Asheville Fire Department award ceremony honors year’s achievements

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AFD Chief Scott Burnette (at podium) awards Engineer Zach Wetmore the Medal of Valor.

The Asheville Fire Department promotes firefighters throughout the year, but saves the recognition and pinning ceremony for a somber and notable day for firefighters: September 11.

This year’s ceremony, held at UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center, observed the promotions or advancements of 49 firefighters as well as the recognition of those instances in which firefighters had saved lives in emergency situations.

Of note was the award of the Medal of Valor to Engineer Zach Wetmore in recognition of a June 12 incident in which he and a civilian pulled a woman from her burning home on Sand Hill Road. Wetmore was off duty when he noticed flames coming from the home. He and a neighbor found the owner and pulled her from the house.

The Medal of Valor is second-highest award firefighters can receive.

Though the AFD is most visible in fire scenarios, the ceremony also noted actions of Asheville firefighters who saved lives in situations like cardiac arrest and floods and who assisted in childbirth.

IMG_0318 “Today, we are honoring the men and women who continue to serve and protect our community through their commitment to the Asheville Fire Department,” said Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer speaking at the event. “Most of us who do not work in the fire service can’t even imagine the level of trust and support that these men and women must have for one another. I am proud to say that our Fire Department is recognized as one of the premier fire and rescue departments in North Carolina. The dedication to our community shows in the diligent commitment to improve the quality of service provided and the enhancement of safety for you, the firefighters who protect us.”

The following firefighters were recognized for retirement, promotion or advancement:
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Recognition of Retirees:
Carlton Denning, Division Chief
Mike McCoy, Captain
TJ Swafford, Captain
Rick Emory, Captain
Mike Hartsell, Captain

Promotions:

Deputy Chief:
Christopher Budzinski

Assistant Chief:
Wayne Hamilton
Barry Hendren

Deputy Fire Marshal:
Brian Ronie
Assistant Fire Marshal:
Amy Pollard
Apparatus Officer:
Bryon Silvers

Captain:
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Eric Johnson
Patrick Crudup
Steven Wickham
Adam Wilson
Nathan Rogers
Dustin Cooper
Bjorn Larson

Lieutenant:
TJ Fortenberry
Angie Bell
Josh Walton
Patrick Boland
Sam Robertson
Bradley Duncan
Adam Hoffman

Carla Ball
Phillip Padilla
Tim Zajac
Edan Douek
Jay Bettencourt
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Engineer:
Advancements:

Senior Firefighter:
Eric Wardwell
Amber Hartsburg
John Cram
Kevin Proffitt
Gregory Miller
Joseph Meliski
Benjamin Lynch
Joshua Jenkins
Scott Mirkin
Avery Gibbs
Dan Young
Sean Garden
Jacob Hannon
James Kodaras
Brad Maselbas
Patrick Worley
Matthew Hooker
Neil Spencer
Isaac McCurry
Adam Ross
Wallace Sexton
Weston Hall
Peter Morton
Brandon King

Leave a Comment September 17, 2014

Asheville Police Department promotes three to Sergeant

On Thursday, Sept. 11, the Asheville Police Department promoted three of its own to the rank of Sergeant. Officers Brien Griffin, Ann Fowler and Tammy Bryson were sworn in during a ceremony in the Asheville City Council Chambers, with Mayor Esther Manheimer administering their oaths.

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From left: Sgt. Brien Griffin, Sgt. Ann Fowler, Sgt. Tammy Bryson, Chief William Anderson.

“These are three truly dedicated individuals,” said APD Chief William Anderson. “Each has done something in their career that rises to this level, and all three of them know how proud I am of their performance.” Between them, the three newly-decorated sergeants represent 38 collective years with the department.

Leave a Comment September 17, 2014

U.S. Transportation Secretary announces $14.6M grant for East of Riverway multimodal project

The announcement that the City of Asheville won $14.6 million in federal funding for transportation improvements in and around the River Arts District and adjacent neighborhoods advances the hard work and planning that has gone into that area. The TIGER VI award was announced September 12 during a visit by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who called the East of the Riverway Multimodal Network Project a “ladder of opportunity in the area.”

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Transportation Secretary Foxx (left) with Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer at the Sept. 12 announcement at Jean Webb Park.

“These improvements will connect low and moderate income neighborhoods with jobs, neighborhood services and community assets in Asheville’s rapidly developing riverfront,” Foxx said. “With the help of TIGER, Asheville residents and visitors will soon have even greater access to their community, with the ability to bike and walk the city’s streets more safely and securely than before.” See all of Secretary Foxx’s comments here.

The grant award, and a one-to-one match from the city, means that a total of $29.2 million will go into pedestrian and bicycle improvements, traffic flow enhancements, connections to surrounding neighborhoods, greenways and an all around safer transportation experience in the river district, and in adjacent Southside, WECAN and East-West Asheville neighborhoods. Those goals are in line with national visions for enhanced, safe, multimodal transportation options.

The City of Asheville Department of Community and Economic Development and Transportation Department have worked closely with community stakeholders, residents and regulatory officials to coordinate efforts and resources in the riverway, and in 2010 secured a TIGER II grant. That money allowed the city to push forward with planning that was integral to bringing the TIGER VI funding to Asheville.

“We are still celebrating,” said Riverfront Coordinator Stephanie Monson Dahl. “This is a huge piece of the puzzle in the future of Asheville’s riverfront. A lot of people have put in a lot of time and energy into crafting visions for the riverfront and East of the Riverway Neighborhoods, and this award solidifies that effort.”

The East of the Riverway Multimodal Network Project, alongside the River Arts District Transportation Improvement Plan (RADTIP) the Craven Street Improvement Project, and the construction of the New Belgium brewing facility, all play a part in the transformation of Asheville’s river district and creating needed transportation connections there.

“This is a huge win or Asheville,” Mayor Esther Manheimer said at the announcement. “These funds will provide for the continued revitalization of our River Arts District, creating a shared community vision of expanded greenways, street and sidewalk improvements and development opportunities that will continue to generate economic growth for Asheville.”

Groundbreaking on several projects in the East of the Riverway Multimodal Network Project is anticipated to begin in 2015. Watch ashevillenc.gov/projects for updates.

Leave a Comment September 15, 2014

Neighborhood Advisory Committee to hold West Asheville neighborhood meeting

shutterstock_56618785 copyThe Neighborhood Advisory Committee of the City of Asheville invites residents and business and property owners of West Asheville to a neighborhood meeting Monday, September 22, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the West Asheville Library, 942 Haywood Road.

Please join us for this opportunity to express your ideas for improving your neighborhood and to hear about city projects and services in West Asheville. The meeting will provide a public forum for representatives from neighborhood associations and groups to share information about their neighborhood and the work of their groups.

In addition, Cathy Ball, Executive Director of Planning and Multi-modal Transportation, will give an update on the study on short term rentals. Ken Putnam, Director of Transportation, will share information on transportation related projects, including plans for a Haywood Road parking study. Greg Shuler, Public Works Director, will present information on ongoing Public Works projects. Police Department representatives for the West Asheville District will give updates on police related topics and Jayden Gurney, the Chair of the Citizen-Police Advisory Committee, will share information on the work of that group. Fire Department Chiefs Wayne Hamilton and Barry Hendren will give updates on fire and emergency services for West Asheville.

The Neighborhood Advisory Committee’s mission is to foster effective communication between and among Asheville’s neighborhoods and with the City of Asheville.

Click here to learn more about the Neighborhood Advisory Committee of the City of Asheville.

For more information about the Neighborhood Advisory Committee or the September 22 meeting, contact the West Asheville representative Elaine Poovey at jepoovey@hotmail.com or 253-3514

Leave a Comment September 11, 2014

Roads impacted by 2013 landslides get rebuild

BentTreesmallLast summer’s heavy rains were an eye-opener for Asheville, causing unexpected landslides and undermining several roads on mountain slopes. Repairs are currently underway or in the planning stage for three such cases.

On Bent Tree Road, a residential street off Town Mouontain Road, is home to once such site.

“All that rainfall washed fill out from under the road, and the road just sloughed away,” said project manager John Gavin. As a stopgap measure, the city put down “soldier piles,” or concrete barricades that served to convert the road into one lane and keep drivers away from the weakened part of the roadway. “But you didn’t want to get too close to the edge,” Gavin says.

Now, work is underway to restore the road and build a retaining wall to hold it in place. The project consists of approximately 100 feet of retaining wall and wire mesh, and anchors will be sunk under the road and into the hillside to hold the wall in place.

“This is really the only thing appropriate for this site,” Gavin said.

The project, expected to take three months to complete, is eligible for reimbursement by FEMA, an option triggered by the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency in 2013. Another repair on Sunset Drive is also eligible for FEMA funds, while a third repair at Finlee Avenue will be funded through the city’s repaving budget. Bent Tree Road will be closed at the construction site for the duration of the project. Work on Sunset Drive is anticipated to begin later this fall.

“These are roads along steep grades, and are used frequently by surrounding residents. So we’re working to get them back to 100 percent,” Gavin said.

Leave a Comment September 11, 2014

Bicycle/pedestrian count volunteers needed!

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It’s time again for Asheville’s annual bicycle and pedestrian count and all are invited to participate.

One of the biggest challenges in crafting effective bicycle and pedestrian plans and weighing demand for multi-modal transportation infrastructure is the shortage of accurate data. The numbers of bicyclists and pedestrians using specific corridors and intersections is crucial to understanding and planning for people who walk and bike.

That’s where the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project comes in.

Over three days, volunteers will count pedestrians and bicyclists at designated intersections. The data is an important factor in estimating demand and activity. The more people who participate, the more locations get counted.

Register to volunteer here.

The count dates this year for Asheville are September 16th – 18th and Saturday, September 20th.

Leave a Comment September 8, 2014

City recreation centers now offer free Wi-Fi

City of Asheville recreation centers are places for community-strengthening activities like student enrichment programs and neighborhood information meetings. So providing wireless internet fits perfectly into their mission, says Debbie Ivester, Assistant Director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“People come to our recreation centers to connect with our services, each other, and the community,” Ivester says. “So being able to connect to the internet makes these facilities much more comprehensive. It was one of the most frequent requests we got.”

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Randy Shaw, Director of the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center logs on to WiFi in the center’s lobby.

Over the summer, Wi-Fi was installed in eight city facilities: the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center, Stephens-Lee, LinwoodCrump-ShilohCenter, Burton Street, Montford, the Harvest House, the SeniorOpportunityCenter and the AstonParkTennisCenter.

Randy Shaw, Director at the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr.,  Southside Center, said the center’s after school programs like the teen leadership program for 6-9th graders are examples of where WiFi can help.

“Some students need internet access to complete homework assignments,” Shaw says. And since the Grant Center often hosts public meetings, he says, attendees can use WiFi on their devices to get information out to friends in the community.

Shaw said he hopes that people in the surrounding neighborhoods who don’t have internet access will see the resource as a chance to plug into resources in the community.

“Internet access really is a fundamental part of our society, whether it’s looking for jobs, looking for housing or finding out information about city services,” Shaw said. “It really is another element to help us better serve the community.”

Wireless internet at City of Asheville Recreation Centers can be accessed during center hours by speaking to a center staff member.

Leave a Comment September 4, 2014

A send off for APD Capt. Tim Splain

Friends, colleagues and representatives from law enforcement agencies and community groups gathered on Friday August 29 to recognize Captain Tim Splain on the day of his retirement from the Asheville Police Department.

“I am very thankful for Tim’s service to the City and to the community,” said Deputy Chief Wade Wood. “It’s been a great career. Tim’s worked with a lot of agencies and done so in an outstanding manner.”

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Capt. Chris Reece-Young (left) presents Capt. Tim Splain with his badge.

Over the years, Splain has been involved in community initiatives such as Weed and Seed and Changing Together, and has worked side by side with the U.S. District Attorney’s Office, the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville, the FBI and the DEA, all of whom had representatives who spoke positively of Splain’s impact locally.

Splain joined the APD in 1991 after working at the Pentagon in Naval Intelligence Command. At that time, he remembers, Asheville’s downtown was still in the early stages of revitalization, and APD patols worked closely with residents and business owners to make the area safer.

“It was enjoyable as a Patrol Sergeant to be part of how that developed. You got to see the influence of your work.” Splain says. “That’s the most sustaining part of this job, to have people thank you for things you did years before.”

Leave a Comment September 2, 2014

Haywood Road to be restriped in time for Craven Street closure

A stretch of Haywood Road leading from the French Broad River into West Asheville will get a new look beginning Thursday August 21, as crews relocate the center yellow line and add a climbing bicycle lane.

haywoodrdThe work is being conducted ahead of the August 28 closing of Craven Street between Haywood Road and Waynesville Avenue, part of the Craven Street Improvement Project.

Because of the relocation of the center line, the downhill lane from West Asheville will become a shared lane for both bicycles and vehicles. “Sharrow” markings will be installed as well to indicate that bicycles should ride the lane and vehicles should share the roadway.

“We recognize that Haywood Road and Craven Street are commuter routes for bicycles, pedestrians and vehicles alike,” said Senior Project Engineer John Gavin.“With Craven Street closed over the next six weeks, we wanted to make sure that everyone has a safe route as more traffic moves onto Haywood Road.”

During this portion of the Craven Street closure, commuters can also access Waynesville Avenue via the bridge from Riverside Drive to Craven Street.

The restriping and signage is anticipated to be complete by the end of Friday, Aug. 22.

Increased bicycle access is part of the Haywood Road Multimodal Project, and more enhancements will take place in the spring of 2015, after the completion of the Craven Street improvement project.

Leave a Comment August 20, 2014

APD Chief Anderson speaks to community concerns arising from events in Ferguson, MO

Events in Ferguson, Missouri, have sparked a national conversation about police procedures, equipment and response to citizens demonstrating in the face of tragedy.
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Given these concerns, it is understandable that many may be wondering about the Asheville Police Department’s responsive procedures. Asheville is a city of many opinions, and we at APD are proud of our track record of responding to demonstrations and those who exercise their right of free speech. We take constitutional rights and public safety seriously and approach our response to demonstrations and other events with professionalism and respect. I share this because I want everyone to know that we have a police department worthy of your confidence.

By examining and putting into practice policies that address our officers’ procedures during such events, the Asheville community has over the past decade been an open and safe place for free speech and expression for demonstrators and onlookers alike. Each of our officers is trained in crowd management strategies that allow for the free expression of ideas and protect the safety of the public. These strategies have been evident during the course of several high-profile events, including Moral Monday rallies, open-carry demonstrations and the Occupy Asheville event.

Most recently, concern across the nation has turned to the use of military-style equipment in police departments. Our use of specialized tactical equipment is reserved for operations that require the deployment of highly-trained and likewise specialized Emergency Response Team (ERT) members, as in the two-day standoff on Max Street in January of this year. I emphasize the word “specialized” because these officers only deploy this kind of equipment when there is a direct and real threat to the safety of the public. Deployment of our ERT requires the approval of our supervisors. In the Max Street case, the use of an armored vehicle kept our officers safe as they negotiated the delicate situation at hand and their efforts achieved a successful outcome with no injuries.

APD officers consider ourselves part of the larger community we serve and protect by actively seeking out connections, making sure that we are visible and well known in both the neighborhoods and business districts of Asheville. This outreach means that citizens and officers talk, get to know one another, and assist each other in keeping our city safe.

I believe the concerns of the public are the concerns of the APD, and these conversations are important for us to have in order to grow and remain strong as a community. Just recently, both Sheriff Duncan and I participated in a Use of Force forum, hosted by the Asheville Buncombe Community Relations Council. It is my hope that while we have these conversations, we will look to each other for support.

Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the recent events.

- Asheville Police Chief William Anderson

3 Comments August 18, 2014

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