Watching the watchmen

Having faith in the folks who police our society is one thing; having empirical data showing that they’re doing a good job is quite another. To that end, a team of assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) will come to town later this month, to take a good hard look at the Asheville Police Department, en route to deciding whether it should be re-accredited. They’re even inviting you to come down and give your opinion.

A public-comment session will be held Monday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers (on the first floor of City Hall). If you can’t make the meeting but would still like to offer your suggestions or criticisms, call 259-5648 on Jan. 31, between 1 and 5 p.m. Both telephone and in-person comments are limited to 10 minutes, and must address the agency’s ability to comply with CALEA’s standards. Written comments are also being accepted, at the address below. A copy of the standards is available at the Asheville Police Department.

The full verification process will include examining the department’s policies, procedures, management, operations and support services, according to a city of Asheville media release. To gain accreditation — a voluntary process designed to recognize professional law-enforcement excellence — the department will have to meet 358 standards. After completing their review, the assessors will report back to the full Commission, which will decide whether to re-accredit the APD. The accreditation lasts for three years, and the agency must submit annual reports attesting continued compliance with CALEA’s standards.

For more information, contact Capt. Michael Berry at 259-5902. Written comments to CALEA should be sent to: Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc., 10306 Eaton Place, Suite 320, Fairfax, VA 22030-2201.

From the bunker to the table

With the Y2K bug fast becoming the crisis-that-never-was, some local organizations are turning their attention to the unused canned and bulk goods stockpiled by many area residents. MANNA Food Bank, for example, is asking people to support its “Y Go 2 Waste” Millennium Food Drives, to help feed some of the 70,000 people in the region who live in poverty.

“We’re all relieved that the stroke of midnight brought not pandemonium, but peaceful celebrations,” said MANNA Executive Director Toby Myers in a recent press release. “As a grateful response to good fortune, we are asking folks to share food reserves with neighbors in need.” The release goes on to say that more than 60 percent of the food Americans end up throwing away was bought for a specific event or purpose that never materialized.

Drop off your unneeded, nonperishable Y2K food at any Ingle’s Market in WNC (through Jan. 29), or at Asheville and Buncombe County fire stations (through Feb. 15). MANNA will distribute the food to charities serving people in need. Donors may also deliver food supplies directly to the MANNA warehouse (627 Swannanoa River Road, in Asheville).

For more information, call MANNA at 299-3663, or (877) 299-3663.

The next big thing

If you’ve ever been to college, you’re more likely to associate dorm rooms with the smell of socks, old pizza, sweat and stale beer than with environmental protection. But Warren Wilson College is out to change that perception. The school recently received a $100,000 grant to help build its EcoDorm, which will showcase “economical and environmentally sustainable building practices,” according to a recent media release.

The grant, from the Cannon Foundation, brings the EcoDorm project “closer to reality,” said Warren Wilson President Doug Orr in the release. “We intend for the EcoDorm to serve as a model for an environmentally friendly student residence hall.”

The two-story, 7,500-square-foot structure, scheduled to open in the fall of 2001, will include such environmentally friendly features as passive-solar design, photovoltaic and/or fuel cell technology, and a natural ventilation system. Besides housing up to 36 students, the EcoDorm will also help educate them; many of the features will be student-designed. The new building will be the final dormitory to open on campus before the college attains its projected maximum enrollment of 800 students in 2003. Construction is set to begin this September.

To learn more about the EcoDorm project, call 298-3325.

Serious business

There’s nothing funny about rape, and there are few things as serious — or as seriously rewarding — as helping rape victims. The Rape Crisis Center’s spring training session for Volunteer Victim Advocates starts Tuesday, Feb. 8. Volunteer advocates offer support and information through a 24-hour crisis line, and accompany rape victims during emergency-room visits, law-enforcement interviews and court hearings.

The training sessions cover the psychological, medical and legal consequences of sexual assault, as well as the community resources available to victims. The special problems presented by date and acquaintance rape, child sexual assault and differing cultural and social values will also be discussed. Volunteers will also be taught how to work directly with victims and their families.

Men and members of minority groups are encouraged to participate in the program.

For more information, call the Rape Crisis Center at 252-0562.

The next generation

Contrary to popular opinion, today’s youth have been documented by many reputable sources as being more driven — and more concerned about society’s ills — than many of today’s adults were when they were young. That teen spirit will certainly be on display later this month when Leap!, an “ethical-leadership training program committed to empowering young people,” assembles motivated local youth to help organize and plan a community event — Come-Unity Asheville Festival 2000 — slated for May 2000. And if you’re a high-school senior looking to get involved with a community project, they’d like to hear from you.

The project, sponsored by the Highlands-based Milestone Learning Center, will mobilize a diverse group of local teens, community citizens, agencies and anyone else who’s committed to eliminating prejudice and promoting an appreciation of diversity. The festival will take aim at such community evils as prejudice and social injustice.

If you feel you have something to contribute, you’re invited to an organizing meeting on Wed. Jan 26, from 4-6 p.m. at the YWCA on South French Broad. You might be surprised what a few like-minded individuals can accomplish.

For more information, call 285-9631, or e-mail

— compliantly compiled by Paul Schattel

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