Streamlining services, innovative problem solving, even saving lives — some of the City of Asheville’s exemplary employees were recognized April 17 at the Asheville Way Awards ceremony. The annual event, held in the Banquet Hall of the U.S. Cellular Center, recognizes those employees who uphold the values of the Asheville Way: Continuous Improvement, Integrity, Diversity, Safety and Welfare, and Excellent Service.
Contenders for the awards, both individuals and teams, are nominated by their colleagues, supervisors and the people they work alongside, and a highlight of the ceremony is hearing the special accomplishments of each nominee.
“This is a great opportunity to hear examples of people who do excellent work across the city in a variety of ways, because that’s who you are,” said Kelley Dickens, the City of Asheville’s Director of Human Resources said at the ceremony.
Below are the nominees in each category, with the winners marked in blue. Congratulations and a big thanks to all nominees. See more pictures at the City of Asheville’s Flickr page.
Rich Rauschenbach – Asheville Fire Department
Robert Martin – General Services
John Presley – AFD
Mike Brookshire – Water Resources
Anna Pigman – AFD
Sonia Salgado – Water Resources
Safety and Welfare
Jeremy Godfrey – Water Resources Linette Sieben – Water Resources
Jamie Bryson – AFD
Hazard Device Team – Asheville Police Department
Jason Williams – IT Services Keith Mastin – Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts
Nick Harvey – Public Works
Sandra Travis – Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts
Holly Waltemyer – Human Resources
Special Victims Unit – APD
Drug Suppression Unit – APD
Battalion 3 C Shift – AFD
APD Day Shift Downtown Unit
Kevin Taylor – APD Ron Kerns – Water Resources
Robert “Rock” Jones – Public Works
Douglas Quinones – AFD
Open Data Catalog Team
Above and Beyond
Erik Hagen – General Services
Kathy Wilson – IT Services Josh Darty – Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts
Brenda Mills – Finance
Charity Constant-Morris – Finance
Diane Meek – Development Services
Dion Eskew – General Services
Avery Gibbs – AFD
Anthony Oliver – Public Works
Rafael Bango – AFD
Hayne Griffin – AFD
Public Housing Unit – APD
Transit Master Plan Team – Transportation
Flushing Team – Water Resources
There are seven elected members on Asheville City Council, but that body relies on more than 250 people serving on 35 council-appointed Boards and Commissions to help guide policy for the City of Asheville.
From the Downtown Commission to the Greenway Commission to the newly formed Neighborhood Advisory Committee, these are the groups that deliberate and advise on a wide range of issues facing Asheville. Citizen involvement is crucial in making decisions that affect the city, and the recommendations of Council’s Boards and Commissions play a big role in Council’s decisions. Some of the most influential policies in the City of Asheville have their beginnings in one of these bodies.
With so many advisory bodies, seats frequently come up for consideration; in 2013, there will be openings on 22 City Council Boards and Commissions. To fill those seats, City Clerk Maggie Burleson sends out regular announcements of upcoming board vacancies. Asheville City Council selects and interviews applicants, and appoints members all in a public forum. A typical term is three years. There is a lot of great information about applying and serving on a Council Board or Commission here.
But hopefuls don’t have to wait until a vacancy is announced. Applications can be submitted at any time and will be held for up to a year. Click here to download an application.
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.
The 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 ridetheart.com.
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.
City of Asheville residents stepped up their recycling game in a big way following the introduction of “Big Blue,” the 96-gallon carts rolled out in April, with a whopping 87 percent increase in recyclables collected over April 2011.
April was the first full month of implementation of the Zero Waste AVL Recycling Program, with 28,000 homes utilizing the carts. Curbside Management, the company contracted by the City of Asheville to collect recyclables, reported that it took in nearly double the material in April 2012 as compared to April 2011.
“These are phenomenal numbers for our first month, and we feel it’s just the beginning,” said David Foster, assistant director of public works. “We expect our customers will get better at recycling as the program continues and that our tip fees will see an even bigger reduction over time.”
Overall, the City of Asheville saw a reduction of more than 112 tons of trash headed for the landfill in April 2012, which means the city spent approximately $4,826 less in trash disposal fees than it did in for the same month in 2011.
Asheville City Council approved the Zero Waste AVL in August 2011, and the City of Asheville began delivering the big blue carts in March. Before that, a sample of city residents participated in a test run of the program. The carts require no sorting or bagging. At the same time, Curbside management began accepting even more kinds of recyclable materials. Both steps make it easier than ever to recycle in Asheville.
“It’s great to see Asheville respond so positively to the recycling program,” said Maggie Ullman, energy coordinator for the city’s Office of Sustainability. “We see it as a success story, from both the standpoint of fiscal responsibility and sustainability.”
Find more information about recycling in Asheville here.
The first phase of the City of Asheville’s Transit Master Plan was set into motion on Monday, May 21, as Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy and members of City Council officially launched the Asheville Redefines Transit (ART) system.
Following a bus ride around downtown Asheville in which Transportation Director Ken Putnam described system improvements, the mayor and council members stood in front of City Hall and cut the ceremonial ribbon. Mayor Bellamy praised council for its leadership in approving the master plan in 2009 and for prioritizing sustainable and multi-modal transportation in Asheville.
“We could not have done this without the commitment of city council,” Bellamy said.
City staff has worked closely with the city’s Transit Commission, transit riders and the public at large to make the plan a reality. Commission Chair Julie Mayfield was on hand for the celebration. “This is a great day for Asheville and the transit system,” she said. “This will better serve the people already riding the bus and better serve the people we want to get riding the bus.” ART system upgrades provide increased frequency along major corridors, improve on-time performance, improve service for people with disabilities, consolidate daytime and nighttime service and make more connections with sidewalks. Access to digital route information also makes planning trips easier.
Volunteer Michelle LaRocque shows ART rider LaVerne Clay the system's new cross-town route. LaRoque has ridden Asheville's transit system since 2006.
In order to help the launch of the ART system go smoothly, volunteers are positioned at the ART station at 49 Coxe Avenue to assist riders in taking advantage of the updated route information. Bus drivers are also equipped with post cards that show where to find information about the improvements.
The ribbon cutting was held in conjunction with the Mayor’s Leadership Community Ride for Strive Not to Drive Week and Asheville’s bicycle community was out in force for the occasion. The City of Asheville was recently recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a bicycle friendly community, another step in advancing multi-modal goals for the city.
See timetables, route information and more about the ART system at ridetheart.com. Bus fares are free through June 8.
See more pictures from the launch event and Mayor’s Ride here.
City of Asheville employees from throughout the organization and across multiple disciplines were recognized May 2 at the Asheville Way Awards. The event is organized each year to spotlight achievements that affirm the city’s core values of excellent service, continuous improvement, integrity, diversity and safety and welfare.
Whether it was dramatically reducing landfill waste through a single-stream recycling program or leading youth programs in schools, implementing systems that save money or intervening to save lives, the City of Asheville had much to celebrate this year.
“We are a better organization for the work that you do,” said Assistant City Manager Jeff Richardson.
Nine teams and 30 individuals were nominated by their fellow employees, with nine awards given.
“That’s probably the best part of these awards,” said Derrick Swing, the City’s human resources manager. “The nominees are picked by their peers. There is the sense that their coworkers really want to give credit where credit is due.”
The 2012 Asheville Way Award nominees are listed below, with the winners highlighted:
Jamie Bullman (Water/Customer Services) David Foster (Public Works) Dave Stuart (Water Production Ivan Thomas (Water/Maintenance) Joel Tweed, Jr. (Water/Customer Services)
Brandon Buckner (Water/Meter Services) Jerry Hill (Public Works/Fleet) Derrick Swing (HR)
Christopher Daniels (Public Works/Streets) Douglas Zuendt (Fire)
Safety and Welfare
Michelle Massey-Smith (Water) Bernard McDowell (Public Works/Administration) Keith McCulloch and Kevin Skoniezcny (APD)
Phyllis Corns (Water/Customer Services) Stephen Fridl (Fire) Chris Maloney (Public Works/Sanitation)
Ron Kerns (Water/Administration) Joy Ponder (Fire) Jeff Staudinger (Planning) Thomas “Shane” Williams (Public Works/Fleet)
Above and Beyond
Amanda Buchanan (APD/CID) Janet Dack (Economic Development) Joe Fioccola (APD/Support) Krystal Frizzell (Finance & Management Services) Karen Good (Water Production) Robert Kun (Public Works/Engineering Services) Sue McMullen (APD/Animal Services) Randy Stallings (Planning)
Zachary McTaggart (APD/Animal Services) Mark Stevens (Public Works/Fleet)
Asheville U.S. Cellular Center Team(Civic Center): Karen Gillespie, Dan Dover, Benita Wynn, Anne Stafford, Marcia Hart, JC Gillespie, Jim Smith, John Ball, Richard Quick, Jeanine Crum, Norbert Irvin, Ian Moye, William Hyde, Jody Beck, Chris Scott. Communications Team (APD/Support): Cathey Trimnal, Joy Griffin, Joe Fioccola, Angela Young, Stephanie Bierce, Terry Darakjy, Susan Macmurchy, Scott Sutton, Dwight Danner, Chad Hyatt, Megan Young, Kristina Hoffman, Lynn Fraser, Hannah Combs, Jane Barbee, Kara Moyers, Karen Morris, Tim Bailey, Charles Parker, Rich Zayatz, Shelli Tayman, Evan Edwards, Harry Gillis, Angela Siciliano. FY 10-11 Audit and CAFRTeam (Finance and Management Services): Charity Constant, Jeanie Eplee, Beverly Evans, Eric Hardy, Samantha Jones, Tia Keith, Pat Liguori, Harry McDaniels, Tony McDowell, Amy Patterson, Carey Perkins, John Sanchez, Erin Wheeler. Health Services & Building Safety Team: Mark Case, Nikki Reed, John Kutscher, Erik Hagen, Debbie Weisbeker, Nancy Walker, Karen Fountain, Pat McCall, Debbie Byrne, Marlene Hensley, Anne Hawes. PC Rightsizing Team (IT): Kathy Wilson, Jeff Reble, Sonya Crump, Steven Frey, Larry Bopp, JJ Wilson, David Hutcherson, Debbie Ruff, Ellane Chandler, Gina Zachary. Purchasing Team (Finance and Management Services): Amy Patterson, Lyle Willis, Donna Martin, Jim Wright, Otis McIntosh, Celia Lytle. Recycling Team (Public Works/Finance): David Foster, Maggie Ullman, Richard Grant, Sonja Kun, Russell Roe, Laura Piraino. Utility Billing Team (Water/Customer Services):Deb Romaine, Darlene Barnwell, Jamie Bullman. Rapid Intervention Team Training Instructors (Fire): Sam Robertson, Chad Bryson, Adam Wilson, Mike Quinones, Eric Johnson, Dustin Cooper, Rafael Bango, Nate Rogers, Mike Webb, Patrick Crudup, Wes Rogers.
Asheville – MLK, Jr. Park was upgraded recently with an all new and safer playground. Despite the cold weather, the ribbon for the park was cut by Mayor Terry Bellamy and others November 17th making the official opening a success.
Children in the East End neighborhood joined in on the festivities and were the first to use the new equipment. The renovation for the park was long overdue.
“I think this means a lot to the community,” said Sandra Travis, festivals program supervisor, “there is a strong neighborhood association here who were very supportive towards this project. This is one of the areas that have been targeted for years to be renovated; it provides a base for the community, and with the tough economic times families can’t pay for places they may have gone to in the past, so its very important they have a free place to play.”
Cleaning and renovating the park has been planned since 2009. The 2,400 square foot playground features 19 play components and bright bold colors.
The East End/Valley Street neighborhood association president, Renee White, was overjoyed.
“This means a lot. The playground equipment was pretty old and we had a few kids who would come and play but it was becoming unsafe.” For White, the main reason for this park is for the safety and protection of the kids. “We have to make sure there are no dangers and that the equipment is safe to play on.”
The new playground facility is a place for kids to be kids, have fun, explore, and stay healthy and fit. Giving back to the community is something that Roderick Simmons, director of Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts, wants the community to know that they do.
“I think this means a lot to the community,” he said, “showing that the city invests in their quality of life, by offering the citizens an area like this. This gives the citizens a place to enjoy their neighborhood and the place that they are living.”
As far as other upcoming parks or renovations, Simmons gave a little laugh.
“What we try to do is improve are facilities to keep up with the demand of the citizens in terms of making sure that all our facilities are accessible and that we offer a variety of things that the citizens would like to enjoy. We try to make improvements every year.”
ASHEVILLE – In recognition of Fire Safety Month and fire dangers associated with the fall and winter seasons – wood burning stoves, Christmas trees, etc. – the City of Asheville’s Risk Management Division and the Asheville Fire Department this week hosted portable fire extinguisher training for staff.
Asheville Assistant Fire Marshal Kelly Hinz starts a small fire for extinguisher training.
The training focused on the general principles of portable fire extinguisher use and appropriate small fire control measures. (The timing of the training also served as a reminder to check batteries in home smoke alarms, as we prepare to “fall back” one hour starting this weekend, ending Daylight Saving Time.)
Training was led by Assistant Fire Marshal Kelly Hinz and Public Information Officer Kelley Webb.
Fire Department PIO Kelley Webb prepares a city staff member to put out a small fire.
Webb explained the different types of extinguishers: All household extinguishers are classified A, B, or C (or a combination of these) on the label to indicate which types of fires — ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids, or electrical—you can use them on. (See more photos of the training here.)
Homeowners should buy the type classified A:B:C, which fights all three types of fires, Webb said.
A staff member subdues the flames.
She cautioned that fire extinguishers are meant for small fires that can be put out quickly, such as fires on the stove.
“I often tell people that you don’t see firefighters rushing into a burning building carrying fire extinguishers,” she said. “That’s not what they’re meant for.”
Members of the city’s City Hall Evacuation Team and the Safety Steering Team attended the training. The Safety Steering Team’s mission is to “provide support to the City of Asheville Safety and Health Program in protecting lives, property, business and community in the event of emergency,” said Pat McAfee, safety and claims administrator.
The class served as “a refresher and as a prelude to additional training,” she said.
Members of the city's Safety Steering Committee - back row, l-r: Rick Barton, Shannon Morgan, Cheryl Heywood, Bernard McDowell, Barry Hendren, Sonya Crump. Front row, l-r: Pat McAfee, Nancy Walker, Sara McHone, Benita Wynn, Jeff Moore. Not pictured: Theodore Philson, Mike Yelton, Robert Nelson
Here’s a video on proper portable fire extinguisher use:
The Rev. Wesley Grant, Sr. stands with his choir at Worldwide Missionary Baptist Tabernacle, 97 Choctaw St. He founded the church and served there for nearly 50 years. Grant, who was born in 1915, died in 2007. The City of Asheville is recognizing his legacy by naming its newest community center after him.
ASHEVILLE – In an atmosphere of cheers, love and celebration, the City of Asheville on Thursday night dedicated its newest community recreation space, The Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center, in recognition of a great local leader and an historic cultural neighborhood.
The center was standing-room only as city leaders, community partners and many members of the Grant family gave thanks for the collaborations that made the event possible.
It is the first community center built in the city since the Montford Center in 1974.
No one was more excited than the Rev. Louis Grant, who was overjoyed to dedicate “something in the legacy of my dear old dad.”
Louis Grant opened the evening’s dedication by asking everyone to give a rousing cheer — which they did.
“Now we see a big, bright light in the Southside community,” he said. “Lord God, we say thank you for this celebration.”
Wesley Grant, Sr. was a prominent leader in Asheville’s African American community during the Civil Rights era and Asheville’s urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970s. He founded the Worldwide Missionary Baptist Tabernacle Church in 1959 and served there for nearly 50 years.
He was born Jan. 31, 1915 in Sumter, S.C. and was a resident of Asheville for 75 years. He died in early 2007, leaving a legacy that included not only building a strong family at home and at church, but also working to achieve strides such as the election of Ruben Daley as the first African American Asheville city council member in 1969.
He attended Shaw University Extension Classes, Shaw University Summer Convention Classes, and received Honorary Doctorates from Covington Theological Seminary and Emmanuel Theological Seminary.
The center’s name also recognizes the Southside community, a large geographic area that once surrounded the new center. Southside was a predominately African American community of businesses, churches and neighborhoods that were for the most part demolished during Asheville’s urban renewal.
It is also the city’s first LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) “green building,” demonstrating city government’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility.
“Our city council had the vision and foresight to want to build a center that not only serves the community, but that is also a model of sustainability,” said Roderick Simmons, director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts.
Some of the LEED features include a green roof, geo-thermal heating and cooling, storm water runoff management, and natural interior lighting. During construction, more than 75 percent of all construction waste was diverted from the landfill and recycled.
Mayor Terry Bellamy officiated Thursday’s event, noting many of the people who made this first phase of the center, the Cultural Art phase, a reality.
“Everybody who gave any money, any talent, any time – I want to recognize everybody who gave to this effort. I’m proud of you,” she said.
The Cultural Art phase of the center is 7,897 square-feet and features an auditorium, three classrooms, office space, storage, and parking.
The Physical Activity Phase will be constructed next and will include a gymnasium, a spray ground, playground, and a section of the Town Branch Greenway.
The Community Phase will be the final piece of the project and will include space for community partner operations.
Future phases will be constructed as funding becomes available.
The center was designed by Mathews Architecture, P.A. and built by H&M Constructors.
The $2.9 million center construction was funded by a number of contributors including the Eaton Charitable Fund, Glass Foundation, Janirve Foundation, Junior League of Asheville, the Raise the Roof at the Reid Community Campaign and the City of Asheville. Construction of the new center matches priority goals for each funder in that it serves children and their families, and provides a strategic public facility for the Asheville community.
During the dedication ceremony, Geoff Ferland, of the Asheville Parks and Greenways Foundation, presented city leaders with a check for $2,075 in personal donations from foundation members to kickstart the “splashpad” element of the Physical Activity phase.
Mildred Nance-Carson, chair of The Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center’s board, thanked attendees for sharing in the event.
“I’m so glad to see you all, but even more glad to see each and every one of the Grant family,” she said. “We are here to honor a man who set a foundation not only for his family, but for the many families he touched. We worked hard for this.”
City leaders, partners, donors, program speakers and members of the Grant family cut the ribbon to the mark the center's official opening.
A youngster stands outside the new community center, the city's first to be built since 1974.
The Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center's dedication ceremony was met by a capacity crowd.
To view more photos from the dedication, click here.
*Top photo credit:
Photo credit: Heritage of Black Highlanders Collection, UNC Asheville Ramsey Library