Fire prevention month message: smoke alarms save lives!

The Asheville Fire Department is reminging everyone that October is Fire Prevention Month and that smoke alarms save lives!

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From the AFD: Working smoke alarms can make a life-saving difference in a fire. That’s the message behind this year’s Fire Prevention campaign, “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month!”

Along with firefighters and safety advocates nationwide, the Asheville Fire Department is joining forces with the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) during Fire Prevention Month, which is October, to remind local residents about the importance of having working smoke alarms in the home and testing them monthly.

According to the latest NFPA research, working smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a fire in half. Meanwhile, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

“In a fire, seconds count,” said Kelley Klope, PIO. “Roughly half of home fire deaths result from fires reported at night between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are asleep. Home smoke alarms can alert people to a fire before it spreads, giving everyone enough time to get out.”

This year’s Fire Prevention campaign includes the following smoke alarm messages:

• Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.

• Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. This way, when one sounds, they all do.

• Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.

• Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old or sooner if they don’t respond properly.

• Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of the smoke alarm and understands what to do when they hear it.

The Asheville Fire Department will be hosting many activities during Fire Prevention Week/Month to promote “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives!” The following is a list of just some of dates/times/locations that AFD will be educating at local schools.

Oct. 1 Isaac Dickson 8:30-10:30
Oct. 2 Estes Elementary 8:30-12:00
Oct. 6 Jones Elementary 8:30-12:00
Oct. 7 Oakley Elementary 8:30-10:30
Oct. 8 Francine Delaney 8:30-10:00
Oct. 9 Haw Creek 8:30-10:30
Oct. 13 Asheville Catholic 8:30-10:30
Oct. 14 Bell Elementary 8:30-10:30
Oct 16 VIP at AHS 10am & 2pm
Oct. 20 Hall Fletcher 8:15-10:15
Oct. 21 Claxton Elementary 10:00-12:00
Oct. 22 Sandhill Venable TBA
Oct. 23 Vance Elementary 9:00-11:00

To find out more about Fire Prevention Week programs and activities, please contact the Kelley Klope, PIO for the Asheville Fire Department at (828)251-4011 or kklope@ashevillenc.gov. To learn more about smoke alarms and “Working Smoke Alarms Saves Lives”, visit NFPA’s Web site at www.firepreventionweek.org.

Leave a Comment September 29, 2014

AFD welcomes new engine with a push

The Asheville Fire Department’s newest vehicle is a top-of-the-line piece of public safety equipment. Its features include LED lights that use a smaller generator and leave more room for equipment, a wireless internet hotspot that enhances communication at a command post, a night-vision camera, airbag technology that protects firefighters and mobile hydraulic tools like the jaws of life that allow for greater range. It was also built nimble enough to navigate city streets, but with the climbing capability to handle the steep terrain in our area.

But high-tech capabilities do not trump tradition, and on Tuesday, Asheville Firefighters honored the long-standing tradition by pushing Squad 1 into downtown’s Gus Werhan Station 1.

The tradition goes back to the days of horse-drawn fire engines. Horses couldn’t back engine in, so firefighters had to push the vehicles back into the bay after responding to fires. Click below to see video of the event:

Leave a Comment September 24, 2014

Harvest House celebrates 50 years of community

The Harvest House Community Center on Kenilworth Road turned the big 5-0 this year, and to hear people talk, it has never been better. The senior center, known for its large selection of activities, classes and events, has built an impressive following over its five decades.
IMG_0526“The overlaying spirit is that everyone is happy to have this place,” said Alan Kaufman at the center’s birthday celebration. “Everyone here is welcoming.”

Kaufman, an artist who regularly uses the center’s fully-equipped woodworking shop, says the center’s community is as important as its resources.

“I have all the tools I need here, but I already have most of these at home. I come here for the camaraderie,” he says. Kaufman adds that it’s not only seniors who use the facility, and that the Harvest House is open to any age group. “There are young people who come here too,” he says.

IMG_0519Center Director Lee Dansby says the Harvest House has as many as 300 regular visitors who participate in everything from weaving classes and line dancing to pool games and Tai Chi. Groups form to play card games or Scrabble on a regular basis and to catch up with one another. “There is a real sense of community that forms with all of these groups,” she says.

At 50, Harvest House has a long history in the city of Asheville. The building on Kenilworth Road was erected in 1925 as a retail space, and had several different uses before it was converted to a community center by the Junior League of Asheville in 1964. The next year, the league donated the center to the City of Asheville.

IMG_0541Harvest House organizes regular day trips, pot lucks and lunch outings for seniors and offers anything from book clubs and card games to outdoor shuffle board. It was the recent site for an arts and crafts expo and regularly hosts area entertainers.

And, Dansby adds, the people who use the center add to the atmosphere with contributions of time and skills. One Harvest House regular refelts the pool tables when needed while another restored a player piano and donated it to the center. Game nights and book clubs are led by enthusiasts who take it upon themselves to keep up with calendars and manage lists of participants. “Every group tends to evolve to have its own leaders,” Dansby says.

Elenore Lemey, who herself leads a bookclub but also enjoys playing in with ladies pool group, agrees.
IMG_0533“Harvest House offers a lot that interests people. It is a special place because people make fast friends here. It promotes camaraderie and a feeling of well-being.”

Harvest House is operated by the City of Asheville Parks and Recreation Department, and, alongside the Senior Opportunity Center at 36 Grove Street, is one of two community centers specializing in programming for seniors. For more information, call (828) 350-2051 or visit the Parks and Recreation website.

Leave a Comment September 23, 2014

Asheville Fire Department award ceremony honors year’s achievements

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AFD Chief Scott Burnette (at podium) awards Engineer Zach Wetmore the Medal of Valor.

The Asheville Fire Department promotes firefighters throughout the year, but saves the recognition and pinning ceremony for a somber and notable day for firefighters: September 11.

This year’s ceremony, held at UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center, observed the promotions or advancements of 49 firefighters as well as the recognition of those instances in which firefighters had saved lives in emergency situations.

Of note was the award of the Medal of Valor to Engineer Zach Wetmore in recognition of a June 12 incident in which he and a civilian pulled a woman from her burning home on Sand Hill Road. Wetmore was off duty when he noticed flames coming from the home. He and a neighbor found the owner and pulled her from the house.

The Medal of Valor is second-highest award firefighters can receive.

Though the AFD is most visible in fire scenarios, the ceremony also noted actions of Asheville firefighters who saved lives in situations like cardiac arrest and floods and who assisted in childbirth.

IMG_0318 “Today, we are honoring the men and women who continue to serve and protect our community through their commitment to the Asheville Fire Department,” said Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer speaking at the event. “Most of us who do not work in the fire service can’t even imagine the level of trust and support that these men and women must have for one another. I am proud to say that our Fire Department is recognized as one of the premier fire and rescue departments in North Carolina. The dedication to our community shows in the diligent commitment to improve the quality of service provided and the enhancement of safety for you, the firefighters who protect us.”

The following firefighters were recognized for retirement, promotion or advancement:
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Recognition of Retirees:
Carlton Denning, Division Chief
Mike McCoy, Captain
TJ Swafford, Captain
Rick Emory, Captain
Mike Hartsell, Captain

Promotions:

Deputy Chief:
Christopher Budzinski

Assistant Chief:
Wayne Hamilton
Barry Hendren

Deputy Fire Marshal:
Brian Ronie
Assistant Fire Marshal:
Amy Pollard
Apparatus Officer:
Bryon Silvers

Captain:
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Eric Johnson
Patrick Crudup
Steven Wickham
Adam Wilson
Nathan Rogers
Dustin Cooper
Bjorn Larson

Lieutenant:
TJ Fortenberry
Angie Bell
Josh Walton
Patrick Boland
Sam Robertson
Bradley Duncan
Adam Hoffman

Carla Ball
Phillip Padilla
Tim Zajac
Edan Douek
Jay Bettencourt
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Engineer:
Advancements:

Senior Firefighter:
Eric Wardwell
Amber Hartsburg
John Cram
Kevin Proffitt
Gregory Miller
Joseph Meliski
Benjamin Lynch
Joshua Jenkins
Scott Mirkin
Avery Gibbs
Dan Young
Sean Garden
Jacob Hannon
James Kodaras
Brad Maselbas
Patrick Worley
Matthew Hooker
Neil Spencer
Isaac McCurry
Adam Ross
Wallace Sexton
Weston Hall
Peter Morton
Brandon King

Leave a Comment September 17, 2014

Asheville Police Department promotes three to Sergeant

On Thursday, Sept. 11, the Asheville Police Department promoted three of its own to the rank of Sergeant. Officers Brien Griffin, Ann Fowler and Tammy Bryson were sworn in during a ceremony in the Asheville City Council Chambers, with Mayor Esther Manheimer administering their oaths.

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From left: Sgt. Brien Griffin, Sgt. Ann Fowler, Sgt. Tammy Bryson, Chief William Anderson.

“These are three truly dedicated individuals,” said APD Chief William Anderson. “Each has done something in their career that rises to this level, and all three of them know how proud I am of their performance.” Between them, the three newly-decorated sergeants represent 38 collective years with the department.

Leave a Comment September 17, 2014

U.S. Transportation Secretary announces $14.6M grant for East of Riverway multimodal project

The announcement that the City of Asheville won $14.6 million in federal funding for transportation improvements in and around the River Arts District and adjacent neighborhoods advances the hard work and planning that has gone into that area. The TIGER VI award was announced September 12 during a visit by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who called the East of the Riverway Multimodal Network Project a “ladder of opportunity in the area.”

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Transportation Secretary Foxx (left) with Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer at the Sept. 12 announcement at Jean Webb Park.

“These improvements will connect low and moderate income neighborhoods with jobs, neighborhood services and community assets in Asheville’s rapidly developing riverfront,” Foxx said. “With the help of TIGER, Asheville residents and visitors will soon have even greater access to their community, with the ability to bike and walk the city’s streets more safely and securely than before.” See all of Secretary Foxx’s comments here.

The grant award, and a one-to-one match from the city, means that a total of $29.2 million will go into pedestrian and bicycle improvements, traffic flow enhancements, connections to surrounding neighborhoods, greenways and an all around safer transportation experience in the river district, and in adjacent Southside, WECAN and East-West Asheville neighborhoods. Those goals are in line with national visions for enhanced, safe, multimodal transportation options.

The City of Asheville Department of Community and Economic Development and Transportation Department have worked closely with community stakeholders, residents and regulatory officials to coordinate efforts and resources in the riverway, and in 2010 secured a TIGER II grant. That money allowed the city to push forward with planning that was integral to bringing the TIGER VI funding to Asheville.

“We are still celebrating,” said Riverfront Coordinator Stephanie Monson Dahl. “This is a huge piece of the puzzle in the future of Asheville’s riverfront. A lot of people have put in a lot of time and energy into crafting visions for the riverfront and East of the Riverway Neighborhoods, and this award solidifies that effort.”

The East of the Riverway Multimodal Network Project, alongside the River Arts District Transportation Improvement Plan (RADTIP) the Craven Street Improvement Project, and the construction of the New Belgium brewing facility, all play a part in the transformation of Asheville’s river district and creating needed transportation connections there.

“This is a huge win or Asheville,” Mayor Esther Manheimer said at the announcement. “These funds will provide for the continued revitalization of our River Arts District, creating a shared community vision of expanded greenways, street and sidewalk improvements and development opportunities that will continue to generate economic growth for Asheville.”

Groundbreaking on several projects in the East of the Riverway Multimodal Network Project is anticipated to begin in 2015. Watch ashevillenc.gov/projects for updates.

Leave a Comment September 15, 2014

Neighborhood Advisory Committee to hold West Asheville neighborhood meeting

shutterstock_56618785 copyThe Neighborhood Advisory Committee of the City of Asheville invites residents and business and property owners of West Asheville to a neighborhood meeting Monday, September 22, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the West Asheville Library, 942 Haywood Road.

Please join us for this opportunity to express your ideas for improving your neighborhood and to hear about city projects and services in West Asheville. The meeting will provide a public forum for representatives from neighborhood associations and groups to share information about their neighborhood and the work of their groups.

In addition, Cathy Ball, Executive Director of Planning and Multi-modal Transportation, will give an update on the study on short term rentals. Ken Putnam, Director of Transportation, will share information on transportation related projects, including plans for a Haywood Road parking study. Greg Shuler, Public Works Director, will present information on ongoing Public Works projects. Police Department representatives for the West Asheville District will give updates on police related topics and Jayden Gurney, the Chair of the Citizen-Police Advisory Committee, will share information on the work of that group. Fire Department Chiefs Wayne Hamilton and Barry Hendren will give updates on fire and emergency services for West Asheville.

The Neighborhood Advisory Committee’s mission is to foster effective communication between and among Asheville’s neighborhoods and with the City of Asheville.

Click here to learn more about the Neighborhood Advisory Committee of the City of Asheville.

For more information about the Neighborhood Advisory Committee or the September 22 meeting, contact the West Asheville representative Elaine Poovey at jepoovey@hotmail.com or 253-3514

Leave a Comment September 11, 2014

Roads impacted by 2013 landslides get rebuild

BentTreesmallLast summer’s heavy rains were an eye-opener for Asheville, causing unexpected landslides and undermining several roads on mountain slopes. Repairs are currently underway or in the planning stage for three such cases.

On Bent Tree Road, a residential street off Town Mouontain Road, is home to once such site.

“All that rainfall washed fill out from under the road, and the road just sloughed away,” said project manager John Gavin. As a stopgap measure, the city put down “soldier piles,” or concrete barricades that served to convert the road into one lane and keep drivers away from the weakened part of the roadway. “But you didn’t want to get too close to the edge,” Gavin says.

Now, work is underway to restore the road and build a retaining wall to hold it in place. The project consists of approximately 100 feet of retaining wall and wire mesh, and anchors will be sunk under the road and into the hillside to hold the wall in place.

“This is really the only thing appropriate for this site,” Gavin said.

The project, expected to take three months to complete, is eligible for reimbursement by FEMA, an option triggered by the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency in 2013. Another repair on Sunset Drive is also eligible for FEMA funds, while a third repair at Finlee Avenue will be funded through the city’s repaving budget. Bent Tree Road will be closed at the construction site for the duration of the project. Work on Sunset Drive is anticipated to begin later this fall.

“These are roads along steep grades, and are used frequently by surrounding residents. So we’re working to get them back to 100 percent,” Gavin said.

Leave a Comment September 11, 2014

Bicycle/pedestrian count volunteers needed!

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It’s time again for Asheville’s annual bicycle and pedestrian count and all are invited to participate.

One of the biggest challenges in crafting effective bicycle and pedestrian plans and weighing demand for multi-modal transportation infrastructure is the shortage of accurate data. The numbers of bicyclists and pedestrians using specific corridors and intersections is crucial to understanding and planning for people who walk and bike.

That’s where the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project comes in.

Over three days, volunteers will count pedestrians and bicyclists at designated intersections. The data is an important factor in estimating demand and activity. The more people who participate, the more locations get counted.

Register to volunteer here.

The count dates this year for Asheville are September 16th – 18th and Saturday, September 20th.

Leave a Comment September 8, 2014

City recreation centers now offer free Wi-Fi

City of Asheville recreation centers are places for community-strengthening activities like student enrichment programs and neighborhood information meetings. So providing wireless internet fits perfectly into their mission, says Debbie Ivester, Assistant Director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“People come to our recreation centers to connect with our services, each other, and the community,” Ivester says. “So being able to connect to the internet makes these facilities much more comprehensive. It was one of the most frequent requests we got.”

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Randy Shaw, Director of the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center logs on to WiFi in the center’s lobby.

Over the summer, Wi-Fi was installed in eight city facilities: the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center, Stephens-Lee, LinwoodCrump-ShilohCenter, Burton Street, Montford, the Harvest House, the SeniorOpportunityCenter and the AstonParkTennisCenter.

Randy Shaw, Director at the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr.,  Southside Center, said the center’s after school programs like the teen leadership program for 6-9th graders are examples of where WiFi can help.

“Some students need internet access to complete homework assignments,” Shaw says. And since the Grant Center often hosts public meetings, he says, attendees can use WiFi on their devices to get information out to friends in the community.

Shaw said he hopes that people in the surrounding neighborhoods who don’t have internet access will see the resource as a chance to plug into resources in the community.

“Internet access really is a fundamental part of our society, whether it’s looking for jobs, looking for housing or finding out information about city services,” Shaw said. “It really is another element to help us better serve the community.”

Wireless internet at City of Asheville Recreation Centers can be accessed during center hours by speaking to a center staff member.

Leave a Comment September 4, 2014

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