KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — In a time where the entire world is accessible, Jeff Fleming stayed around Kingsport to live and work. He spent his career serving the Model City, and still does, even in retirement.
When he was a student, Fleming took a chance and applied for an internship for the city of Kingsport.
“If it’s meant to be, it’ll work out the way it’s supposed to be,” he said. “And, I never looked back and I’ve been here ever since.”
He also met his future wife while she was interning at City Hall. After more than three decades of service to the city, Fleming retired as city manager. But, his love for serving the community went into overdrive, with no “day job” workaround.
“I do Meals On Wheels, I belong to civic clubs, I do work for domestic violence, homelessness, many different endeavors,” he said.
A group close to his heart is Move To Kingsport. Fleming is often the first point of contact for people who are thinking of relocating to the Model City.
“I have sorted and sliced and diced the data in every which way I could possibly, and it always comes back to this is the place I would want to be,” Fleming said.
He shows them what he grew up knowing: that this region is different. It hasn’t outgrown itself, and its smaller size allows for people to still be personable, and in a word, neighborly.
“It’s the little things,” Fleming said. “People say that people make eye contact in the post office. They ask, ‘How are you doing?’ and they really mean that.”
It’s the idea of a community coming together, growing, and thriving that energizes Fleming to continue to do what he loves. His family is close, and Fleming says his wife, kids, and grandkids enjoy the very selling points he gives to those looking to move.
“I think people feel welcome, they feel included. It feels like home,” he says. “What makes our area special, is you’re going to get out, volunteer, be part of the community because it’s so fulfilling.”