Local Scoop

Categories

Asheville, North Carolina News


Archive for the ‘government’ Category

City’s Capital Program Makes Asheville Civic Center More Sustainable

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009


ASHEVILLE, NC – A leaky Asheville Civic Center roof will soon be replaced by a better looking and better insulated roof, as the city’s capital improvement program will give the center energy-efficiency investments over the next five years.

The $1.5 million dollar-roof project began at the end of September and is scheduled to be completed in early January, with contractors taking breaks for heavy rains and to make way for upcoming entertainment acts, such as the Warren Haynes’ Christmas Jam, an annual arena sell out.

“The economic impact the center has on the city of Asheville is significant. Ninety percent of tickets for the Christmas Jam will be purchased from outside of North Carolina,” said interim Civic Center Director Dan Dover. “This past year alone we had more than a quarter of a million attendees, and that figure is on the low side considering the constant exchange of people we have for events such as Bele Chere.”

The center is the largest facility in Western North Carolina with the 7,200-person capacity Arena, the 2,431-person capacity Thomas Wolf Auditorium, the 450-person capacity Banquet Hall and 25,000 square-feet Exhibit Hall.

“The roof project is one of the largest capital investments the facility has seen since 1975 when the civic center was built and the auditorium remodeled,” said Dover, who has worked for the Civic Center for nearly 11 years.

Thus far, workers have removed most of the old roof and put down a temporary one so the upper concrete columns can be power washed and cracks sealed against further weather damage. After the structural repairs are made, insulation will be laid that is nearly double the previous amount, and the new roof will be installed over it. The fading brown cornish trim on the roof will also be removed and replaced.

These new improvements will remove mold growth, increase the facility’s energy efficiency and allow staff to remove the tarps that have been hanging from the arena ceiling and catching drips for the past three years.

In addition to the roof project, $250,000 in capital funds budgeted for the Civic Center this year will be spread out over various projects according to the most pressing facility needs. Other smaller capital projects recently completed include an upgraded fire alarm system and new smoke hatches in the stage area of the auditorium. The portable-basketball court flooring is currently being refinished and painted so it is ready for the annual Globetrotter visit and the Crossfire Ministries.

The arena is also getting an upgraded electrical system to meet the changing requirements for incoming acts. The installment of three 400-amp three-phase 208 disc connects for additional electrical power will be necessary to accommodate Disney on Ice’s Thanksgiving week show, where they will need the power to run their ice plant.

“The city is investing resources to address deferred maintenance and improve the facility so that the condition of the building matches the quality of the entertainment it attracts,” said Asheville’s Vice Mayor Jan Davis, who serves as the City Council liaison to the Civic Center Commission. “We want to enhance the patrons’ experience at the Civic Center while managing its operations within our financial means.”

While the roof replacement is the facility’s largest immediate project, the Civic Center has mapped out a five-year capital plan to help sustain the quality of services it has been offering. Meeting basic codes, improving energy efficiencies, and improving sound and lighting to meet the changing needs of entertainment acts are all part of this plan.

Once the roof is complete, work will begin on the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium fire exit, to improve egress from the building. The stage lighting controls and fixtures with 1970’s technology also need to be replaced with more efficient ones that will have an anticipated two to three year payback on energy savings.

While the Asheville Civic Center is continually making improvements, it is still very much in high demand, turning down as many acts as it books because dates requested are already booked. It offers a special service to the Asheville area, bringing groups from the community together and groups from outside the area in, positively impacting the economy of the area.

The Asheville Civic Center is a regional destination for outstanding entertainment, trade shows and events. The Civic Center offers Western North Carolina diverse entertainment from rock concerts and sporting events to family shows and performing arts. The facility is the heart of downtown Asheville’s arts and entertainment scene. For more information on facilities and events, please visit www.AshevilleCivicCenter.com

ASHEVILLE CITY ELECTION RESULTS

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

ASHEVILLE, NC – Unofficial Asheville City Election results below: (Winners in bold)

Asheville City Council

Candidate: Votes: Percent:

Esther Manheimer 6,567 19.24%

Gordon Smith 6,301 18.46%

Cecil Bothwell 5,899 17.28%

Robin Cape (Write-In) 4,620 13.53%

J. Neal Jackson 3,476 10.18%

Ryan D. Croft 2,525 7.4%

Asheville Mayor

Candidate Votes Percent

Terry M. Bellamy 9,543 78.75%

Robert W. Edwards 2,431 20.06%

Write-In 144 1.19%

Repairs to City Parking Garages Begins

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009


ASHEVILLE, NC – City of Asheville Parking Services will conduct repairs and restorative maintenance work on the Wall Street and Rankin Avenue parking garages beginning Nov. 3 and continuing through the end of the year. Work will include concrete repairs, water sealing, replacement or repair of joints, and repainting the stripes and directional arrows in the garages. These actions are necessary to maintain the facility for years to come.

Work will start with the Wall Street Garage and then Rankin Avenue Garage. Weather permitting, work will be conducted from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily, except Sundays, and will be conducted in phases to minimize the disruption to normal activities. Parking patrons should, however, expect differing traffic patterns, some delays, and closed-off spaces during repairs.

During repairs, the remaining two City garages, Civic Center, and either Rankin Avenue or Wall Street, will be open for parkers’ use.

Youth Leadership Academy Helps Local Homeless Shelter

Friday, October 30th, 2009


ASHEVILLE, NC – The City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA) teaches high school students about civic responsibility, both through summer internships and through monthly community service projects.

The CAYLA students spent a recent Saturday at the ABCCM Women and Children’s Shelter preparing lunch for the residents. Among the many lessons learned: When making a four-course lunch for 40 people, there are never too many cooks in the kitchen. While there, CAYLA students also played basketball with the resident children and cleaned and disinfected the toy room. For more information about CAYLA or to support an upcoming service project, please contact program coordinator Erika Germer: egermer@ashevillenc.gov.

City Calls for Bids on Economic Stimulus Projects

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009


ASHEVILLE, NC – The city of Asheville is calling for bids from qualified contractors for two projects, a pedestrian improvement project and a bicycle project, made possible by economic stimulus funds. Allocations for these projects were made available through the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization and the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The projects will extend the city’s pedestrian and bicycle transportation network by more than four miles.

The pedestrian improvement project includes approximately one and one-third miles of new sidewalk on parts of Hendersonville Road, Depot Street, Hilliard Street, Short Michigan Avenue, Linden Street and Evelyn Place. The project also includes construction of a quarter-mile multi-use path along Choctaw Street.

The bicycle project will increase the existing bicycle network by more than two and one-half miles. Bicycle lanes will be added to Coxe Avenue, Asheland Avenue, Hilliard Street, Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard, and Choctaw Street. Coxe Avenue will also be resurfaced as a part of the project.

“These projects will enhance the city’s capacity to support a multi-model transportation network by making it easier to walk and bike in Asheville,” said Ken Putnam, the city’s transportation director.

Additional information on the scope of these projects, including the plan drawings and contract documents, is available here.

Interested contractors must attend a scheduled pre-bid conference for each project and must submit bids on or before 10 a.m. Thursday, November 12, 2009 for the pedestrian improvements project and on or before 10 a.m. Wednesday, November 18, 2009 for the bicycle project.

City of Asheville Prepares for Leaf Collection

Friday, October 23rd, 2009


ASHEVILLE, NC – The City of Asheville is preparing for leaf collection which will begin Nov. 9. The Sanitation Division collects bagged and loose leaves separately according to schedules based on trash collection days. Residents using either bagged leaf collection or loose leaf vacuuming collection should separate their leaves from trash and other waste, placing leaves at the curb away from the street and storm drains. Burning of leaves is not permitted by city ordinance.

Composting provides the easiest and most efficient means for leaf disposal. Residents can run a mulching mower over leaves to compost them directly into their lawn. They may also rake leaves into a pile, which will decompose into a rich soil additive for spring gardens.

Sanitation crews collect bagged or containerized leaves twice a month on a year-round basis. Residents should place unsealed bagged or containerized leaves at the curb by 7 a.m. on the Monday of their scheduled collection week. Crews will remove the leaves by the end of the week. Residents’ bags or containers will be left for reuse after collection.

Fresh leaves can be delivered to your home or business at no cost. Call 251-1122 to schedule delivery. For more information on yard waste collection and collection schedules please call 251-1122 or visit the website at www.ashevillenc.gov/sanitation

City Hosts Business Forum on ARRA Opportunities

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009


ASHEVILLE, NC – The City of Asheville is partnering with regional business support agencies to host a forum on the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on businesses Thursday, October 15, at the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College’s Enka campus.

Representatives from various agencies involved in business development will be on hand to provide information on services available to business owners. Participating agencies include: the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the A-B Tech Center for Business & Technology Incubation, the Small Business and Technology Development Center, Asheville SCORE, Mountain BizWorks, and the Procurement Technical Assistance Counselor Office, among others.

In addition to providing information throughout most of the day, service providers will take part in two panel discussions. The first panel discussion, “An Overview of the Recovery Act and Accessing Contracting Opportunities,” will take place from 10-11 a.m. followed by “Current Loan Opportunities,” at 1:30-2:30 p.m.

“The city is hosting this event to make sure local businesses understand how to participate in government contracting and can take advantage of any opportunities that become available under the economic stimulus program,” said Brenda Mills, the city’s ARRA project manager. “We also want to make information about other business support services widely available, even those that exist outside of ARRA.”

The event will take place at the A-B Tech Enka campus’s Haynes Conference Center with opening remarks delivered at 9:45 a.m. The forum will close at 3:30 p.m. Attendance is free of charge and open to the public.

For more information, contact Brenda Mills at (828) 259-8050 or bmills@ashevillenc.gov

Four Additional Early Voting Sites to Open in Asheville

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009


ASHEVILLE, NC – Additional early voting sites in north, south, east and west Asheville will open October 24 – 31. Sites will be open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. On October 31 only, the sites will be open 8 a.m.-1 p.m. The additional sites will supplement the current downtown Asheville site at 189 College St.

City Council voted to fund the additional sites at its September 8 meeting in order to add more opportunities for the community to participate in the election. The new locations are:

• North Asheville Branch Library, 1030 Merrimon Ave., Asheville, 28804

• South Buncombe Branch Library, 260 Overlook Rd., Asheville, 28803

• City of Asheville – Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Recreation Office in east Asheville, 72 Gashes Creek Rd., Asheville, 28805

• West Asheville Branch Library, 942 Haywood Rd., Asheville, 28806

All registered voters are eligible to vote during this time. Same day registration will be available at all early voting sites for residents who are not registered. Same day registration allows residents to register and vote on the same day.

For election information, call Buncombe County Election Services at 250-4200 or visit http://www.buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/election/.

City of Asheville 2009 Community Development Performance Report Now Available

Monday, October 12th, 2009


ASHEVILLE, NC – The City of Asheville Community Development Division has published the 2009 Comprehensive Annual Performance Evaluation Report. This report provides detailed information about how the City and the Asheville Regional Housing Consortium allocated and used federal funds from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to support affordable housing, public services and other community development activities, in Asheville and in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania Counties. The report is available here.

UNC Asheville and City of Asheville Agreement Sets Stage for New Partnerships

Monday, October 5th, 2009


ASHEVILLE, NC – The long-standing, informal partnership between UNC Asheville and City of Asheville took a step forward with the signing of a joint agreement that sets the stage for future collaborations.

UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder and Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, who signed the agreement, were joined by UNC President Erskine Bowles and city, university and elected officials at the ceremony, held at the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville. The memo of understanding provides a framework for further collaborations in a number of areas important to the city and the region: environmental sustainability, health and wellness, culture and recreation, economic development and technology, and public safety.

“I am really excited about this collaboration because it is with one of the best universities in the country,” said Mayor Bellamy. “Today goes beyond liberal arts studies, today we are talking about economic development, keeping people healthy, promoting education and working together.”

“What we’re doing at this very moment is more than signing a piece of paper,” said Chancellor Ponder. “The University of North Carolina Asheville and City of Asheville do work together, are working together and will work together. Whether it is climate and technology, sustainability, health and wellness, public safety, this is exactly what Asheville needs.”

Chancellor Ponder noted that the partnership agreement fits perfectly with the university’s strategic plan, the city’s goals, and UNC Tomorrow, the UNC system’s plan for responding to the needs of North Carolina.

President Bowles agreed. “I think the real benefit of the signing of the memorandum of understanding is that it will enable us to leverage the fabulous resources and people we bring together as a group. More will come forward from it and benefit the people of this region,” he said.

The signing was followed by the official opening of the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) at UNC Asheville Engagement Site at its new location at the Grove Arcade. RENCI is a multi-institution virtual organization headquartered in the Research Triangle that provides high performance computing technologies and a diverse research faculty to address important problems in North Carolina. The engagement site is one of several in the state established through university-RENCI partnerships.

In its new location, the RENCI at UNC Asheville Engagement Site will provide leading edge technology for area decision makers and other collaborators in the areas of disaster research, mitigation and preparedness, taking advantage of Western North Carolina’s expertise in weather and climate modeling, visualization and public outreach.

Locating the engagement site in downtown Asheville, in close proximity to its many users, is a primary example of the benefits of cooperation and collaboration between the UNC Asheville and the city.

Jim Fox, director of the RENCI at UNC Asheville Engagement site, noted that over 20 partners – including the city, National Climatic Data Center, U.S. Forest Service, Land of Sky Regional Council and Buncombe County — are involved in the work at RENCI.

“What we’re doing is addressing key societal issues: climate change, land use change, economic development, water resources. These are all challenges that cannot be handled individually. We need to provide the tools for local decision makers – the city, the county, the state – to be able to access those trusted sorts of information and make the critical decisions as we move ahead. The key is the people, all working together,” Fox said.

The city and UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) began working together after the widespread flooding that occurred in the wake of a series of hurricanes in 2004. With technological assistance from RENCI at UNC Asheville, which is part of NEMAC, the group developed a 3D watershed tool that shows the location of flood-prone areas, impervious surfaces and the effect of future building in the watershed. This set of tools is being used to create a new plan to mitigate the effects of the floods and to avoid flooding in the future.

“I am really excited to have these tools available, accessible and affordable for the City of Asheville and the County of Buncombe,” Mayor Bellamy said.

“Even in times like these, when we have to discern very carefully what we can invest in because we can’t do everything, we are choosing to do this with the City of Asheville because it is so important,” said Chancellor Ponder.