Archives – September, 2011

Harvest House clinches win in recycling drive

ASHEVILLE – The City of Asheville’s first AT&T Project ReDirectory Telephone Book Recycling Drive was a big success, with 9,020 pounds of telephone directories collected through the local recreation center recycling challenge.

Barry Lawson, president of Curbside Management, Inc., said that’s a total of 4,864 phone books.

Recycled phone books are made into useful products such as animal bedding, insulation, cereal boxes, roofing shingles, new phone books and more.

The drive was a partnership between the City of Asheville, Curbside Management and AT&T. The city recreation center that collected the most directories was Harvest House, has received a $500 award incentive from Curbside Management and AT&T.

Harvest House collected 3,140 pounds of directories. The center will use the award to further support their community programs and projects, which offer activities for people of all ages. Harvest House features pool tables, a loaning library, computer, and large and small multipurpose rooms. Several classrooms feature weaving, ceramics and a full-service woodshop.

Harvest House’s winning strategies included placing ads on Craigslist, contacting area hotels to recycle their outdated directories and program participants going door to door in their neighborhoods.

Their staff and program participants’ creativity, time and efforts helped to secure their win, according to city staff.

To find a list of city recreation centers, visit:

http://www.ashevillenc.gov/departments/ParksRCA.

Leave a Comment September 26, 2011

City approves updated hazard mitigation, emergency management plan

ASHEVILLE – Local leaders say the community is best served during emergencies and national disasters when area governments work together, sharing information and resources under the unified goal of lessening risks and hazards to the public.

This type of cooperation has a name: hazard mitigation. On Tuesday, Asheville City Council approved a resolution adopting the latest update to the Buncombe County Hazard Mitigation Plan.

“Hazard mitigation” is defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as “sustained action that reduces or eliminates long-term risk to people and property from natural hazards and their effects.”

This photo, taken from staff video during the September 2004 floods, shows the serious effect the storm had on Biltmore Village. The county's hazard mitigation plan provides guidance for such emergencies.

The local Hazard Mitigation Plan includes Buncombe County and the six municipal jurisdictions located within it: the City of Asheville, and the towns of Biltmore Forest, Black Mountain, Montreat, Weaverville and Woodfin.

The plan last went through a major update in 2010, according to Asheville Assistant Fire Chief David McFee.

“Our plan is extremely comprehensive,” McFee told Asheville City Council at the Sept. 13 meeting. “It’s designed to give us guidance in all emergencies and disasters.”

McFee said the plan provides a blueprint to the city council, city staff and the community on preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery.

It’s a “living document” that is reviewed and updated regularly to stay relevant to the community’s needs and to changing technologies, he said.

The preparation and adoption of a local Hazard Mitigation Plan is also a requirement for receiving many types of mitigation and post-disaster recovery funds, according to the plan document.

During a disaster, the Asheville Fire Department coordinates all resource needs through Buncombe County Emergency Management. The AFD, Building Safety, Engineering, and Finance departments in a disaster or major emergency would forward all damage reports to Buncombe County Emergency Management, which is charged with collecting the data needed for a countywide declaration of emergency, or to request a state or federal declaration of emergency for assistance.

The approved plan update is posted on Buncombe County’s website and can be viewed by following this link:

http://www.buncombecounty.org/News_Detail.aspx?newsID=11329

2 Comments September 19, 2011

Community marks 10 years since 9/11

ASHEVILLE – Members of the Asheville community, city leaders and staff on Sunday gathered to observe the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The ceremony was led by the Asheville Fire Department and was held in the Ferguson Auditorium of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.

Officials say the total number of people killed in the 9/11 attacks was 2,819. The number of firefighters and paramedics killed was 343. Twenty-three New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority police officers were also killed.

Some 3,051 children lost a parent that day.

To date, some $1.4 billion has been donated to 9/11 focused charities.

Asheville Fire Chief Scott Burnette shared his feelings about the somber occasion in an editorial that ran Sunday in the Asheville Citizen-Times as part of the newspaper’s anniversary coverage:

“The attention and focus that firefighters receive during this time is often awkward for us. Firefighters do not consider themselves heroic. As firefighters we know that we are human, fallible and vulnerable. We strive every day to live up to the honor the public places upon us, and we carry a heavy burden to not let the public or our fellow firefighters down. We spend a lot of time trying to understand this paradox.

“Although we do not consider ourselves heroes, our heroes are firefighters. The 343 firefighters who died on 9/11 are our heroes.  Capt. Bowen [who died in the line of duty in Asheville on July 28] is our hero.

“We take great honor in participating in recognizing these heroes for what they stand for and who they are…”

Attendees of the ceremony take a moment to honor Asheville Fire Department Capt. Jeff Bowen, who was killed in the line of duty on July 28.

Community members gathered at A-B Tech to mark 10 years since 9/11.

An Asheville firefighter looks over the ceremony program.

See more photos of the ceremony at http://bit.ly/nwAqRx.


Leave a Comment September 12, 2011

City launches interactive recycling kiosk

ASHEVILLE – About two dozen people came out to Tuesday’s official launch of the city’s new interactive recycling kiosk at the Asheville Civic Center.

The kiosk – which urges people to “be social, do good” – was funded by a grant from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and was created through a partnership between the city’s Office of Sustainability and Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College’s Sustainable Technologies Program.

The kiosk also features a quiz to test users’ “green” knowledge and a video on recycling.

Users can take advantage of single-stream recycling at the kiosk, and can also take a picture in its photo booth and share it via email, Facebook and other social media.

To learn more about the Office of Sustainability, its goals, green initiatives and projects, visit: http://1.usa.gov/bKKaUZ.

Attendees take the quiz and upload photos to social media on the city's new interactive recycling kiosk, which was officially launched Tuesday at the Asheville Civic Center.

Rachel Rogers, city sustainability outreach specialist; Bradley Barrett, an A-B Tech student who worked on the kiosk's creation; and Maggie Ullman, energy coordinator for the City of Asheville, gathered for the kiosk's official launch.

Rachel Rogers, who leads outreach for the city's Office of Sustainability, speaks about the interactive features of the new recycling kiosk at the Asheville Civic Center.

Leave a Comment September 7, 2011

Development Services builds on positive customer feedback

ASHEVILLE – The Development Services Center is continuing its emphasis on providing excellent customer service by seeking regular feedback from the people it serves.

Staff recently issued an online customer service survey to gauge their performance. The goal is to keep doing what customers say is working and to improve in areas that customers felt were lacking.

Development Services is the umbrella name for the development assistance and regulation provided by five city departments: the Building Safety Department, Planning & Development Department, Transportation & Engineering Department, Water Resources Department and the Asheville Fire & Rescue Department.

Building Safety Director Robert Griffin, who oversees the Development Services Center, said his staff will continue taking surveys about every other month and that surveys are also being created for inspections and other services.

“We’re establishing a cross-functional team to look at customer service, work flow, and any other identifiable improvement area for recommended changes,” Griffin said. He added that this team will be facilitated by someone outside the development process.

CoA Development Services

Building Safety Director Robert Griffin stands next to a shelf of submitted development plans.

The overall feedback in the first survey, the results of which came back just recently, was positive. The majority of respondents (about 83 percent) came to the center to submit or pick up permits. Of that pool, some 94 percent said they were greeted promptly, and 83 percent said staffers were helpful and polite. Some 66 percent said they were able to meet with a city staff member within 15 minutes of their arrival at the center.

Respondents who met with a Development Services Center Plan Review staff member assessed them very highly: 88 percent said plan reviewers were professional, and 82 percent said reviewers were helpful and polite. Moreover, 94 percent of respondents said staff explained processes to them in a way they could understand.

In response to some respondents’ concerns about sign-in procedures and wait times, Griffin said front counter staff has been reorganized.

“Their additional function is to make sure every customer is signed in, receives service, and is updated when the time is longer than anticipated,” Griffin said.

He added that the center has changed the intake process for certain permit types to allow customers to have information entered into the computer system in a more timely way.

One survey respondent wrote of being impressed by a staff member’s work ethic: “The plan reviewer I met with said he needed to come back into work later that evening to catch up with paperwork. I was surprised that a public employee cared that much. With no pay.”

To learn more about the Development Services Center, visit: http://1.usa.gov/qoFtm3.

Leave a Comment September 6, 2011


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