Monday morning I spoke with about 40 high school juniors as part of the Youth Leadership Cary. This program began in 1998 and is sponsored by the Cary Chamber of Commerce. Its focus is on developing the potential of future leaders. The students were selected from Athens Drive, Cary, Green Hope, Green Level, Middle Creek, and Panther Creek. In my talk I covered the council-manager form of government, Dillons Rule states compared to Home Rule states, the Cary Council, and current topics. I answered questions until my time expired. It is always a lot of fun for me to speak with students.
Blue Star Memorial
I also spoke with members from the Cary Garden Club Monday morning about installing a Blue Stare memorial plaque in Cary. The Blue Star Program honors all men and women that serve in the United States Armed Services. The Blue Star was adopted because it had become an icon in World War II and was seen on flags and banners in homes for sons and daughters away at war as well as in churches and businesses. While it was an easy decision to agree to have this plaque in Cary, it will take some time to find the right location. They would prefer it be in the downtown area. If all goes well, we might be able to celebrate the installation of a plaque this summer.
a’Verde Cocina and Tequila Library
Monday night my wife and I attended a soft opening of a new restaurant in the Centrum at Crossroads, A’Verde Cocina and Tequila Library, which serves Mexican cuisine. Its claim to fame is the former “Top Chef” competitor Katsuji Tanabe. My experience was a good one. The food was excellent, and the atmosphere had a fun vibe. There were presentations of flaming drinks and entrees. In addition, patrons could order shots of tequila in glasses of made of ice which, after drinking, could be thrown at a bell. It was a unique experience and one worth trying.
Wednesday I participated in a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board. The agenda included 3 consent items and 4 discussion items. Under consent the committee unanimously approved a modification to the FY 22 Unified Planning Work Program and an additional funding request for LAPP (Locally Administered Projects Program). The discussion items were informational presentations except for the US 401 Corridor Study Update which was also passed unanimously. That study revised the scope and schedule to include an additional corridor alternative along with the 2 existing corridor alternatives.
Thursday I met with staff about the DEI task force’s scope of work, and to gather information about the final nine applicants that will be interviewed for the seven slots. This task force will meet the first Tuesday of each month and will be open to the public. The initial assignments for the Task Force include the Reimagining Policing Pledge Engagement Project, community courageous conversation sessions, and Minority and Women Owned Business program and disparity study. In the next two years the Task Force will assist Town Council and staff by:
- Recommending effective strategies for public engagement, removing barriers, and increasing access to Town services for citizens, visitors, and businesses
- Recommending opportunities for community partnerships as a strategy to better understand and address equity impacts throughout Cary
- Facilitating the building of relationships with under-served and underrepresented citizens, visitors, and businesses
- Being a community advocate by welcoming, embracing and respecting all differences so all citizens, visitors, employers, and staff feel valued and supported in Cary.
- Providing updates to Council on work plan progress and planned next steps
- Performing such other duties that the Mayor or Council Liaison may direct
My meeting with staff concluded after about thirty minutes. The next round of interviews will continue next week.
North Carolina Metro Mayors
Friday was a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. The following is a summary of that meeting from the Executive Director:
10am: Federal Update
- Federal Government budget passed both the US House and Senate at the end of last week and was signed by the President on Tuesday, March 15. The federal government has been operating on a Continuing Resolution since the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1, 2021. With the final passage and the President’s signature this week, federal agencies are now funded for the remainder of the year ending on September 30, 2022. Passage of this Appropriations bill is especially important because it provides full funding to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (also known as Infrastructure and Jobs Act – IIJA), which opens the door to state and local government infrastructure funds and grants. The competitive grant cycle for cities to apply for large number of federal grant programs will be in full swing beginning this month! See this Local Competitive Funding.pdf for a list of some of the federal funding opportunities for cities.
General Update –
- Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal to an earlier N.C. State Supreme Court ruling on the NC Congressional map. This means elections under the current maps will proceed with the May 17 primary date. Previously, the NC Supreme Court has ruled the Congressional maps unconstitutional and ordered a 3-member special masters to redraw the Congressional districts. Now, with U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene in the election at this late date, the Congressional district map drawn by the special masters will be utilized for the 2022 elections alongside the Legislatively drawn House and Senate districts.
- The legislature appears to have concluded their work for the legislative long session (we think).
- An adjournment resolution was passed that brings them back two more times before the beginning of the short session (April 4-6 and May 4-6), but leadership has indicated there are no plans for votes to be held at that time.
- The Short session will convene on May 18, the day after the primary elections.
- We anticipate the short session to last six to eight weeks.
- Local bills need to be submitted to bill drafting by 4:00 PM on Monday, May 9 and filed by 4:00 PM on Tuesday, May 31.
- All local bills for the short session must have consensus by each member of the delegation (House and Senate).
- We continue to hear that there will be a bill introduced that would add additional funding to the NCDOT budget by dedicating transportation related sales and use tax receipts (such auto repair and parts) to the transportation budget. Currently, revenue from those transportation related sales taxes go to the General Fund (a General Fund which has run a surplus of well over $4 billion in the last year).
- This is an idea that a number of our mayors first heard about as a possible source of funding for a depleted/delayed NCDOT project list, during an NC Chamber of Commerce Destination 2030 Zoom event on February 18. This “user pay” idea could produce as much as an additional $450 million a year for NC transportation once fully phased in over a four-year period. Mayors should STRONGLY advocate that these possible NEW FUNDS for transportation go the Highway Trust Fund in order to help alleviate SOME of the delays we are currently facing in transportation projects on the STIP.
Economic Development – nothing new to report.
Local Control/Local Revenues– nothing new to report
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week included the following:
Staff is excited to be able to host the Veterans Benefits Live , coordinated by Cary’s American Legion Post 67, event again this year. The three-day event kicked off Thursday at Herbert C. Young Community Center, with approximately 500 Veterans greeted by American Legion volunteers throughout the day. At this unique event, Veterans are able to meet face-to-face with experts from Veteran Affairs and Veteran Services Officers to receive explanation and assistance facilitating claims. This is the only event of its kind on the east coast, with Veterans traveling to Cary from as far away as Michigan, Arizona, and Florida. The event will conclude on Saturday at 2 p.m.
On Wednesday, I was joined by Anna Crollman and Betsy Drake for another All Hands during which we highlighted some of the amazing work happening in and around our utility operations and shared the recently adopted new Cary brand. The event was produced live from the North Cary Water Reclamation Facility – a first! More than 470 employees joined us virtually, and as always for those whose schedules conflicted with the live production, it is recorded and saved for later viewing.
Cary celebrated its 39th consecutive year as a Tree City USA community with an Arbor Day festival at Bond Park, on March 13. Held in conjunction with the My Tree, Our Tree native tree distribution, this event included 20 educational booths from community organizations that engaged with guests about topics such as waste reduction, regenerative agriculture, renewable energy, ecosystem restoration, and urban forest management. Live music, kids activities, and participation from local scouting troops made this a family-friendly event. The North Carolina State Forest Service attended to present Council with two awards from the Arbor Day Foundation for our care and management of Cary’s urban forests.
The My Tree, Our Tree giveaway continues to increase the number of native trees planted across Cary, with six hundred (600) new trees now rooting throughout the community. The trees add economic, aesthetic, and environmental benefits to each home. The tree distribution process would not be possible without the many community volunteers in service to the community and the environment.
Partnership for Safe Water President’s Award
The Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility (CAWTF) is proud to announce that Cary has been recognized with the President’s Award for Water Treatment from The Partnership for Safe Water. The Partnership program is a volunteer initiative developed as a collaboration between the United States EPA and several national water industry professional organizations to recognize water suppliers who strive to produce drinking water with quality that exceeds regulatory requirements. The CAWTF has participated in the Partnership’s treatment program since 1995 and received the program’s Directors Award in 2003, an honor that has been maintained every year since. The President’s Award has requirements that are substantially more stringent than the Directors Award. The CAWTF joins a small and distinguished group of water treatment facilities who have achieved this exceptional level of performance.
Youth Leadership Cary
On March 14, forty high school juniors participating in the Chamber of Commerce’s Youth Leadership Cary program spent the day with Cary staff to learn about local government and potential career options. After hearing from Mayor Weinbrecht and staff from the Town Manager’s Office, Information Technology, Police, 911, Traffic Management, Page-Walker Arts & History Center, and Planning, the students concluded the day by watching the Cary 150 documentary at The Cary, followed by a Q&A session with two-time Emmy Award Winner Hal Goodtree, Jennifer Hocken, William Lewis, and Kris Carmichael.
K9 Nitro Visits Peace Preschool
On March 17, Officers Berl, Fox, and K9 Nitro visited with the children of Peace Preschool. Police officers attended the preschool’s annual “Community Helper Day” and spoke to the classes about what it means to them to be a community helper and how their jobs fit into this role. Many of the children attended class dressed up as firefighters and police officers!
WTVD Camera On Cary Arts Center
On March 15, Downtown Cary made its debut as a live feed was shared by Meteorologist Don Schewenneker during WTVD’s weather forecast. ABC 11 reached out to Cary staff at the end of 2021 to gauge interest on our hosting a live camera. There is no set schedule for when downtown Cary will be shown on the channel. Thank you to staff from Public Works, Marketing and Information Technology, Parks and Recreation for coordinating the camera installation.
Sidewalk Connection Between Fenton and Downtown Cary
Staff led the way today walking the 1.7 mile path from Downtown Cary Park to Fenton, to assess sidewalk connectivity. As seen in the pictures there are sidewalk width and material variations, ADA upgrades needed, and other necessary improvements. Staff will begin meeting and planning soon on how to address the findings.
GLOW: Evolution Field by Matt McConnell
Just announced this week, artist Matt McConnell’s “Evolution Field” will be featured at Burning Man 2022. Evolution Field is a triple layer moiré wall that blends color and light in visual waves reminiscent of galaxy form, and is currently displayed on the old library site. The display the artist will use at Burning Man 2022 will be three times the size of our current installation. Read about the Burning Man 2022 festival and the artwork selection process, here .
Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meetings
Neighborhood meetings will be held virtually on WebEx from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, on April 6. The following cases will be discussed:
- 22-REZ-03 Batchelor Road and Knotty Oaks Dr
- 22-REZ-04 Bel Canto at Green Level West Destination Center
- 22-REZ-07 Green Level Industrial
For more information and to register visit the Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meeting page.
Cultural Arts Committee
Wednesday, March 23
Thursday, March 24
Emails from citizens this week included:
- Several invitations to events
- A complaint about a police matter
- A complaint about grading at a construction site
- Several complaints about a planned April show at the Cary Arts Center (the event was cancelled)
- A complaint about overcrowded schools
- A complaint about a neighbor’s floodlights shining into a bedroom
- An ongoing complaint about a theft at the Hemlock Bluffs parking lot
- Thanks, from Green Level students for speaking at Youth Leadership
- A complaint about a previous blog labeling their “thoughtful and data driven emails” as a complaint (my apologies)
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, an interview with high school students, a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association, DEI interviews, a State of Cary Presentation, and a regularly scheduled council meeting.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Monday, March 28th. 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 email@example.com.