Harold’s Blog – Business, Justice and Go Cart Racing

From the blog of Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, covering the week of October 24, 2010.

Cary, NC – This week was a busy week for not being a council meeting week. It included a Mayor’s Association outing, a few speaking engagements, and entertaining a group from Le Touquet, France.

Monday – The Mayoral 500

Monday was a scheduled meeting of the Mayor’s Association. We planned an outing at Rush Hour Karting in Garner. Before our meeting and dinner mayors and some staff raced for the honor of being champion at the second ever Mayoral 500.

I used my I-40 rush hour skills and was able to eek out a victory over Mayor Weatherly of Apex. My fastest lap time was 35.996 seconds which was followed by Apex’s Mayor Weatherly’s 36.481 seconds, followed by Wendell’s Mayor Broadwell’s 37.144 seconds.

Other mayors that participated were Mayor Byrne from Fuquay Varina, Mayor Sears from Holly Springs, and Mayor Holcombe from Morrisville. Mayors attending but not racing included Mayor Meeker from Raleigh, Mayor Matheny from Zebulon, and Mayor Jones from Wake Forest.

A good time was had by all and then we adjourned to the meeting room for dinner and conversation. The mayors prefer to keep our conversations private so I won’t report on those. I will say that the mayors discuss topics such as schools and the next legislative session.

Tuesday – Remembering the Day My House Burned

Tuesday I attended the Fire Prevention Banquet for local fire fighters held by the West Raleigh Exchange Club. I was honored to award Cary fire fighter Bonnie McDonald and make a few remarks. My remarks focused on my respect for fire fighters and personal experience in 2002 when I lost my home to fire.

In case you didn’t know… while my family was away on vacation, lightening struck my house. As the fire raged the Cary fire fighters performed a room to room search as the ceiling caved in around them. As they were ordered out of the house they grabbed pictures, videos, and even found and saved our guinea pigs.

Although we lost everything we were extremely grateful that the fire fighters understood and saved the things that couldn’t be replaced like pets, pictures and videos. I can’t come close to expressing my admiration and respect for these men and women who put their lives on the line every day. God bless each and every one of them!

Wednesday – Business,  Education & Justice

Wednesday started early with a morning meeting on an economic development opportunity. I spoke with Sandy Jordan of the chamber about a potential company locating in Cary and what we could do to entice them to locate here.

At lunch on Wednesday I gave welcoming remarks at the 2010 NC Association for Career and Technical Education Directors Fall conference. There were about 150 educators in attendance. Here are a few excerpts from my comments:

“…Career and technical education is so important because it’s the vehicle that provides opportunities for lifelong learning. Young people and adults of all ages come seeking not only job-seeking skills but also guidance on how to transition their skill set from one career to another,  and direction on what new skills may be needed to be successful.

Ultimately, successful students lead to good employees, and a highly-skilled workforce is key to attracting top companies to and keeping them in North Carolina …

Moreover, as mayor of Cary, I know that a strong workforce helps bring about citizens who love where they live, who take responsibility for their communities, and who step up in service to the world around them. …”

Wednesday afternoon I talked with school board member Debra Goldman. She gave me an update on the school board progress and her thoughts about moving forward. I am thankful that she continues to reach out to me and our citizens to keep us informed and to hear our concerns.

I believe she is now in a significant leadership position and I offered my help to her and the entire school board to move things forward. One of the worst things for parents is the unknown. While I agree there needs to be a more deliberate pace on school assignment issues, I also believe the school board should create a strategy and time line and make it known as soon as possible.

Wednesday night I met with Judge Keith Gregory who is running to keep his seat. One of the main reasons for meeting with him is because he lives in my neighborhood and I really didn’t know him. In my talk with him about his trials, I was extremely impressed by what he stands for.

From the information I gathered, he is fair and impartial to all. He is a strong believer in being firm with youth crimes so that those individuals don’t become habitual criminals. And he looks for unique ways to try and change the life of a young person who has committed a crime. It was clear after my talk with him that he is who I want in that seat and he has my support.

Thursday – Western Wake Partners

Thursday was a meeting of the Western Wake Partners on the planned regional treatment facility to be built in New Hill. The partners now consist of Cary, Apex, and Morrisville. Mayors and town management from each municipality were present. We received an update from staff and then went into closed session. The entire meeting lasted less than an hour.

Friday – Delegation from La Touquet Signs 3 Year Agreement with Wake Tech

Friday Mayor Pro-Tem Robison, my wife, and I had dinner with a delegation from LeTouquet, France. The delegation was from the culinary school which has an exchange program with Wake Tech. The delegation included the president of the school and several professors and teachers. Each year about 10 students travel here to work in local hotels and restaurants. The purpose of this delegation visit was to sign a three year agreement with Wake Tech extending this student exchange agreement.

Saturday – FAAN Walk

Saturday had the honor and privilege of being a part of the FAAN (Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network) Walk for Food Allergy: Moving Toward a Cure. There was a great crowd and I was joined by television personality Gerald Owens.

A lot of people think that food allergies can be avoided by just avoiding foods. Not true, these allergies are sometimes triggered by just a smell. Others believe that these allergies cause a rash, swelling or maybe nausea. Actually, these allergies are life threatening to some and can be deadly. The folks in attendance of this walk know and live these realities. I was amazed by the stories I heard from some of the youngest of these sufferers. God bless each and every one of them. I plan to be a part of this event well into the future.

This Week’s Mailbag

Emails this week included my response to a columnist on the amphitheater noise level:

Columnist Rick Martinez criticism of the Cary Town Council’s  decision to change the decibel level at Booth Amphitheatre in part because it might make the venue more financially sustainable doesn’t make sense (or cents) to me [October 20 – The Sound of Financial Freedom].  Neither does his comparing a few dozen carefully monitored, curfewed concerts a year with dozens of jets a day and night (along with the hundreds of trucks that would have come with them) 365 days a year.

As a spokesperson for RDU during the late 90’s, Mr. Martinez is well aware that Cary was not alone in expressing our citizens’ concerns over a proposed cargo hub that could significantly increase truck traffic, decrease air quality, and, yes, increase noise.  We stand by our actions then just as we stand by our recent decision to improve the Booth Amphitheater experience.

When Cary decided (at about the same time in history as the cargo hub hubbub) to build and operate a permanent summer home for the NC Symphony, there was no private entity knocking on our door to do it for us.  And I think we all know why:  the profit margin just isn’t there.  It’s also not there for sidewalks, greenways, and trails.  Not there for our playgrounds, open space, or community centers, either.

Even so, these amenities help keep Cary one of the best places to live, work, and do business in America.  And so are our signature facilities like the Amphitheatre, Cary Tennis Park, USA Baseball National Training Complex, and WakeMed Soccer Park.  All are community attributes that do not and likely will not support themselves with fees (thank goodness they contribute millions in economic stimulus to local businesses)  as long as we operate under the philosophy that profit will be one of several components of our business model.  Another component is ensuring that these venues are also open, accessible, and enjoyed by the people who pay for them through their taxes, whether that’s bringing their lunch for a break from work or taking a morning jog around the greenway.

In Cary, quality of life matters, and when it comes to managing the amphitheatre, we’ll continue our efforts to improve sound quality within the amphitheatre for audiences and performers while being mindful of impacts on its neighbors.

On the topic of amphitheater noise… last week I stated:

“… Moving to a level of 95 decibels would be acceptable to most bands. Without this change it would become increasingly difficult to attract performers. A loss of acts could result in a town subsidy of about $1 million a year if we only had the symphony…”

Staff was not comfortable with the statement about $1 million dollars and said that it may not be accurate. The reason I used that number is because the expenditures for 2011 will be over a million. I apologize for any misstatement or error.

Emails this week included complaints about the new sound levels at the amphitheater, litter and garden waste in town, odors from the South Cary treatment facility, trees cut along the railroad tracks on Old Apex Road, public use of the Cary High track, and not supporting the Railhawks enough.

Coming Up This Week

Next week will be a busy week for me. It will start with the ground breaking of the Cary train depot expansion, a speech at the NC League of Municipalities conference in Winston-Salem, a council meeting and Cary Band day.

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, October 31st. Please feel free to email me with a comment.

If you’d like to send me a note, I’d love to hear from you:

  • Personal comments please send to augustanat@mindspring.com.
  • All Town of Cary business – please email me at Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org
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