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City Creates Opportunity to Ask Questions on Social Media Site

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – The city of Asheville is rolling out a new opportunity to talk to local government named, “Asheville Asks, Asheville Answers.” Once every few weeks, the city will solicit questions through a post on the city of Asheville Facebook fan page. A specific logo will be used to alert fans of the post. Public Information Officer Dawa Hitch notes, “Residents should submit questions under the post and we will follow up with video answers from staff.” There will also be times when the logo is used to pose questions to the public.

A video introduction to the new program, as well as the first solicitation for questions, will be posted on the fan page at 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 4.

“We are excited about the potential the program has to increase the overall understanding of local government operations and ongoing projects,” says Administrative Services Director Lauren Bradley. “Staff will still be available to answer questions by phone, but this program increases accessibility for those who want to ask questions after 5 p.m. or on the weekends.”

The city’s facebook fan page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/CityofAsheville.

City Seeks Public Participation in Recycling Contest

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – The City of Asheville is participating in the Cans for Cash City Recycling Challenge. The contest, sponsored by The United States Conference of Mayors, Keep America Beautiful, and Novelis Corporation, challenges cities across the country to promote citizen participation in the collection of aluminum beverage cans.

This is the fourth year that the city has participated in this event and the amount of aluminum has increased with each year.  Last year the city collected 44,057 pounds of aluminum during the month of October.

Asheville will compete with other cities of the same size for up to $5,000 in awards.  Awards will be used to support recycling efforts through local education and awareness programs.

Approximately 50 billion aluminum cans end up in landfills each year.  Recycling aluminum beverage cans reduces waste in our landfills and helps create a sustainable environment.  The Challenge runs Oct. 1 through Oct. 31.  Recycle those aluminum cans!

For more information about the Challenge or drop-off center locations, go to  www.ashevillenc.gov/recycling or call 251-1122.

Mayor Bellamy to Serve on EPA’s Local Government Advisory Committee

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – Mayor Terry Bellamy will serve a two-year term on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Local Government Advisory Committee. The term began Aug. 30 and ends Aug. 30, 2012.

The Local Government Advisory Committee is a formal advisory committee chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act and has been in existence since 1993. The Committee is composed primarily of elected and appointed local officials, along with several State representatives, environmental interest groups, and labor interests. Committee members come from various Regions around the country.

The LGAC provides advice and recommendations that assist the EPA in developing a stronger partnership with local governments through building State and local capacity to deliver environmental services and programs. The ultimate goal of the LGAC is to provide the citizens of the Nation with more efficient and effective environmental protection at the community, State and Federal level.

“Serving in this capacity will allow Asheville’s voice to be heard at the national level” stated Mayor Bellamy. “Environmental stewardship is a value residents of Asheville stand behind. This is our opportunity to share our experience and knowledge with EPA and to grow the capacity we have to address environmental issues at the local level where there is a more intimate knowledge of stewardship opportunities.”

Additional information about the U.S. EPA’s local government advisory committee can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/ocir/scas_lgac/lgac_index.htm#purpose.

Home Energy Audit Workshop Led by City, Local Organizations

Friday, August 6th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – Whether it is winter or summer, it takes a lot of energy, and therefore money, to heat and cool homes in Asheville. That is why city of Asheville residential building inspectors and Office of Sustainability staff will team up with the WNC Green Building Council and Asheville GO (Green Opportunities) to put on a home energy audit and weatherization workshop on August 11.  The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) training the inspectors will use to lead the workshop and the energy auditing equipment that will be demonstrated were made possible through stimulus funding.

The workshop will begin with Home Energy Economics 101, an interactive lesson teaching the financial importance of energy efficiency and weatherization at home. Participants will then be guided through a real life energy audit, where demonstrators will teach the use of infrared cameras, blower door tests, duct blasters, and more! Finally, participants will get hands on experience installing some quick, affordable fixes for home weatherization that can amount to big savings.

Homeowners and renters alike are invited to attend the workshop, which is free and open to the public. The event will take place at the Reid Memorial Recreation Center at 133 Livingston Street on August 11 at 6 p.m. Space is limited.  Please register by sending an email to [email protected] or calling (828) 251-4057.

To learn more about the City of Asheville Office of Sustainability please visit http://www.AshevilleNC.gov/green.

Be in the Know with CodeRED Alerts

Monday, July 12th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – Getting the word out about emergencies and events like water repairs takes every tool in the toolbox. To help reach as many residents as possible, the City of Asheville employs a CodeRED message alert system that can send needed information directly to registered telephones.

The system, employed by the City of Asheville since 2007 and operated by the Florida-based CodeRED Emergency Communications Network Inc., uses a unique mapping system that allows municipalities to select the areas that receive alerts. Depending on the scope of the alert, explains Asheville Fire and Rescue Public Information Officer Kelley Webb, officials can trigger phone calls or text messages to the entire Asheville area or focus on a small group of residents.

The system can generate 1,000 calls in a minute and reach the entire Asheville area in 20 to 30 minutes. Webb explains that, depending on the alert, she will key in a user name and password, instruct the system on the area she wants it to cover, then records a voice message to be launched. The CodeRED system will even call back numbers that are unanswered on the first call.

“CodeRed is a great emergency notification system that allows the City of Asheville to communicate quickly to a large geographical area that potentially could be or has been affected by an emergency,” says Asheville Fire Chief Scott Burnette.

In the City of Asheville, the CodeRED system is used primarily by the Asheville Fire and the Water Services departments, but is also tapped by other departments like Asheville Police and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts. So far in 2010, alerts have gone out about flood advisories, water interruptions and line repairs, and AFD training burns. The system was used to notify surrounding neighbors about the UNC Asheville emergency training drill that was conducted in May.

“We use it fairly often,” Webb says. “During the snow storms over the winter, we were able to notify people who to call in an emergency, who to call in a non-emergency and where the local shelters were.”

The Asheville Fire Department also posts alerts via Twitter at @AshevilleFD.

In the nearly three years since CodeRED was launched in Asheville, 37,000 people have signed up to receive messages. Registration is free and users have the choice of receiving messages via cell phone, land line, text messages or TDD/TTY devices for the hearing and speaking impaired. Registration is free and can be completed online.

For more information or to register your phone number with the City of Asheville’s CodeRED alert system, go to www.ashevillenc.gov.

Buncombe County Offices Closed July 5

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – All Buncombe County Government Offices will be closed on Monday, July 5 for the Fourth of July holiday. Buncombe County Public Libraries will be closed July 3-5.

Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Recycling day at the Landfill will be closed on Friday, July 2 due to the Fourth of July Holiday. The Landfill and Transfer Station will operate regular hours on July 2.

HHW and Electronics recycling will resume as normal on Friday, July 9 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information, call Solid Waste at 250-5460.

Brush Collection Schedule to Change July 1

Friday, June 25th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – In an effort to conserve costs and use city resources more efficiently, the frequency of brush collection will change from twice per month to once per month beginning July 1.

Revised brush collection schedules will be mailed to residents over the next few days. New schedules can also be viewed and downloaded on the City’s website at www.ashevillenc.gov/sanitation.

The new schedule will mean brush crews will collect in one trash collection area per week. This will mean that Monday trash customers will have their brush collected the first week of each month. Brush for Tuesday trash customers will be collected the second week of the month. Wednesday trash customers will have brush collected the third week of the month, and Thursday trash customers will have their brush collected the fourth week of the month.

Brush collection will continue to occur on a scheduled week and not a specific day. Residents should make sure brush is out for collection by 7 a.m. on collection week.

Brush should be cut to four feet in length and six inches in diameter. Crews ask that residents do not mix trash, debris, garden waste, weeds, vines, construction materials, leaves or dirt. For the safety of crews, thorny trimmings should be placed in a separate pile. Visit the city’s blog http://coablog.ashevillenc.gov/ next week for a video outlining appropriate brush pile content and placement.

For further information contact the City of Asheville at 251-1122 or visit www.ashevillenc.gov/sanitation.

Asheville Kicks Off RiverWay Redevelopment Planning Process

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – In a kickoff event at the River District’s Riverview Station, the City of Asheville announced the launch of an environmental study and preliminary redesign process for Riverside Drive and Lyman Street.

The announcement marks a step toward the realization of the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay Plan, a system of parks and greenways, roadway improvements, and context-sensitive development opportunities along the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers. Among other positives, the connectivity would encourage multi-modal transportation opportunities like bicycling, and enhance access to the city’s riverfronts. The Wilma Dykeman plan, championed by the local nonprofit RiverLink, was formally adopted by Asheville City Council in 2004.

The planning, which will be overseen by Wilbur Smith Associates, is funded by a federal appropriation channeled through the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The plans are needed in order to secure funding for the restructuring of the corridor.

In her remarks, Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy compared reworking the riverfront to the resurgence of Asheville’s downtown, and said it would make the areas by the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers more inviting to residents and guests.

“This will make Asheville’s riverfront a premier location to work, live and play,” Mayor Bellamy said.

In 2009, Asheville City Council formed the Asheville Riverfront Redevelopment Commission, an appointed body that will make recommendations on initiatives pertaining to the riverfront such as redevelopment in the area. That commission began meeting in May.

Reflecting the partnerships and cooperation the riverfront initiative has engendered, speakers at the kick-off event included City of Asheville Transportation Director Ken Putnam, River District Design Review Committee Chair Jane Matthews, RiverLink Executive Director Karen Cragnolin and LandDesign principal and landscape architect Stephanie Pankiewicz. Pankiewicz has been selected by the City of Asheville to head up an extensive public input process during the planning phase.

For more information about the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay Plan please visit http://www.ashevillenc.gov/departments/planning/default.aspx?id=5522&ekmensel=18_submenu_0_link_3.

City Offers Bear Safety Tips

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – Warmer weather means an increase in bear activity around Asheville. Recent years have seen an increase in calls to the Asheville Police Department with regards to bears, says APD Captain Daryl Fisher, and spring and summer means bears are roaming in search of food. Bears that enter residential or urban areas are seeking out and are attracted by food sources like garbage or even greasy grills, and are not interested in interacting with humans. Paying attention to the proper storage of those food sources can reduce bear incidents.

The Asheville Police Department’s Animal Services Division has the following tips for being “Bear Smart”:

– Never approach or feed bears.

– Don’t leave garbage cans outside except on the day it is to be picked up.

– Don’t store or leave pet food outside.

– Remove bird feeders at night or if bear activity is reported.

For more information or to view the City of Asheville “Bear Smart” video please visit: http://coablog.ashevillenc.gov/2010/06/help-avoid-bear-incidents-by-being-bear-smart/.

Citizens may also contact Mike Carraway, District 9 biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, to report incidents involving bears in Asheville and Buncombe County. He can be reached at (828) 646-9913 or at [email protected]

Smoking to be Prohibited on City Property Starting July 1

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – Beginning July 1, a revision to City of Asheville’s no smoking ordinance prohibits smoking on all city owned and occupied property. The new language applies to all City of Asheville parks, greenways and the grounds of city municipal facilities.

The move is intended to provide a healthier environment for City of Asheville employees and the general public and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. With cigarette butts constituting a large portion of litter in the City of Asheville, the non-smoking ordinance is expected to contribute to the overall cleanliness of the city as well.

The revised ordinance will not apply to city sidewalks and streets except where sidewalks are inside park boundaries. The sidewalk surrounding downtown’s Pritchard Park, for instance, is within the park’s borders and therefore will be subject to the non-smoking ordinance.

The law allows for designated smoking areas at city facilities, to be determined by the Asheville City Manager. A designated smoking area for the Asheville Civic Center will be determined in the near future.

Enforcement of the ordinance will rely on community policing and will be complaint-based. Violation of the ordinance could result in a fine up to $50. City crews will soon be installing signs clearly marking areas where smoking is prohibited.

The amended ordinance was passed by Asheville City Council in April, enabled by 2010 legislation by the North Carolina General Assembly. To access City Council minutes, please visit http://www.ashevillenc.gov/government/mayor_city_council/city_council/default.aspx?id=2010&ekmensel=116_submenu_0_link_4.