Asheville Police Department promotes Evan Coward to Sergeant

In a ceremony at Asheville City Hall Thursday, Asheville Police Chief Willam Anderson announced the promotion of officer Evan Coward to the rank of Sergeant.

TryTHis one1Coward is an eight-year veteran on the APD and has served as a Community Resource Officer for the South/Central district since 2007. His work as a CRO and his contributions to the improvement of neighborhoods there earned him much support in the communities he serves.

“He’s been one of the finest, dedicated individuals I’ve worked with in some time,” Andserson said.

Alongside Coward’s friends and family, Thursday’s ceremony was attended by members of the community, fellow APD officers, city staff and elected officials.

1 Comment June 20, 2014

Asheville Fire Department announces new Chief Officers

The Asheville Fire Department is proud to announce the promotions of three of its Chief Officers into key leadership positions.

Wayne Hamilton and Barry Hendren have each been promoted to the position of Assistant Fire Chief, and Chris Budzinski will now serve as Deputy Fire Chief.

left to right: Assistant Fire Chief Hendren, Assistant Fire Chief Hamilton, Deputy Fire Chief Budzinski

left to right: Assistant Fire Chief Hendren, Assistant Fire Chief Hamilton, Deputy Fire Chief Budzinski

“We are very excited about the new leadership team, and anticipate they will serve the City of Asheville Fire Department well in moving it forward to the next level,” said AFD Chief Scott Burnette. “Each of these chief officers brings to the table a diverse set of skills and abilities that will add to the continuous improvement of the department and contribute to the service of this community.”

Wayne Hamilton has been with the department since 1989, has 20 years’ experience as Fire Marshal. Barry Hendren, also with the department since 1989, most recently served as Division Chief-Safety and Training. Chris Budzinski has been with the department since 2001, and prior to promotion served as Acting Divison Chief.

All three underwent specialized training and a rigorous examination and performance review process including interviews with internal and external stakeholders and city department heads, as well as a performance review by their peers.

Leave a Comment June 19, 2014

Open House spotlights changes and growth on Asheville’s Riverfront

Asheville’s riverfront is experiencing some of the most energetic growth and economic renewal in the city, and it’s not just limited to the River Arts District. New businesses in Biltmore Station and Biltmore Village, new homes in Kenilworth, Oakley and Tunnel Road, and the city’s infrastructure and flood mitigation improvement project at Azalea Road are indicators of growth in the Swannanoa River Corridor. Each month, the City of Asheville holds an open house at City Hall to encourage the sharing of information on riverfront developments between the city, residents, and private businesses. This month, staff will focus on the Swannanoa River Corridor.

Asheville's river corridor as depicted in the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay plan

Asheville’s river corridor as depicted in the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay plan

The open houses are held every third Thursday on the 5th floor of City Hall, and residents, property owners, entrepreneurs or anyone interested in the future of the river corridor are invited to attend. City staff and members of the Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Commission are on hand to answer questions and also to hear from members of the public. Each month has a special focus area, but conversation is not limited to that topic.

“These open houses are an excellent time to hear from the community about what they think is important to pay attention to as this area moves forward,” said Urban Planner Steph Monson Dahl. “This kind of interaction really helps us, residents, and the private sector visualize the kind of change that is going on in the corridor.”

The next Riverfront Open house will be held Thursday, June 19 from 3-5 p.m. For more information, contact Steph Monson Dahl at smonson@ashevillenc.gov or
(828) 232-4502.

Leave a Comment June 17, 2014

Sign up now for graffiti removal assistance

123-graffiti-freeAs part of a push to eliminate graffiti in the City of Asheville, the city will assist property owners in cleaning up graffiti between July 1 and September 30, 2014, but there’s no need to wait to sign up.

As of Monday, June 16, property owners can use the online Asheville App (ashevillenc.gov/ashevilleapp) to sign up ahead of the July 1 start date. Click the graffiti category and type “I’d like help with graffiti clean up,” along with the address, in the fields provided to go ahead and get on the list for graffiti removal.

The City of Asheville, with help from an anonymous donor, is providing up to $500.00 in graffiti clean up per building, with an agreement that the property owner pays costs above $500.00.

Leave a Comment June 17, 2014

Checking in on the Lake Craig/Azalea Road project

TimBayless

Six months in and the Lake Craig/Azalea Road project is well underway as specialized contractors begin the highly visible streambed relocation along the Swannanoa River at Gashes Creek Road.

Despite the scale of this project to manage high waters during floods and install infrastructure improvements and roadway access, the facilities at Recreation Park such as the picnic area, pool and the WNC Nature Center remain open to the public.

“This is a big project, but we understand that as we move into the summer, people are going to want to use this park,” said Stormwater Services Manager McCray Coates. “There are designated construction areas in place which will allow the park to remain usable.” Access to the river at the park will be limited as work begins on the streambed relocation this week, Coates says. “We do want people to stay out of the construction area,” he said.

Keeping the project rolling involves managing several specific tasks at the same time:

Riverbend

One of the main fixtures of the project is the relocation of the streambed next to Recreation Park. The section currently has a sharp turn that, during high water, erodes and potentially undermines the embankment beneath Azalea Road. A contractor has already cleared vegetation along to site and begun moving fill from one bank to the other and over the next few weeks, work will increase at that site.

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Straightening the bend in the river will ease erosion on the bank, while boulders placed in the streambed will slow water as it moves downstream.

picnic

Park amenities like picnic pavilions and the Recreation Park Pool are still open for the park’s most popular season.

bridge pilings

Crews have completed pilings for a bridge that will tie into the new roadway connecting the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex with Gashes Creek Road, a move that will introduce a smoother traffic pattern and incorporate infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists. Next, crews will begin building the bridge abutments for the 150-foot bridge span across the Swannanoa River.

loweredplain

The construction team is removing fill from a plain that runs along the river, a move that will allow water a place to go in cases of high flood waters.

compacting

On the other side of the Swannanoa River, trucks are compacting dirt along the future site of the road that will connect to the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex.

roadtiein

Work on phase one of the Lake Craig/Azalea Road project is anticipated to be complete in December. Click here more information.

Leave a Comment June 9, 2014

City crews prep streets ahead of paving project

Public Works crews are patching, milling and repairing road surfaces around Asheville ahead of a coming repaving project that will address streets throughout the city.

patchpicIn May, Asheville City Council approved a $1.12 million contract to repave 5.44 miles of city streets, the majority of which are residential neighborhood roads. The repaving will take place this summer and fall, but city crews are currently patching holes and milling surfaces so those streets can be ready when the contractor begins paving.

“We’re trying to get out ahead of them and get the things done that we can,” said Streets Operations Manager Jerry Yates. Taking care of the work in-house also saves the city money in the long run.

Crews will be patching surfaces on Ambler Road and Vermont Avenue and milling the surface of Fairway Drive and Brookwood Court. Additionally, concrete crews are pouring new sidewalks on Hilliard Avenue and Stormwater Services is tackling drainage improvements ahead of the paving schedule.

The repaving project is funded through a portion of the three-cent increase to the property tax rate approved by Asheville City Council during the 2013/2014 budget process. One cent of that increase is dedicated exclusively to infrastructure maintenance. Work is anticipated to take place throughout the summer and fall.

The list of streets being repaved during this project can be found below:

Stratford Rd from Windsor Rd to Elmwood Pl
Vermont Ave from Haywood Rd to Davenport Rd
Fairway Dr from Governor’s View to Swannanoa River Rd
Ambler Rd from Gladstone Rd to Governor’s View Rd
Shiloh Rd from Hendersonville Rd to Caribou Rd
Brookwood Ct from Brookwood Rd to end
Cherokee Rd from Mayflower Rd to Bluebriar Rd
Church St from Patton Ave to Hilliard Ave
Swift St from Dover St to Culvern St
Hilliard Ave from Biltmore Ave to Clingman Ave
Sunset Dr from Baird St to new pavement

Leave a Comment June 5, 2014

Dive into the City of Asheville budget with new online collaborative tool

The City of Asheville’s proposed budget is more accessible than ever thanks to a new tool developed in collaboration between the city and the volunteer group Code for Asheville.

budgetstuff. 03 16.17

The tool, available at www.avlbudget.org offers an illustrated breakdown of how the city’s revenues and expenditures fit together and gives the public a picture of where the money goes.

“The city’s budget process is probably the most intricate and involved decision City Council makes, and this tool offers the public a chance to see how it all works,” said Dawa Hitch, the city’s Director of Communication & Public Engagement. “We are so appreciative of the efforts of Code for Asheville in making this happen.”

The success of the budget tool rose out of a Code Across Asheville meeting in February in which the volunteer group of local developers, designers and self-described “data geeks,” expressed enthusiasm for finding opportunities to utilize City of Asheville open data to increase the public’s access to information.

Code for Asheville worked closely with an interdepartmental city government team that provided information on typical resident inquiries and the data necessary to develop the tool.

“Publicly available data is a fantastic resource, and groups like Code for Asheville show what can happen when the community jumps in and provides solutions to presenting that data,” said Scott Barnwell, the city’s Business & Public Technology Manager. “Those folks deserve a lot of credit for making this a reality.”

Asheville City Council will hold a public hearing on the 2014/2015 budget at its June 10 meeting, with a final vote on June 24.

Find out more about Code for Asheville at CodeforAsheville.org.

Leave a Comment June 3, 2014

Capt. Bowen’s named added to Buncombe County memorial

BowenAsheville Fire Department Captain Jeff Bowen, who died in the line of duty during a 2011 fire, was honored Saturday, June 2 in a ceremony at the Buncombe County Courthouse.

Capt. Bowen’s name was added to a memorial stone located outside the courthouse dedicated to emergency personnel who have lost their lives in the service of protecting others.

AFD Deputy Chief Michael Knisely and Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore spoke at the ceremony, which was attended by family, friends, fellow firefighters and other emergency responders.

Capt. Bowen’s name is the 19th to be added to the memorial. See pictures from the dedication below.

Click here for more on Capt. Bowen and tributes to his sacrifice.

bowenmonument3

bowen ceremony.jpg 16.20

bowenbagpipes

boewnplaque 16.21

bowenceremony

bowenbagpipes.jpg16.20

Leave a Comment June 2, 2014

City of Asheville turns to cloud technology to back up essential systems

The City of Asheville’s IT Services Department has found a new home for some city emergency backup applications, using a cloud technology platform provided by CloudVelocity and Amazon Web Services.

computerThe development, announced in May, ensures that two of the city’s important, but previously unprotected systems – the point-of-sale system for the U.S. Cellular Center and the city’s Water Resources asset management system – can function properly even in the case of a hardware failure, power outage, or natural disaster.

“Utilizing the cloud platform allows us to restore these functions quickly and without experiencing loss of information or time due to a system outage,” says the City of Asheville’s chief information officer Jonathan Feldman.

In times of disaster, municipalities rely on backup technology to recover critical operational systems, but often, that backup requires establishing an off-site facility to house hardware and host duplicate systems. From a fiscal standpoint, Feldman says, that was a no-go for these systems. “We didn’t have the resources to develop an entire second facility that was far enough away to protect from regional disaster.”

So the city’s IT Services team migrated those systems into Amazon’s Web Services systems using CloudVelocity’s software. The transition took about a month to complete, and the final product passed an outside security auditor’s assessment before launch.

Having a backup system easily accessible and secure but located, in this case, at a data center on the west coast, is an asset as it means those systems are not impacted by local events. It is a concept known as geographic dispersion.

The information in the city’s primary data center and in the cloud is consistently synchronized so the backup system is ready to be launched at any time. But unlike traditional off-site backup facilities, the cloud-based recovery system is only operating when it is in use or during test runs. That means a greatly reduced operational cost, since the City does not have to purchase backup hardware.

“Instead of capital costs in the hundreds of thousands for a modern disaster recovery center, we pay for automation software, computing, and data storage when we use it, at a tenth of the cost,” says Kevin Hymel, Technical Services Manager for the City.

But perhaps the most important outcome is an automated disaster recovery system that reduces recovery time from 12 hours to two, and one that will remain available in case of any city-wide weather or power related event.

“We will continue to look for opportunities to utilize this technology for any city system that requires disaster recovery,” Feldman said.

Leave a Comment June 2, 2014

City of Asheville resumes neighborhood traffic calming projects

Following a revision to the City’s traffic calming policy and approval by Asheville City Council, the City of Asheville Transportation Department has resumed projects designed to ease traffic speed on neighborhood roads.

Speeding and unnecessary through-traffic presents dangers that affect the quality of life in residential areas. In order to provide a safer environment, the City of Asheville seeks to provide traffic calming to neighborhoods that go through the process of requesting it.bump2 A 2000 Traffic Calming Policy approved by City Council established a protocol for responding to requests from residents for traffic calming installations, but funding for such projects has been unavailable since 2007.

With $100,000 funding approved in the 2013/2014 budget, the Transportation Department is able to once more address requests for traffic calming, beginning with those submitted since 2007.

“We have a backlog of traffic calming projects requested by residents that stretches back seven years or so, and those are going to be our first priority right now,” said Transportation Director Ken Putnam. “We appreciate the patience of these folks and are working closely with them to move projects forward.”

The department worked closely with the Public Safety Committee, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force sub-committee and the Asheville Police Department to develop next steps.

In March City Council approved an action plan and revisions to the traffic calming policy that shifted focus to the use of speed humps, speed cushions or other lower-cost strategies. That move will stretch the funding budgeted for the projects by focusing on installation instead of design.

“Speed humps are really the most economical kind of device to slow traffic, and they are easier on vehicles,” Putnam said. “Bicyclists also seem to prefer them to other speed reduction devices.”

Staff is currently analyzing or working with the top seven locations on the waiting list to determine those that meet a certain threshold of traffic volume and have an identified speeding problem. Residents on the first of those, Bear Creek Road, have already reviewed the locations for speed humps and completed the necessary collection of signatures. Work is expected to take place in July.

“We work closely with the neighborhoods on these,” Putnam says. “Especially since there is the possibility that interest in traffic calming may have declined over time.”

The revised Traffic Calming Policy also includes changes that make it easier for neighborhoods to initiate the consideration of speed humps, allows for the combination of public-private funding and ensure safe access for emergency vehicles.

Additionally, the city plans a public outreach campaign designed to increase awareness of speeding and other dangerous driving habits.

“We really want the community to gather around the cause that safer driving is better for individuals, for neighborhoods and for the city as a whole,” Putnam said.

Updates on individual traffic calming projects will be posted to the City’s Projects Page.

Click here to see the entire list of locations that are under consideration or being evaluated for traffic calming.

Leave a Comment May 28, 2014

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