When the cat’s away, the mice get things done

Sometimes the good guys do win. Case in point: The Affordable Housing Coalition of Asheville was recently awarded a Nonprofit Steward Award by the NC Center for Nonprofits. According to an AHC news release, the Center created the award to recognize nonprofit organizations demonstrating “exemplary stewardship of the public trust that is expected of all nonprofits, as tax-exempt entities.”

Among the AHC’s accomplishments were: 1) Renewing a $600,000, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, to provide housing and support services for women and children who are homeless due to domestic violence; 2) Having their Homebuyer Education Program selected by the Department of Commerce as one of the four pilot locations for an Individual Development Account program; and 3) Working with the Buncombe County Commissioners to secure passage of the county’s first minimum-housing code.

The Center for Nonprofits also acknowledged that the coalition achieved these results while its longtime executive director, Beth Maczka, was on a three-month maternity leave. Geraldine Melendez, Elisabeth Bocklet and Helen O’Connor accepted the award.

For more information, call Beth Maczka at 259-9216, ext. 11.

Put a leash on it

It’s hard to tie up your best friend, but if you don’t, you may soon be getting a citation. In response to concerns raised by downtown-business owners, Asheville-Buncombe County Animal Services has initiated a campaign to encourage responsible pet ownership among city residents. The Bandanna Dog project will focus attention on leash, licensing and vaccination requirements, waste pickup by dog owners, and preventing dog bites.

“Pet ownership comes with responsibilities, not only to the animal but the entire community where that animal resides,” maintains Community Affairs Director Riva Gordon of Animal Services. “We owe it to each other to help keep Asheville a safe and wonderful place to visit for all — people and pets alike.”

Animal Services will distribute informational brochures and posters about the program throughout the downtown area. And last month, animal-control officers worked in the downtown area, identifying problems, educating owners, and enforcing animal ordinances.

Have a problem with an unleashed or unlicensed pet? Want to know more about the program? Call Animal Services at 253-1195.

BackHome on the radio

A new radio series, “News From BackHome,” is being aired on WNCW-FM, the Spindale-based public-radio station found at 88.7 on your FM dial. Produced by the staff of BackHome magazine, the nationally circulated bimonthly magazine based in Hendersonville, “News From BackHome” provides practical how-to information on leading a sustainable lifestyle, within a neighborhood or rural community. Presented in an upbeat news format, the five-minute spot offers advice and hands-on tips on such topics as home gardening, solar and renewable energy, how to prepare healthful food, mortgage-free building, personal finance, home business, ecological activities and self-reliant living.

The program can be heard Sundays at 10 a.m. on WNCW.

For more information, call Richard Freudenberger, at 696-3838.

Fire fliers

Aah, late Autumn: the smell of woodsmoke, hot cider — and illegal open burnings.

If you’re planning on doing some clearing and burning, but aren’t sure about the regulations, the WNC Regional Air Pollution Control Agency has just released a flier detailing the ins and outs of open-burning rules.

Burning, says the flier, is allowed on days when the weather forecast predicts a wind speed between 5 and 15 mph. (To be certain, though, call 255-5654 — in Buncombe County — seven days a week, and check the daily recording.) The flier also explains what you’re allowed to burn (yes: naturally occurring vegetation and brush; no: garbage, household trash, construction materials, etc.); when you need a permit (you don’t for hand-piled brush, but you do for brush piled by a machine); and when burning is allowed (8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for hand-piled brush, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for machine-piled brush).

Remember: It’s everyone’s air.

For more information, or to request a copy of the flier, call the APCA at 255-5655.

Reclaim your history

Recently, this paper ran a story about efforts to restore the South Asheville Cemetery. The historic burial ground was the final resting place for most of the city’s black residents from the 1840s through the 1940s; long neglected, it nearly returned to the wild. Now, the South Asheville Cemetery Restoration Committee is asking you to help clear the brush and undergrowth from the two-acre site.

The next clearing day will be held Saturday, Nov. 21, with others scheduled for Dec. 5 and Dec. 19. It’s good exercise, the conversations are interesting, and the coffee will be hot.

For more information, call Eula Shaw at 694-3119.

Para su salud

The Buncombe County Health Center recently received a one-year grant from the March of Dimes to support the center’s Maternity Care Coordination program for pregnant Spanish-speaking women, designed to reduce infant mortality and promote healthy outcomes for both mothers and their babies.

A dramatic increase in the number of Spanish-speaking families in our area makes it more important than ever that the Health Center have a Spanish-speaking staff member to coordinate and oversee MCC services for these women, including: prenatal, parenting and safety education; counseling; advocacy; referrals and follow-ups. To date, the program has served 30 clients, and the Health Center plans to serve 50 pregnant, Spanish-speaking patients by June 30, 1999.

For more information, call Social Work Division Supervisor Debbie Duncan at 250-5307.

Cleanliness is next to … healthiness?

In other news, the Health Center recently began distributing new hand-washing signs to restaurants and food-service businesses. During last summer’s hepatitis A scare, more than 1,500 people are believed to have been exposed to the disease, through a local caterer (they were subsequently inoculated with gamma globulin). The new signs emphasize safe hand-washing and food-handling practices, using a pictorial display and an easy-to-read, more-specific message (wash hands for about 15 seconds — about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday”), and target the general public, as well as employees who handle food. The bilingual signs delivers their message in Spanish, too.

“The state-required sign, which had been used for years, must continue to be posted,” explains Environmental Health Specialist Marc Fowler, “but we’re encouraging food establishments to post the new sign beside the other one.” Fowler adds that the new sign has been given to state health officials to consider as a model when the required sign is next reviewed and updated.

The signs will be handed out during regular quarterly inspections, but they’re also available upon request.

For more information, or to receive a copy of the new sign, contact the Environmental Health Division at 255-5691.

— cynically compiled by Paul Schattel

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