Property Visit, Audit, Campaign Kickoff, and Ribbon Cutting

Earnest Jones Property

Monday I joined several staff members in a tour of the 217.07 acres Earnest Jones property which was bought by the town in August of 2020 with funds from the 2019 Shaping Cary’s Tomorrow Bond Referendum. Cary plans to eventually use the land for recreational activities and open space preservation. The site consists of woodlands, agricultural fields, and a portion of Indian and Turtle creeks. It also contains the Markham-Ferrell House which is estimated to have been built in the 1790s. It is located along Earnest Jones Road, between Yates Store Road and Mount Pisgah Church Road in Chatham County. The site also abuts a Town-owned site on New Hope Church Road which will allow future access to the American Tobacco Trail. 

We spent an hour walking part of the property, touring the Markham-Ferrell House, seeing a few outbuildings like tobacco barns, seeing old farm equipment, and enjoying the natural beauty. It is my hope that we can make this property accessible to all while at the same time preserving the land and open space. I can see a potential botanical garden and walking trails as part of the future for this site. Staff is currently working on ideas to bring forward for council consideration.


Tuesday I met virtually with an auditor as part of the annual audit of the town. Officially, the auditor is working on behalf of the council and its citizens. The questions mostly focused on my awareness of any questionable activity. Which I had none. In fact, I stated that I was very comfortable with the town’s finances. My interview lasted about ten minutes.

Ya Liu Kickoff

Wednesday evening I joined Congresswoman Ross, NC Senator Wiley Nickel, NC House Representative Gale Adcock, Cary Council member Robinson, Cary Council member Smith, Morrisville Mayor Cawley, and several other dignitaries at the kickoff event for Cary Council member Ya Liu in her race for the NC House of Representatives. I provided remarks endorsing Ya as did several of the dignitaries. The event had approximately 150 in attendance.

Paragon Theaters in the Fenton

Thursday I participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Paragon Theaters in the Fenton. The theater is the second in Cary and the 7th owned by this group. I was joined by council members Smith and Robinson and several other dignitaries. Its claim to fame is that it has the largest movie screen in North Carolina. The screens have Axis 15 technology which means they are titled for optimum viewing. The reclining seats are zero gravity with heating, cooling, and a tray for food (which can be ordered at any time with your phone). The seats are divided with privacy walls so that you can only see the person next to you. The theater complex also includes a full-service restaurant and bar as well as a 16-lane bowling alley. The large screen theater is currently showing the Top Gun Sequel which I plan to see soon. Congratulations to Paragon Theaters on their opening.

NC Legislative Summary

The NC Mayors Association meeting for Friday was cancelled. But here is a summary of legislative activity from the Association’s lobbyists:

Legislative Schedule

The NC General Assembly intends to conclude the majority of their work for the 2022 legislative short session today (July 1). As of the writing of this newsletter, the House and Senate have filed separate adjournment resolutions (HJR1178 and SJR917). The Senate version adjourns the legislature on July 1, 2022 to reconvene July 26, 2022 while the House version adjourns the legislature on July 15, 2022 to reconvene August 12, 2022. Both resolutions call the legislature back once each month for the remainder of the year. Legislation that can be considered during those sessions are limited, however the House version includes a broader range of items that could be addressed. We will update you with the final resolution that is adopted in next week’s newsletter.

Budget Finalized

The budget proposal for the 2022-2023 Fiscal Year was released Tuesday evening. The budget revision plan spends $27.9 billion in FY 2022-23, a 7.2 percent increase. The proposal was released as a conference report meaning there was no opportunity for amendments.  The House and Senate Finance, Appropriations, and Pensions Committees met jointly on Wednesday to hear the details of the bill. On Thursday, the bill passed second reading in both chambers with bipartisan support. The vote was 85-27 in the House and 38-9 in the Senate. The third and final reading will be held today (July 1). 

Upon passage, the proposal will be sent to Governor Cooper for consideration. It is unclear at this point what action the Governor will take. He has ten days to sign, veto, or let the bill become law without his signature. If vetoed, we anticipate the legislature will return to attempt to override the veto.

Below are some of the highlights of the spending plan.

  • Increases teacher pay raise by an average of 4.2 percent (6.7 percent over the biennium).
  • Appropriates an additional $15 million recurring for the School Resource Officer Grant program and an additional $32 million for School Safety Grants to support students in crisis, school safety training, and safety equipment in schools.
  • Redirects 2 percent of sales tax revenue to the Highway Fund for transportation purposes (increasing to 4 percent in 2023 and 6 percent in subsequent years).
  • Allocates an additional $5 million for the GREAT Grants to expand broadband access in underserved areas.
  • Continues enhanced COVID rates for nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
  • Provides $883 million for water and wastewater infrastructure projects.

Noteworthy Bills

  • S101, Require Cooperation with ICE 2.0 – This bill would require that ICE is queried when an individual charged with certain offenses is in custody and that person’s legal residency or citizenship is undetermined. It would also require a judicial official to order that a prisoner subject to a detainer and administrative warrant be held in custody for 48 hours or until ICE resolves the request. – Awaiting Senate concurrence vote
  • S455, Conform Hemp with Federal Law – The bill permanently exempts hemp products from North Carolina’s controlled substance law. The approved language keeps over 1,500 hemp producers in business in North Carolina. – Signed by Governor on Thursday (June 30)
  • H768, 2022 ABC Omnibus Bill – One provision of this bill removes the requirement for bars that don’t serve food to be classified as private clubs and sell memberships to customers. The bill also allows for alcohol to be sold at professional sporting events held on community college campuses. – Awaiting action from Governor
  • H911, Regulatory Reform Act of 2022 – This is the annual omnibus bill that amends laws related to state and local government, agriculture, energy, environment, natural resources, and other various regulations. Some of the provisions include extending the deadline for small municipalities to adopt comprehensive land-use plans, amending licensure requirements for cosmetic arts, and clarifying the scope of licensed water heater installation and repair. – Conference report adopted by the Senate, on House calendar for today (July 1)

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week includes the following:

Sean’s Message

On Wednesday, I held our quarterly All Hands meeting with staff. Items we discussed included the FY 2023 budget and the one-year anniversary of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Then, Assistant Human Resources Directors Laura Turk and Ashley Lategan joined me for a discussion on employee benefits. We ended the day on a bittersweet note as Chief Financial Officer Karen Mills reflected on her 31-year career with the Town of Cary. Karen brings so much care, knowledge, and empathy to this organization, and she will be dearly missed.

I will be traveling with my family for the upcoming holiday week. Have a fun and safe 4th!

Independence Day Celebration

Staff from multiple departments have been busy over the past few months planning and preparing for the upcoming Fourth of July Celebration at Koka Booth Amphitheatre. We have taken great care to plan for and provide a safe, enjoyable, and entertaining experience for our community. For event information click here. For SMS Alerts, text JULY to 51597.

Billy Strings at Koka Booth Amphitheater

Cary hosted performer Billy Strings for three nights at Koka Booth Amphitheatre on June 23, 24, and 25. It’s the first time in the venue’s 21-year history that a single artist has been hosted for multiple nights, selling more than 18,000 tickets. Fans flocked from around the nation, with many visiting the venue for the first time. Accolades were shared on social media by people in attendance.

Reedy Creek Road Project

The work on Reedy Creek Road is now substantially complete. As the project evolved, it addressed the concerns of multimodal transportation and traffic calming by introducing sidewalks, bike lanes, median islands, and roundabouts to what was once a two-lane roadway. Next steps will include the addition of medians and a larger roundabout this fall into the following spring as the appropriate plantings become available.

Security Day

On Monday, fifteen employees attended a Security Day hosted at Raleigh Convention Center. This training was presented by fellow event and venue security staff as part of the Crowd Manager Course through the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM). Topics included building a security culture, risk types, crowd dynamics, crowd types, profiling behaviors, mental preparedness for active shooter/bomb threats, building a hazard library, and de-escalating a non-compliant person. This was a valuable day and the group can apply this knowledge in their roles managing large events and venues in Cary.

PD’s Crisis Negotiation Team Brings Home First Place

On Wednesday, the Police Department’s Crisis Negotiation Team was awarded first place at the Blue Ridge Mountains Crisis Negotiator’s Challenge. Hosted by the North Carolina Justice Academy, the negotiator challenge presents area hostage negotiation teams with a real-world crisis scenario allowing them to demonstrate proficiency in gathering and managing intelligence information, developing a strategy, negotiating with role players, and managing risk. This year’s competition included hostage negotiation teams from the Raleigh Police Department, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office, Lumberton Police Department, and Hendersonville Police Department. The event’s judges were so impressed with Cary’s team that they extended an invitation to compete at a national competition in Florida.

Senior Management Institute for Police Graduation

On June 23, Captain Kat Christian graduated from the 82nd Session of the Senior Management Institute for Police (SMIP) through Boston University’s School of Law. SMIP is a demanding three-week program of the Police Executive Research Forum that provides senior police executives with intensive training in the latest management concepts and practices used in business and government through discussions of the most challenging issues facing law enforcement executives today.

Upcoming Meetings

Hybrid Human Relations, Inclusion, & Diversity Task Force
Tuesday, July 5
6:00 p.m.

Hybrid Senior Advisory Board

Wednesday, July 6
2:00 p.m.

Mayor’s Mailbox

  • A request to sign letters supporting refugees
  • A request to do more to stop gun violence
  • A request to help a family member get to the US (they were denied entry)

Next Week

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, the Fourth of July celebration, an anniversary celebration of one of the first Indian Americans to arrive in this area, private interviews, and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, July 10th. 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 and email personal comments to

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