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Independent review panel to probe water outages
Wednesday, 18 January 2023 23:03

From Staff Reports

Asheville City Council established an independent review committee on Jan. 10 to investigate the causes of the recent water outages and what measures need to be taken to prevent them from recurring, Asheville television station WLOS (News 13) reported Jan. 10.

Thousands of customers were left without water from Dec. 24 through Jan. 4, when the southern and western regions of the Asheville regional system was beset with major outages.

The problems began when temperatures plunged to zero on the morning of Dec. 24. Water draining into the settling basins at the Mills River intake froze, knocking the facility offline and breaking a number of water lines across the system.

“The purpose of the committee is to review the outages and provide a comprehensive account of what happened,” News 13 noted. “That will include assessing the city’s operational and emergency response and communication efforts and reviewing what changes should be made to the infrastructure.”

The committee will include nine members as follows:

• Two residential water customers

• One commercial water customer

• One emergency response professional/ disaster specialist

• Two communications professionals

• Three subject matter experts in public water systems

Whats more, two of the appointments will be made by Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.

The Daily Planet contacted Mayor Esther Manheimer seeking a statement or interview regarding city’s actions during the water outage, but did not receive a response from her by deadline.

The newspaper also reached out for a statement from or interview with Councilwoman Kim Roney, who has been highly critical of the city’s water system response, but did not receive a response from her by this edition’s deadline.

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Focus on hiring, retention as jobs top job-seekers 2:1 in area, agency leader tells CIBO
Wednesday, 18 January 2023 23:00

By JOHN NORTH

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The ratio of jobs to job-seekers in the Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area is about 2:1, meaning that, at this moment, hiring remains crucial for local employers, but that they also simulateously must rev up their effors to retain their workers in the future, according to Nathan Ramsey, head of a major local workforce development agency.


Ramsey made the aforementioned statement in an address on  “The State of the Local Economy” (i.e. the Asheville MSA), which he presented during the Jan. 6 breakfast meeting of the Council of Independent Business Owners in UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center.


“Prior to the pandemic, the last couple of years, we did have a lot of employers talk about housing and transportation and childcare and things like that, but I think now more employers are recognizing that those things are barriers to them recruiting and retaining workers,” Ramsey said.

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‘Biltmore Christmas’ movie to expand filming to Hendersonville train depot (on Jan. 27-only)
Wednesday, 18 January 2023 22:57

From Staff Reports 

HENDERSONVILLE — Hallmark is filming a new movie set primarily at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, but a landmark in neighboring Hendersonville will be featured in the film alongside the historic Biltmore House.

On Jan. 27, Maple Street will be closed from 8 a.m, to 6 p.m. to allow for filming in front of the Historic Train Depot, according to a special event application approved by Hendersonville City Council in its consent agenda on Jan. 5. 

Seventh Avenue and sidewalks will also be closed intermittently during filming, which is estimated to be only two or three minutes at a time, according to the application.

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New vice mayor gives update on city plan to ‘staff up’ the APD: Asheville saddled ‘with less-than-adequate public safety services,’ Kilgore opines x
Wednesday, 18 January 2023 22:54

From Staff Reports

Asheville’s new vice mayor, Sandra Kilgore, reviewed what she termed “the steps that City Council is going through that, hopefully, will give us the ability to get our police department up and running — and where it needs to be” — during a Jan. 6 address to the Council of Independent Owners at UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center.

Kilgore’s address was the first of two on “The State of the Asheville Police Department” at the meeting, with APD Chief David Zack immediately following the vice mayor with an address on the APD’s future from a police perspective. (A story on Zack’s address appears on Page B8.) 

Kilgore began her talk by noting, “Today, we will be speaking on a subject of a lot of concern to a lot of people. Today we’ll be talking about a ‘hot’ topic of interest around the nation. When it comes to public safety… it affects everyone.”

For first-responders, including the APD, she said, “Their primary goal is to protect the public and guard their well-being. However, to provide these ongoing services, we must have the manpower to sustain it” — an effort that has been hampered with “many officers choosing to retire... and recruiting going slowly....”

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APD puts hope in recruiting, chief says
Wednesday, 18 January 2023 22:18
By JOHN NORTH
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The Asheville Police Department, which remains in a prolonged staffing crisis with no end in sight, “has lost” 144 officers since January 2019, city Police Chief David Zack said during a Jan. 6 address to the Council of Independent Owners at UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center.

Zack’s APD update — providing the current situation and future plans for the unit from a police perspective —  was the second of two presentations on “The State of the Asheville Police Department” at the meeting, with city Vice Mayor Sandra Kilgore speaking just before him with an address from the city government’s perspective. (A story on Kilgore’s address begins on Page A1.)

More than 75 people attended the early-morning breakfast meeting — nearly a full house.

After Zack’s update, an address on “The State of the Local Economy” was presented by Nathan Ramsey, director of the Mountain Area Workforce Development Board and executive director of the Land of the Sky Regional Council. (A story on Ramsey’s address starts on Page A1.)

Zack began his talk on a light note by re-introducing himself as the city’s police chief who has served in that position for about three years.

Pausing, he quipped with a smile, “Given the turnover here, three years is pretty good...” (His comment triggered some laughter among the CIBO meeting attendees.) 

Zack then asserted firmly, “They haven’t chased me out of here yet — and they won’t (ever) chase me out of here!” He did not, however, specify who are the “they” to which he was referring.

After noting the collosal loss of police officers over the past four years, the police chief noted that “the APD is budgeted for 238 sworn positions. Currently, we have 161 sworn officers available on a daily basis... down 39 percent, leaving 77 vacancies.”

Zack noted that the city has hired a recruiting firm to help fills the APD’s vacancies — and that officials are optimistic that it will be helpful.

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