Press Releases and News Items

City Takes Steps to Improve Sewer System 

Kenneth Page installs an ItrackerEmployees at the City of Hendersonville strive to provide excellent customer service to citizens, visitors and businesses. During employee orientation, new hires are introduced to nine principles that guide the organizations’ actions that form the acronym PROACTIVE.

A department that has been exhibiting proactive steps to improve the service provided to customers, minimize impact to the environment and improve aging infrastructure is the Hendersonville Water and Sewer Department. This department is responsible for treating approximately 2.5 billion gallons of consumable water and 1.1 billion gallons of wastewater each year. In Hendersonville and Henderson County, more than 65,000 residents and businesses receive water service and more than 21,000 residents and businesses receive sewer service. Operating a utility of this size presents many opportunities to not only provide service for today’s water and sewer demand, but plan for long term growth and system improvements.

The City of Hendersonville was awarded a $150,000 North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Water Infrastructure Grant to fund a portion of a Sanitary Sewer Asset Inventory and Assessment (SSAIA) project in 2016. The goals of this SSAIA conducted by Black & Veatch were to develop a well-documented, data-driven and forward-looking master plan. Additional objectives included conducting an overall assessment of the sewer system’s condition, providing guidance for future repairs and maintenance, prioritizing system improvements, adding data to the GIS database and providing an interactive planning tool for city staff.

“Back in the 1920’s, in the beginning of the system, terracotta was used for sewer lines,” said Utilities Director Lee Smith. “It was a great material because sewer gasses don’t effect it.” Smith explained that the City of Hendersonville Sewer System currently uses PVC or ductile iron epoxy coated pipe when they are installing new lines, but much of the system is still the originally installed terracotta. The age of a system plays a big factor in the challenges it presents a utility, and it is one of the factors considered in a sewer system master plan.

Beyond the creation of a sewer system master plan that will guide future projects and improve the reliability of the system, staff has also taken the initiative to reduce the occurrences of sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs).

SSOs are a release of untreated or partially treated sewage from a municipal sanitary sewer. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that SSOs occasionally occur in almost every sewer system across the nation, and they estimate there are at least 23,000 – 75,000 SSOs per year in the U.S. SSOs can be caused by a variety of factors such as sewer line blockages caused by fats, oils and grease (FOG), tree roots, sediment or other material buildup; excessive stormwater entering sewer lines during periods of heavy rainfall or flooding; equipment or power failures; and broken sewer lines or deteriorating sewer systems that are either installed improperly or poorly maintained.

SSOs occur infrequently in the area, but if they do, Hendersonville Water and Sewer is required to notify the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) in accordance with NC General Statute Article 21 Chapter 143.215.1C. The EPA has acknowledged that a few SSOs may be unavoidable; those occurring from unpreventable acts of vandalism, some types of blockages, extreme rainstorms and acts of nature like earthquakes or floods. Knowing that a system can never be completely immune to SSOs, staff at Hendersonville Water and Sewer are taking steps to reduce their likelihood and improve the system as a whole.

Inflow and Infiltration Reduction

Sanitary sewer systems are designed to carry wastewater from toilets, sinks, dishwashers, and showers, but that is not the only water that enters systems. Inflow is stormwater that enters a sanitary sewer system through improper connections like downspouts, drains from driveways or basement sump pumps. Periods of heavy rains and floodwaters can also flow into the system contributing to high inflow levels. Infiltration occurs when groundwater enters the system through cracks or leaks in the sewer pipes. Reducing the amount of Inflow and Infiltration (I&I) is one of the most effective methods in reducing SSOs.

Flow Meters and Monitoring

“We actively pursue sources of I&I,” said Andy Brogden, Water and Sewer Operations Manager, “and part of that process comes from monitoring the system levels.” Andy explained that crew members check flow monitors that have been installed in each of the eight sewer sheds. Data is compiled to get a baseline so that when spikes occur, staff knows there may be a problem that needs to be investigated. Beyond using flow metering data to address current issues, levels are tracked during dry weather and wet weather to help predict future flow levels and infrastructure needs.

“We also have a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system that allows facilities maintenance workers and the Wastewater Treatment plant to monitor the pumping stations,” said Brogden. “If we get a high level alarm we get someone headed that way to try and head it off before we have an issue.” Sewer stations are inspected at least weekly in addition to the monitoring.

Andy Brogden mentioned an example where staff noticed an anomaly that led to the discovery of an issue before it led to bigger problems. On Friday, December 28, 2018, our area experienced a large rain event that resulted in flooding across the county. After floodwaters had subsided, Garrett DeMoss, the Facilities Manager at the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), noticed the levels were not returning to normal as they typically would following a flooding event. Garrett alerted staff and crews began looking for issues. A manhole adjacent to Mud Creek had been compromised and creek water was pouring into the system. Crews were able to fill the manhole, stop the inflow of creek water and reroute the wastewater into an adjacent sewer line.

“When it was all said and done, this repair reduced about 2.5 million gallons of creek water from entering the sewer system each day,” said Brogden. Had the issue not been located and remedied, the large amount of infiltration could have led to SSOs further down the system or overwhelmed the WWTP.

Additional I&I Reduction Methods

Finding I&I in over 180 miles of sanitary sewer lines can seem like finding needles in a massive haystack, but the crews have employed methods to strategically locate issues. Tim Sexton is the Utility Systems Supervisor in charge of preventative maintenance. Beyond making sure that at least 10% of the system is cleaned every year, Tim’s staff locate I&I using some fascinating methods.

One method is smoke testing. Non-toxic smoke is forced into the sewer pipes and the smoke that is observed in between manholes can identify cracks and holes in the sewer system. Regular inspections of manholes and lift stations are another way staff identify problems.

Another method is using portable iTracker sensors. These small, battery operated sensors are strategically placed in areas of the sewer system to record volumetric changes in wastewater between dry and wet weather events. The devices are Wi-Fi enabled and take readings every thirty minutes. Before the city began using these flow meters, measurements would have to be taken manually by visual inspections which were not as accurate and much more time consuming.

The city also utilizes closed-circuit television (CCTV) to inspect the internal condition of sewer lines. When there is an area that is suspect, or a potential problem has been identified using the aforementioned methods, the CCTV crew is assigned to inspect the areas to see what is causing the blockage or leak. Once identified, repairs can be planned.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades

The City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) is permitted to treat 4.8 million gallons of sewage daily. Garrett DeMoss, WWTP Facilities Manager and Operator in Responsible Charge, reports that the plant averages 3 million gallons a day, but stormwater and the results of I&I during times of heavy rain raise the total. Beyond looking at ways to prevent SSOs from occurring on the collections side of the system, the City is also looking at improvements to the WWTP.

The City has purchased a generator that will be installed this Spring to provide power to the WWTP in the event of an outage. Additional upgrades include improvements to the SCADA monitoring system and replacing one of the two sand filters with an Aqua-Diamond cloth media filter that can treat up to fifteen million gallons a day, far exceeding the capacity of what it took both sand filters to do. The remaining sand filter will be utilized when the Aqua-Diamond filter undergoes routine maintenance.

Also, funding has been set aside to evaluate the need for an equalization basin. An EQ basin would allow the plant to store wastewater in a tank, slowing the system down and allowing the plant to take on more flow during periods of heavy rains. This could be a potential method on the WWTP side to help reduce SSOs.

“The City sees the big picture and is being proactive instead of reactive,” said Garrett DeMoss with regard to the generator and other upgrades. “We are an older plant—about twenty years old and a lot of the equipment is original. Much of it, like the blowers, run 24 hours a day.”

Mother Nature

Excessive rainfall has an undeniable impact on sanitary sewer systems. Hendersonville’s sewer system, like so many other municipal sewer systems, are faced with challenges to handle large amounts of rain, fund system improvements and replace lines, some of which date back a century. 2018’s record setting rain totals further support the City’s decision to commission a sewer master plan and continue efforts to reduce I&I in the system.  

“The Mayor and City Council have directed City staff to identify ways to reduce the number of SSOs within the sewer system,” said City Manager John Connet. “Our wastewater treatment plant upgrades, preventative maintenance programs and Sewer Asset Inventory and Assessment are just the first steps in meeting this directive.” 

Watch a short video about the City's efforts

 

Posted by Allison N 03/21/2019

City of Hendersonville Receives Funding to Make Water and Sewer Upgrades 

Ashe Street Water ReplacementThe City of Hendersonville is pleased to announce that funding has been approved to complete water and wastewater improvement projects in the Ashe Street neighborhood and along Fourth Avenue East.

On Tuesday, March 19, 2019, Governor Roy Cooper released a list of 96 projects from across the state that are set to receive $127 million in loans and grants. The City of Hendersonville was approved for a loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund in the amount of $812,000 and a loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund in the amount of $1.8 million.

“These areas have been in our Capital Improvement Plan for a number of years,” said City Engineer Brent Detwiler. He explained the existing water and sewer infrastructure in the Ashe Street neighborhood is aging and a replacement of the lines will improve the system and minimize the frequency with which crews are making repairs in the area.

The project description for the sewer infrastructure portion also includes rerouting and replacing portions of a sewer line that runs along Fourth Avenue East toward Jackson Park. Undersized and aging clay sewer mains will be replaced in addition to the replacement of aging brick manholes. A section of a “cross country” sewer main that receives significant infiltration and inflow will be abandoned and re-rerouted within public roadway right-of-way.

These replacement projects exist in areas of downtown that are ripe for commercial and residential revitalization. The plans are preliminary at this point, and City Engineer Brent Detwiler explained that once the city receives an official letter from the state, it is typically two years before construction will begin on the projects.

“Clean water is critical for our health and our economy,” said Governor Cooper in a release. “These funds will help communities improve their water and sewer systems to ensure clean drinking water, support good jobs, and be better able to withstand future storms.”

Read the release from the Governor's Office: NC Communities Get $127 Million to Improve Water and Sewer Systems, Protect Clean Water

 

 

Posted by Allison N 03/20/2019

City Council Continues with Police Station Plan 

New Police Station RenderingOn Thursday, March 14, at a special meeting held to review the plans for the new police station to be built near Seventh Avenue on Ashe Street, the Hendersonville City Council voted to move forward with the original 11.5-million-dollar plan. The meeting was called to review the construction plans with ADW Architects and identify potential cost saving options.

Keith Carlyon with ADW Architects presented the original design as well as options that would have reduced the square footage by 1,500 square feet by downsizing the community room, eliminating a garage bay, removing a retaining wall and shrinking the size of other programming rooms.

“We’re counting on this being a centerpiece of the Seventh Avenue revitalization,” said Councilman Steve Caraker. He explained that the needs of law enforcement in the city would continue to grow as the community grows. Council members ultimately determined altering the design was not enough of a cost savings to justify what would be lost.

City Council approved to continue with the originally proposed two-story, approximately 26,000 square foot building. They did choose to eliminate some masonry columns included in the fencing and approved an alternate bid process for the covering of an outdoor break area to trim down some of the cost. Councilmembers also approved to finance the project over a 35-year period.

Posted by Allison N 03/15/2019

Grey Hosiery Mill Project Moving Forward 

City NewsThe City of Hendersonville is proud to announce the final step in securing the future of the revitalization of the Grey Hosiery Mill building.

As of this afternoon, all property associated with the Grey Hosiery Mill has been transferred to Grey Mill Ventures, LLC. All project financing has been secured and received and all building permits have been obtained.

“The journey to redevelop the mill has been a long and arduous process to get to this point,” said Council Member Steve Caraker. “Many people doubted that we would be able to redevelop the mill. I’m proud that we stuck with it and I’m excited to see the final product in the near future.”

The City expects construction to start Monday March 11, 2019 with a completion date to occur in early 2020.

 

Posted by Allison N 03/08/2019

Mulch and Compost Giveaway 

Mulch and Compost GiveawayThe City of Hendersonville has scheduled their seasonal mulch giveaway program to begin on Friday, March 15, 2019. Mulch will be available for pick up on Thursdays and Fridays from 3:30 pm to 7:00 pm and on Saturdays from 8:00 am to 12:00 noon. This schedule will occur for approximately eight weeks, or until the material is gone.

The mulch will be distributed at the old Waste Water Treatment Plant located at 80 Balfour Rd. in Hendersonville. The Public Works Department will have a person on site to operate the backhoe and load the material.

In addition to the mulch, the City will be offering composted leaves as a separate material. These leaves were collected during 2017 and 2018, ran through a chipper several times and then composted for a year. This material makes an excellent addition to vegetable and flower gardens.

For questions about this program, please contact the Public Works Department at (828) 697-3084.

Guide for Composting at Home

Posted by Allison N 03/01/2019

2019 Budget Retreat Overview 

Budget Retreat photo 2019On February 21 and 22, 2019, the Hendersonville City Council participated in their annual budget retreat. This year’s retreat objectives were for City staff to provide updates on financial sustainability and potential revenue options for the City, and to glean direction from council members on how to maintain the increase of services required by a growing and evolving community.

During the first evening, council members received an update on current projects and a financial sustainability presentation that outlined trends, data driven financial forecasts and revenue options.

The council also voted to accept the lowest bid for the Downtown Restroom project to be located at 125 Fifth Avenue West. As a result of rising construction costs that were reflected in the bid submissions received in 2018, the initial plan for the restrooms and 2nd floor office space was simplified in order to cut costs. Following the second round of bids, Dunlap Construction’s bid of $575,000 was accepted. The plan includes nine fixtures (men’s, women’s and a family restroom) as well as Downtown Hendersonville program office space upstairs. $325,000 of the renovation project will be funded by a grant received from the Henderson County Tourism Development Authority. The additional funds will be supplied by delaying the creation of additional parking spaces at the Whitmire Activity Center and funding from lapsed salaries that exist in the current budget.

Day two of the budget retreat was held in a meeting space at Interfaith Assistance Ministries (IAM). City Manager John Connet began the morning with a discussion about looking at what it means to be a customer versus a citizen. He explained Hendersonville would not be what it is today if people hadn’t taken ownership and been involved in their community. Council members discussed the crossroads the city finds itself concerning growth and the increasing cost of providing services.

Three areas that exhibit challenges and opportunities were highlighted during staff presentations: Human Resources, Fire Services and Stormwater Services.

The cost of employee benefits and medical coverage continues to rise, placing a strain on municipalities across the state. HR Director, Jennifer Harrell, presented a program overview, information on insurance and benefit costs for the approximately 265 people employed at the city, and potential possibilities to attract solid applicants and increase employee retention.

Fire Chief Joseph Vindigni presented data on the increasing number of calls for service and the preliminary findings of a study from Brooks Innovative Solutions that focused on staffing, coverage, equipment and facility needs. Staffing levels were identified as the department’s greatest weakness. An additional engine company was recommended to meet the national standards. Other recommendations included adding an additional fire station placed on the south side of town to decrease response times based on a service station area matrix study. Chief Vindigni also presented repair and space needs at Station 1 that will need to be addressed in the future. Following the presentation of the survey results, Vindigni approached City Council with a request to apply for a federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant to hire an additional fifteen firefighters and offset a percentage of their salaries and benefits for their first three years of employment.

The third topic centered around expanding the city’s stormwater program. Stormwater Administrator Michael Huffman identified the need to improve the drainage infrastructure to better protect both constructed and natural environments within the city. Huffman presented the findings of a Wash Creek watershed masterplan conducted by WithersRavenel. The area studied contains neighborhoods on the west side of town who have some of the oldest stormwater infrastructure in the city and have a high volume of stormwater related requests. Five major improvement areas were identified as areas that would greatly benefit from stormwater infrastructure replacement. The initial cost estimate for the projects amounts to $6 million dollars, but that figure does not include design costs, cover any upgrades to the existing pipe sizes or account for locations where pipes might need to be relocated to public right of ways. Huffman recommended funding these projects and encouraged council members to consider expanding the master plan to cover adjoining watersheds and to develop a city-wide Capital Improvement Plan and maintenance plan.

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II Program that the city operates under is an unfunded federal mandate, leaving the municipality to generate all the revenue. The stormwater fund predominantly operates on $3.00 fees to property owners, but the revenue is not sufficient to cover large projects or improve infrastructure. Budget Analyst Adam Murr presented the council with possible options to fund this relatively new utility to make it financially sustainable. One option discussed were flat fees or tiered fee structures based on the amount of impervious surface contained on a property.  

Hendersonville serves as the commercial center of Henderson County with limited tax base growth and increasing demands on infrastructure and human resources. City Council was presented with a wide variety of needs, requests and opportunities throughout the retreat that provided an informative start to this year’s budget process.

Posted by Allison N 02/28/2019

Spring Bulk Leaf Collection for City of Hendersonville Residents 

Spring Leaf CollectionOn March 4, 2019, the City of Hendersonville will begin their Spring bulk leaf collection for City residents. Bulk leaf collection will continue throughout the month and end on March 29th.

This is a service provided to city residents and they do not need to call to request leaf pick-up. Residents are asked NOT to bag their leaves; simply rake leaves as close to the street, curb or sidewalk as possible without placing the leaves in the roadway or on the sidewalk. Keeping leaf piles out of the roadways and sidewalks help prevent them from being washed down to the storm drain which can cause flooding. This leaf collection process is separate from brush collection crews; therefore, residents will need to keep their brush and leaves in separate piles during the month of March. 

Leaf piles are picked up from homes about every 10 to 14 days but, depending on the volume of leaves placed out for collection, the piles could be picked up sooner or later than that time. For questions about this project, please call the Public Works Department at (828) 697-3084.

Posted by Allison N 02/26/2019

Water Line Flushing Scheduled for Local Water Customers 

Water Line FlushingThe City of Hendersonville Water and Sewer Department will be doing some preventative maintenance on water lines over the next month. Water mains and fire hydrants throughout the system will be flushed systematically to maintain water quality and fire flow protection for the community.

Work is scheduled to begin on the evening of Sunday, February 24, 2019 and continue until each zone in the system is completed. Hendersonville Water & Sewer will notify customers of scheduled work using their notification system prior to work being conducted in their area. A flushing route has been planned by staff, however the month-long schedule is a guideline and may change based on weather conditions, freezing temperatures and the progress of the crews. In addition to direct customer notifications, schedule updates will also be posted on this page and on Facebook.

During the actual flushing process, customers in the immediate vicinity of the work may experience pressure fluctuations or discoloration of their water. See the Water Line Flushing FAQ sheet for more information.

UPDATES

WATER LINE FLUSHING – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why does Hendersonville Water & Sewer “flush” water lines and fire hydrants?

Periodically flushing water mains and fire hydrants is an important maintenance activity. Flushing the system removes sediment that has slowly built up in the lines, ultimately maintaining the integrity of the water system and allowing Hendersonville Water & Sewer to deliver high quality water to our customers.

How does this process work?

Flushing zones and routes are planned out by staff and valves are opened and closed to control the direction of the water flow. Fast moving water is forced through the water mains and released through hydrants. This process scours and cleans the mains.

How will I know when Hendersonville Water & Sewer is doing this work in my area?

Hendersonville Water & Sewer will notify customers of scheduled work using their notification system. The phone numbers and email addresses in the system are generated from the information customers provided when they enrolled in water service. It is important that customers provide current contact information to receive notifications. If you need to update your phone number or email address, please call Hendersonville Water & Sewer at (828) 697-3073 Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm.

What should I do if I see Water & Sewer crews flushing hydrants in my area?

Please drive carefully and watch for workers in and near the roadway. If you are in your home during the work, avoid turning on any faucets or fixtures while crews are flushing the hydrants. In particular, avoid washing clothes during the flushing operation.

How will this affect my water?

During the actual flushing process, customers in the immediate vicinity of the work may experience pressure fluctuations or discoloration of their water. The discoloration consists of minerals, sediments and fine air bubbles. Although the water does not pose a health risk, it is recommended to avoid drinking the water until it runs clear from the tap.

What should I do if my water is discolored after the water mains have been flushed?

In the event a customer experiences discoloration in their water after crews have completed work in their neighborhood, they should clear the pipes in their own home by running cold water for a few minutes. If the water coming from the tap does not clear in five minutes, wait 30 minutes and try again.

As a precaution, prior to using hot water, the cold-water tap should be run for a few minutes to ensure discolored water is not drawn into the hot water tank. Do not choose a tap that has a water filter connected to it as sediment may clog the filter.

What should I do if my water is still discolored after three to four hours?

Customers can contact Hendersonville Water & Sewer at (828) 697-3073. Issues occurring outside of regular business hours (Monday-Friday 8am-5pm) can be reported to the after-hours number at (828) 891-7779.

Is water main cleaning a waste of water?

While it may appear wasteful, flushing water lines is a normal and necessary part of maintaining the system and keeping drinking water safe, clean and pleasant tasting.

Questions may be directed to Hendersonville Water & Sewer at (828) 697-3073 Monday-Friday 8am-5pm. Issues occurring outside of regular business hours can be reported to the after-hours number at (828) 891-7779.

Posted by Allison N 02/26/2019

City of Hendersonville Welcomes New Environmental Services Coordinator 

Environmental Service Coordinators and Utilities DirectorThe City of Hendersonville is welcoming a new Environmental Services Coordinator to the team as they send well wishes to the outgoing coordinator.

Amy Huffman has been the City’s Environmental Services Coordinator for the past two and a half years. This position is part of the Water and Sewer Department and is responsible for monitoring industrial and commercial sewer users as well as administering a variety of programs that help protect the city’s water and sewer systems. The City’s Environmental Services Coordinator oversees the industrial pretreatment program, FOG (fat, oils and grease) program, backflow and cross-connection control program, water conservation program and septage permitting program.

“You’re the protector of the sewer and instructor to the public,” said Amy Huffman when describing what an Environmental Services Coordinator does. “We make sure that industries, businesses and residents are utilizing the sewer system correctly.”

“As far as the industries are concerned, we have three significant sewer system users,” said Huffman.” She described how the City works with these industries to ensure the effluent being discharged into the system has been pretreated and meets the standards outlined in the Sewer Use Ordinance and other state and federal regulations. Huffman explained that the industries send in reports every month and annual inspections are completed to make sure they are in compliance.

“Amy has done a wonderful job,” said Lee Smith, Utilities Director with the City of Hendersonville. “She is very good with our industrial customers and restaurants. She holds people responsible but does it in a very professional way.” Lee explained that the new Environmental Services Coordinator has been training with Amy for the past two weeks and is expected to do a great job administering the various programs, including the City’s relatively new backflow prevention program.

The City of Hendersonville’s Backflow Prevention Program was initiated in 2018 with the approval of a new section to the Utilities Ordinance (Chapter 52, Article VIII) in September. This involves classifying the degree of health hazard risk of new industrial and commercial customers regarding chemicals and processes on their sites that could affect the City’s water system. Those with low to moderate health hazards may only be required to install a double check valve assembly, while those with a high health hazard risk would be required to install an above ground reduced pressure zone double check valve (RPZ) assembly. Once approved for installation, the customer is responsible for the installation, maintenance and annual testing of the assembly. These assemblies help to ensure that water from the customer’s side of the meter does not flow back into the City’s water supply system.

Amy Huffman will be stepping away from the City to take a year off to travel with her husband. She will be handing over the reins to Seth Goad. Seth is a geologist and has been a consultant in the private sector for the past eight years. Goad stated that he has always wanted to work for a public entity because of the opportunity to give back to the community and make a positive environmental impact.

Another important aspect of this position’s role is working with businesses and residents to reduce the amount of fat, oil and grease that enters the sewer system. These substances build up over time in sewer lines and cause back-ups, necessitate expensive repairs and can cause potential issues throughout the collection system and treatment plant. Huffman’s role, taken over by Goad on February 18th, is to work with restaurants and other businesses to install grease traps and implement other methods to prevent blockages in the sanitary sewer system.

“When we learn about new restaurants and businesses coming online, we touch base with them and discuss the kind of grease trap they’ll need and best practices that can help prevent blockages,” said Huffman. She explained that, although restaurants are dealing with a higher volume of fat, oils and grease, residents should also take steps to reduce the impact of these substances ending up in the sewer system from the domestic side.

“I tell business owners as well as residents, ‘If you are going to have a backup, it’s probably going to be on your end first,’” said Huffman. She explained that if people are depositing these substances into the sewer system, as they cool and solidify, they will eventually cause issues on the customer’s portion of the line or further along in the system. Either way, it comes with a cost, whether residents are paying to fix their own line backups, or the municipality is utilizing funds to fix issues throughout the collection system or at the wastewater treatment plant. One slogan that Amy likes to use is “Cease the Grease” when she is speaking with customers about proper fat, oils and grease disposal.

Below are some steps that residents can take to minimize the impact of fat, oils and grease buildup in the sewer system. These tips can also minimize malfunctions and issues in private septic systems as well.

  • Don’t pour fats, oils, grease or food scraps down the drain, even in small quantities and even if you have a garbage disposal.
  • Cover the kitchen sink drain with a catch basket and empty contents into the garbage as needed.
  • Place oil and grease in sealable collection containers. Once collection containers are full, dispose of properly in the trash.
  • Recycle used cooking oil at the Henderson County Convenience Center.
  • Do not rely on hot water to push fats, oil, and grease through the pipes. It won’t clear your pipes, and you will still experience clogs.

 

Photo: Seth Goad (New Environmental Services Coordinator), Amy Huffman and Lee Smith, Utilities Director

Posted by Allison N 02/19/2019

City of Hendersonville Adopts Code Amendment to Streamline Fire Protection Systems  

Reporting Software photoDuring their meeting on February 7, 2019, the Hendersonville City Council voted to adopt a code amendment aimed at streamlining the city’s fire protection systems. The amendment will allow all required monthly, quarterly, and annual system inspections, testing, and maintenance required by the North Carolina Fire Code and the National Fire Protection Association to be provided to the Hendersonville Fire Department through an approved third-party inspection reporting system.

“Implementing an updated reporting system allows our Life Safety Division to more efficiently process, manage and document compliance reports,” said Fire Marshal Justin Ward. “It provides a platform for more effective communication between property owners, contractors and inspectors regarding deadlines, testing and identifying deficiencies.”

Fire Marshal Ward explained the reporting system is internet based and will cut down on paperwork as well as the time it takes for inspectors to access reports. The Fire Department’s Life Safety Division will be able to receive updates when systems have been tested and alerts if there are any deficiencies or systems in need of repair. Only those businesses who have fire alarms, sprinkler systems, hood systems or backflow prevention systems would be affected.

Those businesses would receive a notice for inspection, business owners would contract a third-party vendor of their choosing to complete the testing, and the vendor completes the testing and uploads the inspection report making it available to the business owners as well as the fire department. There will be no change in the fee schedule resulting from the updated system; the only fees will be associated with the third-party vendor. The system would also be used by the Water and Sewer Department to track testing and maintenance of backflow prevention systems.

Fire Marshal Justin Ward and Environmental Services Coordinator Amy Huffman gave a presentation to the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) on January 14 where they explained how using this type of reporting program would better ensure that fire protection systems are in compliance. The BAC gave positive feedback on utilizing this type of system to provide safer environments for employees and visitors. The code amendment was adopted by Council on February 7 to allow the use of a third-party inspection reporting system.

Any questions regarding the system may be directed to Fire Marshal Justin Ward at (828) 697-3024.

Posted by Allison N 02/13/2019

Streambank Repair Workshop 

Streambank Restoration*This Workshop is Full - Thank you to all who have registered!*

The City of Hendersonville will be hosting a Streambank Repair Workshop facilitated by the NC Cooperative Extension on March 13, 2019. This workshop will teach participants how to protect streambanks and improve the environment by stabilizing streams on their property.

“This workshop is an excellent opportunity for homeowners and landscape professionals to learn about stream bank restoration techniques that can address mild to moderate stream bank erosion,” said Stormwater Administrator Michael Huffman. “The flooding and heavy rains we experienced last year impacted many of the small streams in the area, causing increased erosion and property damage. This workshop demonstrates how property owners can address these issues on a limited budget using natural design concepts.”

The workshop will begin with a classroom portion of instruction held at the City of Hendersonville Operations Center located at 305 Williams Street. The afternoon will consist of an outdoor, hands-on session during which students will participate in a stream repair exercise in Patton Park. Not only will participants learn techniques to be taken home to repair problem streambanks, they will be helping to improve and beautify a section of public green space for others to enjoy.

The City of Hendersonville is offering this workshop free of charge and would like to thank the NC Cooperative Extension for their partnership in offering this opportunity for residents to learn how to create healthy stream environments using natural materials and native plants.

More information and a registration link can be found at: https://www.bae.ncsu.edu/workshops-conferences/srw/

Photo: A 2018 Bank Stabilization Project at Brandy Branch in Mills River Village involving NC Cooperative Extension, Mills River Partnership, Jennings Environmental, Sierra Nevada, Asheville Greenworks and City of Hendersonville Stormwater. Photo credit Mills River Partnership.

Posted by Allison N 02/13/2019

First African American Hendersonville Firefighter Continues Serving the Community 

Terry MartinFor more than 38 years, Terry Martin has been serving the citizens of Hendersonville with perseverance, dedication and pride.

Terry Martin grew up in East Flat Rock attending Flat Rock Elementary and Junior High and graduating from East Henderson High School. After graduation, he joined the Army National Guard and entered the workforce. Although you wouldn’t know it now, Terry says he never had aspirations of fighting fire.

“I never considered being a firefighter,” says Terry. “I would see the Blue Ridge trucks come thru when I was a kid, but I never even thought about it.”

Terry started working with the City of Hendersonville Public Works Department in 1981. His duties included sanitation, parks maintenance, street improvements and a variety of other jobs. Although he didn’t know it, Terry was to be recruited by the fire department in 1985.

One of Terry’s jobs with Public Works was to collect money from the parking meters and bring the change to City Hall to be counted. Terry describes one day, after bagging up the money, Fire Chief Bud Hendrix approached him and said, ‘Martin – I need for you to put in an interior transfer. You are going to become a firefighter.’ Terry hadn’t thought about joining the fire service and explains he didn’t think anything more about it; but the next time Terry found himself at City Hall counting the meter money, the Chief found him again and handed Terry the transfer paperwork. Terry explains that he put in his two weeks’ notice with Public Works and transferred to the fire department as its first African American firefighter. Terry describes the change as a good one: “When I got into the job I thought, I should have been doing this all along.”

Lieutenant Kleppe leads B-shift at Station 2 where Terry serves as an Engineer. “It’s pretty awesome having Terry on the shift because of all the history he knows,” says Lieutenant Thomas Kleppe. “You can talk about tradition and history; I get to work with him.” In Terry’s time working for the City of Hendersonville, he has worked under five Mayors and five Fire Chiefs along with the inevitable change that accompanies a career spanning almost four decades.

“The City of Hendersonville is fortunate to have such a dedicated and capable employee as Terry Martin,” says Mayor Barbara Volk. “Even though he didn’t start out as a firefighter, he has certainly found his calling. He has been with the fire department for almost 35 years, but he still wants to improve his skills, as shown by getting his EMT certification just a few years ago. I am grateful for his commitment to our community.”

Terry Martin can tell all kinds of stories about how the fire service has advanced in everything from the sleeping quarters to equipment.

“Now, back in the day, when I got into the fire service, there was one big dorm. You listened to all the snoring; you wanted to put a pillow on some of the guys,” Terry says with a chuckle. He explains that when he started, the dorm was on the third floor of City Hall and that Hendersonville had one of the highest fire poles in the country; it spanned from the third-floor all the way down to the bays on the bottom floor. Terry has seen how training and equipment has evolved over the years as well. He has lived through the shift of departments transitioning to provide medical service in addition to fighting fires, conducting hydrant maintenance and completing inspections. During his tenure, Terry took classes to become a certified medical responder and earned his EMT certification in 2015.

“Storytelling is a tradition in the fire service,” says Lieutenant Kleppe. “When you break bread with someone every day, you become very close with them.” Kleppe says that working with Terry has been a great way to keep Hendersonville history alive and that Terry has often been paired with new firefighters entering the fire service so that he can pass on his knowledge and experience to the younger generations.

If you ask Terry about any mentors he has had over the years, he mentions an Assistant Chief named Jim Rogers. “He was a soft-spoken man,” described Terry. “If he raised his voice, though, you needed to get it in gear. I learned a lot from him. It wasn’t about skin or color. It was about character.”

“Terry is a wealth of knowledge and truly cares about the City of Hendersonville, the Hendersonville Fire Department and the community,” says Hendersonville Fire Chief Joseph Vindigni. “His upbeat and positive attitude inspires others and his commitment to service is humbling.”

Terry Martin has earned a special place in the Hendersonville Fire Department’s history. He has impacted many lives and, served the community for many years. Terry also works for Green River and Valley Hill Fire Departments outside of his service to the City of Hendersonville. In his free time, Terry trains his own bird dogs, hunts and is an avid fly fisherman.

Posted by Allison N 02/13/2019

City of Hendersonville Recognized for Distinguished Budget Presentation  

Adam Murr receives budget awardThe City of Hendersonville was awarded the Government Finance Officers Association Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its budget for fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018.

According to the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), this award represents a significant achievement by the City of Hendersonville and reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meet the highest principles of governmental budgeting. In order to receive this award, the City of Hendersonville had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines and be rated ‘proficient’ in how well the budget serves as a policy document, financial plan, operations guide and communications device.

“I would like to congratulate Adam on a great job preparing the budget document,” said Hendersonville City Manager John Connet. “The preparation of this 367 page document takes a large of amount time and energy and Adam makes it look easy.” 

During the council meeting on February 7, 2019, Adam Murr was presented with a Certificate of Recognition for Budget Presentation for having achieved the award. Adam is the City of Hendersonville’s Budget and Management Analyst whose primary responsibilities include the preparation and administration of the City's operating and capital budgets. City Manager John Connet recognized Adam Murr as well as Assistant City Manager Brian Pahle for their work on the budget document.

The GFOA established the Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program to encourage and assist state and local governments to prepare budget documents of the very highest quality that reflect both the guidelines established by the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting and the GFOA's best practices on budgeting. The awards program also recognizes individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal. The City of Hendersonville has been recognized with this award every year since 2014.

City of Hendersonville’s budget 

Photo: Adam Murr receives his Budget Presentation Certificate from Mayor Barbara Volk

Posted by Allison N 02/12/2019

Hendersonville Fire Department Announces Medium Rescue Certification 

Fire Department Medium Rescue CertificateThe Hendersonville Fire Department has been certified as a Medium Rescue Provider through the North Carolina Association of Rescue and Emergency Medical Services (NCAREMS). This designation certifies that the department is operating with the required number of personnel holding rescue certifications as well as operating with the complement of technical rescue equipment outlined by the NCAREMS.

“We continue to enhance our service delivery to the Citizens of Hendersonville and surrounding communities through a continuous improvement process,” said Hendersonville Fire Chief Joseph Vindigni. He explained the decision to pursue the Medium Rescue certification resulted directly from community input.

During the creation of the fire department’s strategic plan, a business and community feedback session was held in 2016. Community members were asked to rank what services were most important for their fire department to provide. Fire and EMS service ranked number one, but the category receiving the second highest number of votes were basic and technical rescue services.

“We want to be able to provide the services our citizens expect from us,” said Chief Vindigni. “We have been pursuing this certification because it is important to the community, and it allows our members to be better prepared to respond to a wider variety of emergencies.”

The Hendersonville Fire Department was congratulated by Stephen C. Smith, Membership Coordinator of NCAREMS for meeting the high professional standards required by this certification. Smith said, “Your department, personnel, and the citizens of Hendersonville and Henderson County should be very proud of this high achievement. It is indeed an honor to be recognized at this level of professional Rescue and EMS Service.”

The Hendersonville Fire Department has been actively working for more than a year toward this certification. Some of the requirements include having a minimum of eight personnel who hold rescue certifications in disciplines such as Emergency Response Training or Vehicle Machinery Rescue. In order to be certified, a department must also have an extensive list of equipment and tools such as hydraulic rescue tools, pulling equipment, harnesses, ropes, protective clothing, lighting equipment, ladders, water rescue equipment, Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) units, medical equipment and more.                        

Being certified as a Medium Rescue Provider ensures that personnel have the equipment and training necessary to provide for safe and effective victim management related to highway vehicle accidents, high and low angle rope rescue and water rescue.

“Being a Medium Rescue Provider allows us to be a more operative department when we collaborate with other agencies on technical rescue incidents,” said Chief Vindigni. He explained that our area is fortunate to have agencies such as the Henderson County Rescue Squad responding to calls involving swift water, confined space and trench rescues. By expanding HFD’s rescue capabilities, the department will be able to further supplement personnel during technical rescues occurring within the city limits, assist other departments through mutual aid agreements and work jointly to complete rescues when multiple calls happen simultaneously, as in the case when multiple areas within the county and the city flood following large rain events.

In the future, Chief Vindigni hopes to pursue the Heavy Rescue Provider certification which allows the capabilities to respond to more technical rescue incidents. On behalf of the fire department, he also recognized Captain Dustin Nicholson and Fire Engineer Paul Kaplan for their invaluable assistance in achieving this certification.    

 

Photo:  Firefighter Corban Hossley, Fire Engineer Paul Kaplan, Chief Joseph Vindigni and Lieutenant Jon Ward display HFD’s Medium Rescue Provider Certificate

Posted by Allison N 02/11/2019

City of Hendersonville Recognizes MVP of the Year 

2018 MVP WinnersThe City of Hendersonville recognized employees for providing exceptional service during the City Council meeting held on February 7, 2019. First, employees selected for the last quarter of 2018 were recognized followed by the announcement of the 2018 MVP of the Year.

For October through December 2018, the Service Excellence Design Team selected the following people as quarterly MVP winners for showing excellence in carrying out their day to day activities. City Manager John Connet gave background on why each person was chosen and Mayor Barbara Volk presented the individuals with a certificate.

  • Engine 2 responded to a reported gas leak at a residence on Blue Goose Court. An elderly couple stated that when they started their vehicle they noticed an odor of gas. Lieutenant Jon Ward, along with Engineer Paul Kaplan, Firefighter Will Justice and Firefighter Corban Hossley, could have referred the couple to someone else, but decided to fix the gas line so that the couple could drive it to a repair shop. This is a great example of excellent customer service.   
  • Josh Hoard and Allen Cliff of the Public Works Department volunteered to travel to New Bern to assist with Hurricane Florence recovery efforts. They both worked 12-hour days for the week to load debris with the knuckle boom truck. The City appreciates their willingness to assist another municipality in a critical time of need.
  • After learning that an elderly, handicapped member of the Hendersonville Police Department Reassurance Program was snowed in and couldn't get his wheelchair out, Monica Howard and Amber Glisson jumped in to help. They went to man's house and shoveled out his sidewalk and drive. The Reassurance Program is designed to provide health and welfare check-ins for individuals who are elderly, sick or shut in. These ladies went above and beyond to make sure this program member got the assistance he needed.

In 2018, 140 MVP nominations were submitted and every four months, three were chosen as quarterly MVPs. From these, the Service Excellence Design Team selected the following nomination as the 2018 MVP of the Year. The three Public Works employees will share the honor of MVP of the Year as it was a group effort.

  • Ms. Cheryl Jones, a Town Forest subdivision resident, called in to thank Chris Merbitz, Miguel Hernandez and Anthony Schaeffer, of the Public Works Department, for going above and beyond. These three men took the time to dance and entertain her daughter while they were performing their normal duties. Ms. Jones’ daughter enjoys seeing the solid waste truck come by her house and this crew took a moment to brighten this little girl’s day.

The MVPs of the Year receive a certificate signed by the Mayor, recognition at the council meeting, a $500 reward, and their names will be included on a plaque. Between the three of them, Chris, Miguel and Anthony received eleven MVP nominations during 2018.

If members of the public experience excellent customer service provided by a City of Hendersonville employee, they are encouraged to recognize them at: https://www.hendersonvillenc.gov/recognize-an-employee

Photo: Public Works Director Tom Wooten, Environmental Services Equipment Operator Chris Merbitz, Environmental Services Worker Miguel Hernandez (not pictured – Anthony Schaeffer)

View photos of all the award recipients

 

Posted by Allison N 02/08/2019
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