Cary, NC – This week’s focus was mostly on a trip to New York.
Monday – Election Planning
Monday, I met briefly with the town manager for our weekly one-on-one. We talked about a range of topics that included the mall redevelopment, the hotel occupancy and meal tax, and my trip to New York.
Later Monday I held my first official campaign re-election committee meeting. We decided on treasurer issues and how we planned to proceeding.
Tuesday – Billboards
Tuesday I, along with 2 other council members, contacted Senator Nickel about our concern of his sponsor and support of a bill allowing billboards and taking away local rights. This bill, if it becomes law, will allow clear cutting in front of billboards, electronic boards to replace the standard billboards, and other actions that go against wishes of municipalities. I sent an email to him and he responded by saying the bill won’t hurt Cary. Here is my email to him:
Senator Nickel,While we very much appreciate your support in protecting Cary, we cannot be supportive of taking away local rights to the other governing entities in North Carolina. The eroding of local councils’ ability to govern their citizens is a very serious matter to a wide majority of cities and towns in this state. No one knows better what our citizens want than we do.
Tuesday’s evening scheduled Diwali dance practice was cancelled due to bad thunderstorms.
Wednesday – Cary Town Council
Wednesday, I interviewed with a reporter from the News and Observer for his article about Cary Town Council races that will be published in about a week. I spent about 45 minutes going over accomplishments of the last 12 years and plans for the next 4 years.
Thursday and Friday – New York Trip
Thursday I flew to New York.
Friday morning I joined the Director of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources in a tour of Bryant Park near Grand Central Station in New York City. We were met by a representative of the company that is doing our downtown park and a representative of the contractor that will be helping program our park. We talked at length with the horticulturist of that park about the plantings and landscape. We learned a great deal about good and bad practices in park design and operation. One interesting point that needs to be emphasized is that park landscaping is always changing. That is, over time some things will not work well and some things will. I am excited about the landscaping that we will have in our downtown park.
Friday afternoon was spent at Epic Games’ World Cup which was being held in Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows. Epic Games, headquartered in Cary, has the most popular online game in the world called Fortnite. Many of their players, a couple of them just fourteen, make a lot of money playing these games. Their World Cup was their first and had $30 million in prizes. The competition was held in Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows. It stage was three levels and the production was amazing. On Friday we watched the group competition (four players) battle it out in the creative category (a game they haven’t seen before). There were screens for the faces of each player and an overall screen of the competition. Being a first-time viewer of these games, it was very interesting to watch. It should be pointed out that these games have no blood and guts and in the games I watched the “killed” regenerated. This makes the game attractive to families and there were a lot of them in attendance. I look forward to Epic games growth and having more of a presence in Cary.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week included the following:
Staff from Transportation & Facilities, Public Works, Town Manager’s Office and Fire met with the Google Fiber project manager and Local Government Liaison. Staff discussed the issues presented at the last council meeting. Google shared corrective actions that they have implemented and additional actions they are beginning to implement. Staff is monitoring these actions with ongoing communication as well as monthly update meetings with Google to ensure not only that legal requirements are met, but also, and more importantly, ensure that citizen expectations are met.
We encourage residents to contact Google’s construction support line at email@example.com or (877) 454-6959. The support line is staffed with a team trained to handle and construction-related issues. Tickets are generated and Google has daily meetings to review all open tickets. That being said, Cary will continue to support citizens who feel Google is not responding to tickets promptly or adequately.
In an effort to get ahead of the issue, the interdepartmental work team is also scheduling meetings with other utility companies doing work in the right of way to discuss these concerns and provide training. We expect these meeting to occur in the next two to four weeks.
Cary’s 911 Center continues to expand its interoperability with surrounding agencies to ensure we provide the best possible service to our communities. On July 22, Cary and Apex implemented a CAD-to-CAD system to allow our Computer Aided Dispatching (CAD) software to exchange calls for service and call notes. This will decrease response times for responders from each agency allowing responders to quickly arrive and establish scene safety and patient care. Cary receives 911 calls for Apex, transfers police-related calls to Apex and processes all medical and fire calls and dispatches fire calls for Apex. For the Apex calls that require police responses, Cary electronically sends the call details to Apex via CAD-to-CAD; the call can then be dispatched immediately with no need for anyone in Apex to re-enter the call or call notes. They simply dispatch the call which, in turn, sends data to Cary allowing staff in Cary to confirm receipt by Apex. This process is much like the CAD-to-CAD system Cary recently established with the Raleigh Wake 911 Center.
Pop Up in the Park
PRCR celebrated Park & Rec month by hosting a pop up in the Downtown Park in conjunction with Play Time in the Park. Visitors of all ages enjoyed spinning the prize wheel. Little kids and kids at heart embraced the wonderful (and rare) 80-degree July day while enjoying the many activities.
Sewer System Repair
The bypass system to manage wastewater flow during reapirs at Prestonwood Country Club is in place. The system consists of 2,400 feet of 12-inch temporary pipe, 1,200 feet of 8-inch pipe, two 12-inch sound-attenuated pumps and two 8-inch sound-attenuated pumps. After installing the bypass, cleaning and camera inspections commenced. Next steps include installation of temporary dikes and pumps to drain Turkey Creek in the vicinity of the upcoming excavation and pipe replacement work. Excavation and pipe replacement will be followed by installation of cured-in-place pipe liners to reinforce the 30-inch sewer lines being repaired and rehabilitated.
Nancy Jones House
On Tuesday, July 23, the Town formally exercised its option to purchase the Nancy Jones House, and in accordance with the terms of the April 2019 purchase agreement, the Town now has 90 days to execute the real estate transaction. Director of Special Projects Danna Widmar and Assistant Town Attorney Matt Pentz are working with Sri Venkateswara Temple representatives toward a mid-to-late September closing date, bringing us one step closer to preserving this important historic resource.
Using Technology for Inspections
In May 2017, Inspections and Permits began testing various video conferencing applications like Facetime, Skype, and Google Duo as a means to perform North Carolina Building Code re-inspections remotely. This new process allows a contractor or homeowner to video conference with our inspectors. The inspector would provide instructions on what needed to be seen to complete the inspection. Since then, Cary inspectors tested the technology on a number of different types of inspections in different environments. Staff has been working closely with the NC Department of Insurance and a small group of other North Carolina jurisdictions to create a proposal that includes appropriate uses and best practices for statewide adoption of remote inspections. I’m pleased to say that “Live Remote Inspections” were officially approved by the North Carolina Qualifications Board this week and are now allowed across the State for jurisdictions that choose to use the process. Cliff Isaac, Deputy Commissioner of NCDOI, recognized Cary and Brunswick County for piloting Remote Inspections.
Steve Rogers demonstrated the law enforcement capabilities of a drone to the PD Exec staff. Steve is the PD’s representative on the drone project.
Building Relationships with Business and Industry
Utility staff recently met with Biogen, an industrial wastewater customer located in southern Research Triangle Park and provided a presentation on the Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility (WWRWRF) and how Cary serves our industrial wastewater customers. The presentation led to facility tours where Biogen staff visited WWRWRF and discovered why we call it the “Greatest Place on Earth.” In turn, Biogen provided Cary staff a fascinating tour of their manufacturing facility, and we learned more about their company and the bio-pharmaceutical products they produce.
Beginning this month, Biogen and FujiFilm-Diosynth-Biotechnologies are operating under renewed five-year industrial wastewater discharge permits issued by Cary. Customers since the 1990’s, they are Cary’s largest industrial wastewater permit holders. Since the WWRWRF began operating in 2014, it has treated wastewater from Biogen and FujiFilm-Diosynth. Cary’s Pretreatment team worked collaboratively with both facilities to renew their permits. Thanks to great regional planning to ensure long term capacity at WWRWRF, Cary’s wastewater treatment facilities are capable of supporting both current and future industrial wastewater treatment needs.
Meter Exchange Project
The last meter was installed on June 27 to complete the Meter Exchange project. Keeping Cary great means continuous improvement and maintenance of all systems and infrastructure. Like all equipment, water meters don’t last forever. The Meter Exchange Project represented the first step of what will be an ongoing program to ensure that all water meters are functioning properly and changed out on a regular and timely basis.
The goal of this project was to replace over 20,000 meters in a 12-month time frame, a challenge when considering billing schedules, other priority projects and citizen needs and expectations. Staff used the AMI system interface and various reports to monitor the work as it was being completed. This efficiency allowed for staff to direct Public Works staff to specific problems area instead of randomly checking the work of the contractor and allocating additional staff to the project. Lessons learned from both the initial AMI project as well as this Meter Exchange Project will be integrated into a regular replacement schedule.
An internal working group focused on community engagement applied their learning to Cary’s Traffic Calming Program. The traffic calming team has received many citizen inquiries about traffic speed and safety in their neighborhoods. The traffic calming team sought feedback on how to enhance their process from receiving an initial inquiry through project completion or case closure. The group discussed how the Traffic Calming Program embodies each of Dr. John Nalbandian’s public service values and suggested strategies for handling each inquiry in a thoughtful and efficient manner. A subset of the community engagement group will work with the traffic calming group by shadowing the team through a current case. The traffic calming team will incorporate the group’s feedback as they consider updating their processes.
Keeping Employees Safe
To help field workers combat the extreme heat and humidity, Cary’s Safety and C-PHIT programs collaborated with WakeMed to host a Sun Safety event. Staff distributed almost 100 cooling towels to help employees stay cool while working in the field and provided information on staying hydrated, signs of heat-related illnesses, stretches to reduce muscle cramps and much more. Since not all field employees were able to attend, more cooling towels are available at HR and from HR consultants.
Salesforce recognized Cary with the Service Cloud Innovation Award for the work we are doing with Field Service Lightning, Salesforce’s mobile work order solution. Betsie Winokur represented Cary as a member of the Field Service Lightning Customer Advisory Board. Being repreented on the board provides an opportunity to shape the future of Field Service Lightning along with organizations like IBM, AAA, Home Depot, GoJo and National Grid.
Congratulations to the Cary Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department’s Pony All-Star team. The team won the championship in the NC Recreation and Park Association’s 14U State tournament in Tarboro July 18-20 with three wins and no losses. This was Cary’s third straight 14U State Title.
Last Thursday evening, a news story aired about the City of Fayetteville having a trash crisis, as 60% of their solid waste fleet was down, and they were 10 days behind in their trash collections. On Friday, at the suggestion of Walter Stroud, PW Operations Specialist, Public Works put into motion a plan to help our neighbors in their time of need. At 6am on Saturday, seven solid waste equipment operators left Cary and headed down I-95 to Fayetteville. They arrived at 8am and worked all day to help the city get caught up. Kudos to these Cary employee who saw a need and volunteered to fill that need and assist the City of Fayetteville and its citizens.
Advisory Board Meetings
No advisory board meetings are scheduled for the week of July 29-August 2.
Emails From Citizens
Emails from citizens this week included:
- A complaint about excessive noise from Booth Amphitheater (staff was addressing this issue)
- A request for help with Visas (we provided contact information to federal elected officials that can help in this matter)
- A concern about the Wake County Public School System’s MVP curriculum (I asked if they would like me to set up a meeting with school board members and there was no reply)
- Thanks from a citizen in Kildaire Farms on an issue related to their dock
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, signing of 2012 bond documents, retirement of Cultural Arts Director Lyman Collins, a meeting with a police accreditation assessor, Diwali dance practice, the town manager’s presentation on the upcoming bond referendum, speaking at the My Round event, and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro mayors.
Get In Touch
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, August 4th. 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.