Emergency responders: Grady Brooks, Mark Ferris, Bob Triplett and Mike Ball voluntarily plunged into 14 feet of raw sewage filling the basement floor of a dark pump station on April 30. photos by Max Cooper

Code Red: How this team helped stop MSD’s record April 30 sewage spill

Many more millions of gallons of sewage might have flowed into the French Broad River on April 30, but the Metropolitan Sewerage District’s “code red” team — staffers Mark Ferris, Mike Ball, Bob Triplett, Grady Brooks — had not voluntarily plunged into the pool of raw sewage surrounding the pumps to find the missing closure plate and shut off the culprit valve. (Photos by Max Cooper)

MSD receives notice of violation for April 30 French Broad spill

A notice of violation has been issued to the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County by the N.C. Division of Water Quality, pertaining to the April 30 spill of raw sewerage into the French Broad River. The overflow of almost 6 million gallons was the result of a pump accident during a construction operation at the plant, resulting in the shutdown of its main pumps.

Local environmental controls  likely to  be whittled down by regulatory reform bill-attachment0

Local environmental controls likely to be whittled down by regulatory reform bill

Rich Ducker calls Senate Bill 612 “a real Christmas tree of a bill – all sorts of things hung on it.” But the biggest issue, says the public law and government specialist, may be a “sleeper issue to some people.” And that’s language that could prevent local environmental ordinances that are any more stringent than state law—something that would likely do away with Buncombe County’s steep-slope ordinance and other regionally specific rules.

Back to school: Advocates see threats to public education in current legislation

They had to keep rolling out chairs April 23 for what was billed as a “Conversation about Public Education in North Carolina,” held at the Asheville City Schools board room on Mountain Street. A larger-than-anticipated audience of 60 people — educators, elected officials, parents, advocates — came to talk about the status of public education, and to offer some opinions.

Advocates see threats to public education in current legislation

They had to keep rolling out chairs Tuesday night for what was billed as a “Conversation about Public Education in North Carolina,” held at the Asheville City Schools board room on Mountain Street. A larger-than-anticipated audience of 60 people — educators, elected officials, parents, advocates — came to talk about the status of public education, and to offer some opinions. And in a nutshell, the program message was that the status of public education in the state — which has been quantifiably climbing for years — is about to take a drastic plunge. (photos by Max Cooper)

Legislature heads toward crossover with more than 1,700 bills to pick through-attachment0

Legislature heads toward crossover with more than 1,700 bills to pick through

There are only three weeks left before the 2013 session of the N.C. General Assembly hits its crossover deadline of May 16. In general, that means to have a chance at becoming law, bills must have passed a third reading in the house or senate (whichever chamber initiated the bill) and moved to the other chamber by that date. More than 1,700 bills have been introduced since January (1,002 in the House; 725 in the Senate), including the recent arrival of Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed $49,590,935,190 budget for 2013-14. It’s going to be a busy time.

MSD board meeting mixes humor and politics

A seemingly straightforward meeting of the board of the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County took two surprising turns on Wednesday afternoon. One led to a staff report on a private sewer-line failure that took more than two years to resolve. The other led to a vote on withdrawing a December proposal to the city of Asheville regarding the possible merger of water and sewer management — an action that was rejected. UPDATED THURSDAY, APRIL 18.

MSD impact study offers snapshot of moving merger target

In a proposed merger of the Asheville water system and the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County, the already-complicated factors have multiplied. This month, state legislators have proposed a bill that would limit how the city uses a portion of water revenues, and the North Fork Dam needs about $35 million in repairs. These issues […]