Cameras up, not yet working

The seven “traffic vehicle detection” cameras now in place at three intersections in downtown Asheville are part of a “signal system enhancement” and will be used only to count the cars traveling through those intersections, said city Traffic Engineer James Cheeks in an April 13 interview.

The city has no plans to use the cameras for any sort of law-enforcement purposes (traffic or otherwise), reported Cheeks.

In any case, he said, the cameras are not functioning yet. But once they’re hooked up, sometime in May or June, city traffic engineers will be privy to live-action feeds.

The cameras are installed atop traffic-signal poles at the following intersections: Charlotte/College streets; College Street/Broadway Avenue; and Biltmore/Patton avenues.

By counting cars, the cameras will help traffic engineers adjust the lights at those intersections for optimum traffic flow, Cheeks explained, adding, “We have to count traffic to be able to run the signal system.”

The seven cameras (plus one spare) cost $35,000, which came out of the Traffic Engineering Department’s budget, according to Cheeks.

For more info, call the Traffic Engineering Department at 259-5617.

American Heritage show goes on

President Bill Clinton has named a 12-member advisory committee to help him decide which of the 126 rivers vying for the American Heritage River title will make the cut. The committee will make its recommendations to the president in May or June, according to RiverLink Director Karen Cragnolin. The president should name the 10 chosen rivers soon afterward, she said.

RiverLink has been leading a campaign to win the American Heritage River designation for our own French Broad River. But Rep. Charles Taylor’s refusal to endorse the application virtually destroyed any chances of the French Broad’s being named, said Cragnolin. “His opposition is probably death to the North Carolina portion” of the river, she said. The Tennessee portion remains in the running.

The presidential advisory board includes: Chair Dayton Duncan, a documentary filmmaker and author whose credits include the film Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery and the book Miles from Nowhere: Tales from America’s Contemporary Frontier; William L. Graf, a professor of geography at Arizona State University whose specialties include fluvial geomorphology and policy for public land and water; and Yolanda Rivera, a community activist who has helped get more than 2,500 housing units built in the South Bronx since 1980.

To learn more about the American Heritage Rivers program, call Karen Cragnolin at 252-8474.

Get litter off highways

Now through April 30 is the time to help remove litter from North Carolina highways, during the N.C. Department of Transportation-sponsored “Litter Sweep.”

Adopt-A-Highway groups, local governments, garden clubs, civic groups and anyone else who’s so inclined are invited to contact their county DOT Maintenance Office to get free orange trash bags, recycling bags, safety vests and gloves. Volunteers bag the trash, and the DOT comes by later and picks up the bulging bags.

Last spring, “Litter Sweep” participants collected almost 1.5 million pounds of litter from the roads.

For more info on how to get involved in Buncombe County’s Sweep, call DOT employees Ronald Bradley and Suzy Jenkins at 298-2741. Outside Buncombe, call (800) 331-5864.

Women plumbers

The YWCA will offer a two-part class on plumbing for women as part of its Women’s Home Improvement series. Plumbing for women will be offered on consecutive Wednesdays, April 29 and May 6, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the YWCA. Participants will learn how to unclog drains, fix leaky faucets, fix toilets, change rings, install seat covers, save lost jewelry and other basic plumbing skills.

To register, call Deb Vingle at 254-7206.

— determinedly compiled by Jill Ingram

Couple wants child, needs help

Kenneth and Dawn McKenzie want a child. The couple, both now in their 40s, have tried adoption, but cannot afford the $15,000 to $20,000 that’s involved, said Kenneth.

So now they’re looking into having their own. But Dawn had a tubal ligation 15 years ago, after she’d had two children (who are now in their 20s). The reversal procedure, says Kenneth, costs around $12,000, which they cannot afford. And it’s not covered by their medical insurance.

Now, the McKenzies are looking for a hospital or doctor to donate the reversal procedure.

“We do not want money,” says Kenneth. “We’re just trying to find a way to bring a beautiful child into our family. And we’re still willing to work with an adoption agency, if they could work with us on the finances,” he says.

The couple will consider adopting a child with cognitive or/and physical disabilities, he added.

For more info, or to pass on info, call the McKenzies at 236-1149.

Ramona Africa to speak

Expect a rousing talk — reminiscent of the power of Malcolm X — if you go hear Ramona Africa, a leader in MOVE, the group that gained national attention in the 1980s when it suffered severe abuse at the hands of the Philadelphia police, including a police-started fire that burned an entire city block — and which Africa survived.

MOVE is a “family of strong, serious, deeply committed revolutionaries” who believe in “life and government of self.” The group was formed in Philadelphia in 1970, according to spokesman Chris Irwin.

Africa will speak on MOVE, the environment, peace and racial issues on Saturday, April 25 at 1:30 p.m. in Gladfelter Building’s Cannon Lounge at Warren Wilson College, and at 5 p.m. at the YWCA at 185 South French Broad Ave.

For more info, call Clare Fontana and Chris Irwin at 285-9521, or Bob Brown at 253-4394.

Do your part

Mark your calendar: The MSD Clean Streams Day is scheduled for May 2.

As part of the Adopt-A-Stream program, the sewerage district has agreed to clean up the banks of the French Broad River, from Ledges Park, three miles downstream of the sewage-treatment plant, to the Monticello Bridge.

Volunteers are needed that day to help from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Gloves, safety vests, drinks and doughnuts will be provided. People who sign up with MSD by April 24 will get a free T-shirt commemorating the occasion.

At least one-third of MSD’s 150 employees have promised to pitch in.

— compiled by Jill Ingram and Brenda Fullick

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