Beneath the bright and festive décor of the Aloft Hotel, which marked its grand opening Thursday, lies the City of Asheville’s most recent addition to its parking facilities. The 404-space parking garage is the fourth downtown deck operated by the City of Asheville and was built at considerable savings to the city thanks to a partnership with hotel developers McKibbon Group.
“It’s a great day here in Asheville,” said Mayor Terry Bellamy at Thursday’s ceremonial ribbon cutting. “We are happy to have a good community partner, and we appreciate the investment in our community.”
That partnership resulted in construction savings to the city of $2.66 million and design collaboration meant retaining maximum storefront potential along Biltmore Avenue.
The new garage addresses a need for additional parking identified in a 2008 parking study.
“This gives us additional parking that was sorely needed and identified for years,” the Mayor said.
Entrances to the parking garage can be found on Biltmore and Lexington Avenues. Parking is free for the first hour and $1.00 per hour thereafter. Monthly spaces are available by contacting the city’s Parking Services at (828) 259-5437.
For more information about the City of Asheville’s Parking Services, click here.
A team collaboration to rework the City of Asheville’s Information Technology Services Department has resulted in a dramatic 75 percent cut to the department’s energy consumption and won the city accolades on a national level.
Left to Right: Maggie Ullman (Finance/Sustainability), Gilbert Domingo (ITS), Deb Messer (ITS), Erik Hagan (Building Safety). Not pictured: Wanda Burgess (ITS), Jeff Reble (ITS).
The energy reduction initiative, undertaken over the course of a year, earned the City of Asheville a Technology Solution award from the Public Technology Institute in the “sustainability” category. IT director Jonathan Feldman and a team of City of Asheville employees from across several departments presented the award to Asheville City Council at its August 14 meeting.
“This would not have been possible without Council’s vision, the work done by our sustainability office, and the help provided by Finance,” Feldman said.
Technological advances in data management like cloud computing and virtualization allowed the IT Services to cut the size of its in-house data center in half. That means the center uses less electricity, generates less heat, and requires much less air conditioning. Heat dissipation was reduced by 26,581BTU’s an hour, an overall drop of approximately 50%, and power consumption dropped by 68,010 kilowatt hours per year, enough energy to power five homes for a year.
The department also customized office computers to the needs of employees, which often meant PCs could be replaced with lower-power units. Without affecting customer service, the move brought a drop of 19,030 kilowatt hours per year and reduction of $108,000 to workstation costs over their lifecycle.
In total, says the city’s sustainability programs manager Maggie Ullman, the overhaul amounts to a big stride in impacting the city’s carbon footprint.
“This is equivalent to the carbon sequestration of 1,359 trees. Next time you look at our mountains try counting that many trees,” Ullman said. “This project has real tangible impact on our community’s carbon footprint and demonstrates national innovation in local government sustainability.”
Asheville City Council has named both energy reduction and fiscal responsibility as strategic goals for the city, and departments throughout the organization strive to uphold those goals while maintaining customer service.
Asheville Fire Department Captain Jeff Bowen, who died in the line of duty while battling a 2011 blaze, was memorialized Aug. 15 with the renaming of a bridge that spans the French Broad River in Asheville.
In a ceremony attended by hundreds, including firefighters from Asheville and many other areas, a sign recognizing the Capt. Jeff Bowen Bridge was unveiled.
“May all who travel across this bridge see Captain Bowen’s name and be reminded of the sacrifices he made for the community he loved,” said Wanda Proffitt, of the NC Board of Transportation.
Proffitt was one of a selection of speakers at the ceremony that included AFD Chief Scott Burnette, NC Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshall Wayne Goodwin, and City of Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy.
“It is fitting and proper that this bridge is going to have the name of somebody who served our community so well,” Bellamy said. “When people see it, they will know that, in this community, we honor our own.”
Commissioner Goodwin pointed to the sacrifice that all firefighters make in service to others and the outpouring of support the surrounding community showed in advocating for the bridge dedication. “So many people came together in the wake of the tragedy,” Goodwin said. “Captain Jeff Bowen is in the hearts and minds of so many today.”
Capt. Bowen’s mother Laurel Bowen, alongside the rest of his family, attended Wednesday’s ceremony. Click below to see Laurel Bowen addressing the crowd at the dedication ceremony.
Click here for a website that is heading up the fundraising effort in support of Capt. Bowen’s family.
Click here for more pictures from the dedication event.
The Asheville Police Department reminds drivers to be careful and observant as City of Asheville and Buncombe County students prepare to return to school.
Please remember that traffic will be congested near city schools and plan your route accordingly. Remember to look for kids at bus stops and be aware of when you need to stop for a school bus.
When a school bus has stopped to pick up or drop off students, traffic in both directions must stop on two lane roads, two lane roads with a center turning lane and on four lane roadways without a center turn lane or median divider (for example Merrimon Ave. or Charlotte St.)
On four lane roads with a center divider or median separation of a center turn lane, only traffic following the school bus needs to stop. Be aware that school zone speed limits will be enforced by Officers using radar.
In an August 3 ceremony in Asheville City Council chambers, Mayor Terry Bellamy and APD Chief William Anderson oversaw the promotions of three of the department’s officers.
Sgt. Mark Byrd was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and Officer Jackie Stepp was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. A third officer promoted at this ceremony has since been removed from this post due to the nature of his assignment.
“These individuals worked extremely hard to prepare for this day and we are extremely proud of their accomplishments,” said Chief Anderson. “For me, it is an honor to be in a position to promote these individuals.”
Lieutenant Mark Byrd has 13 years of experience with the Asheville Police Department. During those 13 years he has served as a Patrol Officer, Drug Suppression Officer and Team Leader on the Emergency Response Team. He has a Masters in Criminal Justice from the University of South Carolina.
Sergeant Jackie Stepp has 7 years of experience with the Asheville Police Department. During those 7 years she has served as a Patrol Officer and Community Resource Officer. She has a Bachelors in Criminal Justice with a minor in Marketing from Western Carolina University and is currently enrolled in the Masters in Public Affairs program at Western Carolina University. She was selected in 2008 for the Asheville Buncombe Community Relations Council Community Service Award.
Asheville City Council’s Public Safety Committee is considering revisions to the city’s noise ordinance, and it wants you to be involved. For the next few weeks, the City of Asheville is collecting public input on the changes proposed by the committee and your input on this survey will help make that decision.
Don’t like taking surveys? You can email stand alone comments to email@example.com with a subject line of “Noise Ordinance Comment,” mail them to: City of Asheville, Community Relations Division, ATTN: Noise Ordinance, PO Box 7148, Asheville, NC, 28802, or call 259-5604.
Then on Monday, August 27, city staff will hold a public meeting to gather comments and discuss potential changes to the ordinance’s formal complaint process. That meeting will be held at William Randolph School, 90 Montford Avenue from 6:30 – 8 p.m.
The Asheville Police Department and Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, with the sponsorship support of Target, Inc., will host a local National Night Out (NNO) kick off event from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7.
NNO is a nationwide, annual crime prevention and community policing event.
The local kick off will be at the Dr. Wesley Grant, Sr. Southside Center at 285 Livingston Street, Asheville, NC.
Neighborhoods are encouraged to participate in the family oriented kick off celebration, which will feature food, backyard games with law enforcement officers, public safety vehicles and a canine demonstration. Police officers will also be available to offer tips and facts about crime prevention. NNO events are designed to strengthen neighborhood spirit and community-police collaboration by promoting crime prevention. After the kick off, neighbors are also encouraged to host picnics, block parties or simple meet and greets to increase community building and solidarity against crime.
More than 35 million people across the nation are anticipated to take part in NNO events. This year’s sponsorship is part of the ongoing support that Target, Inc. provides to local law enforcement agencies and community groups throughout the country.
In this video, APD Chief William Anderson invites the community to join in for National Night Out:
For more information about local National Night Out activities, contact Officer Allen Dunlap, APD Crime Prevention Unit, at (828) 552-1517 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the national initiative, click here.
The wolves get their big day! Four red wolf pups born at the WNC Nature Center on May 9 have been introduced into the main exhibit area and are viewable by the public for the first time, center director Chris Gentile announced today.
“The pups are now about 15 pounds each and are really active in the new exhibit” Gentile says.
Since their birth three months ago, the pups along with their mother “Mayo” and dad “Phoenix” have been living in a large off-exhibit yard. During that time, nature center staff evaluated their health and administered important inoculations. Once the pups became more independent, the decision was made to move them to the main exhibit yard.
The WNC Nature Center is one of only four U.S. zoos that saw the birth of red wolves in 2012, and Gentile said it is a privilege to be able to have them at the center. “The red wolf is critically endangered, so to get to watch these four grow is a very unique opportunity. We are happy that we can share this exciting experience and the story of the red wolf with our visitors,” Gentile said.
The red wolf, Canis rufus, is a federally protected endangered species native to the southeastern United States. Only about 400 are known to be in existence. The Red Wolf Species Survival Program, a partnership between the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, keeps track of all red wolves in zoos worldwide and makes recommendation on which wolves should breed to increase the overall health of the population.
The WNC Nature Center is part of the City of Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department and features over 250 animals native to the Southern Appalachians including red wolves, otters, birds of prey, black bears, and reptiles. The Nature Center is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
Regular admission to the WNC Nature Center is $6 for adults ($8 for non-Asheville residents), $5 for seniors ($7 for non-Asheville residents), $4 for youth ages 3-15 and children age 2 and under are free.
July 28 marked the one year anniversary of the passing of Asheville Fire Department Captain Jeff Bowen, who lost his life in the line of duty while fighting a 2011 blaze at 445 Biltmore Avenue.
To mark the occasion and honor Capt. Bowen’s life and service, a memorial service was held at Asheville-Buncombe Community College. The ceremony was attended by fellow firefighters from multiple agencies, family, friends and City of Asheville employees who came to pay their respects.
The day before, on July 27, 30 firefighters rode into Asheville on bicycles marking the inaugural Carolina Brotherhood Ride to honor fallen firefighters throughouot the state. The 400-mile, five day ride stretched from Wilmington to Asheville, and the firefighters ended their trek at the Biltmore Avenue stage of the Bele Chere festival to a welcoming crowd.
Proceeds from the ride’s sponsorships and donations will go to the widow and three children of Capt. Bowen.
“It was humbling to see the Carolina Brotherhood end their ride in Asheville to honor Capt. Bowen,” said AFD Chief Scott Burnette. “Their journey through the many communities in North Carolina showed the riders and the Asheville Fire Department the tremendous level of respect that our state has for Capt. Bowen. This was a fitting way to begin a tough weekend for our fire department.”
Participants in the Carolina Brotherhood Ride also attended Saturday’s memorial service.
“The Memorial Service on Saturday was also humbling, to see the community attend to pay their respects to Jeff,” Capt. Burnette said. “That the service was not only attended by fellow Public Safety workers, but by fellow City employees and the community as a whole, symbolizes the tremendous unity our community has.”
For information about how to give to the fund for Capt. Bowen’s family, click here.