Cary, NC – This week was lighter than expected.
Monday – Teacher Awards Ceremony
Monday my one-on-one meeting with the town manager was cancelled.
Monday evening I joined council members Smith, Frantz, Yerha, and George at the Booth amphitheater for the Honor a Teacher Awards Ceremony put on by the Cary Chamber of Commerce. Each school with Cary students had five nominations with one winner picked that received $1000 and over $800 for school supplies. The money for the school supplies was provided by the North Carolina Legislators. The money for the awards was provided by various business sponsors including the Town of Cary.
The winners for each school were as follows:
Adams Elementary School Jacqueline Scott
Alston Ridge Elementary School Kimberly Crow
Briarcliff Elementary School Carol-Ann Huggins
Carpenter Elementary School Melinda D’Angelone
Cary Elementary School Jessica Randall
Cedar Fork Elementary School Katie Schneider
Davis Drive Elementary School April Fussell
Farmington Woods Elementary School Jocelyn Bulla
Green Hope Elementary School Lori Arbour
Highcroft Drive Elementary School Elizabeth McMillan
Horton’s Creek Elementary School Supriya Vasudevan
Kingswood Elementary School Alicia Winer
Mills Park Elementary School Charlene Hassler
Morrisville Elementary School Taryn Gandy
Northwoods Elementary School Eileen Goddard
Reedy Creek Elementary School Hannah Kraska
Turner Creek Elementary School Lisa Turco
Weatherstone Elementary School Shaun Russell
White Oak Elementary School Lee Anne Smith
Laurel Park Elementary School Alicia Brown
Davis Drive Middle School Elizabeth Crowell
East Cary Middle School Will Jones
Mills Park Middle School Courtney Hoyle
Reedy Creek Middle School Audrey Robinson
West Cary Middle School Allison DuVal
Cary High School Justin Boggus
Cary Academy Brandon Carter
Green Hope High School James Shanda Hutchinson
Middle Creek High School Danielle Beard
Panther Creek High School Johnny Gatlin
SCORE Academy Jocelyn Blair
Coach of the Year Jason Wilkes (Cary High Football Coach)
Congratulations to all the winners and congratulations to all the nominees. Our teachers change lives and are heroes without the recognition they deserve. I am grateful that the Cary Chamber and business leaders take the time to honor our teachers every year.
Wednesday – Capital Area Meeting
Wednesday I chaired a meeting of CAMPO’s (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) Executive Board. The agenda included one public hearing and six regular agenda items. Items of interest to Cary included:
- Approval of FYs 2019 and 2020 Enhanced Mobility of seniors and Individuals with Disabilities (Section 5310) Program Projects. These organizations are mostly in Raleigh and Cary.
- SPOT 6 is delayed for three months. This allows additional projects to be submitted for consideration. SPOT is the program that plans the next 10 years of transportation projects. It is updated and reprioritized every two years.
- Federal Rescission. Money allocated to local municipalities through CAMPO and not spent is susceptible to federal rescission. Fortunately, Cary is in good shape with almost all of its projects.
Our meeting concluded after about an hour and a half.
Friday – State Legislature
Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. Here is a summary from the Executive Director:
Brief OPENING remarks – quiet week – in public. Senate is working to prepare their version of the budget for hearings NEXT WEEK.
Nothing new to report
- As discussed last week, the house budget contained positive sections for metro cities. Everything that we have heard so far from the Senate has been extremely positive as well. Our hope is that the Senate budget mirrors the House budget. We will not know if this is the case for sure until the Senate budget is released, but it will be much easier to keep our items in the official state budget if they are in both.
S416, Recruit/Retain Vol. Firefighters
- Provides free hunting and fishing permits to current and retired volunteer firefighters.
- Also provides them with a 25% tax break on their primary home.
- Original provisions that extended past these incentives have been removed.
- Bill has been referred to State and Local Government Senate Committee
- Actuarial report attached to it that was prepared by the Legislature fiscal analysis division.
H363 Craft Beer Distribution & Modernization Act – important to our local brewers. – Nelson
- This bill is very important to our local brewers, a feature of urban revitalization in many cities and towns
- For years, the battle over this bill has occurred within the general assembly
- The main function of this bill is that it allows for breweries to produce up to 100,000 barrels a year, and distribute up to 50,000 barrels a year.
- This bill received a favorable report in the Senate
Local Revenues/ Local Control
H667 Local Option Sales tax Flexibility – would allow for a ballot referendum to enact the quarter-cent tax for other projects, such as school construction or “any public purpose.” The overall caps on local sales taxes would remain unchanged: 2.75 percent for six urban counties and 2.5 percent for all others – Nelson
- Allows for a ballot referendum to enact the quarter-cent tax for “any public purpose”
- Overall caps on local sales taxes would remain unchanged
- 75% for six urban counties.
- 5% for all others
- This bill passed in the House, but has not made it past Senate Rules Committee.
H645 Revisions to Outdoor Advertising – passed in the House, provides for replacement of or signs within two miles of original billboard. Unresolved concern from some Metro Cities about scenic thoroughfares – MMC lobbying team needs feedback form cities on their use of current “protected scenic corridors”
- Passed in the House, remains in the Senate Rules Committee.
- Bill provides for replacement for signs within two miles of original billboard.
- Concerns remain about scenic thoroughfares.
- Focus is primarily on the budget, so it could be a while before focus is shifted to items like this bill.
S650,Simplifying NC Local Sales Tax Distribution – update – Ches and Nelson
- This bill has remained conspicuously quiet. We have not heard much since it was released.
- The most likely scenario is that a modified version of this bill will end up in the budget.
- The bill faces an uphill battle in the House, but we have remained in communication with Senator Brown to remain engaged in prospects of this bill.
Senate Leadership continues to meet for twelve hours each day behind closed doors, little substantive activity in committees. The primary focus during this time is passing a budget out of the Senate.
Saturday – Skin Cancer Screening
Saturday morning I presented a proclamation to Polka Dot Mama Skin Cancer Screening event. Over 30 doctors gave free skin cancer screenings. The event’s target in addition to health was to beat the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest skin cancer screening. The record to beat was 780. Their goal was to reach 1000. While they didn’t quite reach their goal they did crush the record by performing 963 screenings. To find out more go to http://polkadotmama.org/gbwr. BTW, I also took the opportunity to have a screening.
Saturday night my wife and I attended a ballet performance by Ballet West II with some performers from IBA (International Ballet Academy) of Cary. We were treated to classical ballet as well as interpretive dance. It was an incredible performance with an abundance of talent on display. Thanks to the IBA for continuing to promote the arts and Cary.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week included:
While staff from throughout the organization continue to work closely with the Environmental Advisory Board, other governments, universities and tree advocates from both within and outside of Cary on a variety of tree-related issues, it has unfortunately become necessary to remove the large oak tree on our property in front of the Cary Library. I anticipate this work will be done next week, as the tree is a hazard. As you can see from the picture above, many branches are already dead, and the tree is in declining health and could fall into the street or onto power lines. Needless to say, staff had an independent arborist inspect the tree before coming to this difficult decision, and the arborist confirmed that it is an imminent hazard and recommended immediate removal.
While we can’t save every tree, our commitment is to the forest. Cary continues its status as a Tree City USA and hosts our annual Arbor Day celebration each sprung. The Environmental Advisory Board is also very involved with trees, even creating a Tree Committee. They expect to provide a report to council this summer which will likely include recommendations on tree canopy metrics, tracking, and trends; urban forestry master planning; LDO review; and staffing and training.
Staff has been focusing on our tree canopy by collaborating with NC State’s Center for Geospatial Analytics to determine which tree canopy baseline methodology would be the most technically sound, participating in the regional “Tree Canopy Meetings” convened by Wake County, monitoring Raleigh’s review of municipal tree conservation policies and quantifying the environmental benefits of trees and meeting regularly with local tree advocates Dr. Dick Wilson, Dr. Richard Carol and George McDowell for ideas and feedback.
Adaptive Stormwater Pilot
At the Q1 Work Session, Council directed stormwater staff to develop a pilot to explore the feasibility of Town assistance in the maintenance of private storm drainage systems that affect public infrastructure. Private systems near the intersection of Warren and Pleasants Avenues were chosen for the pilot because modeling suggested that an obstruction in the privately-maintained system could be responsible for repeated flooding in the intersection. Staff obtained permission from three key property owners for a one-time inspection and cleaning of stormwater pipe on their property, and Public Works crews began the first phase of cleaning the private storm drain last week. Roughly 380 feet of storm drain pipe from Pleasants Avenue to Forest Green Drive has been unclogged and cleaned. The downstream outfall (labeled 1 in the figure) and the pipe from 1 to 3 are now clear. The segment between 3 and 4 warrants further investigation. The next phase of this pilot will be to evaluate whether certain repairs may improve the performance of the stormwater system and significantly reducing flooding frequency and intensity.
“What a difference 15 feet of concrete makes!” In February, staff received a request from Mrs. Phyllis Dodd who recently lost her right leg in a car accident. Despite her accident, she is very active and regularly uses her electric wheelchair to go grocery shopping or meet friends for coffee. Unfortunately, there was no accessible route between her Windsor Oaks neighborhood and the Kildaire Farm Road sidewalk network. Staff learned that, in at least one attempt to access the sidewalk, Mrs. Dodd’s wheelchair became stuck in the grass. Staff identified this ADA request as a high impact, low cost project. With available funds from a recently-awarded sidewalk project that came in under budget, staff and our sidewalk contractor, White Oak Construction, met with Mrs. Dodd and Mr. Cefola, the HOA president, to finalize details of the connection, and construction began on May 10. This sidewalk connector and ADA ramp is now open and being used not only by Mrs. Dodd, but also by kids who walk or bike to Penny Road Elementary School and neighbors walking to local shops or the greenways near Regency Lake. Thanks to all of our staff members who worked together to bring this project to fruition. What a great example of The Cary Way: Working together to change lives through exceptional service.
National Infrastructure Week
The key message of National Infrastructure Week, May 13-20, is “American’s future will be shaped by the infrastructure choices we make today.” As we reflect on this message, we realize that continued investment in the construction, maintenance and renewal of our infrastructure will be required to keep Cary great. We are stewards of diverse assets ranging from water, sewer, and streets to treatment facilities, parks and fire stations. This infrastructure supports Cary’s commitment to provide exceptional services that help maintain the high quality of life our citizens have come to enjoy.
Did you know that Cary maintains enough water mains that, if laid end to end, would stretch from here to Dallas, Texas? Here are some other stats that demonstrate just how much infrastructure Cary maintains:
Water – 1,035 Miles
Wastewater – 937 Miles
Stormwater – 277 Miles
Reclaimed Water – 65 Miles
Streets – 490 Miles
Sidewalks – 455 Miles
Greenways – 80 Miles
Water Treatment Facilities – 1
Water Tanks – 9
Wastewater Treatment Facilities – 3
Wastewater Pump Stations – 40
Parks & Natural Areas – 34
Fire Stations – 9
Sports Venues – 4
Special Use & Staffed Facilities – 15
Although not yet complete, the Summer Lakes Drive Culvert Replacement Project is already benefitting the community. Monday’s sudden spring hail and rainstorm brought over an inch of rain to the project area, and the new culvert performed as expected, allowing the water to pass safely under Summer Lakes Drive. This concrete, triple box culvert replaces a rusting metal culvert that had reached the end of its service life and made the area vulnerable to flooding. While construction will not be completed until early June, the work done so far is already making a difference. It represents one of the many ways Council’s commitment to maintain our infrastructure bodes well for our community’s future.
Residents, business owners and property managers attended NCDOT’s open house on May 9 for the I‑40/I-440/US1/US64 Interchange (Crossroads Junction) Project. NCDOT shared three concept plans to re-design Crossroads Junction to improve safety, relieve congestion and address the heavy traffic volumes flowing through the area. All three concept plans may be reviewed by visiting NCDOT’s project website (https://www.ncdot.gov/projects/40-440-us-1-interchange). Residents are invited to provide feedback on the webpage and mark the location of specific concerns on an online map.
US 64 Improvements
NCDOT’s latest plans for proposed corridor upgrades and improvements along US 64 from west of Laura Duncan Road in Apex to US 1 in Cary were unveiled at a well-attended public meeting on May 14. The project is intended to alleviate existing and future congestion and improve mobility along the corridor, improve regional mobility and improve reliability of the roadway network. Many residents from the MacGregor neighborhood attended and voiced concerns about the recommended design for their entrance at Edinburgh Drive. Cary staff will continue to work with NCDOT to achieve the best possible solutions for their community. NCDOT will accept comments through June 14.
Bike Month Activities Continue
On May 10, staff participated in a group ride along the new Crabtree Creek Trail around Lake Crabtree, providing insights, education and project updates throughout the tour. On May 11, staff spent the afternoon at Bond Park helping visitors get their bikes moving at the Boat House bike repair station. The repair station includes 8 different bike repair tools and an air pump to ensure that greenway users can ride safely along the trails. At the intersection of the White Oak Creek and Black Creek Greenways, two of our most popular trails, Bond Park serves as a prime location for this amenity. There are now three bike repair stations on Cary’s greenway system, with a fourth going in soon near Sk8-Cary in Godbold Park. The other stations are located at the New Hope Church Trailhead on the American Tobacco Trail (ATT) and at the Old Reedy Creek Trailhead on the Black Creek Greenway. To learn more about upcoming Bike Month events, participate in rides, and get recommendations for greenways to explore in Cary, visit www.townofcary.org/bikecary.
DWR Studies Reservoirs
The North Carolina Division of Water Resources (DWR) performed three studies in 2018 to characterize the presence and concentrations of select emerging compounds in Jordan Lake and its immediate watershed. Testing was also conducted in the Falls Lake watershed and in various public water supply reservoirs in the Cape Fear, New and Watauga River Basins. Within the Jordan Lake watershed, testing was focused on a wide range of streams and creeks that flow into Jordan Lake. Staff is monitoring the results closely.
It’s important to make the distinction that any detection of emerging compounds resulting from this study are for untreated water, not for water that has been through our water treatment process. Staff regularly conducts extensive water quality testing of our highly treated drinking water that includes regulatory testing, process control sampling as well as comprehensive testing for emerging compounds. Laboratory testing results demonstrate how well Cary’s treatment process is serving our community by providing high quality and safe drinking water.
Taking Care of Employees
Weight loss can improve physical mobility, energy levels, general mood and self-confidence, but maintaining weight loss can be difficult. To help employees combat the struggles of maintaining weight loss through a sustainable, healthy lifestyle, Cary offered the Maintain Don’t Gain Challenge. During this 8-week challenge, 142 employees who had just completed the Choose to Lose Weight Loss Challenge participated and received continued motivation and support. The success was great! Overall, 55% maintained their weight loss and even better, many further improved their BMI, lost additional weight and further decreased their waist circumference. Future programming is being identified to further support our employees.
The 138 employees who work near or with loud and noisy machinery or processes were encouraged to attend our bi-annual, on-site hearing conservation testing on Wednesday. Through this hearing conservation program, we can monitor noise exposure levels, one of the most pervasive occupational health problems, and educate employees about their hearing, the need to protect it and proactive measures that can be taken to ensure their overall safety and well-being.
Detective Matt Cullen with our Emergency Response Team conducted a demonstration of the tactical robot for the Department Directors. Robotic technology in our tactical unit will serve as an invaluable tool in the area of force preservation, as its utilization will negate the need for tactical operators to expose themselves to unnecessary risk. The robot has an extendable articulating arm, can climb stairs and has audio and video capabilities.
Smart Water Network
Cary recently became a member of the Smart Water Network and this week Utility Engineer Sarah Braman participated in an international conference in Miami, speaking about Cary’s digital transformation as part of a workgroup focused on advancing “Digital Twin” technology (actively integrated hydraulic and process models that can be used in daily operations and decisions). The conference included other utility providers, vendors and academics from around the world. Cary plans to continue to participate in the workgroup to stay current on the latest advances and share best practices with peers around the world.
Building Relationships in the Community
Corporal Donna Pell of the Community Services team attended a community event in the Holland Farms subdivision. Corporal Pell discussed home security and safety with a large group of residents and displayed the patrol car for the children.
Bond Park Community Center hosted its 8th Annual Doubles Pickleball Tournament. The 106 players and 75 teams from all over North Carolina, along with 30 volunteers, made the three-day event a big success.
On Friday, 330 Public Works staff celebrated National Public Works Week at the Garmon Operations Center with fun, good food and camaraderie. The services provided by these dedicated men and women – water, sewer, streets, buildings, grounds, park maintenance, solid waste, fleet – are of vital importance to the health, safety and well-being of everyone in our community. Remarkably, when you ask any of these men and women what they do, they do not say any of the tasks above. They say, “I help people.” Yes, you do, day in and day out. Thank you.
Russ Overton presented Council’s Building Safety Month proclamation to staff in Inspections and Permits, Development Services, Planning, Infrastructure and Fire. Thank you to everyone who works together to keep our citizens safe in their homes and other buildings throughout Cary.
Advisory Board Meetings
Mon, 5/20, 6pm
Town Hall Conf Room 11130
Mon, 5/20, 6:30pm
Town Hall Council Chambers
Cary150 Task Force
Tues, 5/21, 6pm
Town Hall Conf Room 10035
Emails From Citizens
Emails this week included:
- Support for and against rezonings.
- A question about a sidewalk at Tryon and Keisler (staff is following up on this)
- A concern about the lack of mowing on a property at Royal Ridge on King George Loop (staff is looking into this)
- A complaint about classes being cancelled at the Cary Senior Center due to an instructor leaving (Staff has responded and will be meeting with the resident)
- A complaint that Cary is murdering trees in construction projects (During a construction project, if there is enough space we always have plans to replace vegetation that has been removed. In addition, council and staff are investigating ways we can add medians with vegetation. Cary has always cared about its trees and hires independent arborists before taking down any large trees. We have a champion tree ordinance to protect trees 30 inches or more in diameter. And we have been designated as a Tree City USA for decades.)
Next week’s activities include staff meetings; a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association, Diwali dance practice, Citizen Police Academy graduation, the last regularly scheduled council meeting of the month, and a wedding.
Get In Touch
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 26th. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photos courtesy of Harold Weinbrecht.