Filed under: City Managers

City of Asheville employees recognized for outstanding performance

From building code inspection to walkability. From to the RADTIP to emergency response, City of Asheville employees were recognized for excellence in service at Asheville City Council’s January 14 meeting.

City Manger Gary Jackson did the honors, thanking those who have exemplified professionalism, innovation and public service. But he began by highlighting two events that took place in January and required emergency response by several City of Asheville departments.

The first was the nearly 24-hour standoff on Max Street from Jan. 2-Jan 3 in which Asheville Police officers, assisted by the Buncombe County Sheriff’s office and the Henderson County Sherriff’s Office, resolved the situation peacefully and without injury to officers, the suspect or the public.

“The professionalism and ability displayed by these officers and our police department is commendable, and the community is safer because of their presence,” Jackson said.

Next, Jackson highlighted the Jan. 10 gas main explosion on Sand Hill Road in which the Asheville Fire Department responded to provide mutual assistance and the Asheville Police Department called in resources. After the fire was extinguished, the city’s Public Works Department and Water Resources Department worked overnight to restore and patch the roadway in order to have Sand Hill open by Sunday evening.

“I commend all of these departments, the Fire Department, the Water Department, Public Works and the Police Department who all responded and worked through the weekend to make that happen,” Jackson said.

There were more thanks and recognitions to go around, often for City of Asheville employees, teams and partnerships that worked behind the scenes to achieve goals important to the community or earn accolades for outstanding achievement.

Women’s Pipe Tapping Team

• The Water Resources Department Women’s Pipe Tapping Team was recognized for an outstanding women’s pipe tap time during the 93rd Annual North Carolina American Water Works Association Conference. The Women’s Pipe Tapping Team (The Copperheads) put up a time of 2 minutes 40 seconds. The National AWWA winning time for a Women’s team was just a mere 20 seconds off.

The Water Resources Department Women’s Pipe Tapping Team are:

Michelle Smith
Brenna Cook
Virginia Pardo
Myrriah Ringgenberg

Water Distribution Operator of the Year Award
Operators Meritorious Service Award

• In 2013, Timothy Burdine Jr. , an 11-year employee of the City’s Water Services Department, was awarded both the Water Distribution Operator of the Year Award from the North Carolina American Water Works Association and the North Carolina Water Environment Association’s Operators Meritorious Service Award.

Tim was recognized for these awards due to his recent work in implementing new advanced practices in leak detection and valve maintenance for the Water Maintenance Division. In addition, Tim’s has gone above and beyond to understand customer needs and assist however possible.

Asheville Silver Walk Friendly Community

• Asheville was recently named a Silver-level Walk Friendly Community by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center in Chapel Hill. Asheville is one of 44 Walk Friendly Communities in the nation, and the fourth city to be so designated in NC and the first in the state to achieve silver status.

Areas and activities that were noted as particularly impressive are the Asheville Police Department focus on targeted crash reduction, Asheville’s high-quality sidewalk design standards and ordinances that promote dense, mixed-use development, and the city’s avenues for gathering input and collaborating with residents, specifically the Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force and Asheville’s neighborhood coordinator.

Employees recognized were:
Barb Mee
Sgt Scott Pruett
Officer Jon Derrick
Scott Barnwell
Alan Glines

This achievement would not have been possible without the application team of Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force volunteers, and the cooperation of several city staff members who provided information for the application.

ISO Building Code Effectiveness Grading Classification 2

• The Building Code Effectiveness Grading Schedule measures effectiveness of building safety programs. Scores range from 1 to 10 with low scores representing the highest quality (a score of 1 is considered “exemplary”.) An Insurance Services Office audit of the City’s program this summer resulted in scores of 2 for both the residential and commercial building safety programs.

These scores show a dedication to quality, professionalism and customer service on the part of our building safety employees.

ISO ratings also impact insurance scores statewide, and low scores like the one achieved by the City of Asheville result in lower insurance rates across North Carolina.

Employees recognized were:

Mark Case Joe Chennault
Abigail Riley Jay Eichhorn
Susannah Carver Alec Arthur
Alisha Carrol Eric Evans
Heather Rhinehart Steve Bothelo
Jamie Fortner Gary Sanders
Sheila Salyer Garrett Gates
Misty Lipe Jim Hayes
Amy Tesner Anne Graham
Diane Meek Chris Rossi
Kim Levi Jerry Reese
Ron Evans Gary Stamey
Scott Metcalf Mark Matheny

ACEC Excellence in Engineering – RADTIP Design Project

• The American Council of Engineering Companies of North Carolina (ACEC/NC)Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) is an annual competition that honors and recognizes engineering and surveying firms for projects which demonstrate the highest degree of achievement, value and ingenuity.

On November 7, 2013, the engineering firm of CDM Smith and the City of Asheville received an Honors Award for the preliminary design of the River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project, or RADTIP. The RADTIP will upgrade the roadway, add greenways, bicycle lanes, sidewalks and other amenities adjacent to a 2.2-mile section of the French Broad River in the River Arts District.

Employees recognized were:

Dan Baechtold
Stephanie Monson-Dahl
Ken Putnam
Cathy Ball

ACEC Excellence in Engineering – Cherokee Retaining Wall

• Originally built in 1899, Asheville’s historic Cherokee Road retaining wall is an integral gateway component to the Albemarle Park Historic District. Over time the wall suffered damage due to subsurface water, erosion, and increased demands from vehicular traffic. The purpose of the project was to reconstruct the wall to maintain its historic appearance and character, while upgrading the roadway and underground infrastructure, all while encouraging a high level of community involvement. On November 7, 2013, the project won the North Carolina Chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies Grand Award for Small Projects for engineering excellence. This project was identified and approved for the FY 2012 Capital Improvement Program by City Council. The Public Works Department’s Streets & Engineering Division staff worked diligently with a local engineering firm Baker Engineering to design, and construct this project. The following City staff each played key roles in making this project happen.

Employees recognized were:
Greg Shuler
John Gavin
Brian Estes
Lee Morrison
Stacy Merten

Leave a Comment January 23, 2014

Deputy City Manager Jeff Richardson departs for Cleveland County

This week, the City of Asheville bid farewell to Deputy City Manager Jeff Richardson. Richardson, who began working at the City of Asheville as Human Resources Director in 1997 and took on the role of Deputy City Manager in 2001, has accepted the position of County Manager for Cleveland County, a decision he announced in July.

On September 10, Asheville City Council recognized Richardson for his achievements with a resolution of appreciation. “Jeff has a proven track record as a local government leader who is community oriented, collaborative, a problem solver, and one who is active and accessible in the community,” said Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy.

Richardson thanked the City Council and City Staff for their hard work. “It’s been a true honor to serve the city the 16 years I’ve been here,” Richardson said.

The City of Asheville thanks Mr. Richardson for his dedication and wishes him all the best in this new chapter in his life.

See a video of the resolution of appreciation and Mr. Richardson’s remarks below:

During the national search for Richardson’s replacement, former Weaverville Town Manager Michael Morgan will serve as interim Deputy City Manager.

Leave a Comment September 27, 2013

Heroism, accomplishments by city employees, recognized by Mayor and City Council

Six city employees were recognized by Asheville City Council at its August 13 meeting. Council thanked for their hard work, drive for improvement, and, in one case, heroism.

Darlene Barnwell, who works in the city’s Customer Service Division, received a standing ovation for her heroic rescue of an 8-year-old boy who was being attacked by dogs in a neighbor’s yard. In May, Barnwell was drawn away from a cookout she was hosting to assist in a search for the boy. When she found him in a neighbor’s yard being attacked by the dogs, she climbed a barbed wire fence, managed to distract the dogs, then pick up the boy and carry him out of the yard.

“We’re so proud of you Darlene,” said City Manager Gary Jackson. “And it touches our hearts that you would do that.”

Council also recognized Asheville Fire Department Battalion Chief Joy Ponder for completing the four-year National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program. Last year, while going through the program, Ponder became the AFD’s first female Battalion Chief.

The City’s Purchasing Manager Amy Patterson was congratulated for earning the title of Certified Local Government Purchasing Officer through the North Carolina School of Government. The certification means that Patterson and the City’s Purchasing Division are recognized as providers of efficient, fair and transparent business practices.

Darryl Rice, Rob Martin and Kevin Haughinberry of the City’s Fleet Division were recognized for completing specialized training and certification to inspect low-emission CNG vehicles in the city’s fleet. Their training saves the city time and money when using the low-emission vehicles.

Click the screen above to see a video of Council’s City of Asheville Employee Recognition from August 13.

Leave a Comment August 14, 2013

Asheville Way Awards shine light on employee excellence

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.

Continuous Improvement

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

Excellent Service

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

Outstanding Leadership

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

Rising Star

Jonathan Ingle – Public Works

Leave a Comment April 23, 2013

City of Asheville’s technology roll out increases efficiency across departments

In an organization of more than 1,000 people, speedy and accurate information flow means not only increased efficiency but also real dollars. That’s an underlying theme that emerges when City of Asheville employees talk about the recently launched technology upgrade that provides not only swifter access to data but also easier communication between city departments and city customers.

The Munis system purchased by the City of Asheville from Tyler Technologies grew out of a 2009 commitment by Asheville City Council to fund a Business Technology Improvement Project to replace the organization’s aging mainframe-based system with a state-of-the-art streamlined tech upgrade.

The new system is targeted to business transactions within the city’s financial, human resources, contract management, purchasing and inventory, and utility billing functions. Dramatically eliminating paper forms in favor of digital ones reduces the time spent on each step of a transaction such as a business license application, as well as the time it takes to navigate the approval process. In a summary he wrote for the City of Asheville’s E-News in 2009, Information Technology Services Director Jonathan Feldman noted that experts estimate the switch can save more than $3 in staff time and material costs per form.

“It reduces the staffing needed for these processes, and it reduces redundancy.” Feldman says, adding that more accurate and accessible data means that city departments can close revenue gaps that may have been difficult or impossible to find with a paper-based system.

The system has been deployed in all city departments, with department heads and employees meeting with the IT department and experts from Tyler Technologies to determine how best to apply the software in their departments. In January, the city’s payroll division will join the offices using the system, followed by utility billing in July.

And like the city’s MapAsheville GIS mapping system developed in 2006, the city’s use of the Munis system will continue to evolve as more and more applications for the technology emerge.

“It’s pretty massive,” Feldman says. “It’s not just IT doing this. It’s a huge collaboration. Each department has to take ownership of how it applies to their product.”

Development Services Director Robert Griffin praised the upgrade as a boon for his department, which is in charge of processes like construction permits and business licenses. Griffin says the Munis system cuts down on the time it takes for a business privilege license to be processed, and even sends him emails when there is a form that needs his attention.

“It allows us to be more efficient and more responsive to the outside customer,” he says.

4 Comments November 5, 2010

One-stop Development Services shop brings permitting under one roof

As anyone who works in the development industry, or for that matter, has tried to expand on an existing home can tell you, running the gauntlet of required permits in any city can be a long and complicated process. The City of Asheville’s Development Services Center at 161 South Charlotte represents an initiative across city departments to streamline that process and increase intra-departmental communication, says Robert Griffin. As the city’s Building Safety Director, Griffin also oversees the operations of the Development Services Center, often referred to as the city’s “One-Stop Shop” for permitting.

Organized through the office of the Assistant City Manager and drawing on research by the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill, the one-stop-shop opened in September 2009. It now houses under one roof representatives from the five City of Asheville departments that issue permits for construction: Public Works, Planning and Development, Water Engineering, Asheville Fire Department’s Fire Marshals, and Building Safety. Whether adding a deck or building a 23-story hotel, all City of Asheville building projects now go through this office.

CoA Development Services

Robert Griffin stands next to shelf of submitted development plans. Tech upgrades could allow for digitized submissions in the future.

“In the past, you had to go to each department and talk to them individually,” Griffin says. Now, he says, a check-in at the intake desk ensures that plans get before all of the eyes permitting requires.

“This system fosters better community relations with customers and facilitates better communication,” he says.

The setup also allows better communication between departments, which creates an effective atmosphere for coordination on specific individual projects as well as the city’s codes regulating permitting. It also reduces potential conflicts among departmental requirements that can create more footwork for the development customer.

“We are better positioned to come up with an equitable solution to meet everyone’s requirements,” Griffin says. “I think the customers we have worked with will tell you it’s working.”

Adding to the customer attention are two new Project Managers, positions created in the formation of the Development Services Center. The positions are designed to provide personal attention and help developers navigate the different permitting processes, including addressing any snags, from start to finish.

“I do a lot of triage for a customer if they have a problem,” says Project Manager Susannah Carver.

Currently, the Development Services Center is working to increase its technological capability to transmit and receive entire development plans electronically, a move that is being funded by a 4% technology fee on all development services. That fee was approved in 2009 by Asheville City Council to fund the tech improvements without affecting city taxpayers.

Already in place is technology that allows developers to track the status of their projects from their own computers and see what permitting stages they still need to meet.

“I’m really proud of what we’ve got going here, what we’ve accomplished and where we are going,” Griffin says.

Click here for more information on the City of Asheville’s Development Services.

Leave a Comment July 6, 2010

No-smoking ordinance prohibits smoking on city property starting July 1

Beginning July 1, a revision to City of Asheville’s no smoking ordinance prohibits smoking on all city owned and occupied property. The new language applies to all City of Asheville parks, greenways and the grounds of city municipal facilities.

The move is intended to provide a healthier environment for City of Asheville employees and the general public and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. With cigarette butts constituting a large portion of litter in the City of Asheville, the non-smoking ordinance is expected to contribute to the overall cleanliness of the city as well.

The revised ordinance will not apply to city sidewalks and streets except where sidewalks are inside park boundaries. The sidewalk surrounding downtown’s Pritchard Park, for instance, is within the park’s borders and therefore will be subject to the non-smoking ordinance.

The law allows for designated smoking areas at city facilities, to be determined by the Asheville City Manager. A designated smoking area for the Asheville Civic Center will be determined in the near future.

Enforcement of the ordinance will rely on community policing and will be complaint-based. Violation of the ordinance could result in a fine up to $50. City crews will soon be installing signs clearly marking areas where smoking is prohibited.

The amended ordinance was passed by Asheville City Council in April, enabled by 2010 legislation by the North Carolina General Assembly.

2 Comments June 15, 2010

City of Asheville Opens French Broad Greenway Extension

City of Asheville Opens French Broad River Greenway

Ribbon Cutting at the Greenway Opening

On May 14, The City of Asheville and its partners celebrated the official opening of the 1.2 mile French Broad River Greenway Extension. The West Asheville bike and pedestrian route represents the longest continuous stretch in the city’s greenway system and connects to one of the city’s most-utilized park facilities, Carrier Park, to the Hominy Creek Park. The link provides a 3.25 mile connector to the French Broad River Park.

Speaking at the opening, Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy heralded the greenway as a step in the right direction toward Council’s strategic goal of green initiatives, encouraging alternative transportation, preservation of green space, protection of wildlife and keeping people connected with Asheville’s natural surroundings.

Like any large initiative, establishing the greenway relied on a long list of partnerships both public and private. The greenway route crosses land owned by the City of Asheville and Buncombe County, and required easements by Progress Energy, the North Carolina Department of Transportation and MSD. Not to mention that the greenway crosses the Asheville Outdoor Center and Wilson’s Riverfront RV Park. The owners of both those businesses were on hand at the ribbon cutting.

Obtaining the necessary easements, planning and design for the greenway constitute five years of work across several city departments and relied on funding from the NC DOT.

“This started a long time ago, and it took a lot of partners to make this possible,” said Asheville’s Director of Parks Recreation and Cultural Arts Roderick Simmons.

Buncombe County Commissioner Holly Jones also credited the collaboration between city and county leaders and personnel in getting the job done. “I think that connection is just wonderful,” Jones said.

The City of Asheville Parks, Recreation, Cultural Arts and greenways Master Plan was approved by Asheville City Council in 2009. For more information on the plan, click here.

1 Comment May 15, 2010

Welcome to the City of Asheville Blog!

The City of Asheville, NC is excited to share content though this new blog. We hope that you find the content useful and informative. Thanks for reading.

15 Comments May 12, 2010

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