In brief: Noise studied, teachers trained and wildflowers honored

FLOWER POWER: Division 13 of the N.C. Department of Transportation wowed judges with its supremely cheerful wildflower plantings, winning best overall division honors in the state agency’s annual Wildflower Awards. Photo courtesy of NCDOT

Asheville studies urban noise

By now, Asheville residents know the drill: Before proposing policy changes, the city’s government often surveys locals on their experiences and opinions. This time around, the topic is noise. Through Sunday, June 2, city dwellers can visit Open City Hall Asheville to make their voices heard on how noise affects their lives.

At press time, hundreds of responses had been received, with about half saying that noise occasionally decreased their quality of life. The most annoying noises seemed to be those generated by people, from loud parties and blaring TVs to crying babies and playgrounds, among other sources.

According to a city press release, Asheville has partnered with Boston University’s Community Noise Lab and noise researcher Erica Walker to deploy the Noise Score app, which allows community members to document noise. The Noise Score app creates a “heat map” graphic showing where noise is most prevalent.

The city says its goal is to create a revised noise ordinance “that contains clear, enforceable and effective measures to control noise,” which could go before Asheville City Council later this year.

$400,000 grant will recruit and train early childhood educators

Buncombe Partnership for Children received a $400,000, two-year grant to recruit and train up to 60 new teachers in Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania and Madison counties. The WNC Early Childhood Teacher Workforce Development Program provides potential teachers from underserved communities with education, coaching and substitute teaching assignments while they complete their training.

“Our region currently does not have enough qualified early childhood teachers to meet current or future classroom staffing needs,” said Amy Barry, executive director of the Buncombe Partnership for Children, in a press release. “In Buncombe County, we only have enough classroom spots for 8% of the babies born each year. Because of a lack of teachers and funding, we have 621 fewer child care slots than we did 10 years ago. Our neighbors in Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties have experienced these trends as well. The goal with our program is to address this great need so more children have access to quality early education and working parents have access to affordable, reliable child care.”

The funding comes from the NCWorks Local Innovation Fund, an initiative of the NCWorks Commission.

Local divisions of NCDOT win 2018 Wildflower Awards

Division 13 of the N.C. Department of Transportation has done it again, winning top honors in the statewide Wildflower Awards on April 3.

“For many years, the wildflower program has been one of the department’s most popular initiatives,” said David Harris, NCDOT roadside environmental engineer in a press release. “It not only makes North Carolina even more beautiful, but the flowers also help sustain the pollinator population, which is essential to the success of the state’s agriculture community.”

While Division 13 — which includes Buncombe, Rutherford, McDowell, Burke, Mitchell, Yancey and Madison counties — took first place overall, its neighbor, Division 14, won second place. Division 14 includes Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Polk, Swain and Transylvania counties.




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