KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – An assignment this spring at East Tennessee State University created an opportunity for Kingsport native and nursing student Max Chesser to petition for additional seating options and sheltered coverings at Kingsport Area Transit stops.
Chesser was working on his “Community and Public Nursing” course when he came up with an idea to add additional seating options and sheltered coverings at city bus stops.
“One of the assignments as a windshield survey and that’s a research method where you go and make organized observations on a community, and I chose to do Kingsport. And after doing the assignment we had to do some research at home using the online databases, and through that I saw how individuals that use public transportation generally have disabilities, physical disabilities, and just researching that made me want to do more and reach out and try to get something done to where there are more seating options and sheltered coverings,” Chesser explained.
He said people with physical disabilities often frequent public transit and are subjected to mental and physical strife due to lack of resources provided by the transit services. He wished to correct this.
Chesser presented the assignment to his class, then decided to find out if he could do more.
He told News Channel 11 that as a graduate of Dobyns-Bennett High School, he reached out to a former teacher to get in touch with the best contacts with whom he could share his research.
Through this contact, a member of the Kingsport Neighborhood Commission, he was invited to present his findings to that board.
“The process has been really easy and everyone’s been incredibly nice. I reached out to Deborah Molins who was a teacher of mine at Dobyns-Bennett, and she’s no longer working there, but she’s very involved in the community. So I just wanted to reach out to her to see if she knew the best contact for me to reach out to and she’s actually on the board of the neighborhood commission, so she invited me to come and speak there and the Kingsport area transit service planner was there so I actually got to speak to her about it and give my presentation in front of her, and then an alderman listened to the presentation and she actually took it to her city manager and presented it there as well,” he explained.
Kingsport Neighborhood Commission Chair Jamie Jackson told News Channel 11 that Chesser provided valuable information for the board’s consideration, but that adding these shelters and benches at the over 200 bus stops in the city would be expensive.
“I mean it feels great to see something happen, because, you know, a lot of people look at government as that long process where you don’t get to see change happen and it’s really amazing to see how quick, people have reached out to help me and to get the process going so that’s been really amazing for me to see,” Chesser said,
He said that he understands that hoops need to be jumped through to get the final product approved, but that he hoped to see some form of progress after his plea.
“Even if it’s just a bench like even a bench would help, because so many people use KATS you have students you have, grandmothers, you have parents you have people with bikes that need to get on as well so I think that will just be a huge benefit for the community and it’s going to increase engagement across all sorts of different social backgrounds,” he said.