Buncombe Commissioners request Smoky Park Bridge be renamed in honor of Capt. Jeff Bowen

(Pictured here: Buncombe County Library Director Ed Sheary was honored for being named “Director of the Year” by the North Carolina Public Library Directors Association. Photo by Bill Rhodes)

Here’s a list of highlights from the Jan. 3 meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. We’ll have a full report in the Jan. 11 issue of Xpress.

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners:

• Voted unanimously to request that the North Carolina Board of Transportation dedicate the Smoky Park Bridge in Capt. Jeff Bowen’s honor. The move was supported by a number of groups, including the Asheville Fire Department and the Buncombe County Fire Fighters Association. The bridge crosses the French Broad River just west of downtown Asheville, forming a link between I-26, I-240 and Patton Avenue. A 13 year veteran of the Asheville Fire Department, Bowen died on July 28, 2011, while working to put down a fire on the top floor of the Mission Hospitals building on 445 Biltmore Ave., the location of the hospital’s cancer center. It was the first time an Asheville firefighter died in the line of duty since 1982.

• Voted unanimously to approve a rezoning request by Norris Max Clubb to allow for commercial development of a 1.27-acre tract located at 1910 US 70 Highway, just west of its intersection with Warren Wilson Road. County planning staff and the Planning Board recommended approving the request, noting in a report that surrounding land is already being used for commercial development.

• Considered a report on the role of substance abuse and mental health problems among the inmate population at the Buncombe County Detention Center. Almost 70 percent of detainees committed their crime while under the influence of a substance, or to obtain a substance, according to the presentation.

• Considered an “Economic Development Report” from Ben Teague, executive director of the Economic Development Coalition. He said the organization was more organized and working harder than ever before to create jobs in the area. Commissioner K. Ray Bailey, who also chairs the Economic Development Coalition’s Board of Directors, noted: “We’ve got some deals in the works, but we can’t talk about them. … I hope we can make some announcements soon.”

• Honored Buncombe County Library Director Ed Sheary for being named “Director of the Year” by the North Carolina Public Library Directors Association.

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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