Filed under: City Departments
On January 24, 2015 officers from the Asheville Police Department and community members will come together in an informal, neutral space to discuss community issues, build relationships, and drink coffee. All community members are invited to attend. The event begins at 8:00am on January 24 at Bojangles restaurant located at 99 Merrimon Avenue. Please contact Officer Keith McCulloch with questions: 828-259-5834 or at email@example.com
Coffee with a Cop provides a unique opportunity for community members to ask questions and learn more about the department’s work in Asheville’s neighborhoods. The majority of contacts law enforcement has with the public happen during emergencies, or emotional situations. Those situations are not always the most effective times for relationship building with the community, and some community members may feel that officers are unapproachable on the street. Coffee with a Cop breaks down barriers and allows for a relaxed, one-on-one interaction.
“We hope that community members will feel comfortable to ask questions, bring concerns, or simply get to know our officers,” said Crime Prevention Officer Keith McCulloch. “These interactions are the foundation of community partnerships.”
Coffee with a Cop is a national initiative supported by The United States Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Similar events are being held across the county, as local police departments strive to make lasting connections with the communities they serve.
The program aims to advance the practice of community policing through improving relationships between police officers and community members one cup of coffee at a time.
December 15, 2014
The city of Asheville announced today that retired Santa Cruz, CA Police Chief Steve Belcher will serve as interim police chief for the Asheville Police Department while the city moves forward with a national search for Chief William Anderson’s successor. Chief Anderson announced his retirement in November following more than 37 years of public service. Belcher will begin as interim chief effective January 19, 2015.
Belcher’s law enforcement career spans 40 years, and he has served in the role of Interim Chief of Police for the City of Capitola, the City of East Palo Alto, the City of Marina, The City of Soledad, and the City of Bell, all in California.
“Interim Chief Belcher brings the depth and breadth of experience needed to lead the department forward,” said City Manager Gary Jackson. “He has a proven track record of building support for immediate, positive change.”
In his role of Interim Chief, Belcher will lead the daily operations of the department while working closely with the Matrix Consulting Group, which is currently conducting an organizational assessment of the police department. Small group efforts aimed at engaging all department personnel in moving the strategic operating plan forward will continue as the national search for a new chief progresses.
“As a chief and an interim chief, my approach and philosophy is fairly simple,” Belcher said. “Treat people decently, listen to what they have to say, formulate a plan and receive buy-in, be clear on expectations and hold people accountable.”
Between Chief Anderson’s departure and the arrival of Belcher on January 19, Deputy Chief Wade Wood will serve as acting Chief.
An RFP for a professional and comprehensive selection process was released in November with the target start date for a new chief set for June 1, 2015. Information about the recruitment and selection process for Asheville Police Chief is available on the City’s website at ashevillenc.gov/projects
December 12, 2014
Interested in development opportunities involving affordable housing or community development? The City of Asheville Community and Economic Development Department manages and distributes funding from several sources to support new projects. See the announcement below!
– The City of Asheville’s Community and Economic Development Department is now accepting applications for CDBG and HOME grant funds, and for the Housing Trust Fund (HTF) for FY 2015-2016.
The Community and Economic Development Department manages and administers programs for Asheville and for a four county consortium, consisting of Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania and Madison Counties, that provide affordable housing, economic opportunities and other benefits for low-income residents.
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME) are federal grant programs through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which provide grant funds for eligible projects that serve Low and Moderate income residents, eliminate slum and blight, and create decent affordable housing for low-income households.
The City of Asheville’s Housing Trust Fund was created in 2000 to provide a source of local funding to assist in the development of affordable housing in Asheville. Assistance is available in the form of repayable loans at a low rate of interest.
To download the CDBG/HOME application documents and instructions visit the Community Development Funding Programs page. The deadline to submit an application for CDBG/HOME funds is February 6, 2015 at 12:00 noon.
To download the Housing Trust Fund documents and view the HTF policies, visit the Housing Trust Fund webpage. The deadline to submit an application for the Housing Trust Fund is January 5, 2015.
December 11, 2014
Two state professional associations have recognized City of Asheville Water Resources employees for excellence and outstanding achievement, and cited the department as a whole for exceptional safety measures.
Water Production Superintendent Leslie Carreiro earned Outstanding Operator of the Year from the NC Waterworks Operators Association. Carreiro has been with the City of Asheville for 23 years and overseen operations for Asheville’s three water plants since 2005. She was named for her organizational ability, oversight of plant upgrades and updating monitoring and sampling schedules to meet new EPA standards. She has also served for years as a volunteer at the NCWOA.
Randy Rhodes was awarded the 2014 Water Distribution Operator of the Year by the North Carolina American Water Works Association and the North Carolina Water Environment Association (NC AWWA-WEA). Rhodes played a crucial role in the development of an automated meter reading system that saw the replacement of more than 50,000 water meters and assisted in advancements and programs saving staff time and reducing water loss.
The NC AWWA-WEA also recognized Darlene Barnwell, awarding the 6 year water Billing Specialist the national AWWA Heroism Award for her bravery and selfless action in the 2013 rescue of a boy who was being mauled by dogs.
The department as a whole earned the Walter J. Courmon Safety Award for its safety programs and procedures that protect employees on the job. The Water Resources Department has excelled in programs addressing accident prevention, heavy equipment training, electrical safety, emergency action planning and other on-the-job risks. Quality Assurance Coordinator Sarah McHone accepted the award at a Nov. 18 NC AWWA-WEA conference.
“We have an outstanding staff that reflects greatly on this department,” said Water Resources Director Steve Shoaf. “These recognitions are indications of the kind of professionalism we see every day, as well as our commitment to drinking water quality, our level of customer service, and the safety of our employees.”
In 2013, 11 year Water Resources employee Timothy Burdine earned NC AWWA-WEA’s Water Operator of the Year Award and the AWWA’s Operator’s Meritorious Service Award Plaque.
December 9, 2014
Are you ready for a terrific New Year’s resolution? Beginning January 4, Asheville Redefines Transit will offer bus service on Sundays, significantly expanding availability and access to riders in Asheville.
In Rider surveys conducted in 2008 and 2013, Sunday service was the most-requested upgrade to Asheville’s transit system, and it has remained a top priority in the city’s Transit Master Plan.
“Having a successful and thriving transit network means providing service where and when people need it,” said Transportation Manager Mariate Echeverry. “Sunday service makes it easier to get to jobs, run errands and visit family and friends.”
Asheville City Council approved funding for the change in the 2014/2015 budget and the step meets Council’s Strategic Goals of supporting multimodal transportation, affordability, community development and sustainability.
Sunday’s routes and schedules will resemble the system’s holiday service launched in 2013, with most routes operating between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday routes and schedules were developed with the help of input collected from an August public meeting, online and on-bus surveys, and neighborhood outreach. From Dec. 15th to Dec. 19th, riders can find information tables staffed with volunteers during peak hours the ART Station on Coxe Avenue. See more route and schedule details at ridetheart.com.
The New Year will also see improved access to the Emma and Oakley sections of Asheville, with the new S5 and W5 route, as well as the discontinuation of the C-route.
Earlier this year, the city unveiled the NextBus system in which riders can use their cell phones, smart phones or computers to find out exactly when the next bus will arrive at their stop. Find out all about these enhancements at ridetheart.com.
The City of Asheville continues to expand and develop its multi-modal transportation model and recently launched the Asheville In Motion initiative with an event drawing public input on walking, biking, transit and automobile accessibility. The public will have more opportunities to engage in the next months. You can find more information in the project page at ashevillenc.gov/projects.
December 2, 2014
Asheville Police Department Chief William Anderson on Tuesday spoke to the recent developments from Ferguson, MO and asked for the community to help keep one another safe:
“While the events of Ferguson occurred miles away, we understand that emotions concerning this tragedy and the recent ruling can affect us locally. We ask for the community’s assistance in helping us keep our community safe, including the safety of those who may be called to protest and the officers who may be called to support the safe practice of free speech. As APD officers, we consider ourselves part of the larger community we serve and protect – we seek connections and strive to be visible and well known in both neighborhoods and business districts within our city.”
“Let’s continue to be safe, give thanks and have a happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving Holiday.”
November 25, 2014
Engaging with City government should be easy as 1-2-3, so the City of Asheville is always looking for ways that tech can help keep up the connection, make life easier and create community opportunity.
Here are 10 ways you can use tech to connect with your city government:
Pay-by-phone parking – Launched as a pilot program in 2012 and expanded to all city metered spaces the next year, Pay-By-Phone parking continues to provide convenient and change-free parking options on the streets of Asheville. Thousands of people use the service each month, 7,000 in October alone! To try it out, just follow the instructions on the parking meter!
NextBus – When’s the next bus coming to your stop? That question has gotten easier to answer since the city’s Transit Division launched the NextBus service over the summer. From your phone, just text “nextART” and the number on your bus stop to “41411” or go to www.nextbus.com/art on your smart phone to find out just when the next bus will be there. You can also call (828) 253-5691 x5 and enter the number on your bus stop to hear when your bus will arrive. Signs are at all Ride the ART stops; look for the green and blue circle. Or use your home computer if you already know your stop number and avoid a long wait at the stop!
Asheville App – The Asheville App works on the idea that, when it comes to spotting areas of the city that need attention, more eyes are better than few. You spot it, we fix it. From potholes to overgrown lots to damaged street signs, the app allows residents to report problems, upload pictures and track our progress on fixing the issue. Users can access the Asheville App from their computer or smartphone, and anyone can see what is being reported and how city personnel respond.
Online Development Portal – Time equals money, especially in the world of development, and this online tool is a real time saver. Pull construction related permits, make payments and track permit progress all online. For many basic permit types, no more in-person visits are needed. You can use the portal to schedule inspections 24 hours a day, receive confirmation of scheduling and see inspections results.
Online City Council meetings, both live and on-demand (psst…you can also search Council minutes here)
Graffiti Dashboard – When the City of Asheville began its 123 Graffiti Free removal assistance program, we knew it would be important for the public to track our progress. The dashboard shows the number of requests for cleanup assistance, how many have been completed, and how much of the money allocated by City Council has been spent. The dashboard’s design and ease of use earned it a place among the finalists for the North Carolina Technology Association’s 2014 Tech Awards.
Crime Mapper – Safety and quality of life means knowing what is going on in your neighborhood. The Crime Mapper on mapAsheville is updated with current calls for service from both the Asheville Police Department and the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office and can zoom in on specific areas or sort crime info by neighborhood.
TreeMapper – Crowd-sourced tree info! Customized by the city’s Information Technology Services and the Tree Commission from open source software, the online map is designed to increase knowledge of trees in the area, highlight their benefits to the community and enhance the way we think about trees.
Online picnic shelter reservations and recreation program registration. – You don’t have to jump through hoops to sign up for one of Asheville Parks and Recreation’s many programs, or to reserve a picnic shelter for that birthday party or family reunion. Just sign up online!
Email utility bills and automatic bill payment – Green and easy! You don’t need to get a paper utility bill. By signing up, you can receive your bill by email and even choose to have an automatic draft when the bills come out.
November 18, 2014
Autumn has arrived in full, and in Asheville that means admiring the brightly colored fall foliage. There’s no shortage of trees for leaf-lookers to soak in autumn’s display. And as long as our attention is on trees, it is a great time to dive into the Asheville Tree Map, an online crowd-sourced tool that seeks to identify and map trees in city and provide easily searchable info on the city’s tree stock.
Customized by the city’s Information Technology Services and the Tree Commission from open source software, the online map is designed to increase knowledge of trees in the area, highlight their benefits to the community and enhance the way we think about trees.
“The tree map is an exciting way to get people engaged with tree issues, and the user-friendly concept seems to inspire people to check it out,” says Tree Commission chair Mike Kenton. “For anyone interested in tree ID, assessing the health of their tree or a tree they care about, and especially learning about the environmental and financial benefits of trees in the Asheville area, it’s an excellent tool.”
Asheville Tree Map allows any user to log the location, type and size of trees in their area, adding to data already supplied by others in the community. On the flip side, users can search the ever growing tree database, search for types of fruit or flowering trees and view the environmental impact of Asheville’s tree population. Compiled numbers show the most common trees and individual markers show each tree’s characteristics and facts like how much air pollution each tree removes.
“There are enough trees in the city limits, from street trees to those in our back yards, that it would be impossible for one person to log all of them,” says city GIS Analyst Dave Michelson. “This is an excellent example of where crowd sourcing can work for the benefit of everyone. The more people involved, the better the map.”
In all, the map currently identifies information on 6,319 trees in and around Asheville. Many of those have been logged by the city’s arborist Mark Foster. Additionally, the Tree Commission and a group of volunteers celebrated the soft launch of the technology in March with a tree mapping party at Riverside Cemetery, logging some 100 trees. The commission hopes that more such parties will evolve from Asheville’s community as people begin to explore the application.
“Asheville’s Open Tree Map offers unparalleled opportunities to visualize and manage our urban forest,” said Commission member Amy Kemp. “It is not only supportive of the City’s tree management activities but offers the ability to calculate the economic and environment impact of the city’s trees, whether on public or private property.”
Because the Asheville Tree Map was developed using already available open-source software, Michelson said that customizing an Asheville-specific application took less staff time and effort that starting one from scratch. Michelson said that IT Services is also keeping an eye out for mobile app options to expand the tree map onto hand-held devices.
To access the Asheville Tree Map, go to http://ashevilletreemap.org.
November 3, 2014
On October 29, Asheville Police officers, friends and family gathered outside the Buncombe County Courthouse for a candlelight memorial in honor of Officer Robert A. Bingaman who died one year earlier.
The service was held in the building’s courtyard, home to a stone memorializing emergency and police personnel who have died in the line of duty. APD Chief William Anderson and District Attorney Ron Moore both spoke to the gathering of approximately 100.
Bingaman died in 2013 when the car he was driving left the Capt. Jeff Bowen Bridge over the French Broad River. Bingaman, who served in the traffic division, was also a former Marine and a well-respected officer in the Asheville Police Department.
October 30, 2014
Interactive events and a great turnout made for a successful Asheville In Motion event on Saturday, October 25. The combination workshop, input session and panel discussion served as the launch for the formation of a city-wide mobility plan- a vision that consolidates all forms of travel and transport into one idea: we all need to get somewhere. Whether using sidewalks, crosswalks, bicycle infrastructure, transit or streets, mobility is important for everyone.
“We were so pleased with the turnout and the enthusiasm of the participants,” said Mariate Echeverry, the city’s Transportation Planning Manager. “Everyone provided us with so much information on their wants and needs for mobility.”
The event at the U.S. Cellular Center included a mapping exercise where participants pinpointed areas of concern, a streetscape design lab, a touch-screen survey and an idea wall to catch any great thoughts that were not being addressed.
“The success of the mobility plan depends on us getting as much information as possible from people in the community. They know where their needs lie,” Echeverry said.
The survey is online at ashevilleinmotion.metroquest.com for anyone who did not make it to the workshop.
Information gleaned from the survey, the AIM event and upcoming visits to neighborhoods where transportation options are critical will be used by consultants to produce a report to inform the mobility plan.
“All of the moving parts in a holistic mobility plan are complex and intricate, and I think a lot of people left Saturday’s workshop informed of what it takes,” Echeverry said.
She also expressed thanks to all the volunteers that helped make the Asheville In Motion event a success.
Follow progress on the Asheville Mobility Plan at the city’s projects page.
October 29, 2014