ASHEVILLE – This year’s Bele Chere festival is going beyond dancing, music, and art — it’s going green.
Festival attendees can participate in the first Green Scavenger Hunt and earn a prize by tracking the green leaf icons on the Bele Chere 2011 brochure maps that will direct them to Green Scavenger Hunt sites.
Attendees can take a photo with their smartphone or write down the answers to clues at each site.
The scavenger hunt highlights green initiatives of the festival, as well as throughout downtown Asheville. These initiatives comprise solar panels positioned on a local restaurant’s rooftop, an electric car exhibit provided by the N.C. Division of Air Quality, “green” secrets of Asheville food vendors, and the new interactive recycling kiosk located at the Civic Center.
Stephanie Carney, an intern with City of Asheville’s Sustainability Office, has fun recycling at the new recycling kiosk in the Civic Center.
Featuring a photo booth, a “green quiz,” and recycling video, the kiosk creates a fun recycling experience. The interactive recycling kiosk was designed and constructed in partnership with A-B Tech’s Sustainable Technology Program.
The kiosk encourages users to be social and to do good by recycling, while at the same time taking and sharing your photo via Facebook, Twitter and email.
To win a prize, participants can go to the City of Asheville Recycling Booth in the Civic Center to reveal their photos / clue answers they collected during the Green Scavenger Hunt.
Prizes will be awarded to the first 300 participants.
ASHEVILLE – The Asheville Fire Department recently received delivery of a mass evacuation bus that will greatly increase public safety officials’ ability to handle larger emergencies and disasters in the region.
It was purchased with a $357,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Grant Program, said Asheville Fire Department Division Chief Joe Meadows.
The bus, also called a mobile ambulance, can transport 19 patients on stretchers, or 28 sitting.
Asheville and Buncombe County are partnering to operate this regional mass evacuation bus.
In a major disaster, without this resource, 12 ambulances would be needed to transport this number of patients, greatly straining the system.
The bus will be used to address “natural disasters, mass casualty incidents, mass evacuations of facilities and rehabilitation,” Meadows said.
The fire department used the ambulance today, July 26, during a structure fire in the Upper Hominy Fire District. Meadows said it was “being utilized as rehabilitation unit for firefighters who are on the scene working in heated conditions,” which are even more severe in the current heatwave.
The bus is available for emergency response to all counties in the western part of North Carolina. It is operated through a joint partnership between the City of Asheville and Buncombe County Emergency Management Services.
Regional responses will be dispatched under the direction of North Carolina Emergency Management.
ASHEVILLE – Residents living near Emma Road in West Asheville have said for years that the road is a danger to pedestrians. This danger was made starkly clear in a hit-and-run accident in February, when pedestrian Richard Leroy McCoy, Jr., was left in a ditch for eight hours with serious head injuries before being found.
To address this pedestrian hazard, the city will build a half-mile of sidewalk on North Louisiana Avenue, connecting Emma Elementary to nearby businesses. The sidewalk is being built as part of an agreement between the city and Buncombe County because the Emma community is located just outside the city limits.
Asheville and Buncombe County leaders have partnered to build a sidewalk to make travels safer for pedestrians in the Emma Community.
The county will pay for the project using more than $240,000 in federal grants.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners in June unanimously approved this agreement with Asheville city government, and the county will be responsible for maintenance of the sidewalk after it is built.
Though the sidewalk is not being built on Emma Road, where McCoy was hit, it will provide a safer route for pedestrians in that area.
“Emma Road is a very narrow two-lane road, and right now there just isn’t a safe place for people to walk,” said Dan Baechtold, transportation planner with the city. Baechtold credited a community group called “A Safer Walk for Emma” with bringing the need for a sidewalk to the city’s attention.
Though there is no exact date for construction of the sidewalk to begin yet, Baechtold said construction should begin in the fall.
To learn more about Asheville’s bicycle and pedestrian services and initiatives, visit: http://ashevillenc.gov/residents/transportation/default.aspx?id=450
ASHEVILLE – The City of Asheville, Curbside Management, and AT&T are partnering for a phone book recycling drive that highlights area community centers.
Residents are encouraged to bring used telephone books to any of the 11 Asheville area community recreation centers from now through Aug. 18.
The center that collects the most used telephone books will win a $500 cash prize, funded by AT&T.
It’s the first time the city has conducted this contest, said Wendy Simmons, solid waste manager in the city’s sanitation division.
The winning center will use the money for a community event, according to Charles Lee, program supervisor for the city’s recreation centers.
“Each community has multiple events in which they gather to celebrate the uniqueness of that particular community,” Lee said. “Once a winner is determined, the center director will work with their community advisory board to determine what particular event [the center may have] and how best to use funds.”
The local drive is one of about 70 “Project ReDirectory” initiatives operated by AT&T. These are community-based recycling programs designed to promote the collection and recycling of directories. The directories are made from recycled paper waste and wood fiber, such as sawdust and wood chips that would otherwise go unused.
Directories are also recycled into animal bedding, bathroom tissue, cereal boxes, roofing shingles and new phone books.
ASHEVILLE – Starting today, iPhone and Android users can begin using a free app that will assist in locating available parking downtown.
“Parker” shows real-time parking availability and is being tested in 50 downtown spaces now through September.
Parker’s sensors communicate wirelessly, signaling to Smartphone users whether spots are occupied or vacant. The app will also collect data that reveals local parking patterns.
Parker was developed by the San Francisco-based company, Streetline, Inc. It functions hands-free, automatically following a user’s position and orientation, similar to GPS navigation applications. No interaction with the phone should be necessary once the application is started.
The app debuted in December in Los Angeles, and is also being used in New York City; Fort Worth, Texas; and Washington, D.C.