Harold’s Blog: Drones, Lazy Daze, IKEA and More

Cary, NC – This week was busy which is typical for the last full week of the month.

Monday – Wake County Mayors

I started Monday by attempting to contact council members about their questions or concerns of Thursday’s agenda for the regularly scheduled meeting. I was able to contact all but George and Robinson. There were no major concerns or questions from council members. Later in the day I met with staff to go over the agenda items. Most of our conversation was about how to present financial items in simpler terms for all to understand.

Later Monday I met with the Town Clerk and Assistant Town Manager for a logistics debriefing of our Atlanta trip. In general I thought the trip and its format was a success.

Monday night I met with the Wake County Mayors Association. As usual, we went around the table and talked about various items. This meeting included conversations about Quasi-Judicial meetings, growth and development issues, and a new North Carolina Mayors association which could potentially have over 500 North Carolina mayors participating.

Tuesday – Transportation Drones

Tuesday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha and council members Bush, Robinson, and George for a Raksha Bandhan ceremony. Raksha Bandhan, or Rakhi, is an annual rite of people of South Asian origin, centered around the tying of a thread, talisman, or amulet on the wrist as a form of ritual protection. The protection is offered principally by sisters to brothers, but also by priests to patrons, and sometimes by individuals to real or potential benefactors. So we were honored to receive this “protection” from some of our citizens as they tied Rakhis on our wrists. It is a great gesture and a blending of cultures with a showing of love. Something our country and world need more of.

Tuesday evening the council held a work session on three topics: a debriefing of the Avalon development in Alpharetta trip, a potentially new transportation strategy, a definition of “the Cary way,” and the board and commission appointments.

In the debriefing of the Avalon visit council members all made positive comments. Most of the comments were related to the development team which is virtually the same team that created Avalon. For me seeing proof of what this team can build and hearing their ideas for Cary was the most important. To see some of the information presented in Alpharetta go to https://townofcary.box.com/s/fo1dwuablas4fflrdkxi8juvs72mlp8s.

The second topic at the work session was a transportation strategy that involved drones. Some the ways the drones could be used include:

  • Tower inspections which now cost over $1000 per inspection
  • Law enforcement to video accident scenes to help get roads open quicker
  • Law enforcement to help capture suspects trying to avoid police in wooded areas by using heat sensors
  • Emergency response to help with search and rescue
  • Firefighters to help with thermal imaging from above
  • Firefighters to help with air quality testing in accident areas to determine safety for responders
  • Firefighters to help with a 360 degree assessment of an ongoing fire or fire that may or may not be extinguished
  • Surveying and mapping
  • 3D modeling and virtual reality
  • Construction inspection
  • Video marketing of the town

In addition to the equipment the town would have to have licensed drone operators (pilots). The program would require sensors and software depending on the needs. Data management and storage will need to be obtained. And there must be ongoing training for staff. When asked about cost and return on investment staff believed it would be very quick. Council will likely see this proposal at a future date.

Our next work session topic was the meaning of “the Cary way.” Over 500 people gave opinions on what this meant. Those opinions were then categorized and summarized to produce the following definition of the Cary way: “Working together to change lives through exceptional service.”

Our last work session topic was the appointment of the board and commission members. The process started in July after the application period closed. Council members then individually reviewed the applicants and submitted their recommendations to the town clerk. The town clerk then tallied the recommendations and presented that information to council. The council liaison of each board then interviewed the top vote getters. FYI, the mayor is not a liaison to any board. At this meeting the liaison made their recommendations for appointments. All recommendations were approved without questions. Council will ratify these appointments at the first meeting in September and the board members will begin the first of October.

The work session concluded after a little over two hours.

Wednesday – Volunteer Opportunities

Wednesday I had two meetings with religious representatives that wanted information about how to volunteer in their community. How great is that! Cary has many service opportunities. There are town opportunities like SPRUCE (litter reduction program), CAP (Citizens Assisting Police), CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), and all our boards and commissions. There are also non-profits we fund three ways. We set aside 1 percent of our budget, we provide CDBG (Community Development Block Grants) funds, and we donate proceeds from Lazy Daze. Some of the non-profits that have received funding include Dorcas Ministries, The Carying Place, Interact, Habitat, and dozens more. To find out more about these go to https://townofcary.app.box.com/s/01gvodsh089a7v427qlcnnncp3gwhc0r. If you are thinking about volunteering to help make your community a better place, please do!

Thursday – Town Council Meeting

Thursday I joined council members at a reception to welcome our guests from one of our sister cities Markham, Canada. John Webster is the official town crier for Cary and Markham. He and his wife Mary have traveled to Cary for Lazy Daze many years. The sister cities and town presented him with a framed poster of this year’s Lazy Daze and a humorous survival kit. Before adjourning to the council chambers for our last regularly scheduled meeting of the month, Mrs. Bush and I had our picture made with John and Mary Webster.

On the agenda were twelve consent items, two public hearings, and one discussion item. Most of the people in attendance wanted to speak of the proposed rezoning at the Cary Town Mall site where IKEA had announced they were planning to build. While everyone seemed to want the IKEA a few expressed concerns over potential traffic, noise, and lighting. The proposal will go to the planning and zoning board for their recommendation and will return to the council for a vote in two to three months.

Our only discussion item was a resolution to issue General Obligation Bonds. These bonds were to fulfill the Town’s commitments to implement transportation, parks and fire projects authorized by the voters in November 2012.  Council action was required to approve three resolutions and a bond order to facilitate the bond sale for the community investment bond projects and to authorize refinancing a portion of the Town’s existing bonded debt. The good news was this action saved the town over a million dollars. Needless to say, it was unanimously approved by council. Our meeting concluded after about two hours.

Saturday – Lazy Daze

Saturday I had the honor of reading a proclamation and officially opening Lazy Daze. The ceremony began with John Webster’s cry of an “announcement of great importance.” This was followed by introductions of the Lazy Daze committee, key staff members, Jerry Miller who founded Lazy Daze, and former Mayor Koka Booth. Then I introduced all council members except Bush who was out of town. Finally I read a proclamation and introduced the Cary High and Green Hope High bands who played the national anthem. What a fun ceremony. The weather was unusually nice with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low to mid 80s. There were over 300 vendors from 16 states at this Lazy Daze. We even had a vendor from California. The proceeds from Lazy Daze will be distributed among cultural non-profits later in the year.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week included:

The Cary Way – Defined

The Cary Way definition, a culmination of a months-long, comprehensive and inclusive process involving all employees, was presented to council at Tuesday’s work session:

Working together to change lives through exceptional service

Working together includes words and concepts such as teamwork, collaboration, family-feel, interdepartmental, creative, inclusive, camaraderie. It also includes the concept of working with citizens to accomplish our goals.

Exceptional service is meant to convey the ideas of service, excellence in all we do, community, citizens, polite and friendly, doing whatever it takes, and going above and beyond. We look for opportunities to provide special moments of “wow,” while continuously providing the highest levels of service to our citizens and to each other.

To change lives captures the idea that we are making a real difference, that the lives of our citizens and colleagues are better because of what we do every day.

You can watch Lana Hygh explain this process and how we came to our common definition in this video.

For many years, we have used “the Cary Way,” and while we didn’t have a common definition, individually, we felt like we knew what it meant. The point of the exercise was to develop this definition so it could be articulated and we could ensure we were talking about the same thing. Ultimately, the definition feels authentic – as if it was discovered more than it was developed or created.

We look forward to now using these words intentionally.

GRCVB – Destination Strategic Plan

On Monday, representatives from GRCVB working on the Destination Strategic Plan came to Town Hall and met with an interdepartmental group to review the objectives of the Strategic Plan as well as better understand Cary’s local assets, opportunities and perspective.

And on Thursday, Council member Ken George and staff members from the manager’s office and PRCR attended the GRCVB Annual Meeting. The meeting reiterated the goals of working together to identify destination strengths of the region as well as gaps that could be filled. The overall goal is to increase the number and length of overnight stays in the county.

In a pre-conference session, Denise Foreman, Assistant to the Manager for Wake County, presented information on the Occupancy/F&B tax. The next large stakeholder meeting will be held after the Destination Strategic Plan and the Cary Sport Venue Assessment are complete.

GoTriangle/GoCary Electric Buses

A joint effort by GoCary, GoTriangle, GoRaleigh, and Chapel Hill Transit to secure a federal grant to help buy seven electric buses has received the support of North Carolina’s Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr. The Federal Transit Administration is expected to announce the grant winners in early September.

Annual Wastewater Report

Each year the Town provides citizens and customers an update on the activities and compliance of our water reclamation facilities and wastewater collection system.  The annual report is a regulatory requirement of the Town’s wastewater collection system permit and water reclamation facilities wastewater discharge permits. On August 29th a news release will be issued and the FY 2017 Annual Wastewater Report will be available online.  Printed copies of the report will also be located at the Town Community Centers and the public libraries in Cary and Morrisville.  We are happy to report that the water reclamation facilities performed exceptionally well at consistently treating wastewater to high standards of water quality and there were no regulatory compliance violations during the reporting period.

Hackathon Build Day

The second part of the Hackathon, known as Build Day, occurred on Wednesday. The half day event brought together 10 teams that pitched at the Hackathon to work together in a collaborative manner to construct a scaled down version of the product/solution. The goal was to share and test these prototypes within the teams, in other departments, or on a small group of people outside the team. Next steps will be to share these prototypes with a larger audience and continue working on bringing the ideas to fruition.

2nd Quarter Report to Council

The 2nd Quarter Report, covering Town operations between April-June 2017, has been posted to our website. While the content should be familiar to you, this is the first quarter that we have organized the information based on the chapters in our Imagine Cary Community Plan. This is another example of how we are continuing to think about our work within the context of Council’s visioning document.

Google Pilots Microtrenching

Town staff has been working with Google Fiber to pilot Google’s new microtrenching fiber installation technique. This week Google began piloting this installation technique on Stamford Dr subdivision. This technique has benefits for citizens, Google, and the Town. Microtrenching allows Google Fiber to be installed without disturbing citizens’ lawns by cutting three-quarter inch wide trench in the street where the asphalt meets the curb. The fiber line is installed; backer-rods are installed on top of the fiber for protection, then a sealant on top.

This technique also allows fiber to be installed approximately three times faster than traditional boring; this benefits Google’s construction operation while significantly reducing the impact citizens see on their lawns and neighborhood streets. Additionally, microtrenching does not threaten the Town’s utility system. Microtrenching eliminates utility strikes and the subsequent outages and repairs that have been seen with the traditional boring installation. And since there is no threat to the Town’s utility system, utility locators are able to allocate time to other locate operations.


Hats off to Carrie Roman and Stephen McNulty for providing neighborly assistance to Durham County’s Sheriff’s Office last week during their time of need. As events unfolded, Cary’s PIO stepped in to help with social media communications to the public, which helped free up resources within Durham to better deal with the task at hand. This effort clearly demonstrated The Cary Way!

Reports from Staff

Reports from staff this week included the 2017 2nd quarter report. Here are some interesting points from that report:

  • Population as of July 1st was 160,390
  • MetLife will build a third tower
  • White Oak Greenway between Green Level and the American Tobacco Trail is under bid
  • USA Baseball clubhouse is in design
  • MacDonald Woods restroom replacement is almost ready for bid
  • Mills Park phase two is almost ready for bid
  • Cary Tennis Park expansion is almost complete
  • Black Creek Greenway renovation is almost ready for bid
  • Fire Station 9 is in design
  • Average single family dwelling was 3773 square feet in this quarter compared to 3797 square feet in 2013
  • Cary had just over 13% of Wake County single family permits. Raleigh and Apex had more
  • Morrisville Parkway extension is under design
  • Cary Parkway at High House is under bid
  • Carpenter Fire Station Road is almost ready for bid
  • Green Level West Road widening has begun construction
  • Over the past 10 years there has been a 27% customer growth for water/sewer but a 16% decrease in average customer use.

To look at the entire 2nd quarter report go to http://townofcary.uberflip.com/i/865956-2017q2report.

Emails from Citizens

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Complaints about a CUBE SMART project on Highway 55 (it is in the county’s jurisdiction and not Cary)
  • A question about the candidates debates
  • A request to regularly power wash the sidewalks in downtown
  • A “demand” to remove confederate monuments in Cary (we have none)
  • Support for IKEA going to the mall site
  • A request to deny the White Oak rezoning proposal

Next week will be a light week. It includes a meeting NCDENR, a campaign event for Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha, a meeting with a Columbia Development representative, and a Cary Matters taping.

Get In Touch

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 3rd.  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.

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photos courtesy of Harold Weinbrecht.

4 replies
  1. Jon B
    Jon B says:

    Can I “demand” that we build a Confederate monument just so we can have some controversy?
    On a more practical note, is there any real progress on Google Fiber (Uverse TV has been a complete failure to me)

  2. Sandy M
    Sandy M says:

    Wonderfully thorough communication with Cary’s residents. Much appreciated by this relatively “new comer” to Cary!
    I also want to commend the Mayor and his team for the impressive organization of the Lazy Daze event. From logistics to entertainment, it was terrific. Looking forward to next year’s!

Comments are closed.