This week was another slow summer week for mayoral activities.
Cary Firefighters awarded
Monday I joined council member Jack Smith in a ceremony to award fifteen Cary Firefighters who received SAVE Awards for their bravery for their actions to rescue several people at the Harlon Drive apartment in March. North Carolina Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshall Mike Causey presented the awards to the firefighters who went beyond the call of duty. The Cary Fire Department also received the Commissioner’s Award on Monday for 100 years of service.
After the ceremony I talked with several firefighters and firefighter recruits. Cary currently has 26 recruits, out of 500 applicants, in a multi-month training program. I am so grateful for and proud of the Cary Fire Department. They are the best of the best and epitomize excellence.
Town Manager One-On-One
Later Monday I met with the town manager. Our topics included The Center in South Hills, the Cary Chamber Planning Conference, future sports opportunities for our venues, and connecting downtown with the Fenton, South Hills, and Crossroads via greenway and linear park.
Tuesday I joined several Cary staff members in our first dance practice for Diwali which will be held later this year. This year there will be teams from Cary, Morrisville, and Apex which include all three mayors. Rumor has it that there might even be a dance set with all three mayors.
Cary Chamber Planning Retreat
Wednesday and Thursday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Frantz, council member Liu, several staff members, and about 100 business leaders at the Chamber Planning Conference in Pinehurst. Topics included The Center, Workforce Development, Workforce Wellness, Legislative Updates, the North Carolina Film Industry, a dinner keynote from the Director of the US Open, and Economic Updates.
I presented a PowerPoint on the Center which is expected to be in the South Hills Mall area. In my presentation I showed concept pictures, drawings, and a video created by the consultants. The consultants hired to design The Center are Populous and Davis Kane. Populous has designed many iconic sports facilities throughout the world and Davis Kane is a local architectural firm.
There are three major aspects to the Center. It will include a community center for the public, multiple courts for tournaments, and a 4,000-seat arena. One of the most exciting aspects of the facility is that it will be designed as a fully modern multi-generational community center. There will be a game room/teen area, and lounge/senior space and a Coffee bar and café. There will also be a lot of meeting rooms, teaching and rental spaces, a catering kitchen, indoor and outdoor group exercise, a spin room (cardio bikes), yoga studio, locker rooms and family bathrooms.
The arena will be designed to be “hyper-flexible” which will allow Cary to host concerts, e-sports, court-related events and championships, gymnastics, ceremonies, and civic events. The facility will include 12 basketball courts which will convert to 20 volleyball courts. There will be multiple locker rooms, a catering kitchen, a full-service restaurant, and lots of storage space. The courts will have large expansive windows and exposed laminate wood for beams. Cary will partner with Great Raleigh Sports Alliance to program the venue. In the first year we expect to hold 40 tournaments with 18 of these being large tournaments of over 200 teams. By year five we expect to hold 67 tournaments. The Center will be designed to complement the Convention Center in Raleigh not to compete with it. My presentation completed in about twenty minutes.
Following my presentation, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction talked about Workforce Development in North Carolina. Some of my takeaways from that presentation included the fact that only 31 percent of graduates from our state’s public schools have jobs or are accepted into college. So, 69 percent graduate not knowing what to do next. This is at a time when there is high demand for skilled workers in the region. The Superintendent touted apprenticeships to the business leaders attending and advocated removing most EOG testing stating that it takes valuable time away from teachers. She pointed out how critical grades one through three are to a child’s education. That is, in grades one through three children are learning to read. After that, they are reading to learn. So if they fall behind in those early grades then learning becomes exponentially harder. It was also pointed out that retention of our teachers is another issue especially in rural areas. IMHO, public schools in North Carolina have a LOT of hurdles to overcome to be a top notch.
The next session on Workforce Wellness included a panel from Duke Raleigh Hospital, UNC Health, and WakeMed. Takeaways from the Q&A session included that most health professionals have experienced burnout from the pandemic. Some considered walking away from the profession and some had serious mental health issues including suicide. BTW, the national suicide hotline is 988. The panel also discussed things to watch for and encourage employers to ask employees about health which resonated with the employers in the audience.
NC Representative and former Mayor Pro-Tem of Cary, Gale Adcock, provided a legislative update. It is always fascinating to me that such a politically charged, divisive group, can accomplish anything at all. We are so blessed to have such a great representative from Cary in Gale Adcock, and I totally support her campaign to become our NC Senator.
One of the big items she mentioned that didn’t make it this year was Medicaid expansion. While it passed the NC Senate, it didn’t make it to a vote in the NC House. We are one of only 11 states where a coverage gap still exists. If Medicaid is expanded in North Carolina, over half a million non-elderly residents would become eligible for coverage. We can only hope it will happen next year.
The North Carolina Film Industry
The Director of the North Carolina Film Industry spoke about filming in North Carolina and the Economic Benefits it provides. He stayed politically neutral in his comments but pointed out how politics play a big role in what filming interest we receive. Currently North Carolina is looked on positively and our filming business is growing. We are getting businesses from other states who have recently made controversial policies. It is my hope that we continue NOT to have controversial policies which will help not only our film industry but all business in the state.
Wednesday night we were fortunate to have the Director of the US Open Championships at the USGA (United States Golf Association) speak to the group from Cary. He spoke about how the Golf House Pinehurst, which will include its equipment-testing facility, a visitor-friendly USGA Experience, and an educational landscape feature, will be completed by the end of 2023. In addition, he announced that the USGA and the World Golf Hall of Fame will be relocated to the Golf House Pinehurst campus from St. Augustine, Florida. It is scheduled to open in 2024. While these attractions will be in Pinehurst, they will benefit the state and the Triangle region.
His remarks also included the fact that the US Open will be in Pinehurst in 2024, 2029, 2035, 2041, and 2047.
On Thursday, Ted Abernathy, a consultant who works with states to develop economic and workforce strategies, provided an update on Cary’s, North Carolina’s, and the nation’s economy. He has provided updates at these conferences for several years.
The update included basic information such as unemployment rates, wages, GDP, political impacts, etc. but also provided insight on what to expect in the coming months and years. All the basic information showed Cary and North Carolina to be in great shape. However, his information on workforce showed that Cary, North Carolina, and the nation are headed for difficult times. He talked about the percentage of workers in the workforce from three age categories: 16-25, 25-60, 60+, and showed that they are about the same as they were ten years ago. The biggest difference is that the nation’s birthrate has declined for many years and there are fewer younger workers. In addition, service workers that were laid off during the pandemic found other work in jobs like Amazon, UPS, FedEx, etc. and have not come back to the service industry. Since the nation’s birthrate continues to drop, we will continue to struggle to find workers. As a result, we can expect more automation in restaurants, stores, etc.
The presentation was packed with information, and I found it extremely valuable. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak it would be a good talk to attend.
The planning conference ended with recognitions and talks by the incoming and outgoing chamber board. We are glad that the Chamber is such a strong partner with the town. They are a big reason Cary is so successful.
Richest City in America
On Saturday I was notified that Cary was ranked as the richest city in America. This was determined by taking into consideration the number of residents living in poverty, income rank, and percentage of the population unemployed. It was said that Cary had nice homes, good salaries, and comfortable living. It measured our median income at $107,463 and our unemployment rate at 3.3%.
Cary’s staff and council are always working to create the best of the best. While I am proud of what we have accomplished to date, I look forward to an even better tomorrow.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week includes the following:
I had a great time at the Chamber’s Annual Planning Conference this week. The event was well organized and included an excellent line-up of speakers, including our very own Mayor Weinbrecht who did an amazing job presenting on The Center. As you would guess, conference attendees were impressed by the video, created by Populous + Davis Kane, which shares the project’s design concept and vision. Other conference highlights included an economic update from Ted Abernathy and the opportunity to begin our incremental, soft rollout of Cary’s new logo and tagline by giving away a few new branded items.
I’ll see you next week at our only Council meeting this month.
Have a great weekend.
Sharing Cary’s Culture
Deputy Town Manager Russ Overton had the opportunity to meet Marty Linsky, co-author of Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading, during his 3-week-long Harvard Kennedy School’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government program. Marty Linsky noted Cary “is the mothership of adaptive leadership application.”
Speaking of Leadership on the Line, this week Chief Financial Officer Karen Mills presented to 200 North Carolina government finance professionals about our work to improve Cary’s accounts payable processes. She focused on the adaptive facets of rethinking our approach to a core business function by first explaining technical vs adaptive challenges as taught by Marty Linsky in Leadership on The Line. With that background, the presentation went on to frame problem solving with the key messages from the book Think Again by Adam Grant. Karen emphasized how important relationships and trust are to effective governance.
Fire Receives Award
On Monday, North Carolina Department of Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey presented SAVE Awards to 15 firefighters who went above and beyond the call of duty to rescue citizens at an apartment fire in March. He also bestowed a Commissioner’s Award on the fire department in honor of its 100-year anniversary. Commissioner Causey, who is also the State Fire Marshal, came to Fire Station 9 to make the presentations.
Town Hall Campus Ash Tree
Leaf & Limb performed a level 2 risk assessment on the Town Hall Ash tree damaged during the storm on June 17. Although the tree has a large wound at the base, the rating for risk over the next two years is low. Leaf & Limb recommends performing weight reduction and structural pruning. Our plan is to move forward with Leaf & Limb’s recommendations, monitor the tree and perform another assessment in two years.
Crabtree Creek Greenway to Reopen
The Crabtree Creek Greenway will reopen to the public on Saturday, July 23. The trail has been closed between Evans Road and the pedestrian bridge crossing Crabtree Lake since January 24, to enable rehabilitation of a 48-inch sewer line that shares space with the greenway. Crews removed the protective construction mats from the greenway trail, repaired any damaged areas and cleaned up the work area in preparation for reopening the trail. Over the coming weeks, citizens may observe contractor’s staff conducting additional restoration and cleanup along the trail, but no further closures are expected along the Crabtree Trail.
Beginning Monday, July 25th, contractors will focus their efforts on rehabilitating 24-inch and 30-inch sewer lines along the Black Creek Greenway between West Dynasty Drive and North Cary Park, which requires closing this section of the Black Creek Greenway. A signed detour will direct greenway traffic around the work area. The greenway closure is expected to be in place for approximately 4 to 6 months. All remaining sections of the Black Creek Greenway and the Crabtree Creek Greenway will remain open during this next phase of sewer rehabilitation.
Stephenson Road Water Main Project Update
The Stephenson Road Water Main project achieved substantial completion this week with successful bacteriological testing. This 3,400-ft extension of water main increases the available service area and will ultimately help bring redundancy to this area of southern Cary. The final water main connection along Ten Ten Road near Mill Pond Village will likely be made with the future Ten Ten Road widening project. The project was completed on time and within the $700,000 project budget.
Election Day is this Tuesday, July 26. For more information about Election Day for the Second Primary and Cary Municipal Runoff and to find your Election Day polling place, visit the Wake County Board of Elections website.
Election Day is following 14 days of Early Voting for registered voters in Wake County. Early Voting began Thursday, July 7 and will end on Saturday, July 23 at 3:00 p.m. Votes cast during the Second Primary and Cary Municipal Runoff will determine the winner of three races in Wake County – the Cary Council At-Large seat, Cary Council District C seat, and the Democratic Sheriff race.
Over 5,000 voters participated in early voting at Herbert C. Young Community Center to vote early for the Second Primary and Town of Cary council runoff. The Herbert C. Young Community Center is one of two early voting locations for this election.
Planning and Zoning Board
Monday, July 25
Cultural Arts Committee
Wednesday, July 27
Thursday, July 28
- A complaint that Cary should “slow growth” due to climate change (Cary does not have the authority to determine when someone can develop their property. As a result, we cannot control the growth rate. We do determine the types of development by seeing if it matches the Cary Community Plan which was created by Cary citizens. BTW, our growth rate has been between 1.5% to 2.5% the last 15 years).
- A complaint about a dilapidated building at Tryon and Walnut.
- A complaint about getting a building permit.
- A request for a sidewalk connection for Birkhaven in Lochmere.
- Several requests to attend events.
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, election events, Diwali dance practice, a retirement party, a regularly scheduled council meeting, and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, July 31st. 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.