Filed under: Information Technology
The latest tools in the City of Asheville’s GIS tool belt are lighter than air and float at 1,000 feet: Weather balloons outfitted with digital cameras are being used in the ongoing project by the IT Services Department and the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department to confirm and map the location of graves and plots at the city’s historic Riverside Cemetery.
The balloons provide aerial pictures of the cemetery grounds, which can then be matched with cemetery records and on-the-ground surveying of markers and landmarks. Together, all of this information provides an accurate survey of the grounds, which is being plugged into an interactive GIS map. Riverside Cemetery is managed by the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department and, alongside good stewardship, the mapping allows the city to know how many and where plots are available for sale on the grounds.
See more: Riverside Cemetery gets the GIS treatment.
Recently, a class of third graders from Isaac Dickson Elementary School visited Riverside Cemetery to see how the balloons work and learn about mapping. The students got to see how pocket cameras were rigged with harnesses made from string and repurposed two-liter soda bottles so that they would remain pointed down and resist spinning, and even got a chance to “pilot” the balloons by holding the lines.
Working with Adam Griffith, a research scientist with Western Carolina University and the nonprofit group The Public Laboratory, the team launched two weather balloons, spooling out 1,000 feet of line to keep them from floating into near-space altitudes (where differences in pressure would cause them to pop). Each balloon carried a pocket digital camera set to take pictures every four seconds. Using this relatively inexpensive technique, the team captures photos within a 1/10-mile radius.
GIS Analyst Scott Barnwell says the technique could be used for other areas around the city as well as to fill in information gaps. Aerial images are taken regularly by the N.C. Geographic Information Coordinating Council (NCGICC) but the latest information is from 2010, and another fly-over isn’t planned until 2015. The balloons can provide images of changes and new construction in the ensuing five years, Barnwell says. And the images taken from the balloons show higher detail than existing satellite imagery.
As for the Riverside Cemetery survey, work mapping the graves is nearing an end. “We’re about 95 percent there,” Barnwell says. “We’re just working on that last five percent now.”
March 18, 2013
The City of Asheville is excited to announce the launch of the Asheville App, an easy-to-use online tool that allows users to notify the city about issues like water line leaks, potholes, or illegal dumping that need the city’s attention via smart phone or computer, then track the results.
“This is the kind of technology that really enhances connectivity in the city,” says Project Manager Eric LaRue. “We are always exploring ways to make it easy and efficient for people to interact with city government.”
Here’s how it works: Asheville App users who spot a problem submit a service request at www.ashevillenc.gov/ashevilleapp or on their smart phone using the downloadable app. Users can submit their location and even a picture of the problem spot. The Asheville App then sends the service request to the relevant city department personnel so they can quickly resolve the issue. A tracking tool allows users to monitor progress on the repair, and City employees can even communicate directly with users if they need further information. The app notifies the resident when the repair request has been completed.
The City of Asheville strives to provide excellent service in a timely and efficient manner, and the Asheville App will play an important role in fulfilling that goal.
“The ease of use of the Asheville App will not only give people more ways to relay information to us, it will also streamline our ability to respond to customer service needs,” says Customer Services Division Superintendent Florie Presnell.
The City of Asheville enlisted the services of PublicStuff (www.publicstuff.com), an innovative CRM software company, to create the app and digital communications solution. “We are excited to add Asheville to the PublicStuff family” Founder and CEO of PublicStuff Lily Liu said. “Asheville is a city with a rich cultural heritage and PublicStuff aims to work to provide an easy way for residents to stay in touch with their local government.”
The Asheville App can be found and downloaded at www.ashevillenc.gov/ashevilleapp.
March 12, 2013
Twenty-three data sets, twenty people and three hours. That’s the raw material for the kind of innovation that comes out of civic hackathons like the one held last month at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville as part of Open Data Day. The day-long conference on the benefits and uses of accessible government data culminated with three groups poring over open City of Asheville data and finding creative ways to put the information to use.
The winning team from the 2012 Hackathon pores over open City of Asheville databases.
“There was probably more excitement about the hackathon than anything else” says GIS analyst Scott Barnwell. Barnwell and other members of the City’s Information Technology team arranged the data sets using information that was largely already available to the public but that was enhanced by being consolidated into a City of Asheville Open Data catalog
Some 23 sets include databases of City-owned property, business license locations and information sets culled from the GIS-based mapAsheville tool.
“The city has a lot of information out there and we keep adding more as we think of ways to apply tools like mapAsheville,” Barnwell says. “The trick is and will continue to be how to best get it into the hands of the people who can benefit from it.”
In recent years, the City of Asheville has upgraded its data managing systems, allowing the IT Services Department to compile data and make it available online in places like mapAsheville, but it is how the information can be utilized that makes a hackathon so interesting.
A hackathon is an opportunity to apply raw data to serve a purpose, be it a civic benefit or financial opportunity. Businesses rely on government data every day. So do groups like neighborhood or preservation organizations. Data represents opportunity and that aspect wasn’t lost on the ODD 2012 attendees.
Three groups tackled the hackathon challenge to come up with some sort of application or revelation using the open data they had at hand, and their efforts went in unexpected and interesting directions. (Click here to see more about how each hackathon team used open data at the 2012 Open Data Day blog.
“First of all, anyone can hack,” says GIS analyst Dave Michelson. “You don’t need to know how to write code, you just need to have ideas. We only had three programmers in the room. And it was really cool to see what the groups came up with.”
The winning group, as voted by the other hackathon participants, created a mapping tool that relates public art to bus stops and considered how this could be used to boost bus ridership.
“A hackathon is like an incubator for ideas,” Michelson says. “It’s a new way to engage the community and create a startup mentality,” Michelson says. The goal, he says, is to enable the community and government to be more innovative.
Michelson points to a community initiative by the Code for America Brigade that is underway to build a volunteer base of creative and interested people willing to carry on the civic hacking mission. As that mission expands, he expects the City will get even more requests for the kinds of data that open even further collaboration between the municipal organization and the population it serves.
November 13, 2012
In case you haven’t heard, Open Data Day is October 16 (read more about that here), and the City of Asheville is a proud participant. Alongside keynote speakers from Code for America and Open Data Philly, the event will be the site of a Hackathon, a cross-discipline ad hoc on site effort to create useful tools that could assist in the Open Data Day theme of increased access to government data.
City of Asheville GIS Analyst Dave Michelson describes the concept behind the hackathon and what it could offer:
What exactly is a hackathon?
The hackathon is an intensive and highly focused group, in this case a group of citizens, who are usually techies. The group has a very specific goal of rapidly “hacking” together a technological solution to a given demand. In our case, the hackathon responds to a very specific civic issue: transparency and open municipal data. Despite the mainstream, sometimes negative perception of the word “hacking,” a hackathon it is NOT destructive nor is it a malicious attack on a computer system. Instead, it is a problem-solving effort by programmers.
Describe what it is like to be at the table during a hackathon.
The hackathon is usually festive and fun while at the same time just focused on getting the coding done. It resembles a caffeine-infused all-nighter type off feel.
What does a hackathon offer us in the way of opportunities? What can we learn that is new?
Because the hackathon is for citizens and by citizens, it aims to directly answer questions citizens have about how city government works. So as an organization, we learn how we can better interact and engage with our citizens.
How will this hackathon be organized?
Very loosely and open, as it’s based on collaboration. Usually, participants split into one or more groups, come up with a problem they want to solve, then just do it. At the end, we will vote on who wins the right of best hack at Open Data Day.
The design sounds like part of a growing collaboration between the community and the city organization. What’s the take away from that kind of collaboration?
The hackathon relies on open data or some kind of access to data provided in an open way to create highly useful “apps” for citizens by citizens. The data starts with us and ends with you.
Open Data Day will be held October 16, 2012 in the U.S. Cellular Center, Asheville, NC. For information about attending, click here. Tickets will be available through Oct. 12.
Follow Open Data Day on Facebook and Twitter.
For more information about Open Data Day, contact Jonathan Feldman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 4, 2012
The final touches are underway on two sections of sidewalk along Patton Avenue that provide safer walking routes for pedestrians along the busy corridor. The two linkages, one from Parkwood Road to Leicester Highway and another from Regent Park Boulevard to the Capt. Jeff Bowen Bridge (formerly the Smokey Park Bridge), total a combined 4,150 linear feet of new sidewalk but link together a much larger network of sidewalks that stretches from the Capt. Bowen Bridge to the Smokey Park Highway. The route gets a high rate of use by pedestrians for its connection to retail and grocery stores along Patton as well as its proximity to bus stops on the City of Asheville ART system.
Crews complete a paint job on a safety railing along Patton Avenue near the busy I-240/I-26 interchange.
“This one really rose to the top in our pedestrian master plan,” said City Transportation Planner Barb Mee. “And it provides walking access to multiple stores, the Westgate shopping center and along the interchange at Patton Avenue, I-26 and I-240 which was tricky for pedestrians to say the least.”
The design includes safety railings along shoulders where traffic is exiting and entering the interstates and involved a collaboration between the City of Asheville and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
The Patton Avenue connections are just two examples of several sidewalk projects that are in some stage of development in the City of Asheville, including another recently completed section on North Louisiana Avenue, a section under construction on Lyman Street in the River Arts District, and a stretch along Tunnel Road in collaboration with the NCDOT that is underway and will eventually connect downtown to the ABCCM Veteran’s Quarters. A sidewalk project along Hendersonville Road is in the planning stages.
The City of Asheville pedestrian plan identifies 110 miles of needed pedestrian linkages that are prioritized using several factors including proximity to community destinations, safety concerns and feasibility of construction.
In the case of the two Patton Avenue connectors, those factors all added up to a green light. “This one really jumped off the charts,” said Greg Shuler, the city’s streets and engineering manager. “We are fortunate that City Council has put a high priority on this kind of infrastructure,” Shuler said.
GIS mapping of Asheville's expanding sidewalk network can be seen at mapAsheville. Click on the image for more.
The Patton Avenue linkages were paid for with City of Asheville capital improvement project funds, but sidewalk projects throughout the city are funded through a combination of sources, including Community Development Block Grants and federal funding like Safe Routes to Schools which provides money for projects that make it easy and safe for students to walk to school. The North Louisiana sidewalk project that connects neighboring students with Emma Elementary School combined Safe Routes to Schools funding with federal CDBG funds and a Job Access/Reverse Commute grant through the Federal Transit Administration.
Click here to see more about the City of Asheville’s Pedestrian Thoroughfare Plan.
September 18, 2012
Corey White consults a clipboard and a copy of a decades old map as he walks a line along a sloping hillside at Riverside Cemetery. He stops and checks surrounding markers, then points to a weathered stone in the grass. “That’s the marker,” he says, holding up the corresponding plot diagram that shows the name of who is buried beneath the faded stone.
Corey White tracks grave sites among Riverside Cemetery's 87 acres
In the City of Asheville’s IT Services Department, Scott Barnwell pulls up an aerial view of the cemetery on his computer monitor that shows hundreds of similar plots, color coded and labeled by section, all gathered by White’s footwork. Zooming in on an individual plot, Barnwell calls up the name, number and burial date associated with the grave. Using Esri cloud computing software, the City of Asheville’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department and IT Services are partnering to compile an entire online inventory of the Riverside gravesites that can be accessed via computer or even on a smart phone.
The locations of graves at Riverside Cemetery are being converted from this...
Riverside Cemetery is best known to many as the resting place of author and Asheville native Thomas Wolfe as well as other prominent local historical figures like Zebulon Vance, but another 14 to 15 thousand people have been buried on the 87 acre site in
the past century and a half. The City of Asheville is currently piecing together an intricate puzzle of archival material to pinpoint and identify every grave and build an interactive GIS map of Riverside Cemetery.
Riverside Cemetery is operated by the City of Asheville’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department, and this project sprung up in 2011as a sound business practice for the facility: inventory the occupied gravesites and identify all unused areas that can be marketed and sold as new burial plots. With that information in hand, the City of Asheville can develop a business plan for the cemetery that will allow it to have enough funding for maintenance and upkeep in perpetuity.
But the project is also one of good stewardship, accurately confirming the location of all of Riverside Cemetery’s residents and making that information easily available for people searching for their relatives or historic individuals. The location and mapping part of the project, White says, is about 65 percent complete. The entire database should be nearly finished by the end of the year.
Already, users can access the tool (see below for links) to search for specific names, or wander the grounds and pinpoint plots at their feet, and can see the name, burial date, inscription and a photo of the marker. The two departments collaborated previously on a walking tour of the grounds, and similar creative ways to display this new data may develop as well, Barnwell says.
The vault at Riverside Cemetery holds maps, interment records and plot sales records.
But first, White must confirm the location of the graves and his search begins in the cemetery’s vault, which is overseen alongside the rest of the facility, by manager Paul Becker. Becker knows the complex art of retrieving information from the vault, having spent 15 years mastering the files. A combination of maps, interment records and other fragments of documentation helps Becker locate a grave. Many of the records were reprinted in the mid-1980s but documents stretch back to the 1800s and were in varying degrees of disrepair. Some records had old cloth sewn into them. Some paper was so old, it would fall apart in your hands, so even the copied documents have holes in the information they provide. But every piece is important.
“You don’t ever throw anything away at a cemetery,” Becker says.
Becker says the demand is there for the information being plugged into the GIS maps. Riverside Cemetery sold in the neighborhood of 30 plots last year, and Becker gets requests at least once a week that have him diving back into the vault. With all the information at the touch of a screen, visualizing the future and the past of Riverside Cemetery becomes easier.
Access the City of Asheville’s Riverside Cemetery digital tool here or download the smartphone app here.
September 6, 2012
A team collaboration to rework the City of Asheville’s Information Technology Services Department has resulted in a dramatic 75 percent cut to the department’s energy consumption and won the city accolades on a national level.
Left to Right: Maggie Ullman (Finance/Sustainability), Gilbert Domingo (ITS), Deb Messer (ITS), Erik Hagan (Building Safety). Not pictured: Wanda Burgess (ITS), Jeff Reble (ITS).
The energy reduction initiative, undertaken over the course of a year, earned the City of Asheville a Technology Solution award from the Public Technology Institute in the “sustainability” category. IT director Jonathan Feldman and a team of City of Asheville employees from across several departments presented the award to Asheville City Council at its August 14 meeting.
“This would not have been possible without Council’s vision, the work done by our sustainability office, and the help provided by Finance,” Feldman said.
Technological advances in data management like cloud computing and virtualization allowed the IT Services to cut the size of its in-house data center in half. That means the center uses less electricity, generates less heat, and requires much less air conditioning. Heat dissipation was reduced by 26,581BTU’s an hour, an overall drop of approximately 50%, and power consumption dropped by 68,010 kilowatt hours per year, enough energy to power five homes for a year.
The department also customized office computers to the needs of employees, which often meant PCs could be replaced with lower-power units. Without affecting customer service, the move brought a drop of 19,030 kilowatt hours per year and reduction of $108,000 to workstation costs over their lifecycle.
In total, says the city’s sustainability programs manager Maggie Ullman, the overhaul amounts to a big stride in impacting the city’s carbon footprint.
“This is equivalent to the carbon sequestration of 1,359 trees. Next time you look at our mountains try counting that many trees,” Ullman said. “This project has real tangible impact on our community’s carbon footprint and demonstrates national innovation in local government sustainability.”
Asheville City Council has named both energy reduction and fiscal responsibility as strategic goals for the city, and departments throughout the organization strive to uphold those goals while maintaining customer service.
August 21, 2012
ASHEVILLE – The City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA) fosters success stories for students year after year.
From 2008-2011, the total scholarship money awarded to CAYLA students was more than $400,000. In addition, 100 percent of CAYLA students in 2008-2010, as well as the 2011 graduating class have been accepted to college.
The below vignettes focus on the 2011 class, their career goals and what they’ve learned from their CAYLA internships this summer. CAYLA’s mission is to provide students with a meaningful summer work experience; leadership development through seminars and community service; and college preparatory activities, including yearlong academic support.
Since its inception in 2007, CAYLA has been nationally-recognized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. CAYLA students are chosen through a competitive application and interview process by a committee of local educators and human resources professionals. The program is supported in part by the I Have a Dream Foundation, HomeTrust Bank, Dixon Hughes Goodman PLLC, and McGuire Wood & Bissette.
To learn more about CAYLA, go to: http://1.usa.gov/pqNMLl
Spotlight on the 2011 CAYLA class:
Omar Alvarado and Ceante Hudson are CAYLA students interning in the city's IT Department this summer.
Omar is a rising sophomore at Asheville High School and this is his first year in CAYLA (City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy). Omar’s first year of CAYLA has already been very beneficial for him. He’s working with the city’s Information Technology Services Department and his internship is directly related to the career he plans on doing in the future.
After high school, Omar plans to attend UNC Asheville or N.C. State University to major in computer engineering and to pursue a career as a computer engineer. Omar is grateful for the opportunity to be able to work in a department focused on his interests and he’s gaining a great deal of experience learning about virtual software and how to troubleshoot computers. He thinks this experience is preparing him to manage workplace obstacles and is also teaching him responsibility. He hopes that the CAYLA program continues until he graduates.
Ceante is a rising senior at Asheville High School and has been a member of the CAYLA program since 2009. Ceante is involved with the AHS band, the chess club, and ASPIRE, which draws from a diverse cross-section of people to inspire students to aspire for a better life. This summer, he is interning with the city’s Information Technology Services Department, as he did his first CAYLA year. He has enjoyed building strong relationships with the staff while gaining in-depth knowledge about computers. When he graduates from high school, Ceante plans to attend N.C. State University to major in computer engineering, his chosen career field. CAYLA has made Ceante’s career goals all the more attainable because his internship is directly related with the career he wants to pursue.
Kearra Brownlee is interning with Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts for her CAYLA internship.
Kearra is a rising senior who has been a member of CAYLA (City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy) for two years. She attends Asheville High School and is involved with Colorguard, Triple S (Sisters Striving to Succeed), F.Y.I. (For Your Information), the CTE Honor Society, the National Honor Society, and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination). After Kearra graduates she plans to attend a four-year university and major in computer science. After college, she would like to work as a computer tech and possibly attend graduate school to further her education.
During her two years with CAYLA, Kearra has enjoyed the program and has gained a lot from it. She is currently working with Asheville Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts Department and is quickly becoming an expert in Microsoft Excel, in addition to covering the front desk and many other miscellaneous tasks. Overall, Kearra thinks CAYLA is an amazing opportunity and encourages the city council to continue to support it for many years to come.
Jayln Folston is spending his summer as a CAYLA intern in the Water Resources Department.
Jayln is a rising sophomore at Asheville High School and is a member of the Asheville High Cougars football team. This summer he interned as a CAYLA student in the City of Asheville Water Resources Department in the Meter Services Division.
Jayln loves to challenge himself and does whatever he can to improve, both in and out of school. He is also a member of the track team at Asheville High, and currently holds a state championship ring that he proudly contributed to.
At school, Jayln takes all honor courses and is also in AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination), as well as the National Honor Society.
After he graduates, Jayln would like to continue playing football at higher levels, including collegiate. He enjoys studying world history and its various aspects. Jayln wants to learn more about our country and world. Jayln says his CAYLA internship has helped him to grow, excel, and improve as a student. He has enjoyed working with a diverse group of co-workers who taught him about teamwork, hard work, and knowing that one’s decisions really matter and do affect others. He looks forward to continuing with CAYLA in the coming years.
Jalen Freeman is readying for his junior year at Asheville High through his internship with CAYLA.
Jalen will start his junior year at Asheville High School this fall. He is on the football team as well as the indoor and outdoor track teams. Jalen is a math-oriented person who likes to work with his hands. When he graduates, he plans to enroll in a four-year college or university and major in mechanical engineering. With his degree, he plans to get a job in the automotive industry working with cars.
Jalen is enjoying his first year in the CAYLA program and likes the work he does. He splits his work week between the fleet maintenance and transit divisions. He has learned valuable skills in his time with the CAYLA program, such as how to communicate with co-workers and how to navigate the “hidden rules of the workplace.” All in all, Jalen thinks that CAYLA is a great program and is an amazing opportunity for local youth.
Jaquell Hines is interning with the fire department during his summer with CAYLA.
Jaquell is new to CAYLA this summer, and is interning with the Asheville Fire Department. This fall, Jaquell will begin his sophomore year at Asheville High School. He’s already looking forward to AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), a class that will assist him in preparing for college. Jaquell also enjoys art, history, and science.
At AFD, Jaquell has learned what it takes to be a firefighter and has a better understanding of what to do during an emergency situation. Jaquell also had the chance to join firefighters as they visited summer camps and taught children what to do when a fire occurs. CAYLA matters to him because it helps teenagers set goals for their future and gives them something productive to do with their time.
CAYLA intern Markes Jackson hopes to attend UNC Greensboro or Chapel Hill after his senior year at Asheville High.
Markes is a rising senior at Asheville High who has been in the CAYLA program for two years. He’s very outgoing in school, and enjoys being a part of AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), Sports Outreach, Aspire, and the football team. After Markes graduates, he plans to attend a four-year university, preferably at UNC-Greensboro or Chapel Hill. He has not quite decided the career he plans on pursuing in the future, but possibly wants to come back to Asheville after college and work for the city.
Markes is working for two departments this summer: Administrative Services and the Minority Business Office. Markes says his job is benefiting him because he’s thinking about working for the City of Asheville and his internship is giving him an inside look on what it would be like. CAYLA so far has been a great experience for Markes, and he is thankful to be given such an opportunity.
Abel Lomeli-Garcia is enjoying his CAYLA internship in the Building Safety Department this summer.
Abel is a rising junior at Asheville High. He is involved in cross country, indoor track, track & field, the Spanish Club, and orchestra. Despite his many activities, Abel is committed to his education: His report card has all A’s with the rare exception of a few B’s. After graduating from high school, Abel plans to attend UNC Chapel Hill and major in architecture with as many scholarships he can obtain. After college, Abel plans to further his education by earning a master’s degree to become a construction manager.
This summer, Abel has been working in the Building Safety Department, and has had the chance to visit the construction sites that the city is overseeing. He has learned the many safety features that need to be included in houses or buildings to ensure maximum security. He has also been diligently working in the office to advance his skills in Microsoft Excel. Abel thinks that CAYLA is a great program to do during the summer and believes it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Abel hopes the city can support this program for many years to come.
Manny Lomeli-Garcia has been interning with Public Works Streets Division crews this summer.
Emmanuel, whose friends call him Manny, is interning in the Public Works Department this summer. He is a rising sophomore at Asheville High school and plays on the football team. Manny plans to attend a four-year college and major in business. At this point, he is undecided about specifics but envisions himself as the CEO of a large corporation someday.
This is Manny’s first year in CAYLA and he’s been busy learning about the many functions and responsibilities of the streets division. He has had many opportunities to shadow the division’s employees and now has a much greater understanding of the services our city provides to its residents. Manny thinks CAYLA is “an amazing program” and is happy that he has had the opportunity to work alongside professionals. He is already a dedicated volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and is also looking forward to giving back to the community with the other CAYLA students throughout the school year.
Kasia Maatafale is spending her CAYLA summer with staff in the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department.
Kasia is a rising senior at Asheville High School who has been in the CAYLA program for two years. She is involved with AP classes, AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) and is also a cheerleader. After she graduates high school, Kasia plans to attend college to become a pediatric cardiologist. She would also like to open her own school someday. She has always taken an interest in medicine and wants to be a doctor. Also she likes kids, so she combined all of these aspects and came up with this career path.
Kasia says CAYLA is giving her the tools she needs to have to fulfill her future plans. This year, Kasia is working with the Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department and is enjoying her experience. Over all, Kasia thinks CAYLA is an amazing opportunity that is helping her to gain personal skills that will help her later in life.
Chris Wright, who is interning with the Asheville Fire Department this summer, hopes to one day be a music director.
Chris will start his senior year at Asheville High School this fall, where he is a member of MCJROTC, Aspire, and Strings. He plays on the golf team and is a former wrestler. Chris’ talents are also musical: He can play piano; stand up bass, electric bass, electric and acoustic guitar, and drums, nearly all of which he taught himself to play. He started out on bass in sixth grade with his strings class and has been playing bass ever since. He is also the music director at his church. Chris plans to attend a four-year college to major in music and minor in fire science. After college, he would like to become a well-known music director.
Chris is currently working with the Asheville Fire Department and he really enjoys it. He has learned about the many responsibilities firefighters have and about the technology involved in keeping people safe. Chris credits CAYLA with helping students like him to set future goals, practice their social skills, and expand their leadership potential. Chris hopes CAYLA will be around for many years.
August 8, 2011
ASHEVILLE – The Greater Asheville Public Service Council recently recognized the most outstanding government public servants with the Excellence in Public Service Awards.
The awards were presented to county, city, state and federal employees who went above and beyond their normal job performance in 2010.
The City of Asheville honored nearly 70 employees from a wide variety of departments. The winners in the 12 award categories were announced in April at the city’s Excellence in Public Service Awards ceremony. These staff members were then invited to the Greater Asheville Public Service Council breakfast ceremony in late May.
Awardees are selected by an internal panel of the past year’s winners.
Hank Dunn, president of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Buncombe County Commissioner Carol Peterson, and David Pattillo, associate director of the Charles George VA Medical Center, presented the awards in each category.
Fay L. Smith, Library Technician with the United States Air Force’s 14th Weather Squadron was chosen as the overall Outstanding Public Servant of 2011.
Thanks to the work of the employees listed below, hundreds of thousands of dollars were saved, work was done more efficiently and Buncombe County is a safer, greener, healthier, smarter and kinder place to live.
City of Asheville Landscape Architect Seth Hendler-Voss receives his Excellence in Public Service Award for Outstanding Professional Employee.
Outstanding Executive Manager
Cathy Ball, Public Works director, City of Asheville
Ed Sheary, library system director, Buncombe County
Dr. Jack St. Clair, business manager, Black Mountain Neuro-Medical Treatment Center
John J. Bates, PhD, National Climatic Data Center
Jerry Yates, streets operations manager, City of Asheville
Jill Moffitt, director of campus recreation, UNC Asheville
Trevis Allen, assistant fire marshal, City of Asheville
Renee Gossett, social work supervisor, Buncombe County
Nicole Lynch, health care supervisor, Black Mountain. Neuro-Medical Treatment Center
Micheal Hunsucker, chief climate operations, U.S. Air Force 14th Weather Squadron
Outstanding Professional Employee
Seth Hendler-Voss, landscape architect, City of Asheville
Bryan Dillingham, network manager, Buncombe County
Kathy Wallace, creative arts specialist, Black Mountain. Neuro-Medical Treatment Center
Helen McVade, information security, U.S. Air Force 14th Weather Squadron
Outstanding Administrative Support Employee
Gina Zachary, administrative assistant, City of Asheville
Joy Pelto, paralegal, Buncombe County
Marcia Hipps, administrative assistant, District Attorney’s Office
Anne Markel, administrative assistant, National Climatic Data Center
Outstanding Trades, Crafts, and Service Maintenance Employee
Gordon Silvers, apparatus senior specialist, City of Asheville
Carolyn Nash, housekeeper, UNC Asheville
Outstanding Technician, Assistant or Aide
Megan Shepherd, special projects coordinator, City of Asheville
Anthony Perrone, graphic designer, Buncombe County
Justin Page, senior designer, Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College
Fay Smith, library technician, U.S. Air Force 14th Weather Squadron
Asheville Public Safety Wireless Network Team
Buncombe County Detention Facility STORM Team
Outreach Dental Services – Black Mountain Neuro-Medical Treatment Center
NCDC Finance and Acquisition Branch
Hoyt Abney Outstanding Community Service Award
Lora Morgan, administrative assistant, City of Asheville
Vanessa Grant, staffing specialist, Charles George VA Medical Center
Adam Reagan, applications specialist, UNC Asheville
Outstanding Contribution to Improving Diversity
Kelley Webb, fire department public information officer, City of Asheville
Tina Carroll, community director, UNC Asheville
Outstanding Heroic Act Award
Lee Morrison, motor equipment operator III, City of Asheville
Lisa Beasley, income maintenance caseworker II, Buncombe County
Suzanne S. Turner Unsung Hero/Heroine Award
Mike Dixon, laborer, City of Asheville
Dr. Cynthia Yancey, medical director, Buncombe County
Mark Clegg, social worker II, Black Mtn. Neuro-Medical Treatment Center
Douglas Williams, human resource specialist, Charles George VA Medical Center
June 27, 2011
An international organization of government IT workers recognized the City of Asheville June 15 for an innovative and cost effective point-to-point network connecting the city’s emergency response network.
The system, implemented with the assistance of IT Services, the Asheville Fire Department, and Building Safety, and with a partnership with the locally-based Skyrunner, grew out of a change in state law that limited the city’s right to use a multi-million dollar fiber optic network connecting more than 22 city facilities.
“The city was faced with paying $450,000 annually for continued use of the fiber network,” said Jonathan Feldman, City of Asheville IT Services director. “To continue meeting the public safety needs of the community, and City Council’s goal of fiscal responsibility, we needed to think outside the box.”
The “Best Practice” award, presented by GMIS (Government Management Information Sciences) International, acknowledges the city for its initiative, timeliness, and cost avoidance by building the replacement network for less than $20,000.
“The GMIS Best Practices Award is extremely important because it represents trailblazers and risk takers who find innovative, creative and exciting, and sometimes genius ways of doing things that others haven’t thought of,” said Janet Claggett, second vice president of GMIS International. “The time constraints and money constraints made the project that much more challenging, and the fact that the City of Asheville was able to pull together an innovative plan within its budget really blew the GMIS International board away.”
From October 2010 to January 2011, City of Asheville departments constructed an extensive wireless point-to-point network. Skyrunner provided highly cost effective and cutting edge radio equipment. The compact and energy efficient radios permitted installation at a greatly accelerated pace where traditional radio systems could not be reliably installed.
High-speed wireless technology represents the continuation of a station alerting system implemented by Asheville Fire and Rescue several years ago, which, in addition to other City Council investments, contributed to a three-fold improvement in cardiac emergency survival rates and a 20 percent improvement in structure fire response rates.
“This was one of those occasions to take a problem and turn it into an opportunity,” said Technical Services Manager Wanda Burgess, whose division managed the wireless project. “By partnering with other departments, public agencies and the private sector, Asheville has been able to maintain critical services to the public at greatly reduced costs.”
Click here for more information about the City of Asheville IT Services Department.
June 21, 2011