Harold’s Blog: May 6, 2013


Story and picture from Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht.

Cary, NC – This week was full of events and speaking engagements. A busy week with speaking engagements is tough for me since the talks require figuring out what to say and in some cases practicing.

Monday – Call from the White House

Monday the town staff received a call from the White House staff asking me to participate in a mayors’ teleconference. While these requests are not unusual, they usually come by email only. So to get a call was different.

Usually these calls are advocating for a federal issue and asking for support from the mayors. This was no different. It announced the nomination of Charlotte Mayor Foxx for the Transportation Secretary and asked mayors to contact Congressional leaders.

Hosting the call included Director of Intergovernmental Affairs – David Agnew, Senior Advisor to the President – Valarie Jarrett, and outgoing Transportation Secretary – LaHood. After their comments mayors from various cities commented and included mayors from Philadelphia, Atlanta, Niagara Falls, Columbus Ohio, Durham, and Carrboro. The call lasted about 20 minutes.

Monday – Tour of West Cary

Monday night I joined council and several staff members for a tour of West Cary. This included driving in Chatham County towards Jordan Lake. We looked at current and future developments, trail sites, future parks sites, future community center sites, and fire station number 8. Our tour lasted about 2 hours. We are thinking of taking a tour of district B next quarter.

Tuesday – Ed Gawf

Tuesday started by meeting briefly via telephone with the town manager. We mostly discussed the announcement about downtown manager Ed Gawf announcing his retirement. It is important to understand that this was no surprise and that Mr. Gawf has been talking about this since last fall.

Tuesday – Advocates for Health in Action

Tuesday night I gave welcoming remarks and handed out awards at an event sponsored by Advocates for Health in Action. The event included a film released by HBO and a follow up panel discussion with experts.

The film, released about a year ago, was in conjunction with the Institute of Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of health, and in partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Kaiser Permanente. There are actually 4 one-hour films in the HBO series “Weight of the Nation”, which can be watched online.

The film shown for discussion was the third film and was called “Children in Crisis”.  It detailed issues about childhood obesity and showed how Nashville, Tennessee, is making some very positive changes as a community to improve their health. This was a very thought provoking film and really emphasized issues and problems related to the United States having over 63% of its population overweight or obese.

Wednesday: Senator Burr

Wednesday morning I visited Lexis Nexis to welcome and hear Senator Burr speak.

Lexis Nexis serves four primary customer segments: Corporate Legal, Large Law, Small Law, and MicroLaw. They help customers to: manage legal matter workflow, track time, billing and legal spend, leverage relationships and knowledge to drive growth, use data to improve decision making and firm performance, and elevate the value of the legal department.

We started with a short meeting that included the Senator and me and several management folks from Lexis Nexis. In their initial comments about the companies work environment they noted that no one usually wears ties. Senator Burr said he had to wear a tie but not socks (he really wasn’t wearing socks). Cool!

In the small group setting we were shown a brief demo of one of the Lexis Nexis products. Then we discussed a variety of issues from the national financial situation to human trafficking. Next we took a tour of the facility. It has changed a lot since I was there a year ago with the governor. It is my understanding that they have put over a million dollars in upgrading the facility.

One of the interesting work environments was a laptop connected to a treadmill set at a 2 mph pace. They lady using it says she works at that treadmill about two hours a day.

After the tour we headed to an area of about 100 employees for a town hall. The Senator gave a short opening and then answered questions for about thirty minutes. He was an impressive speaker and handled the questions very well.

On our way out we signed a visitors’ wall which had hundreds of signatures. The entire visit was a little over an hour.

Wednesday: Oak Grove Elementary

Wednesday night I had the honor of being one of the judges at the Healthy Snack Challenge held at Oak Grove Elementary.

One of their initiatives was to bring a healthy atmosphere to the school and to get students involved in making healthy choices. The students participating in a Healthy Snack Challenge submitted delicious, creative healthy snack recipes. The 6 finalists presented samples of their snacks to the judges and we selected a winner (though all were winners in my mind).

I am grateful that the Oak Grove Health and Wellness Committee held this event and believe it will reinforce positive nutrition to the staff and families at Oak Grove.

Thursday: Le Touquet’s Culinary Students

Thursday started with a brief meeting of the chaperones for Le Touquet’s Culinary Student, here as an exchange with Wake Tech. I have known one of the chaperones for over a decade and my wife and I have hosted numerous students in the past. It was great to catch up before they left town.

Thursday: Imagine Cary

Later Thursday I gave opening remarks at one of the largest crowds in town event history. The Imagine Cary event had 950 sign up but there were probably 700 in attendance. Here is an excerpt from my opening remarks:

…As we embark on this journey of planning Cary’s future I wondered about Cary’s past. Recently I was provided a document from former Cary Mayor Waldo Rood’s son written about 60 years ago in the form that is similar to a state of the town. Waldo Rood was mayor of Cary from 1949 to 1961. In that document he says:

“In 1950 the census showed a population of 1458 and rapid growth has been in progress since that time. There have been many new homes and places of business built in the last few years and the town has experienced its greatest era of progress. There are a number of reasons for this progress. The people of Cary are cultured and friendly and make other people want to live here.”

Mayor Rood finished by saying:

“Of all the things said about Cary the one that describes it the best is that it is a good place to live.”

I wonder if Mayor Rood could have imagined Cary as it is today. I wonder if he could have imagined Cary would be a place where people from all over the world would move to.  And I wonder if Mayor Rood could have imagined Cary would be national recognized as one of the greatest places to live, work, and play in America. …

The rest of the summit involved three sections. Each section had data, trends, and other information provided by the speaker. The attendees were then given a series of questions on a topic. Each attendee had a handheld selector to choose from a range of responses from strongly agree (to the statement or question) to other or none of the above. The summit was scheduled to last about two and a half hours but ran about twenty minutes long.

At the conclusion I stood by the door to greet people and receive feedback. Attendees that spoke to me unanimously said it was an outstanding event. Of course I did receive emails from attendees that believe our entire planning process is a conspiracy to bring in urbanism and change what Cary is today. That is absolutely, 100% ridiculous. I KNOW that this council wants to have a process that will involve the citizens and take their feedback into account as we move forward.

This event was the kickoff of a two year process that will include several events next month. If we all work together on this plan I am sure it will be a guide to a Cary that builds on what we have today and makes us an even greater town in the future.

Saturday – Purple Cloth 5K

Saturday morning started early for me as I made remarks at the start of the Purple Cloth 5K held at Bond Park. This was a fundraiser put on by Genesis Methodist Church to raise money for Dorcas ministries. Many know Dorcas Ministries for a place to drop old clothes and goods for the needy. What you may not know is that Dorcas has an outreach ministry that includes a Crisis ministry, a food pantry, adult education, job training, and childcare. We all need to support Dorcas year round. To find out more go to their website at http://dorcas-cary.org/.

Sunday – Wake County Preservation

Sunday I headed down to Fuquay Varina for the annual Wake County Preservation celebration sponsored by the Capital Area Preservation and the Wake County Historic Preservation Commission. I was joined council member Yerha who gave remarks on behalf of Cary as we received a plaque designating Cary First Christian Church cemetery at 300 West Cornwall Drive as an historic landmark. It is the only historic landmark for African Americans in Cary who played a big part in our history.

News from Staff

In email news from staff the Black Creek Greenway finished another section. It now starts at the Fred G. Bond Metro Park and continues northeast to connect to Wake County’s Lake Crabtree Park and Umstead State Park. The project involved completing about a half mile of paved greenway and a 30-foot pedestrian bridge. Work began in summer 2012 and construction costs included federal grants.


Emails this week included several requests and invitations to events. May is a VERY busy month for that.

Other emails from citizens included a concern that our 911 calls have increased dramatically and wanted to know if that was because of crime. This is an item that has been on the news several times. Apparently people accidentally call 911 instead of the 919 area code which is now required for all phone calls. If you do happen to make that mistake, stay on the line and save our 911 staff from having to track you down and make sure you are OK.

The remainder of my emails was from the conspiracy theorists that our Summit for the Future was a farce.

This Week

This week will be another busy week for me and includes a council meeting, several meetings, and numerous events including National Night Out which is Friday. BTW, please come to National Night Out on Academy Street and talk with us and the heroes from our police and fire departments

Get in Touch

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday May 12th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

3 replies
  1. Gary
    Gary says:

    Perhaps, here’s a way to get people to downtown Cary:


    At the same time, the Town could set up a nearby tent to gather input from citizens about the future of Cary, sort of like a “speed dating” concept in the ambiance of an outdoor gathering!

    Make the trucks pay for portable toilet rentals.

    (Please, no portable toilets adjacent to the fire sculpture.)

    Have local restaurant(s) set up like they do for activities at Chatham & Academy!

    No land will be taken off the tax rolls to accomplish the above!

  2. Ian Henshaw
    Ian Henshaw says:

    Peter and Cindy, I’m not sure where you got the impression that Imagine Cary is for the ongoing Downtown Cary development activities. The type of development that Mr. Leinberger suggested may not be built in Downtown Cary or anywhere in Cary for that matter. That is what Imagine Cary is about, finding a new plan for how Cary should develop over the next 20-30 years (our current plan has run its course and needs to be refreshed). The Town needs your thoughts and ideas of what you want Cary to look like in 20 years as infill development and property redevelopment becomes more the norm in Cary. Contact information is on the Imagine Cary Website http://www.imaginecary.org/

  3. Peter and Cindy Emens
    Peter and Cindy Emens says:

    As Mayor Weinbrecht so aptly described, the Imagine Cary Summit For The Future was an extraordinary event in the history of Cary. The pre-event advertising, the onsite organization and the presentation were perfectly executed in the ambiance of the Embassy Suites. As interested and concerned taxpayers, we signed up early and looked forward to the event with great anticipation.

    Alas, we left feeling disappointed and shortchanged. Like the gentleman quoted in today’s Cary News, (5/12/2013 page 4A), we didn’t get the sense that we were invited for our opinions. One lady told us that she left at the first break because she recognized that it was just a sales pitch and we’ve received phone calls and messages from folks we’ve never met reiterating the same frustration.

    Yes, they, too, realized that the keynote speaker, the town planners and the consultants were in lockstep pitching their single “vision” for a “downtown” Cary. They, too, recognized that a fair-minded approach would have introduced options for consideration. That there were no cost projections for the massive removal of “non conforming” buildings and land acquisition. That there was no discussion of financing or loss of revenue as properties are removed from the tax rolls. That there was no indication that private developers are ready, willing and able to invest their monies in a sweeping re-creation of “downtown” Cary. That there was no time frame given for the completion of redevelopment. That there was no mention of risks, shortcomings or unintended consequences attached to a project of such magnitude. At the very least, speaker Chris Leinberger could have injected some objectivity by discussing how and why his “urban vision” failed in Albuquerque, NM.

    It is understandable that we and others came away disappointed. As we write, buildings are being demolished, land acquired to the tune of $900,000 an acre and elaborate zoning ordinances altering the existing use of property throughout an expansive “downtown” area are already in place. Hence, the call for “citizens’ input” is utterly disingenuous. The “vision” is already in place – a very aggressive and enormously expensive plan that is already being implemented for the pleasure of some, at the expense of all Cary taxpayers.

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