City recognizes Smith’s years of service

Published 12:22 pm Friday, May 26, 2023


The City of Middlesboro recognized Donna Smith for 50-plus years of service to the community by bestowing upon her the city’s highest honor, Admiral of the Yellow Creek Navy, during its regularly scheduled council meeting on May 16.

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Smith was born in Arjay, and attended Bell County High School and later Tusculum College. During her time at Tusculum, she majored in math and English, then returned to Bell County where she taught English at Lone Jack High School. She moved to Middlesboro after meeting her husband Kirby Smith III in 1967. Since then she has been very involved with many community organizations, businesses, and services.

Smith has served her community for several years. She has served a number of years as Girl Scout leader for girls in Middlesboro. She served as president of Middlesboro Art Club, member of the League of Women Voters. She has been appointed to the Middlesboro City zoning and variance committee. She served several years on the Cumberland Mountain Fall Festival committee. Smith was also one of the founding members of Downtown Development and still serves today on the board of directors on Main Street Middlesboro.

Smith has been a working member of the Middlesborough (sic) Garden Club for more than 50 years. Smith has served as the president of the garden club several terms as well as other club officers, as well as president of the Garden Club of Kentucky. Smith currently serves on the Horticulture Committee of National Garden Club. She was also the flower show judge while serving as chairman of the national flowering show School of the state of Kentucky.   

“Over the past 50 years she has spearheaded several beautification projects for Middlesboro, Where she has had an enormous impact on our community. Donna Silvestre Gardner has taken on so many projects no matter the size, large or small: the island at 12th and Cumberland, The Levitt plot and flower beds, Circle at City Hall the Planters downtown Cumberland Avenue the downtown fountains the Gardens at the Arthur Museum, The Gardens of St Mary’s Episcopal,” said council member Judy Grandey.

“It is quite the norm to drive downtown or around our community and see this lady up to her elbows and dirt busily making our town beautiful, and Donna, we appreciate all that hard work and sweat equity that you have put into our community for over the last 50 years.”

During the council meeting, Bowling introduced the idea of creating a historic district for the city.

“This is a protective thing. Moving forward, with the kind of tragedy we’ve seen with the Elks building downtown. The hope with the board is to build and honor stuff in the future where stuff like that doesn’t happen,” said Mayor Boone Bowling. “We are an old city.”

The establishment of a historic preservation board would facilitate grant applications for the city of Middlesboro, demonstrating a collective effort to safeguard the integrity of its historic downtown. As an old city established in 1890, Middlesboro stands to benefit from the implementation of such an initiative.

“The Middlesboro Historic District, if I’m not mistaken, begins at 17th street and ends at 24th street but in there theres a couple of jags, one block off the North and one block off the South side, 19th, 20th, 21th [are included] I believe,” said Grandey. “It’s one of our city zones.”

Members of the board include Larry Grandey, Kirby Smith, Joy Williams, Luke Boyd and Shane Brock. The council unanimously passed and approved the initiative and the proposed board members.

Josh Campbell from the sewer department identified the need to address bacteria in the plant. He suggested a program to involve young people in wastewater management, including job fair participation for high school students, presented to the Middlesboro City council.

Police Chief Joe Holder said the Middlesboro Police Department presented the “Go Step” program to the students of Middlesboro High School, showing them the effects of impaired driving in a safe and controlled way using the “fatal vision kit.” Holder also reported that Nick Capps spoke to the Bell County Senior Citizens Center about the importance of protecting personal information online to prevent identity theft.

Bowling also announced the live viewing of John Shoffner and his journey to the International Space Station, announcing the live viewing would be at 2:15 p.m. on May 26 on Zoom, and a viewing would be held where questions would be taken at the Middlesboro High School Auditorium.

In other business, the City Council also:

• Approved necessary city bills.

• Appointed Floyd Pattterson as ABC administrator.

• Approved motion to instal playground equipment at Lincoln School Park.

• Approved new meeting day for the City of Middlesboro Council meetings for the third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m.

• Approved the establishment of a Middlesboro Historic District Commission.

• Approved motion to advertise for Blacktop.