Getting geared up for snow duty!

Fall means many things in Asheville : colorful views, leaf lookers, raking, and bagged leaf pickup. For the City of Asheville’s Public Works Department, it also means gearing up for snow events. That process kicks off in an annual October ritual as crews set up and test plows and salt spreaders.

snow1snow2snow3On Tuesday, Public Works personnel gathered behind the Public Works facility on South Charlotte Street to conduct a dry run of the equipment and to make sure it’s all functional so crews can hit the ground running at the first snowy forecast.

“Salt is very hard on equipment,” says Labor Crew Coordinator Tony Chapman. “We want to load up all the equipment and make sure it all works. And we want to make sure that when it’s time to load up, we’ll be ready to go.” It’s all part of providing the best service possible to the city’s residents and visitors.

Over the course of the day, 18 salt spreaders and some 26 plows are loaded onto Public Works trucks and examined for any problems. If any fixes are needed, the equipment goes to the Fleet Division for repairs.

The run-through also serves as a warm up for new crew members so they know exactly how to rig up the trucks when snow begins to fall. Getting the fleet ready to run is a process that can take four to six hours, Chapman says.

This year, the City of Asheville will also employ four new brine tanks used to pre-treat roads ahead of ice and snow. “That way, we can be ahead of the curve,” Chapman said.

For updates during snow events, follow the City of Asheville on Twitter or check in at www.ashevillenc.gov.

Leave a Comment October 21, 2014

Graffiti Dashboard finalist for NC Tech Award

The North Carolina Technology Association has announced that the City of Asheville’s 123 Graffiti Free Dashboard is among the finalists for the 2014 Tech Awards. The online tool is one of four finalists in the “Business Value” category under “Use of Technology,” and was selected from more than 500 nominations. It is also the only example of public sector tech among the finalists.

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IT GIS Analyst Cameron Carlyle with the 123 Graffiti  Free dashboard.

“This tool was designed to allow the public easy access to information, and to clearly illustrate the progress the 123 Graffiti Free program was making in the community,” said Business & Public Technology Manager Scott Barnwell. “Ease of use and transparency are the kinds of roles tech should be playing in the world.”

The dashboard was designed by Cameron Carlyle, the newest member of the Information Technology Services team, with the collaboration of the Graffiti Team, the Office of Planning and Multimodal Transportation and the Office of Communication and Public Engagement.

With a visit to 123GraffitiFree.com users can see the number of requests made for graffiti cleanup, the number of jobs completed, and the amount invested by the City of Asheville. They can also track individual projects and see a map showing locations of graffiti cleanup sites.

In July, the city launched the 123 Graffiti Free cleanup assistance program offering $500 in cleanup assistance to property owners. Property owners who have not participated in the program are eligible through September 30, 2015 (or until funding runs out) for a one-time $500 incentive to help clean up graffiti on their site.

The NC Tech award winners will be announced on November 6.

Leave a Comment October 17, 2014

Leaf season is here! We got your bags.

leavesLeaf season is upon us, and with that comes leaf collection. The City of Asheville Sanitation Department picks up leaves on an alternating schedule. Be sure to leave bags untied or use a reusable container marked “leaves”.

And if you need some reusable bags, you can pick them up from any City of Asheville fire station!

Here are the details:

The City of Asheville provides bagged leaf collection service on an alternating schedule and provides reusable leaf bags at City of Asheville fire stations on a first come – first served basis.

Bagged leaves are collected twice per month and should be placed to the curb by 7:00 a.m. on the Monday of the assigned collection week. For residents with a Monday and Tuesday trash collection, bagged leaves will be collected the first and third week of each month.  For residents with a Wednesday and Thursday trash collection, bagged leaves will be collected during the second and fourth week of each month.  Bagged leaves are collected year round.

Reusable leaf bags are now available at City of Asheville fire stations. To ensure collection, leaves should be placed in untied bags or a reusable container marked “leaves”. Residents can find curbside leaf collection weeks by visiting the city’s website.

Composting is another alternative for the loose leaves to be placed and is great for the soil in your garden.

For further information contact the City of Asheville at 251-1122 or visit www.ashevillenc.gov/sanitation.

 

Leave a Comment October 15, 2014

Oct. 25 Symposium draws community into mobility planning

Everyone needs to get around. That’s the simple idea behind Asheville In Motion, an evolving and exciting community-based initiative designed to increase access to all forms of transportation.

AIMOn October 25, the public is encouraged to participate in a symposium on Asheville’s transportation future. The event will feature a panel discussion, community exercises and opportunities to let the community know your biggest priorities for mobility in Asheville.

Input and information will become part of the city’s AIM mobility plan, which will meet Asheville’s growth and transportation needs by changing how we think about getting around.

“In the past, we have thought of sidewalks, bicycle infrastructure and streets as being in different silos,” says Transportation Manager Mariate Echeverry. “The best way to build a mobility network that gives attention to all forms of transportation is to examine them in a holistic, interconnected way.”

Better mobility means easier access to jobs, better neighborhood connectivity, a boost to business, and a safe, healthy, sustainable transportation system. Help Asheville take AIM at the future of mobility by attending this exciting event.

The Asheville In Motion symposium will take place Saturday, October 25 in the U.S. Cellular Center Banquet Hall from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Find more information about Asheville In Motion here.

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Leave a Comment October 9, 2014

Mayor’s State of the City focuses on innovative growth

“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” That quote, originally spoken by Dolly Parton, was a cornerstone message from Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer at the City of Asheville 2014 State of the City address.

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“I really think that fits well for Asheville,” Manheimer told a crowd gathered at the U.S Cellular Center’s banquet hall on October 1. The Mayor took the opportunity to spotlight the city’s sense of pride in culture, creativity and sense of place, but also to talk about the challenges the city faces as it grows.

Fiscal imbalances between growth and expenditures outlined in a 2012 white paper remain, and reduced funding opportunities present their own challenges, but Asheville is fortunate to have local and regional partners that form a network for moving forward.

“Addressing the long-term viability of our region requires an innovative approach to economic development, government services, and a full engagement of the network,” she said.

One option is the creation of Metropolitan Service Districts, or Innovation Districts, currently being considered for three areas of town: The River Arts District, South Slope and Charlotte Street. Investing in these areas in the form of street and sidewalk improvements, stormwater infrastructure and off street parking facilities has the ability to create an environment for economic development, multimodal transportation improvements, affordable housing options and revitalization.

The Mayor stressed the great role of important partners like Buncombe County, the Asheville Housing Authority, A-B Tech, Mountain Housing Opportunities and Green opportunity for forwarding the vision of the community.

“Asheville is not a complacent city,” she said. “ We all want to see the city thrive.”

Are you curious and want to know more?  Watch the full video of the Mayor Manheimer’s State of the City address.

Leave a Comment October 8, 2014

Fire prevention month message: smoke alarms save lives!

The Asheville Fire Department is reminding 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

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