In the news

School bus alert

On Wednesday, Aug. 21, Asheville and Buncombe County schools will be back in session. And the Asheville Police Department is asking drivers to help keep local children safe as they return to school. “Please remember that traffic will be congested near city schools and plan your route accordingly,” reads an APD press release.

“Remember to look for kids at bus stops and be aware of when you need to stop for a school bus when it is loading or unloading passengers.” The APD produced a video urging caution emphasized the following reminders about what to do when buses are loading or unloading:

• Traffic in both directions must stop on two-lane roads, two-lane roads with a center turning lane and four-lane roads without a center turn lane or median divider (for example, Merrimon Avenue and Charlotte Street).

• On a four-lane road with a center divider or median separation of a center turn lane, only traffic following the school bus needs to stop (North Carolina General Statute 20-217).

• School zone speed limits will be enforced, and APD officers will be running radar. — by Jake Frankel

North Asheville intersection reopens

The intersection of Cherokee Road and Sunset Drive in Albemarle Park — one of Asheville’s oldest neighborhoods — is once again open to traffic. It was closed for six months while the city rebuilt a retaining wall that used stones from the original wall but also included utility relocations, storm-drainage improvements and repaving.

In 2009 and 2012, analyses of the old wall’s condition resulted in recommendations that it be replaced, according to city officials. The Historic Resources Commission as well as Asheville City Council approved the project in January. Located along the steep slopes of Town Mountain in North Asheville, the area remains vulnerable to landslides. — J.F.

APD opens police-records app

Police to Citizen (P2C)  — a new application on the Asheville Police Department’s webpage — allows direct public access to many police reports, such as specific incidents and crash reports. The app’s “another step forward in the easy flow of information between the police department and the public,” says APD Chief William Anderson.

P2C is one of many tools available through the police department’s website (http://avl.mx/z1). Additional tools include Text-a-Tip, which allows crime tips to be submitted anonymously, and Crime Reports, which displays crime data geographically.

“This project with the police department is a great example of recognizing a community need and addressing it through open data,” says Jonathan Feldman, Asheville’s chief information officer. He notes that the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department also uses the app and that “our consolidated public-safety data partnership with Buncombe County continues to produce good results for citizens and staff alike.” — from the APD

Wild blueberries are ripe along the Blue Ridge Parkway

While it doesn't look like it will be a banner year, due to the unusually rainy weather, wild blueberries are ready to be gobbled up at many popular sites along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

With Craggy Gardens closed to vehicles due to road problems north of town, the Graveyard Fields and the surrounding Black Balsam Knob and Shining Rock Wilderness areas offer some of the most easily accessible berries. To get to the Graveyard Fields overlook and parking area, head south on the parkway to mile 418.8. A few miles further, Black Balsam Road branches off to the right, offering a pair of parking areas, each with various trails available that lead to patches of berry thickets. — J.F.

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