Archives – June, 2011

Ingles Independence Day celebration to be held at Memorial Stadium in downtown Asheville

ASHEVILLE – The City of Asheville will hold the Ingles Independence Day Celebration at Memorial Stadium in downtown Asheville on Sunday, July 3.

This is a free event for the whole family, with festivities starting at 4 p.m. and concluding with a grand finale fireworks display at 9:30 p.m.

There will be a wide range of family activities, including free face painting, old-fashioned family games, inflatable rides, musical entertainment, and much more.

The Sons of the American Revolution will return again this year to offer a patriotic tribute to our country. There will also be a variety of food from local vendors, as well as Budweiser and Pepsi products for sale.

“We are glad we were able to find a temporary alternative that meets all safety regulations and allows the city to keep the fireworks downtown. Next year’s fireworks display will be redesigned which should allow us to move the event back to Pack Square Park,” said Parks Recreation and Cultural Arts Director Roderick Simmons.

For more information about the Ingles Independence Day Celebration, contact Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department at 828-259-5800 or visit

The Ingles Independence Day Celebration is produced by the City of Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department with support from Ingles, Budweiser, Pepsi, and Clear Channel radio.

Leave a Comment June 29, 2011

City staff among recipients of ‘Excellence in Public Service Awards’

ASHEVILLE – The Greater Asheville Public Service Council recently recognized the most outstanding government public servants with the Excellence in Public Service Awards.

The awards were presented to county, city, state and federal employees who went above and beyond their normal job performance in 2010.

The City of Asheville honored nearly 70 employees from a wide variety of departments. The winners in the 12 award categories were announced in April at the city’s Excellence in Public Service Awards ceremony. These staff members were then invited to the Greater Asheville Public Service Council breakfast ceremony in late May.

Awardees are selected by an internal panel of the past year’s winners.

Hank Dunn, president of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Buncombe County Commissioner Carol Peterson, and David Pattillo, associate director of the Charles George VA Medical Center, presented the awards in each category.

Fay L. Smith, Library Technician with the United States Air Force’s 14th Weather Squadron was chosen as the overall Outstanding Public Servant of 2011.

Thanks to the work of the employees listed below, hundreds of thousands of dollars were saved, work was done more efficiently and Buncombe County is a safer, greener, healthier, smarter and kinder place to live.

City of Asheville Landscape Architect Seth Hendler-Voss receives his Excellence in Public Service Award for Outstanding Professional Employee.

Outstanding Executive Manager

Cathy Ball, Public Works director, City of Asheville

Ed Sheary, library system director, Buncombe County

Dr. Jack St. Clair, business manager, Black Mountain Neuro-Medical Treatment Center

John J. Bates, PhD, National Climatic Data Center

Outstanding Manager

Jerry Yates, streets operations manager, City of Asheville

Jill Moffitt, director of campus recreation, UNC Asheville

Outstanding Supervisor

Trevis Allen, assistant fire marshal, City of Asheville

Renee Gossett, social work supervisor, Buncombe County

Nicole Lynch, health care supervisor, Black Mountain. Neuro-Medical Treatment Center

Micheal Hunsucker, chief climate operations, U.S. Air Force 14th Weather Squadron

Outstanding Professional Employee

Seth Hendler-Voss, landscape architect, City of Asheville

Bryan Dillingham, network manager, Buncombe County

Kathy Wallace, creative arts specialist, Black Mountain. Neuro-Medical Treatment Center

Helen McVade, information security, U.S. Air Force 14th Weather Squadron

Outstanding Administrative Support Employee

Gina Zachary, administrative assistant, City of Asheville

Joy Pelto, paralegal, Buncombe County

Marcia Hipps, administrative assistant, District Attorney’s Office

Anne Markel, administrative assistant, National Climatic Data Center

Outstanding Trades, Crafts, and Service Maintenance Employee

Gordon Silvers, apparatus senior specialist, City of Asheville

Carolyn Nash, housekeeper, UNC Asheville

Outstanding Technician, Assistant or Aide

Megan Shepherd, special projects coordinator, City of Asheville

Anthony Perrone, graphic designer, Buncombe County

Justin Page, senior designer, Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College

Fay Smith, library technician, U.S. Air Force 14th Weather Squadron

Outstanding Team

Asheville Public Safety Wireless Network Team

Buncombe County Detention Facility STORM Team

Outreach Dental Services – Black Mountain Neuro-Medical Treatment Center

NCDC Finance and Acquisition Branch

Hoyt Abney Outstanding Community Service Award

Lora Morgan, administrative assistant, City of Asheville

Vanessa Grant, staffing specialist, Charles George VA Medical Center

Adam Reagan, applications specialist, UNC Asheville

Outstanding Contribution to Improving Diversity

Kelley Webb, fire department public information officer, City of Asheville

Tina Carroll, community director, UNC Asheville

Outstanding Heroic Act Award

Lee Morrison, motor equipment operator III, City of Asheville

Lisa Beasley, income maintenance caseworker II, Buncombe County

Suzanne S. Turner Unsung Hero/Heroine Award

Mike Dixon, laborer, City of Asheville

Dr. Cynthia Yancey, medical director, Buncombe County

Mark Clegg, social worker II, Black Mtn. Neuro-Medical Treatment Center

Douglas Williams, human resource specialist, Charles George VA Medical Center

2 Comments June 27, 2011

The Asheville Fire Department trains for forcible entry in emergencies

Utilizing prop obstacles and cutting equipment, the Asheville Fire Department trained at a warehouse in Swannanoa June 20-22 on techniques to enter structures that are locked or guarded by bars or garage doors.

AFD fire training 4
AFD Division Chief of Safety & Training Barry Hendren says:

“One of a Ladder Company’s primary functions when they respond to a fire is forcible entry into a structure. The door prop that is being used was purchased by our Firefighter’s Association; it simulates several different types of doors that you may come in AFD fire training entry 2contact with in the field. Another part of forcible entry into a structure is using rotary power saws or “K-12’s.” Every Ladder truck carries one of these saws and they are used for cutting metal, like burglar bars on windows, metal garage doors, or chains.

“The cutting prop was designed and built by our firefighters and will allow us to practice these skills regularly. We have been able to train all of our Ladder Companies and our Rescue Company this week on both props to ensure that, when we have to perform these skills at an incident, all of the personnel assigned to do so will be prepared.” (Click photos to expand.)

AFD fire training entry 3
AFD Fire training entry 1
AFD fire training 5

2 Comments June 22, 2011

CoA high speed public safety wireless system earns international recognition

An international organization of government IT workers recognized the City of Asheville June 15 for an innovative and cost effective point-to-point network connecting the city’s emergency response network.

The system, implemented with the assistance of IT Services, the Asheville Fire Department, and Building Safety, and with a partnership with the locally-based Skyrunner, grew out of a change in state law that limited the city’s right to use a multi-million dollar fiber optic network connecting more than 22 city facilities.

GMIS award“The city was faced with paying $450,000 annually for continued use of the fiber network,” said Jonathan Feldman, City of Asheville IT Services director. “To continue meeting the public safety needs of the community, and City Council’s goal of fiscal responsibility, we needed to think outside the box.”

The “Best Practice” award, presented by GMIS (Government Management Information Sciences) International, acknowledges the city for its initiative, timeliness, and cost avoidance by building the replacement network for less than $20,000.

“The GMIS Best Practices Award is extremely important because it represents trailblazers and risk takers who find innovative, creative and exciting, and sometimes genius ways of doing things that others haven’t thought of,” said Janet Claggett, second vice president of GMIS International. “The time constraints and money constraints made the project that much more challenging, and the fact that the City of Asheville was able to pull together an innovative plan within its budget really blew the GMIS International board away.”

From October 2010 to January 2011, City of Asheville departments constructed an extensive wireless point-to-point network. Skyrunner provided highly cost effective and cutting edge radio equipment. The compact and energy efficient radios permitted installation at a greatly accelerated pace where traditional radio systems could not be reliably installed.

High-speed wireless technology represents the continuation of a station alerting system implemented by Asheville Fire and Rescue several years ago, which, in addition to other City Council investments, contributed to a three-fold improvement in cardiac emergency survival rates and a 20 percent improvement in structure fire response rates.

“This was one of those occasions to take a problem and turn it into an opportunity,” said Technical Services Manager Wanda Burgess, whose division managed the wireless project. “By partnering with other departments, public agencies and the private sector, Asheville has been able to maintain critical services to the public at greatly reduced costs.”

Click here for more information about the City of Asheville IT Services Department.

Leave a Comment June 21, 2011

CoA to resurface portions of South Lexington in Downtown Asheville starting June 19

City of Asheville street crews will begin a resurfacing project on South Lexington between Aston Street and Patton Avenue Sunday June 19, milling up the old asphalt in preparation for repaving over the following week. Drivers should be prepared for traffic closures between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. while work is underway. Sidewalks are expected to remain open, but pedestrians may experience delays associated with construction.
S. Lexington picThe resurfacing is expected to be completed by the end of the week, weather permitting. Street cuts for multiple utility upgrades in that area have created the need for new paving, and the City of Asheville is taking the opportunity to adjust the traffic pattern there, adding a climbing lane for bicycles on the uphill side and shared lane markings on the downhill side.

That move advances a city goal to increase Asheville’s accessibility by bicycles and other forms of alternative transportation, says Transportation Planner Barb Mee.

“The climbing lane gives a slower-moving bicyclist a place to be and allows faster-moving motor vehicles to pass bicycles more easily,” Mee says. “And the shared lane chevron markings on the down hill side alerts motorists to expect bicyclists in the travel lane.”

Neighborhood Coordinator Marsha Stickford says the project will be coordinated so that businesses along South Lexington will still be accessible during the resurfacing.

Click here to see a full press release about the project.

Questions or comments can be directed to Neighborhood Coordinator Marsha Stickford at or (828) 259-5506.

5 Comments June 17, 2011

City of Asheville honored with “Best Local Government Recycling Program” award by the Carolina Recycling Association

The City of Asheville was awarded the “Best Local Government Recycling Program” award by the Carolina Recycling Association during its annual conference and trade show in Charleston, SC in March. The award was presented to City Council during its June 14 Council meeting.
Best Local Government Recycling AwardThe CRA’s local government award recognizes one local government in North Carolina or South Carolina that has created a successful and comprehensive recycling program for its residents. The winner is a model for other governments and demonstrates leadership in programs, materials, methods, outreach to citizens and an ability to grow and adapt with the recycling industry.

The City of Asheville has a strong history of providing recycling options for its residents, with a residential curbside program in place since 1997 and recycling in city facilities since 2000. At 80 percent of its residents participating, the city has the highest participation record in the state. Since the residential curbside program was implemented, residents have recycled more than 90,000 tons of recyclable material. “These numbers are encouraging and tell us we are making progress toward achieving Council’s goal of being the Southeastern leader in sustainability efforts,” said Sanitation Manager Wendy Simmons. “Results like this keep the momentum going and support the effort to stay on the leading edge of waste diversion.”

Recycling has tremendous positive outcomes for the community, the environment and the economy. Using an EPA environmental benefits calculator, one can estimate that the 90,000 tons Asheville residents recycled, resulted in the prevention of 72,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (the equivalent of 54,000 cars off the road), saved 1.9 million BTU’s of energy (the equivalent of powering 18,000 homes for a year) and saved a 658,000 trees due to the use of recycled paper. Furthermore, many of these recycled materials were collected, processed and remanufactured at recycling businesses in NC, helping to support the 14,000 jobs in the recycling industry in the Old North State.

The city has established a municipal carbon reduction goal of 80% by 2050 and sees recycling and waste reduction as a key component to achieving that goal. Other projects currently underway include green purchasing guidelines and the installation of an interactive recycling station to encourage visitors to the Civic Center to recycle more on the go.

Click here to see City of Asheville sustainability initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint.

The Carolina Recycling Association (CRA) is a non-profit organization serving the public and private recycling industry in order to advance waste reduction and recycling in North and South Carolina. For more information on recycling, the CRA or to become a CRA member, click here.

2 Comments June 15, 2011

Local middle school students tour City of Asheville Water Treatment Plant

City of Asheville staff conducted tours of the North Fork Water Treatment Plant in Black Mountain for the Owen Middle School 7th grade class field trip on June 8.  Around 130 students toured the plant through an education and outreach program conducted in partnership with RiverLink, a regional nonprofit spearheading the economic and environmental revitalization of the French Broad River. This is the first school field trip tour since 9/11, when Homeland Security was established and public tours at the plant were suspended.

north fork treatmentDuring the tour, led by Sustainability Outreach Specialist Rachel Rogers and RiverLink Education Coordinator Hayley Joyell Smith, students hiked up to the City’s primary water source to see how the water is harvested from the North Fork Reservoir, treated with chemicals such as chlorine to address any pathogens and filtered to remove sediment before being distributed to the 126,000 residents in Asheville and Buncombe County. The City of Asheville processes approximately 15 million gallons of water daily.
“The field trips are a great way to demonstrate the process of providing safe water,” said Director of Water Resources Stephen Shoaf, who helped to initiate the school field trip program. “It is important that citizens understand the city’s role and their relationship to this valuable resource,”
Superintendent of Water Production Leslie Carreiro agreed, saying, “field trips offer a wonderful learning experience. They allow the students to learn where their drinking water comes from, how it is treated and that it takes numerous people with many different skills, education and knowledge to deliver the water to their homes.”

North Fork computersNorth Fork Treatment plant staff explained to the 7th graders how they use advanced computer systems to monitor the treatment process and ensure the water quality is within high health standards through testing in the state certified lab.  They also shared their educational background and the degrees needed for a job in the water treatment field, helping to link career choices and education.
Students also participated in hands-on activities led by RiverLink Education staff, interns and volunteers, including the 3-D Enviroscape watershed model and water quality testing.  These activities helped the students to further understand how the protected 22,000 acre North Fork watershed functions to produce high quality and safe drinking water.
Owen Middle School 7th grade science teacher Don Slye thought this was a wonderful opportunity for the students to get out and “actually see first hand the process of water treatment, not only to see it happening but to talk to the people responsible for their clean water. Now they know there is more to it than just turning on the faucet and getting clean water. This will stick with them a lot longer than if we had just seen a video or had a discussion about the water filtration process.”

north fork labThe City of Asheville and RiverLink hope to provide more education/outreach programs to area schools in the future.  Through this partnership, RiverLink would conduct hands-on activities in the school classroom to provide students with important information on watershed functioning and the role of water quality testing.  With this information, students would then tour either the North Fork Water Treatment Plant or the Mills River Water Treatment plant to get first hand experience of where their drinking water comes from.
Click here for more information on the City of Asheville’s water treatment and distribution.

Click here for more information on the City’s Sustainability Initiatives.

5 Comments June 14, 2011

City of Asheville announces Bele Chere 2011 entertainment lineup

The City of Asheville and the Bele Chere entertainment selection committee have announced the lineup of the 2011 Bele Chere Festival, to be held July 29-31 in downtown Asheville.

42 acts, more than half of whom are local or regional acts, will perform on four stages over the three-day event.

Here is a selection from the press release from the City of Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department announcing the lineup:

Some of the local bands performing are: Floating Action, Secret B Sides, Kovacs & The Polar Bear, RBTS Win, Sirius.B, Doc Aquatic, Sonmi Suite, The Billy Sea, Sanctum Sully, Paper Tiger, The Vertigo Jazz Project, Lyric, The StereoFidelics, Do It To Julia, Papadosio, and Balsam Range. In addition, the winner of the Last Band Standing contest will open the festival on the Haywood Street Stage. Last Band Standing: The Road to Bele Chere 2011 is in collaboration with WNC Magazine.

Headliners for the event include Marc Broussard, Big Gigantic, Mambo Sauce, The London Souls, Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, The Whigs, Apache Relay, Rebirth Brass Band, Hoots & Hellmouth, and Railroad Earth.

Bele Chere is the largest free street festival in the Southeast and is produced by the City of Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department in conjunction with the Bele Chere Board of Directors. Bele Chere is sponsored in part by Budweiser of Asheville and Clear Channel radio.

The Bele Chere entertainment selection is made with the help of a committee of volunteers, who spend a weekend listening to hundreds of submissions from artists. More than 750 submissions are received every year. A 2007 public input process and direction from Asheville City Council has resulted in an increased focus on performers from the WNC region.

Click here to visit the Bele Chere Festival website.

Click here to see more articles about the Bele Chere Festival.

Click here to see pictures from Bele Chere Festival 2010.

3 Comments June 13, 2011

City Development Services Center to shift to four-day week

The City of Asheville’s Development Services Center at 161 South Charlotte Street will switch to a four-day work week beginning July 5, 2011, a move that is expected to reduce the department’s energy use and save on overall operating costs. Employees will see savings too, says Development Services Director Robert Griffin. “For them, it means a 20 percent reduction of the money they spend on gas getting to and from work,” Griffin says.

As of July 5, the center’s new hours will be Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Public Works BuildingThe Development Services Office joins other divisions within the city’s Public Works Department, most of which operate under a four-day work week.

Despite reducing the days the center is open, the switch is expected to offer a greater level of service to developers, as they will have more time at the beginning and the end of the work day to visit the center. A survey of the development community conducted last year revealed that 80 percent of those polled said they would prefer the center offer longer hours over four days.

“They’ve got a better window of opportunity to come to the office and work with us,” Griffin said.

Griffin says the center has been using every opportunity to get word of the change out into the development community, including meeting with small business groups and sending announcements to the center’s email lists.

Like the rest of the Public Works Department, the Development Services Center will have a skeleton crew that continues to operate on Fridays, namely on-site inspectors. “We will still have inspections on Fridays,” Griffin said. “And we will have a way to contact someone in the case of an emergency.”

The City of Asheville is working continuously to identify opportunities throughout the organization where shifting schedules to a four-day work week can reduce energy use and costs without reducing customer service. Currently, between 15 and 20 percent of the city staff works shifts of four 10-hour days.

Developers who would like more details about how the changes may affect them should call (828) 259-5726.

Leave a Comment June 9, 2011

Hazardous Materials Training with the Asheville Fire Department at UNC Asheville

A training exercise held on the campus of UNC Asheville May 24-26 reinforced the ability of the Asheville Fire Department and other agencies to cross-communicate with each other in the case of a regional emergency incident, as well as provided an opportunity to stage a large-scale drill.

HAZMAT DrillThe exercise, funded by the Department of Homeland Security, simulated a scenario in which a tractor trailer carrying hazardous material collided with an activity bus. Multiple responders were involved, and UNC Asheville student volunteers participated as mock victims. As the Asheville Fire Department HAZMAT team handled the simulated spill, volunteer students were transported by Buncombe County EMS to Mission Hospital, which was conducting its own drill in tandem with the exercise.

AFD Division Chief of Safety and Training Barry Hendren said the experience was valuable in that it sharpened the ability of many responder groups to work together on a large scale emergency. The group of agencies involved included UNC Asheville, the Asheville Police Department, Mission Hospital, Buncombe County Emergency Management, Buncombe County EMS, NC Emergency Management, the Reems Creek Fire Department and AB-Tech.
HAZMAT training“We enjoy working with other agencies in our community in exercises like the one we just completed; it gives us the opportunity to establish relationships that help us all deliver a high level of service to the residents and guests in our community,” Hendren said. “This exercise allowed us to utilize several new pieces of equipment that will further enhance the level of services we can deliver.”

Additionally, the department thanked UNC Asheville for its cooperation and assistance in planning the exercise and providing the site and campus security.
HAZMAT drill

“The staff at UNC Asheville was tremendous to work with in the planning of the exercise, and their level of support helped the exercise to be a success,” he said.

UNC Asheville representatives reported that the exercise benefitted the university’s emergency personnel as well, helping build strong ties with other agencies and the community.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with the Asheville Fire Department and other regional emergency response agencies to help facilitate these full-scale training exercises on our campus,” said UNC Asheville Police Chief Eric Boyce. “The hands-on experience of these exercises will increase the preparedness of all of our organizations to respond to these types of incidents and enable us to work together to ensure the safety of our students and the greater Asheville community.”

Click here to see more pictures.

Click the image below to watch a video of the hazardous materials training exercise.

Leave a Comment June 2, 2011

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