Three Asheville Police Officers took on new roles at a Jan. 31 ceremony at Asheville City Hall, with two receiving promotions and another filling a major leadership role in the department.
Lts. Stony Gonce and Christopher Reece-Young were both promoted to the rank of Captain at the ceremony and sworn in by Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy.
Chris Reece-Young is sworn in at Thursday's ceremony.
Reece-Young is a 23-year veteran of the APD and has experience in a wide variety of roles in his career, having served as a patrol officer, mounted patrol officer, field training officer, K-9 officer and as part of the emergency response team. As a lieutenant, he has served as the Drug Suppression Unit Commander, South Central District Commander and as the Patrol Special Services Commander.
Gonce joined the APD in 1998 and has served as the District Traffic Officer in West District, Patrol Sergeant, Traffic Safety Unit Supervisor, District Commander and Acting District Commander in Criminal Investigations.
Newly sworn APD Captain Stony Gonce with Mayor Terry Bellamy (right).
Both officers were joined by their families for their swearing in before a room full of colleagues.
“I couldn’t do any of this without the support of my family,” Gonce said. “There isn’t a person in this room who hasn’t helped me all the way.”
Capt. Wade Wood was named Deputy Chief, having served as the APD’s Interim Chief in 2012 during the City of Asheville’s search for a new leader for the department. Chief William Anderson said Wood was an obvious pick for the role.
“There is no doubt in my mind I made the right choice” Anderson said. “I really appreciate Wade stepping up to the plate.”
APD Chief William Anderson (left) named Wade Wood (right) as the department's Deputy Chief.
Wood came to the APD from the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department in 1992 and served as patrol officer and on the Community Together Team. During his career he has also served on the Administrative Division and Criminal Investigations Division.
Mayor Terry Bellamy wrapped up the ceremony by thanking the department and the officers in the room.
“You are all a wonderful force and we are a better city because of you all.” Bellamy said. “Thank you for the work that you do.”
For some, the ceremony held September 11 by the Asheville Fire Department was recognition of achievement and the effort they have given to the department and
The annual ceremony recognizes new hires to the AFD as well as promotions, special achievements and life saving efforts over the year.
community. For others it was the beginning of a new career and life as a firefighter. But for each person at the ceremony, the day was a reminder and celebration of the dedication it takes to be part of the AFD.
“Thank you so much. We are proud of what you have achieved,” said Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy speaking to the firefighters and their friends and families gathered at the Sherrill Center on the UNC Asheville Campus. “You represent the best and the brightest.”
27 Asheville Firefighters were recognized for promotions or advancements at the Sept. 11 ceremony.
The Asheville Fire Department recognition program observed the advancement or promotion of 27 firefighters and the hiring of 26 new recruits. AFD Chief Scott Burnette said the department’s outreach efforts through programs like the department’s Explorer Post and In Real Life program not only brought in a large field of new applicants, but also allowed the department to increase the numbers of minority hires over the last year.
In the past year, 16 firefighters advanced to the role of Senior Firefighter, and four were advanced to Captain. Seven firefighters received promotions, including 14-year veteran Joy Ponder, who notably achieved the status of the AFD’s first female Battalion Chief.
Joy Ponder is the Asheville Fire Department's first female Battalion Chief.
Ponder was also the 2012 recipient of the YWCA’s Tribute to Women of Influence award, that organization’s recognition of women who are role models in the community. The 2011 recipient of the TWIN award was AFD firefighter and Public Information Officer Kelley Klope.
“That honorees have been women in the Asheville Fire Department for two years in a row, we think is pretty significant,” said Burnette.
The AFD award ceremony is held in tandem with its annual remembrance of the September 11 attacks and the firefighters who gave their lives to save others, as well as a time to honor those from the Asheville Fire Department who lost their lives in the line of duty.
“We honor the lives lost that day by continuing to improve and advance, never forgetting our mission to save lives and to minimize suffering,” Burnette said. “We are here today a stronger nation and a stronger fire service and we will always be grateful for those who gave their lives to save others.”
Below are the AFD firefighters who received promotions and advancements:
David House (Active Military Duty)
DEPUTY FIRE MARSHAL
New hires to the AFD are:
A gathering of bicyclists, joggers, walkers and parents with strollers celebrated the opening of a new section of the Reed Creek Greenway on Saturday, Sept. 8. The event marked the latest addition to the City of Asheville’s growing greenway network.
The Reed Creek greenway runs parallel to Broadway Street, crossing Cauble Street, and the addition is a vital link in a continuing expansion that will give bordering neighborhoods greenway access to downtown Asheville.
Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, Council member Chris Pelly, Greenway Commission member Sue Barlow and Olympic medalist Lauren Tamayo officially opened the connector.
“Thank you to the City and to everyone involved,” Tamayo said. “This is something Asheville can get behind and embrace.”
Following the ribbon cutting, bicyclists including Tamayo and members of the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club rode the new stretch of greenway.
The newest addition to the Reed Creek Greenway includes a 10-foot-wide paved path, a bridge crossing over Reed Creek, and an emergency call box.
Monday, May 28 saw the commemoration of Memorial Day in a ceremony held on Roger McGuire Green in Pack Square Park and presented by The City of Asheville Mayor’s Committee on Veterans Affairs and Buncombe County.
The ceremony commemorates the sacrifice and service that men and women have given in the name of protecting the nation, and was attended by veterans and serving members of all branches of the military as well as by public safety and emergency response personnel. Families, friends and supporters filled the park’s seating area to pay tribute to those who have fallen in battle.
“We do it by remembering. We do it by honoring the sacrifice they made,” said the keynote ceremony’s speaker, retired Naval CEC Capt. Kenneth J. Vasilik. “I believe those who died in battle want us to remember them. And we do remember them.”
Vasilik commemorated the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the USS Asheville shortly after the invasion of Pearl Harbor and the 132 men who died in the attack.
Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy and Buncombe County Board Chair David Gantt laid the ceremonial wreath, a presentation that was followed by a moment of silence, a 21-gun salute by the Asheville Police Department Honor Guard, and a rendition of taps.
Asheville Police Chaplains Kent Withington and Wayne Roper gave the invocation and benediction, and Buncombe County Commissioner Bill Stanley led the Pledge of Allegiance and closing comments.
The program's music, including the National Anthem, America the Beautiful and Amazing Grace, was performed by Rockell Whiteside, Taylor Whiteside, Brenna Daughtery and friends.
Presentation of the colors was performed by members of the Enka High School Air Force JROTC
Click here to see more pictures from the 2012 Asheville-Buncombe Memorial Day observation.
The annual Asheville-Buncombe Memorial Day ceremony held May 30 on Roger McGuire Green in Pack Square Park was a chance for residents and visitors to reflect upon and remember service men and women who had given their lives in the name of protecting the nation. This year, the event also marked a special milestone, as the WNC Veterans’ Memorial was officially transferred to the care of the City of Asheville and Buncombe County.
The memorial, adjacent to the Roger McGuire Green, is the result of a 13 year effort by the non-profit organization WNC Veterans Memorial, formed to raise money for its design and construction. The group worked closely and extensively with other organizations including the Pack Square Conservancy and the City of Asheville’s Public Art Board to make the memorial a reality.
The memorial was dedicated on Veterans’ Day, 2009, but its gifting to the city and county closed a chapter for the organization, said director and WWII veteran Tuck Gudger. Alongside money for design and construction, the organization also raised $140,000 for the care and maintenance of the memorial.
“We are so proud that the citizens of Asheville, Buncombe County and Western North Carolina donated not only the money for the memorial, but also the money to make sure it exists in perpetuity,” Gudger said. “And it gives us great pride to gift this memorial and the money for its perpetual care.”
The maintenance funds, held in two trusts, will be managed by the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, represented at the observation by foundation president Elizabeth Brazas.
Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy and Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Vice-Chair Bill Stanley were both present to accept the gifts.
“On behalf of the citizens of Asheville, thank you so very much to the men and women who made the commitment to make sure that we have this memorial in downtown Asheville for not only this generation, but future generations,” Bellamy said. “They wanted to make sure that people who visit, and more importantly, people who live in our community, understand the services that have been rendered and the lives that have been given to protect our country.”
The Memorial Day observation’s Master of Ceremonies was local radio personality and Gulf War veteran Matt Mittan. The keynote speaker was Staff Sergeant Josh O’Conner, who served two tours of duty, one in Afghanistan and another in Iraq. O’Conner, alongside Bellamy and Stanley, placed the traditional wreath in remembrance of fallen veterans.
Click here to see more pictures from the 2011 Asheville-Buncombe Memorial Day observation.
The word everyone was waiting for came out of the WNC Nature Center on Wednesday afternoon, as Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy and Nibbles the Groundhog had a Groundhog’s Day conference to predict the coming of Spring.
The media event fell on the same day as the nationally-followed prediction by Punxsutawney Phil, but as Education naturalist Eli Strull explained, “We wanted to get the scoop as close to home as possible.”
Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, taking on the role of “Groundhog Whisperer” conferred momentarily with 5-year-old Nibbles, the WNC Nature Center’s resident groundhog, before declaring that, though it may take its time, Spring will indeed arrive in Western North Carolina. “It’s coming. It’s going to be a little delayed, but it’s coming,” the Mayor said, adding thats she hopes people take advantage of good weather to visit the center.
The previous weekend’s warm spell brought huge crowds, said WNC Nature Center Director Chris Gentile.
The WNC Nature Center has observed Groundhog’s Day for the past eight years, and Nibbles is the second groundhog to have the honor of being front and center at the event.
The tradition, Strull explained, comes from European stock, and is timed to coincide with groundhogs coming out of their winter hibernation. Nibbles, who was raised as a pet and therefore cannot be released back into the wild, has recently moved into a new exhibit and habitat facility at the center’s red barn that allows for comfortable hibernation in the winter and activity in the warm months. Glass viewing windows mean visitors can better observe Nibbles in her new home.
The new exhibit is one in an ongoing series of improvements and upgrades at the WNC Nature Center, Gentile said.
The WNC Nature Center’s mission is to increase public awareness and understanding of the natural environment of Western North Carolina. Featuring over 150 animals including otters, black bear and red wolf, the Center is open from 10:00 – 5:00 daily.
The Center is operated by the City of Asheville and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)
On Thursday, December 9, City of Asheville elected officials and employees joined community members from East Asheville to officially open a new stretch of sidewalk at the intersection of Tunnel Road and Beverly Road. The project was at the top of a list of priorities that came out of an April community meeting with area residents, and includes sidewalks, ADA-compliant ramps at all points of the intersection and pedestrian crossing signals. The signals were supplied by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Transportation Director Ken Putnam said, freeing up additional funding to extend the sidewalk along Tunnel Road.
Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy joins community members and City of Asheville Public Works crews in a ribbon cutting officially opening the completed sidewalk project.
Street services crews at work on the sidewalk project in July.
In a Tuesday evening ceremony, the Asheville Police Department recognized 32 people who completed its Citizens Police Academy. The program, offered twice a year, takes participants through in-depth tours and descriptions of the inner workings of the Asheville Police Department to give them a better understanding of law enforcement and build relationships with APD officers.
“The primary thing we are trying to do is build a bridge of communication with the community,” said Crime Prevention Officer Allen Dunlap.
Allen Brailsford (left) and APD Chief William Hogan at the Citizens Police Academy graduation ceremony Tuesday night.
Three-hour classes over 13 weeks covered all aspects of law enforcement including evidence, forensics, constitutional law, patrol, criminal investigation and gang investigations, giving the participants a more intimate knowledge of the skills and risk it takes to protect and serve.
“It’s a big commitment. It always impresses me when you have the kind of interest to delve into this,” APD Chief William Hogan said at Tuesday’s ceremony. “I hope you have established some lines of communication, and that with communication comes trust.”
For participant Allen Brailsford, recently appointed to the city’s Police Advisory Committee, the experience was an eye opener.
“I can tell you we learned much more that I thought there would be,” Brailsford said. “I have a much greater appreciation for the police department after going through the program.”
Along with the regular classes, participants were invited to ride along with APD officers on a patrol and to learn to fire police issued weapons at the department’s firing range.
Firearm instruction and patrol ride-alongs are part of the APD's Citizens Police Academy course schedule.
“The first time I went to a class, I was hooked. I was in awe,” participant Toni Hicks said. “I will recommend this to people. It’s a great program.”
Several of the graduates are also participants in a program called “Getting Back to the Basics,” which was founded by APD Sgt. Quentin Miller. Getting Back to the Basics provides year-round support and services to families with children ages 11-21 who are socially or economically disenfranchised from the Asheville metropolitan community. Volunteers and families involved with the program arranged and served the meal at the Citizens Police Academy graduation.
Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy called all of the graduates “ambassadors of the police department,” and appealed to them to relay to the community the knowledge they have gained.
“Now you can go out and communicate to the community the reality of the police department and what we are doing to serve them as a city,” Bellamy said.
The Asheville Police Department hosts 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 email@example.com.
The City of Asheville was one of many partners recognized at Thursday’s grand opening and ribbon cutting at the Glen Rock Depot at 372 Depot Street in the city’s River Arts District. The opening of the 60-unit mixed-use apartment complex by Mountain Housing opportunities is in stride with Asheville City Council’s strategies for affordable, green and sustainable development, said Mayor Terry Bellamy, and is a big building block in the city’s East of the Riverway sustainable multimodal neighborhood initiative.
Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy (left) and city council member Jan Davis (right) at the ribbon cutting for the Glen Rock Depot on Thursday.
“When Cindy Weeks and Mountain Housing Opportunities approached the city with this project many years ago, the city readily said ‘Yes,’” Bellamy said during her remarks at the grand opening ceremony.
In 2005, council granted a rezoning request for the development of the Glen Rock, the first development to be approved under a newly created “Urban Place” zoning district, largely due to its potential to create high-density mixed-use infill development.
Council also appropriated $1.6 million from the Housing Trust Fund and in Federal HOME funds for the Glen Rock development. The Housing Trust Fund is a revolving source of funding used by the City of Asheville to provide loans to developers willing to provide a certain threshold of affordable housing. HOME funds are allocated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and distributed by the city to projects that support its affordability goals.
“This is a model project for our East of the Riverway sustainable communities initiative,” says Community Development Director Jeff Staudinger. ”Creating new, affordable housing that is close to schools, jobs and recreation. It is a mixed-use infill, building rehab and neighborhood revitalization project all rolled into one.”
For those wanting more information about HOME and Community Development Block Grant funding, the city’s Community Development Division will host a training workshop on Wednesday, Dec. 8. Click here for more information about that workshop.
Speakers at the Glen Rock opening included Buncombe County Commissioners Bill Stanley and Holly Jones and MHO Executive Director Scott Dedman. Attending the opening were Asheville City Council members Jan Davis and Gordon Smith, Buncombe County Commissioner Carol Peterson and North Carolina State Representatives Patsy Keever and Susan Fisher.
The Asheville Police Department’s recently opened Oakley Resource Center is the result of a series of partnerships and collaborations, all of which, says APD Chief William Hogan, were critical to the project’s success.
The 2,500 square-foot facility provides a satellite station for the APD’s Baker District, which serves north and east Asheville, and officially opened with an Oct. 27 ribbon cutting ceremony attended by residents of the Oakley community, N.C. Representative Patsy Keever, Buncombe County Commissioner Carol Peterson Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, Council Member Jan Davis, and City of Asheville employees including a number of APD officers.
Throughout the presentation, Hogan and Bellamy praised the level of cooperation involved in building the new center, from its construction by A-B Tech students to a multi-departmental involvement by City of Asheville staff to the donation of materials by local suppliers.
“The collaboration with A-B Tech carpentry class speaks to a good partnership that is being advanced.” said Mayor Bellamy.
The pre-fab building was designed and constructed offsite by A-B Tech students to be an example of an energy efficient residential home before its new role as an APD station. A-B Tech President Dr. Hank Dunn and Vice President of Risk Management and Operations Max Queen were on hand for the ribbon cutting.
“When you’re a member of a community, your role is to say ‘How can I be involved? How can I help?’” Dunn said.
The Oakley Police Resource Center a few months before completion. The center officially opened Oct. 27.
Alongside the work by the students, the effort involved multiple city departments, who contributed to modifying and enhancing the station, including the city of Asheville’s building safety, information technology, parks, recreation and cultural arts, public works and water resources departments.
“This could not have happened without all the collaboration of the city departments,” Hogan said. “And without the support of the Mayor and City Council, it would not have been possible.”
The opening of the new facility, which will be a workplace and base of operations for some 40 APD officers, shows the department’s dedication to having a visible presence in the community, Bellamy said. It also provides the opportunity for the officers to continue close relationships with the surrounding neighborhoods and provides a place for neighbors to go if they need police assistance.
“This is an example of our commitment from our Chief,” she said. “We’re really doing what we need to do to make sure our city is safe.”
Click the link below to see a video about the new Oakley Police Resource Center.