In addition to the meal itself, there will be door prizes and gospel singing by Full Gospel Mission Church Gospel Choir.

This evening, beginning at 6 p.m., there will be a candlelight vigil honoring Dr. King in the parking lot of the V. O. Dobbins Sr. Complex, 301 Louis St. The theme is “Let’s Walk in Unity & Love Each Other.”

In these local ceremonies as well as many others, we honor the icon that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has become. But hero worship was never King’s interest. Changing society was. His life was all too brief, but the dream he had goes on.

More than four decades after his tragic and untimely death, it’s up to each of us to do our part in making that dream a living reality.