Filed under: City Departments

Asheville Battalion Chief Joy Ponder Selected for Fire Service Executive Development Institute

Exciting news from the Asheville Fire Department: Battalion Chief Joy Ponder has been awarded a scholarship to the Fire Service Executive Development Institute, a year-long program designed to advance the leadership development of firefighters serving at the top of their field. Ponder is a graduate of the four-year National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program and in 2012, became the department’s first female Battalion Chief.

PonderFull announcement from the AFD below:

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) announced that Joy Ponder, Battalion Chief, has been accepted into the 2014 session of the Fire Service Executive Development Institute (FSEDI). Now in its second year, the FSEDI is a year-long leadership-development program developed by the IAFC to provide new and aspiring chiefs with the tools they need to advance and have successful and productive careers. Chief Ponder has been awarded a scholarship which will cover expenses associated with travel for three sessions to be held in Northern Virginia during the coming year.

Chief Ponder started with the Asheville Fire Department in 1998. She has her Associates Degree (AB Tech), Bachelor’s Degree (Mars Hill College) and a Master’s Degree (UNC-Greensboro). During her tenure she has received numerous certificates and trainings including Executive Fire Officer (National Fire Academy), Fire Officer III (State of NC), Advanced Professional FF (NC), Chief Fire Officer Designation (Center for Public Safety Excellence) and Fire Officer Designation (CPSE).

“Joy Ponder shows leadership qualities necessary to move the Asheville Fire Department forward today and into the future,” said Chief Scott Burnette. “I am grateful that the IAFC is able to help enhance her leadership abilities and provide her the tools she needs for a successful career as a fire service leader through the Fire Service Executive Development Institute.”

The FSEDI is made possible through a grant by the Motorola Solutions Foundation’s Public Safety and Security Institute.

The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world’s leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders.

Leave a Comment April 9, 2014

Register now for the Senior Games and Silver Arts Showcase!

It’s time again for the Senior Games! Here’s the registration info from the City of Asheville Parks and Recreation Department:

Asheville-Buncombe Senior Games & The Silver Arts Showcase
May 13-June 3, 2014

The 2014 Asheville-Buncombe Senior Games are fast approaching! Competitors from around the area will gather for a few unforgettable weeks of athleticism and fun. Spend your morning shaking it up on the shuffleboard court, and your afternoon hitting the track. Pummel your peers in racquetball and spend the afternoon watching your buddies in a game of Pickleball. The possibilities are endless, and even if you don’t bring home a medal, the memories are all yours to keep.

Are you the more artistic type? The Silver Arts Showcase, a major component of the Asheville-Buncombe Senior Games, is the perfect time for you to debut your latest masterpiece or hit the stage with your musical skills.

Click below for more information for these exciting events!

Asheville-Buncombe Senior Games 2014 Application and Information

Asheville-Buncombe Senior Games 2014 Schedule

Silver Arts Showcase 2014 Application and Information

Questions? Contact Dee Black at 828-259-5809 or\

Leave a Comment April 9, 2014

City of Asheville Water Resources Department Distributes 2013 Annual Water Quality Report

The City of Asheville’s Water Resources Department continues to deliver water that meets or exceeds federal water quality regulations, and an annual report currently being delivered to water customers displays the results of water quality testing.
Each year, the City of Asheville distributes its annual water quality report in water customers’ bills and posts it to the City of Asheville website. The report, mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency, presents the types and concentrations of substances found in samples taken from both the water plant and locations throughout the service area. That level of transparency is especially valuable considering the importance of water quality to the community. The 2013 report going out during March and April shows that Asheville’s water supply is cleaner in all categories than required by EPA standards.

“We are always proud to share the water quality report with the community. We are fortunate to have Asheville’s pristine water resources as well as the employees who work hard to ensure that our customers receive excellent water quality every day,” said Stephen Shoaf, Director of the Water Resources Department.

The City of Asheville Water Resources Department operates three water treatment plants, 37 pump stations, and 32 reservoirs, and protects and manages a 22,000 acre watershed. The North Fork water treatment facility processes an average of 15 million gallons of water a day, while the Mills River and William DeBruhl plants produce about 3 million gallons a day. System wide, the City of Asheville Water Resources facilities process 20.5 gallons of water per day and service more than 123,000 customers.

The City of Asheville’s water quality is closely monitored on a daily basis by laboratory technicians who collect and analyze water both at the plant facilities and throughout the distribution system. Lab technicians collect roughly 120 samples per month from sample sites throughout Asheville and areas served by City of Asheville water. Asheville has a large distribution system, therefore Water Resources staff regularly monitor, sample and flush portions of the system to ensure high quality drinking water.

Each plant routinely analyzes the raw and finished water for temperature, turbidity, pH, chlorine, total and fecal coliform bacteria. Routine distribution sampling and analysis consists of: pH, alkalinity, temperature, chlorine, total and fecal coliforms. The EPA requires the analysis of various other constituents and all of those results were below limits set by the EPA.

This informative report provides details about the quality of the water provided to the city’s customers as well as the water sources and how it is treated. Customers can find the report in their next water bills or see it online here, and may expect an update of this report each year.

For further information or additional copies of the City of Asheville’s 2013 Annual Water Quality Report, call the City of Asheville Customer Services Division at (828) 251-1122.

Leave a Comment April 7, 2014

LED light installation continues on major corridors

In 2011, the City of Asheville began a project to replace all streetlights with LED lighting, saving money and energy and helping achieve Asheville City Council’s goals for reducing Asheville’s municipal footprint. The Office of Sustainability has announced that the next phase of streetlight replacement is underway, focusing on major traffic corridors in the city. See below for the details.


From the Office of Sustainability:

The City of Asheville is moving into the next phase of the LED streetlight installation program in which 1,500 more traditional street lights will be upgraded to LED fixtures. Upgrades will take place Monday through Thursday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. with minimal expectations of traffic disruption. Installations will mostly focus on major thoroughfares such as Hendersonville Rd, Patton Avenue, Brevard Rd, New Leicester Hwy, and Tunnel Rd, and will also include many lights in the downtown area and some in residential areas. The installations will begin in the south, then proceed to the west, north, and finally the central and eastern sections of the City, and are expected to be complete by the end of May.

Over the last three years the City has upgraded 7,400 street lights to the energy efficient LED technology which is currently saving the City $450,000 and avoiding 1,294 tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is equal to the emissions from burning 7 rail cars of coal.

These lighting upgrades build further upon the City’s successful outdoor lighting ordinance, which ensures all municipal streetlights adhere to “Dark Sky” standards.

For more information about these upgrades please visit the frequently asked questions page at or email

Leave a Comment April 1, 2014

An eye for art at 51 Biltmore ***UPDATED***


Here’s the news on the next step in the public input process for the public art project at 51 Biltmore. From the Parks and Recreation Department:


51 Biltmore Public Art Project

Asheville, NC – The City of Asheville is developing Asheville’s next public art in the 51 Biltmore Public Art Project on the exterior of the public parking garage next to the Aloft Hotel at 51 Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville.

The next public comment period for the 51 Biltmore Public Art Project begins on April 4 with the First Friday Gallery Walk in downtown Asheville. The artists’ proposals will be on display at the Blue Spiral 1, 38 Biltmore Avenue, 5:00 to 8:00 pm during the Gallery Walk, and continue through April 6 during regular business hours. April 7 – 11 the proposals will be on display at the Aloft Hotel in the second floor lobby, 51 Biltmore Avenue, during regular operating hours. The public is invited to review and make comment on the proposals, with the option to select their preferred design. Comment can also be made on line at the City of Asheville website at during April 4-11.

“More than 50 people showed up at the first public forum in January and we received great input to support the artists’ concepts,” said Brenda Mills, Economic Development Specialist. “We want to continue the momentum with this week-long opportunity to help choose Asheville’s next piece of public art.”

Public input on the artists’ proposals will constitute 25% of the selection process. In addition to public comment, the Selection Panel will consider artistic merit, originality, appropriateness for the site; and practical factors such as maintenance, feasibility and budget.

The City issued a call for artists in September 2013. The finalists were chosen by a Selection Panel from an application pool of over 150 artists. The Public Art and Cultural Commission hosted a forum in January 2014 in which the public could meet the artists and provide comment to inspire them in their design proposals. Once the second round of public comment is complete, the Selection Panel will choose the final artwork. The public art installation is expected to be complete in fall 2014.

For more background on the selection process, and to see the artists’ proposals, go to the 51 Biltmore Public Art Project Page at For more information contact Basil Punsalan at 828-259-5552 or

The City of Asheville Public Art Program oversees Asheville’s public art collection. The Public Art and Cultural Commission is responsible for approving the site and content of public art, and the development of an inclusive selection process that involves community feedback. Members also act as public art ambassadors by advancing the City of Asheville as an “arts destination” in cultural and economic development efforts.

And here’s the background on what has already happened:

The City of Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department announces the next step for a public art project for 51 Biltmore.Click here to see more on this project, including examples of the finalists’ work.


51 Biltmore

The parking deck wall at 51 Biltmore awaits its new look.

Asheville, NC – The City of Asheville announces the top artist finalists for the 51 Biltmore Public Art Project to be installed on the exterior wall of the pubic parking garage next to the Aloft Hotel at 51 Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville. The Public Art and Cultural Commission (PACC) will host a public forum with the artists on Friday, January 24, 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Trinity Episcopal Church located at 60 Church Street. Parking is located on the south side of the church and across the street. Enter the church at the Church Street entrance to Tuton Hall.

The following are the top artist finalists:
Artist team Alex Irvine (Santa Fe, NM) and Ian Wilkinson (Asheville, NC)
Marc Archambault (Asheville, NC)
Mike Allison (Joelton, TN)

At the public forum, the artists will be in attendance and seeking ideas, images and stories to inspire their design proposals for the 51 Biltmore Public Art Project. To learn more about each artist and to make comment, go to the City of Asheville’s website at and select City Projects to see project under Central Business District. The final design proposals are expected to be revealed in April, followed by a second round of public feedback to assist the Selection Panel in choosing the final design for the public art project.

The City of Asheville recently conducted a call for artists to create a permanent public art feature for the 51 Biltmore Public Art Project. After reviewing over 150 artist applications, the Selection Panel selected the top artist finalists.

The 51 Biltmore Public Art Project Selection Panel:
David McCartney, Aloft Hotel
Sharon Trammel, Public Art and Cultural Commission
Jenny Bowen, Asheville Artist and Photographer
Elizabeth Barr, Asheville Artist Resource Center
Susie Millions, Asheville Visual Artist
Sarah Larson, 51 Biltmore Neighborhood Resident and Art Advocate

The City of Asheville Public Art Program oversees Asheville’s public art collection. The Public Art and Cultural Commission is responsible for approving the site and content of public art, and the development of an inclusive selection process that involves community feedback. Members also act as public art ambassadors by advancing the City of Asheville as an “arts destination” in cultural and economic development efforts.

The city’s public art collection includes the popular Urban Trail, a historic walking tour of downtown Asheville; along with other prominent works in the downtown area including but not limited to the Pack Fountain, Energy Loop, Deco Gecko and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. The 51 Biltmore Public Art Project is part of the City’s Percent for Art Program.

For information about the 51 Biltmore Public Art Project, contact Basil Punsalan at 828-259-5552 or

Leave a Comment March 27, 2014

Asheville Police Department welcomes academy graduates into ranks

In a March 14 ceremony at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, the Asheville Police Department welcomed 15 police academy graduates into the ranks of its officers. The ceremony, held each year, gives families, friends, colleagues and City of Asheville employees and elected officials the chance to recognize the hard work these IMG_3252men and women have put in to reach this goal.

Each of the cadets completed a rigorous program that included hundreds of hours of training, physical tests, and a series of exams in order to stay in the program through graduation.

IMG_3256“This is a special moment for them and a special moment for us,” said Chief William Anderson. Anderson also thanked the families of the cadets, assuring them that he understood the sacrifice they make as well.

The new officers were sworn in by Asheville City Council Member Jan Davis, and were welcomed by Interim Deputy City Manager Michael Morgan. “This is a class that is made up of men and women of exceptional character,” Morgan said. “You have distinguished yourselves and I know you will continue to distinguish yourselves throughout your career.”


As is tradition, the new officers had their badges pinned on by their family members.

The 2013 Asheville Police Academy graduates are: Matthew T. Brookshire, Spencer I. Brunkhorst, Heavan L. Dunne, Chelsey M. Gettys, Ben R. Green, Prentice A. Griffin, Lara E. Lemons, Christian O. Leonbacher, Ebony L. McGee, Sarah K. McGhee, Jesse J. Ramirez, Craig F. Roberts, Lindsay M. Rose-Clark, Ethan T. Russell, and Joshua D. Veridal.

The Asheville Police Department Police Academy is a collaboration between APD and Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.




Leave a Comment March 21, 2014

Public input wanted for improvements at Carrier Park’s velodrome

The velodrome at Carrier Park is a popular attraction for bicyclists, walkers, joggers and inline skaters alike. Now the city’s Park and Recreation Department, with the help of community groups, is looking at ways to make the track even better and more accessible to everyone. A March 20 drop-in event will give the public a chance to hear about those improvements and give feedback to city staff. See the full announcement below.


The City of Asheville Parks and Recreation Department in collaboration with the Asheville Bicycle Racing Club and VeloSports Racing is hosting a public drop-in event on Thursday, March 20, 2014 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Dr. Wesley Grant, Sr. Southside Center, located at 285 Livingston Street, to gain input on proposed renovations for the Velodrome at Carrier Park. The proposed renovations, which include resurfacing and increased safety measures, were generated by members of the local cycling community including Olympic silver medalist Lauren Tamayo and United Health Care Pro Cycling Team General Manager Mike Tamayo through a six-month focus group process.

The Velodrome, known to many locals as the “Mellowdrome”, is a multi-use facility located in Carrier Park that is enjoyed by walkers, runners, inline skaters, and cyclists alike. The skill level of cyclists ranges from young children and recreational cyclists to elite athletes training for competition. VeloSports Racing produces “The Ring of Fire”, a popular racing series held at the park.

For more information, contact Debbie Ivester at 259-5804, or

Leave a Comment March 12, 2014

UNC Asheville announces greenway linkage at Reed Creek


UNC Asheville has announced the construction of a greenway linking the campus to Reed Creek Greenway, Montford and Downtown. Here’s the exciting announcement:

Greenway Work Begins at 525 Broadway with Support from the Federal Recreational Trails Program and Various Funders
Tuesday, Mar 11th, 2014

ASHEVILLE – With all environmental, archaeological and regulatory reviews complete, work will begin this month at 525 Broadway on the Reed Creek Greenway linking UNC Asheville and Montford with downtown. The nine-acre parcel was purchased by the UNC Asheville Foundation in 2012 from TD Bank.

The greenway construction work is made possible by a combination of public and private funding, with financial support coming from a $200,000 grant from the Federal Recreational Trails Program administered by the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation; the City of Asheville; the UNC Asheville Foundation; RiverLink, UNC Asheville students; the Montford Neighborhood Association; and most recently, a $30,000 grant from the Glass Foundation, a private family foundation based in Asheville, and a $30,000 grant from the Pigeon River Fund of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.

“UNC Asheville is so grateful to all of our partners, public and private, including the Glass Foundation and the individual donors who have helped make this possible,” said Buffy Bagwell, UNC Asheville vice chancellor for university advancement. “We are excited to be starting construction on the greenway.”

“A lot has been done already to clean up and stabilize the property,” said John Pierce, treasurer of the UNC Asheville Foundation. “Now with the reviews complete and funding in place, we can complete the greenway and associated landscaping and site work so students, bikers, runners and walkers can have a great way to get back and forth from downtown.”

“RiverLink is so excited to be adding yet another ‘missing link’ in the greenway system that will begin to connect UNC Asheville to the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay and the river greenway system we have been developing and promoting since 1994,” said Karen Cragnolin, executive director of RiverLink. “Our Deeds of Support have been a vital tool in developing greenways and at $50 a foot it’s a great value to help ensure that forever we will have some green, multimodal public space in our city.”

“The public-private partnership has made this possible,” said Roderick Simmons, City of Asheville director of parks and recreation. “The city has long supported greenway development and multimodal transportation. Once work is complete we hope to see lots of folks making use of the greenway.”

J.L.S. Company LLC has been selected as contractor for the work. Completion is expected by June 2014.

See more on the Reed Creek Greenway here.

Leave a Comment March 11, 2014

Montford Center reopens gym after renovations, celebration March 13

Bring your A-game! The Montford Recreation Center gymnasium, closed for renovations since August, has reopened and reintroduced programming to the newly unveiled facility. The improvements include a new maple wood sports flooring system as well as competition-level fiberglass backboards with breakaway goals, wall pads and bleachers.

New wallpads and bleachers make the facility top-notch for players and spectators.

New wallpads and bleachers make the facility top-notch for players and spectators.

The renovations were completed in early February, and athletic groups are once again playing sports like basketball, volleyball, badminton and table tennis at the center. The climbing wall is also back in use, with a new textured paint job that better simulates a rock surface.

“We are so excited to have this popular facility reopened and the renovations are fantastic,” said Center Director Kim Kennedy.

A new floor, new baskets and backboards and LED lighting are highlights of the Montford Center's reopened gymnasium

A new floor, new baskets and backboards and LED lighting are highlights of the Montford Center’s reopened gymnasium

The gymnasium also got a new paint job and new LED lighting. The LEDs save an estimated $6,500 a year in electric costs and have a positive impact on carbon reduction equal to planting 24 football fields of forests. Additionally, the LEDs operate on a dimmer and have immediate turn-on, turn off capability. That saves even more energy, as the previous lighting took time to warm up and had to be left on all day. The LED replacement resulted in a $9,000 rebate from Duke Energy Progress – funding that will go into more sustainable upgrades in parks facilities.

The Montford Recreation Center entrances will soon be replaced to improve accessibility and bathroom renovation designs are in the works, said Project Manager Pete Wall.

The City of Asheville Parks and Recreation Department has plans to make improvements to other recreation centers as funding becomes available, including the Linwood Crump Shiloh Complex and the Stephens-Lee Recreation Center.

The Montford Recreation Center will officially recognize the renovations and re-opening with a ribbon cutting on Thursday, March 13 at 4:00 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend and see the work that has been done.

The climbing wall got a new coat of textured paint that better simulates rock

The climbing wall got a new coat of textured paint that better simulates rock

For information about programs at the Montford Center, go to

Leave a Comment March 4, 2014

Removal of Haywood Street parking facility set to begin March 11

The demolition of the downtown city-owned vacant parking structure at 68 Haywood Street near the corner of Page Avenue is slated to begin the second week of March and be completed by the end of the month. Use of the parking structure, sometimes called the Handipark, was discontinued due to safety reasons in 2010.

Outside contractors could begin installing safety fences and barricades as soon as Feb. 28, and demolition is scheduled to begin March 11. Nearby businesses have been consulted and the city’s project manager says the demolition will take into consideration the sensitive location and populated area.

“This demolition is taking place in an area that has a high rate of foot and vehicle traffic, and is in close proximity to many neighboring buildings and businesses,” said project manager John Gavin. “We have taken measures to make sure that the structure is removed with minimal disturbance.”

No blasting will take place during the demolition, and seismic sensors were installed in mid-February to gather data on ground disturbance. Work will take place between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Additionally, work will stop between March 6 and March 11 to allow for the SoCon Basketball tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center, which is expected to attract thousands of fans to that location. During the demolition process, the contractor will be responsible for security at the site.

On completion, the open area at that location will be stabilized with retaining walls and surrounded by a safety railing.

Questions or concerns from the community can be directed to John Gavin, Project Manager, (828) 232-4580.

For more information and updates about this project go to the Project Page at

Leave a Comment February 27, 2014

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