Archives – December, 2012

Recycling for the holidays: don’t pitch the wrapping paper!

The holidays mean big gatherings, big meals – and big piles of discarded paper, shopping bags and boxes. The EPA estimates that household garbage increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That makes the holidays a great time to utilize recycling opportunities in Asheville and fill up those Big Blue bins when cleaning up after the party or once the presents have all been opened.

Asheville residents have stepped up their recycling game, especially since the introduction of the Big Blue recycling carts and the launch of the single stream recycling program. This year, residential recycling between July and October increased 69.64 percent over the same time period in 2011, diverting 1,056.72 tons of waste from the landfill.

Curbside Management has provided a great list of things that can be recycled during the holidays:

Wrapping paper (except for the foil kind)
Cardboard boxes (don’t worry about all the tape)
Dress boxes
Christmas cards (even the glittery ones!)
Newspapers and inserts
Junk mail
Paper shopping bags
Broth cartons and wine boxes
Eggnog cartons
2 liter soft drink bottles
Cracker, cereal and other food boxes
Almost every grocery container – cans, jugs, bottles, jars (but not black microwave trays)

Here’s the short list of things that can’t go in the recycling:

Tissue paper
Used paper plates and cups
Napkins or paper towels

And don’t forget about the Christmas trees – they can be recycled too! Trees will be collected curbside according to the routine brush collection schedule, or they can dropped off at the Buncombe County Landfill or at private yard waste facilities. Please remove all lights, ornaments, tinsel and stands. Have an artificial Christmas tree? You’ll need to call (828) 251-1122 to set up collection.

Reducing Asheville’s carbon footprint is one of Asheville City Council’s strategic goals. The Zero Waste AVL initiative page on the City of Asheville website lists a lot of great information for recycling at the holidays and all year round. Check it out here.

And enjoy the holidays!

Leave a Comment December 19, 2012

Green features earn recreation center LEED Platinum certification

The City of Asheville is pleased to announce that the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center at 285 Livingston Street has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification. The designation is the highest level of certification awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council in its recognition of building design and construction practices that reduce carbon footprint and environmental impact.

“This certification is great news,” said project manager Al Koph from the City of Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department. “We’ve worked hard to make this project a flagship for the city and an example of what can be achieved in sustainable building.”
City of Asheville LEED Platinum Certification

Dedicated in October 2011, phase one of the recreation center was the first City of Asheville facility built since Asheville City Council’s 2007 direction that all new municipal construction achieve at least gold LEED certification. Council includes among its strategic goals that Asheville be a southeastern leader in sustainability.

Throughout the project’s first phase, project architect Jane Mathews, acting as the LEED certification administrator and working with her design team, submitted qualifying elements to the USGBC and confirmed that it was on track. Thanks to features like use of natural light and water-efficient fixtures, the project cleared the bar for gold certification and then some.

“The City of Asheville is to be commended for showing strong leadership in promoting a very high level of sustainable design for its new facilities,” Mathews said. “We were honored to assist the City in fulfilling this commitment and to furthering its environmental stewardship by providing a quality, affordable and sustainable new center for Asheville and its citizens.”

Mathews presented the LEED Platinum certificate to Asheville City Council at its December 11 meeting.

The Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center is probably most easily recognized by its roof, the shape of which channels rainwater into sediment reducing ponds and cisterns as well as the roof gardens. But the center also employs energy-efficient windows, geothermal temperature regulation and energy conserving insulation. In rating buildings for certification, the USGBC also factors in how far materials have to travel to get on site and the fact that most of the materials removed for the building were recycled.

Phase one of the center houses an auditorium, classrooms and office space. Phase two, which is currently in the planning stage, will include a gymnasium, a spray ground, playground, and a section of the Town Branch Greenway.

Click here for more information about the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center or any of the City of Asheville recreation centers.

Click here for more about the City of Asheville’s sustainability initiative.

1 Comment December 18, 2012

Capt. Sarah Benson, first woman named APD Captain, retires after 23 years service.

This week, the Asheville Police Department and the City of Asheville celebrated the career of Captain Sarah Benson, who retired after 23 years service on the force. Benson was the first woman to achieve the rank of Captain on the APD.Capt. Sarah Benson retirement

Benson joined the Asheville police department in 1989, serving in many capacities including patrol and criminal investigations and was promoted to Captain in 2005.

“Capt. Benson has been an outstanding supervisor and leader in our organization,” said APD Chief William Anderson. “She has been a trail blazer and role model for women in the APD. She will be sorely missed.”

We wish Capt. Sarah Benson well in her retirement and thank her for her service to the City of Asheville.

Leave a Comment December 7, 2012

ART system gets nine new buses

Upgrades to Asheville’s transit fleet continue with the replacement of nine buses with newer models. The new buses, two hybrids and seven diesels, began partial service this week and are expected to be in full operation within the next ten days.

City of Asheville busThe streamlined models are expected to reduce repair costs and fuel expenses as the City of Asheville continues to expand the implementation of the Transit Master Plan.

“This is a big milestone. We’ve been working full speed for four years to get new buses to replace our fleet,” said Transportation Planning Manager Mariate Echeverry.

Four of the buses were purchased with a blend of federal earmarks secured by former Rep. Heath Shuler in 2008 and 2009 and section 5309 of the Federal Transit Administration, allowing for an 80 percent federal funding match. Another 10 percent was picked up by State of North Carolina Department of Transportation and the remaining 10 percent by the City of Asheville.

The remaining five buses, all diesels, were purchased with an allocation from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 covering 100 percent of the cost.

The nine new buses mean that 14 out of 21 buses in the City of Asheville fleet have been replaced, making for a more efficient and reliable bus pool.

The new look of transit in Asheville began in 2011 when blue and green hybrid buses appeared on city streets. By the time phase one of the Transit Master Plan launched this spring, the new buses had become a common sight around the city.

The newest buses sport a more streamlined front end and continuous windows along their length, but they also utilize new automated passenger count technology that will provide needed data to continue to improve the ART system. The technology notes whenever passengers board or disembark a bus.

Those numbers provide data that allow the City of Asheville’s Transportation Planning Division to better understand the needs of the system’s ridership and to prioritize system improvements, as well as submit accurate three-year counts for federal funding applications.

One feature that remains unchanged is the presence of bike racks on buses. The racks have proved themselves to be a crucial enhancement to the growth of multimodal transportation in the City of Asheville, a strategic goal of Asheville City Council.

For more information about the ART system and route/schedule information, go to

1 Comment December 5, 2012

APD Citizens Academy graduates largest class yet

The City of Asheville Police Department celebrated the graduation its largest Citizens Police Academy class to date on Nov. 23. Forty-three people took part in the 13-week program, including seven high school students participating for their senior projects, making this the biggest class since the academy began in 1991.

APD citizens' academy“Any time we can involve the participation of this many citizens in this kind of a program, it’s a benefit to all of us,” APD Chief William Anderson said to the class. “Hopefully you walked away with a better idea of what we do. That educational experience has a benefit across the board for us as a community.”

The Citizens Academy is a 13-week program in which participants can experience up close and behind-the-scenes how law enforcement works. Attendees learn about forensics, the K9 unit, the bomb squad, investigative techniques and get to participate in ride-alongs as officers go on patrol. Class participants complete a total of 41 hours, forging relationships with the officers who serve the Asheville community.

Academy participant Octavia Caldwell said the course had a big impact on her. “This has been a wonderful experience. Every police officer I see, I have compassion for them.”

“Everyone comes out of it with a greater understanding of how law enforcement works,” said Crime Prevention Officer Allen Dunlap, who coordinates the academy. “This is a great way for people to learn more about us and for us to make more connections in the community. We want to reach out to the community. We want to build bridges.”

The Asheville Police Department offers a Citizens Police Academy twice a year, as well as a Junior Citizens Police Academy in the summer. Participants must apply and be accepted in order to participate. For more information about these programs, contact Officer Dunlap at 259-5834 or

APD Citizens' academy

Leave a Comment December 3, 2012

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