Thursday, October 22, 2015

Kiser+Vogrin Design Wins Four State Design Awards from American Society of Landscape Architects

By Chuck Whiting
MCAU Editor

            NASHVILLE, Tenn. (October 2015) – When landscape architects Dwight Kiser and Gary Vogrin joined forces to found Kiser+Vogrin Design in 2010, they had no idea they would soon be designing the sites of some of the largest construction projects in Middle Tennessee history.

            KVD landscape architects were soon tapped to develop master plans for City Park, Ovation and Capitol View. In just five years, this fast-growing Franklin, Tenn., firm has become one of the most respected companies in the Southeast for its landscape architecture, urban design, and land planning.

            The eight-member KVD staff felt a great sense of pride when they were recently honored for those projects, winning four awards from the Tennessee Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

            "We're thrilled to have reached a point in the history of KVD where our projects have been recognized for excellence by peers in the field of landscape architecture," Kiser said with a smile.

The KVD team celebrates after winning four awards from the Tennessee Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. (L-R) Gary Vogrin, Diane King, Dwight Kiser, Jeff Rosiak, Johnson Bullard, Kennon Lorick, Katie Rudowsky, and Chris Wood. (Photo by Yates Bateman)

            During an awards dinner at the Cordelle in downtown Nashville, KVD was honored for its work on

            * City Park (Built Environment/Commercial), a sprawling suburban office park that is being transformed into a much-needed town center in Brentwood, Tenn.

            * Ovation (Planning and Analysis/Mixed Use; Natural Resource Conservation/Sustainable Design), a 147-acre property in Franklin described as the "most comprehensive mixed-use community in Middle Tennessee."

            * Capitol View (Planning and Analysis/Mixed Use), a 34-acre mixed-use development currently under construction on a brownfield site in the North Gulch adjacent to Nashville's urban core.

        “We have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort working on assembling the right people and building a culture where we can all be creative but work hard to serve the needs of our clients,” said Jeff Rosiak, principal for KVD. “None of this would have been possible without the collaborative efforts of our clients, architects, engineers and others in the Nashville community.”

            For City Park, KVD’s architects created the design for a dynamic streetscape flanked by a robust mix of restaurants, retail vendors, and open spaces. The plan features a new boutique hotel that surrounds the historic Mooreland Mansion on three sides.

City Park

            “Ovation and Capitol View are universally considered favorite projects by our staff,” said Vogrin, who serves as KVD vice president.

            Ovation features a thoughtful blend of residential, office, retail and entertainment uses in a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces. The project will transform the McEwen/Carothers Parkway corridor into one of the most environmentally and economically sustainable public gathering areas in the region.

            “The attraction to the Ovation project starts with its magnitude,” Kiser added. “With an estimated $770 million construction budget, Ovation has been described as a downtown for the Cool Springs area of Franklin.”


            KVD’s conceptual master plan for Capitol View includes residential, retail, office and green space on an urban brownfield site. The firm's detailed site design includes a brick paver-clad "festival street" with three large plazas, a park, rain gardens, pedestrian pathways, and biking trails connecting to the Gulch and to the Nashville Greenway System. The project boasts nearly 280,000 square feet of retail space, more than 1 million square feet of office space, 120 hotel rooms, and 1,200 residential units.

            “Festival Street, in particular, is an amazing space where true landscape architecture was applied to an urban streetscape,” Vogrin continued. “The streetscape and corner park are still in design development, but it is anticipated to have a small performance stage and a kiosk that may contain trail maps and serve as a trailhead to the Nashville Greenway system.”

Capitol View

            Kiser+Vogrin Design continues to play a major role in Middle Tennessee’s unprecedented growth. The firm recently expanded into music event-related design by developing the layout for Franklin’s inaugural Pilgrimage Festival. In late October, the firm’s architects will unveil the preservation plans for the historic Carter House in Franklin. KVD is also continuing to work on the 600-acre Berry Farms, a project that includes office, retail and residential connected by a pedestrian-friendly streetscape.

            “This is our fifth anniversary, and we have a lot to be excited about,” Vogrin said. “Our staff has a broad range of expertise. Our roots are in large-scale residential master planning. We also have parks and recreation experts and a growing portfolio of historic preservation.”

            Other KVD team members include Project Manager/Landscape Architect Chris Wood, Chief Financial Officer Diane King, Project Manager/ Landscape Designer Johnson Bullard, Landscape Designer Katie Rudowsky, and Landscape Designer Kennon Lorick.

            “We’re proud to be a part of the evolution of Middle Tennessee,” Vogrin noted. “Just 10 to 15 years ago, the vast majority of development was on the outskirts of Nashville.  Residents were content to commute to a sleepy downtown. Now more people are moving to the city every day. We have a dense and thriving downtown residential market and a palpable sense of energy throughout the city.”

            Founded in 2010, Kiser+Vogrin Design is a landscape architecture, urban design and land planning firm located in the Cool Springs area of Franklin, Tenn. Founders Dwight Kiser and Gary Vogrin have been successfully designing, entitling and building projects in Middle Tennessee since 1996. KVD strives to consistently provide innovative and sustainable project solutions tailored to meet the specific needs of clients in real estate development, construction, historic preservation, amusement, city government, parks and recreation, and related fields. Services include development feasibility and carrying capacity analysis, land use planning, site master planning, zoning and site entitlement, design guidelines and development books, grading and drainage concepts, landscape design, storm water solutions, and green infrastructure implementation. The firm's work spans all facets of residential, mixed use, commercial, retail, office, resort, and recreational planning and design.

            "What makes Kiser Vogrin's designs stand out is that they balance practicality and affordability to the design, yet deliver something that will stand out above the competition," said client David Wilson of Fifth Lane Real Estate in Franklin.

            To learn more about Kiser+Vogrin Design, visit You can contact a KVD representative directly at (615) 813-0862 or

Monday, October 12, 2015

TSU Professor Dr. Harriet Kimbro-Hamilton Honors Father with 'Daddy's Scrapbook: Henry Kimbro of the Negro Baseball League'

By Chuck Whiting
MCAU Editor

          NASHVILLE, Tenn. (October 2015) -- Tennessee State University Associate Professor Harriet Kimbro-Hamilton's mother challenged her with the sacred task of preserving the memory of her father, Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame member Henry Kimbro. Shortly before her death, Cuban-born Erbia C. Mendoza-Kimbro gave Harriet an old scrapbook filled with articles, pictures and other items from Henry's career as a star in the Negro Baseball League.

            "No one in my family ever saw it with the exception of my mother," Harriet said with a smile. "When she placed it in my hand, she told me to do something with it. 'You know what to do,' she told me. The look she had on her face at that time was, 'I trust you.'"

            Harriet's efforts to honor her father started in 2003 with a challenging but successful campaign to have her father inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Now she is about to honor his life again with release of the new book, "Daddy's Scrapbook: Henry Kimbro of the Negro Baseball League, A Daughter's Perspective." She will celebrate with family members and friends during a special exhibition, storytelling and book signing at the Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary School Library from 2-3:30 p.m. on Oct. 24 (Saturday). Admission is free.

            "It was a great joy to write this book because, through the process, I became good friends with other Negro League heroes such as Butch McCord, Jim Zapp, Shannon Jones, and Sydney Bunch, who knew and worked with my dad," Harriet added. "My siblings also contributed. The toughest part of the book was the chapter on my mom. I had a connection with her that most family members were not aware of. This book has given me such a peace with my mother's wish."

            Attendees of the school event will enjoy a special exhibition honoring players in the Negro Baseball Leagues. Several items on display were donated by Harriet, the McCord family, and others. 

            Her heartfelt family tribute honors a legendary outfielder once dubbed the "Black Ty Cobb" of the NBL. According to The New York Times, Henry played mostly with the Baltimore Elite Giants. The Negro Leagues were disbanded in the 1960s when African-American players began joining Major League Baseball. After Henry's death in 1999, Erbia gave Harriet the tattered, 60-year-old scrapbook her father had assembled during his life.

            The book includes insights on Henry's Nashville upbringing, controversial off-the-field shenanigans, baseball stardom in Latin America, marriage to Erbia, role as the father of five children, and induction into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
            "My favorite story was when my father gave me a left-handed glove," noted Harriet, who wanted to show the humble side of a man who loved his wife and children. "I don't think he knew what an impact he had on a little girl's confidence, someone who loved learning how to play baseball alongside her brother. I look back and see a man ahead of his time in terms of gender equality, and I truly appreciate that."

            The professor also recounts other stories, both funny and sad, about her son's temporary disappearance at a hotel before the 1993 Baseball All-Star Game and her father's awkward courting of Erbia during visits to Cuba.

            "During their dates, he had to take her chaperones along with them and pay their tabs," Harriet laughed. "He would always smile or laugh when telling that story. He truly loved my mother."

            Harriet drew more quiet when talking emotionally about her mother, whose touching story is recounted halfway through the book. 

            "My mother was the foundation of our family," she said. "She was a very loving, caring and supportive person to her children. I can't remember anytime she wasn't there to see us participate, compete or complete an endeavor. For me, my mother was my first teacher. I was also my father's child in many ways because I inherited many of his ways both good and bad, but she made me more of a lady, too."

            Harriet also uses the book to recognize some of the individuals who helped Henry Kimbro succeed. She said her efforts to have her father posthumously inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of fame would not have been possible without the lobbying support of former Negro American League Manager Buck O'Neil, Canadian Major League Baseball star Larry Walker, former Nashville Sounds owner Larry Schmittou, and former Nashville Councilman Ronnie Greer. 

            "Daddy's Scrapbook" includes a host of pictures, including Henry's baseball days, family snapshots, and post-career activities in the latter part of his life. The last photo of Henry on Page 125 shows him waving a baseball cap at fans while being recognized at the 1993 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Baltimore. 

            "Before the game began, 24 surviving Negro League Baseball players were paraded onto the field wearing replicas of their team uniforms," Harriet remembered. "It was blistering that day, and I worried about the effects of the heat on those guys. As each player was introduced, a giant picture of them was shown on the scoreboard while the announcer described their accomplishments as a player. When it was my father's time, he stood up straight with a huge grin and tilted his Baltimore Elite Giants hat to the crowd. The crowd, I felt, gave him the loudest response because he had played for Baltimore, and he relished this, his finest hour."

            During her athletic career, Hamilton served as head coach in various sports and athletic director of Fisk University. The author also chaired the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship Committee and served on the ABA-USA Committee that selected the 1984 USA Olympic Gold Medal Women's Basketball Team. She has received awards from the Women's Sports Foundation; the National Association of Girls and Women in Sports (the Dr. Nell C. Jackson Award); and the Temple University League for Entrepreneurial Women (Hall of Fame inductee). 

            "Daddy's Scrapbook", which retails for $14.95, is available at and other major online retailers. For more information about the book, call (615) 963-5581 or send an e-mail inquiry to

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Country Artist Scott Coner Releases Music Video Cover of Wadsworth Mansion's 1971 Rock Hit 'Sweet Mary'

            NASHVILLE, Tenn. (October 2015) – Country/Americana artist Scott Coner is honoring the late singer/songwriter/musician Steve Jablecki by releasing a music video cover of Wadsworth Mansion's 1971 rock hit "Sweet Mary".

            The simple, catchy, hook-oriented tune was released on You Tube and Facebook on Oct. 6. A "Sweet Mary" single will be released at iTunes and other online retailers later this month. Coner, who has worked with legendary artists such as T. Graham Brown, Tanya Tucker and Charlie Daniels, was joined in this studio this time by Christopher Cross's background vocalist Marcia Ramirez.

            "I discovered 'Sweet Mary' in a stack of 45rpm records as a young kid in Nancy, Ky.," said Scott, who plans to release a new EP in early 2016. "My dad's little sister Janice had a small record player and a stack of music she had left behind after she got married. I spent a lot of time there as a kid, and 'Sweet Mary' kind of attached itself to me."

            To watch the video, visit .

Scott Coner (Photo by Cyndi Coner)

            For Wadsworth Mansion, the original version of "Sweet Mary" was a "one-hit wonder". It quickly climbed into the top-10 on various charts, then essentially disappeared. Various misfortunes, including flooded equipment, forced the popular Providence, Rhode Island, rock band to break up in 1972. The legendary group was largely forgotten until a local TV feature story aired in 2014. Jablecki died of unknown causes in 2005.

            "The song was written about a soldier in Vietnam that got a letter from his wife or girlfriend," Scott added. "She says in the letter that she 'has a stomach full of love' and he needs to get home to his family. I understand that Steve wrote it on a piano and pitched it around New York. I have been told that he actually hitchhiked from Rhode Island to New York to do the vocal cut.

            To get approval for his video and single covers, Coner had to track down members of the Jablecki family. Sons Matt and Marc quickly endorsed the project, with Matt saying "it's something (his) dad would have been just so excited by."

Photo provided by the Steve Jablecki family.
            For the recording and video, Coner wanted a laid-back, garage band kind of feel. Joining him at Nashville's Java Jive for the daylong session on Sept. 15 were Ramirez, guitarist/background vocalist Matt Morgeson, guitarist Jake Widenhofer, bass player John Davis, and drummer/percussionist Bryan Tewell. Studio engineer Logan Schlegel co-produced.

            Scott's wife, Cyndi, shot the video during the session to create a playful, feel-good production for all ages. The video opens with Scott reminiscing in his music room at home while listening to the original 45rpm Wadsworth Mansion single. The video then fades into his upbeat studio performance. Scott says he especially enjoyed singing the "doo-wops" with Ramirez, which took him back to childhood times.

            "I came into the studio with a beat I wanted to start the song with," Scott continued. "I didn't want too much B-3 on the song because I wanted a bar chord rhythm. The original bass line was cool, so I didn't want to deviate too far from that. I felt like the original cut kind of tipped its hat to The Kinks both musically, as well as vocally. I wanted to carry the song away from that direction just a little with a warmer bottom and vocally change the dynamic with myself and Marcia doing the whole song."

            Scott says he hopes the video and single will give listeners the opportunity to experience a little of the joy and excitement he had when he discovered it on his grandparents' farm as a young boy.

            "I think the song was different from anything else I had been subjected to at that early stage of my life," he said. "I don't remember ever hearing it on the radio. I only heard it at the farm in Kentucky. Maybe that was the reason I loved it so much."

"Sweet Mary" single.
            A self-proclaimed family man, Scott Coner lives with his wife and two daughters on rural farmland near Franklin, Ind. He has recorded songs with a who's who of country legends including Tanya Tucker, T. Graham Brown, and Charlie Daniels. Scott's single "Maybe She Lied", a duet with Tucker on Reedy's Dream Records, hit number one on the United Kingdom's Hot Disk Top 40. Other songs, including "Sanibel" (a duet with Brown) and "Reedy's Dream" (with vocal and instrumental contributions from Daniels) have been heard on terrestrial and online radio stations around the world. Also an emerging author, Scott recently penned the book "Lynyrd Skynyrd: Ronnie Van Zant and Me" with Gene Odom, a survivor of the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash.

            To learn more about Scott Coner or to download his songs and videos, visit or, or

Wadsworth Mansion in 1971 (Photo provided by the Steve Jablecki family).

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

'Tunesmithing' to Celebrate Songs and Poems on Oct. 21

     NASHVILLE -- "Tunesmithing" will celebrate songs and poems with a special show from 7-9:30 p.m. Oct. 21 (Wednesday) at WXYZ Restaurant/Bar at the Aloft Nashville Hotel, 1719 West End Ave. (near Music Row).

     Attendees will enjoy original songs and poems by poet Butterfly, poet Forest Crawford, singer-songwriter/poet Jamie Collins, singer-songwriter Gordon Ellis, songwriter/musician Mark Horwitz, singer-songwriter Linda Louise, singer-songwriter Antoinette Olesen, and singer-songwriter Bill Warrington.

Antoinette Olesen

     Admission is free. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Publicist Chuck Whiting will emcee the show. Songwriter/audio engineer AJ Bigler will handle sound. "Tunesmithing" songwriters showcase is sponsored by Whiting Publicity & Promotions, Music City Arts Update, and Shine Time Records and Books.

     The monthly show was founded in 2003 to spotlight emerging, professional and hit songwriters, as well as artists of all kinds. The event offers mentoring, career growth and networking opportunities for artists at all levels.

     For more information about "Tunesmithing", call (615) 423-9857, write, or visit