DEI Meeting, Council Meeting, Sports and Social with PBR opening, Gigi’s Opening, and Earthquake in Turkey and Syria

Interview with Duke Student

Monday afternoon I was interviewed by a Duke student who is in the master’s Program of Public Policy. He is writing a paper on Boomburbs. Boomburbs are defined as incorporated places in the top 50 Metropolitan areas in the United States of more than 100,000 residents, but that are not the core cities in their metropolitan areas and have maintained double-digit rates of population growth (10% or more) over consecutive censuses between 1970 and 2000. While we have grown at a rate of around 2.9% the last 10 years and have more people coming to Cary to work than leaving Cary to work, we do meet the criteria for a Boomburb. His questions included my motivation for being mayor, how experience on the council has changed, the role of local government, and recent initiatives. Our interview lasted about an hour.

Council Meeting Prep

Monday I attempted to contact council members about questions and concerns they may have had with the upcoming agenda. Questions included the potential for affordable housing on an annexation where the town was the applicant, questions about changes in the sign ordinance, and a question about the street improvement process. Later in the day I met with staff to go over the agenda items.

Town Manager One-On-One

My last meeting Monday was my weekly meeting with the town manager. Our topics of discussion included the upcoming council-staff retreat, the future of the 217 acres in western Cary, the future of WakeMed Soccer Park, the Centre, and candidates for this fall’s Cary Town Council.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force Meeting

Tuesday I attended the monthly meeting of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. The task force heard a presentation from Doug McRainey, Director of Special Projects, about the Center which will be where South Hills is today. The task force was very concerned about how the staff was reaching out to the DEI community to get their feedback on crucial issues regarding programming, access, and other issues. Staff agreed to work with the DEI task force on getting more information and to reach out to the DEI task force before future surveys.

The task force spent the rest of the meeting discussing items on the prioritization chart. The group agreed to define the four pillars at their next meeting: Access, Public Safety, Communication, and Council-Staff requests. The meeting concluded after about an hour and forty-five minutes.

TBJ Announcement About USA Soccer Generates News in Media Outlets

Wednesday morning the Triangle Business Journal reported that Cary was a finalist for the headquarters and training center for USA Soccer. This generated media requests from all local outlets. A team from Cary, including myself, traveled to USA Soccer headquarters in Chicago last August to pitch Cary. While the meeting was successful the challenges were many for USA Soccer. My understanding is that we are in competition with Atlanta. I am very excited for the potential USA Soccer brings to this area. I am confident that if they select Cary they will be very happy with their choice. We have a LOT to offer and are one of the most desirable places to live, work, play, and run a business in the nation. We’ll see what happens next.

Sports and Social, PBR Cowboy Bar

Wednesday night I joined several hundred VIPs in the preview event for the Sports and Social bar in Fenton. This bar features a 42 foot screen that can be divided into any number of configurations, ideal for March Madness, or just one giant screen. There are several types bars with various types of drinks throughout the facility. Included are games like shuffle puck, skeeball, hoops, arcade games, and more. The food is high-end for a bar and was delicious. I predict Sports and Social will be a regional draw. It is a great place to have fun, entertain yourself, and make memories.

And if that wasn’t enough the PBR Cowboy Bar is attached to Sports and Social. BTW, PBR stands for Professional Bull Riders and is not a type of beer. According to their website the:

“PBR Cowboy Bar is a powerhouse name in entertainment and one of the fastest growing concepts in the United States. The soul of PBR Cowboy Bar comes alive through great entertainment, the best in country music and its rich traditions.

PBR Cary will be the first location to open in North Carolina and will be opening within Fenton, a mixed-use development in Cary, outside of Raleigh. We are excited to introduce the concept to the market in the Triangle for the first time, and the area’s only professional endorsed mechanical riding bull.”

I think both of these bars will be a huge hit.

Sports and Social, PBR Bar Ribbon Cutting

Thursday I joined several dignitaries and two Wake County Commissioners at the ribbon cutting for the Sports and Social and PBR Cowboy Bar. I along with about five others game remarks. The venues will take entertainment to a new level in Cary and generate several jobs for our economy.

As part of the presentation, I was presented a special belt buckle from the Professional Bull Riders

Council Meeting

Thursday the council held its first council meeting of the month. The agenda included three consent items, three public hearings, and two discussion items. The Millstone Annexation public hearing was continued until the council’s March meeting. The remaining public hearings were the annexation and rezoning of the Kanoy tract. This drew several speakers to oppose the rezoning request including many from Chatham County. The Kanoy rezoning will go to the Planning and Zoning Board for their review and recommendation.

The first discussion item was the Act 28 Land Development Ordinance Amendments for signs. After several comments and questions the council approved this unanimously.

The last discussion item was the fiscal year 2023 street improvements bid award. The majority of thoroughfares in Cary are NCDOT maintained and are usually at a lower standard than Cary streets which the town maintains. Study has shown that paving proactively rather than reactively improves not only the driving experience but saves the town money in the long run. The bid was approved unanimously by council.

Gigi’s Playhouse Grand Opening

Sunday I provided remarks at the opening of Gigi’s Playhouse at the Walker. Their mission is to change the way the world views Down syndrome and to send a global message of acceptance for all. In my remarks I talked about how their values are in line with our values: joy, education, and inclusion; and at the same time, they provide self-esteem, independence, while helping develop abilities and skills. We are so blessed to have Gigi’s Playhouse in our downtown.

Earthquake in Turkey and Syria

This week there was a horrific earthquake in Turkey and Syria. At the time of this writing there were at least 28,000 killed with predictions that the eventual count will double. In addition, thousands are injured and hundreds of thousands are homeless. There are various ways to help if you feel the calling. If you are religious, I would ask that you pray for all those involved including the rescuers.

Town Manager’s Report

Sean’s Message

I’m going to keep it simple this week…have a great weekend.

Cary Nonprofit Capacity Building Kickoff Event

This week Cary held its inaugural Nonprofit Capacity Building Kickoff Event. In partnership with the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits, this program covers topics including board governance, strategic communications, fundraising, partnerships and collaboration, and financial management. Additionally, individuals who complete the program may apply their credit hours earned towards the Duke University Certificate in Nonprofit Management. Assistant Town Manager, Danna Widmar, and Council Members Lori Bush and Carissa Kohn-Johnson welcomed the group of nonprofit participants. Organizations represented in the nonprofit cohort include: Dorcas Ministries, The Carying Place, HOPE North Carolina, Heart of Cary Association, Bridge II Sports, Kiran, Communities in Schools, and White Oak Foundation. is Coming

Beginning next Friday, Information Technology (IT) will begin implementing significant changes to Cary’s email addresses and select websites, changing the domain to the new, brand-friendly . This new domain brings the website in line with other digital properties like Cary’s recently updated main social media handles (@caryncgov), which have been streamlined to bring a unified, instantly recognized brand voice to all Cary communications, internal and external. While this work is expected to take place over several days, IT is expecting minimal impacts to access to town services, emails, and websites. The old emails and website will also forward to the new addresses after the switch to ensure no information is lost in the process. For more information and answers to common questions about this project, visit

Next Generation Marketing

With Kristy Buchanan now at the helm, our Marketing Team participated in a 2-day workshop facilitated by Warren Miller’s Fountainworks. Relationship-building and Marketing’s role within the organization as well as moving toward a national brand identity were among the topics. Feedback and input were provided by staff from public safety, 311, economic development, organizational development, and PRCR, with Sean participating in the event’s wrap-up.

Cary’s Pilot Food Waste Drop-off Adopted as Ongoing Service

Having surpassed its pilot goals, Cary’s food waste drop-off was deemed a success and is here to stay. Established in February 2022, the one-year pilot’s initial goal of collecting a minimum of 16 tons of food scraps resulted in an actual collection of 40 tons, exceeding the goal by 150%. Additionally, the community’s enthusiasm for the service resulted in a steady stream of collection of over 12,000 food scrap drop offs over the course of 12 months. This initiative supports Cary’s long-standing commitment to waste reduction and diversion by offering citizens an option to divert household food waste from landfills and return it to the earth as valuable compost. Good Hope Farm is a recipient of finished compost in the amount of 10% of the total weight of scraps collected and received its first delivery this year.

Dreamfest Food Drive Update

The Cary community helped to combat hunger during the month of January through the MLK Dreamfest Food Drive. Volunteer site coordinators signed up to host 19 individual food drives that collected more than 3,000 pounds of canned foods that helped feed 350 families. Held in partnership with Piedmont Conservation Council and Dorcas Ministries, this dynamic program empowered volunteers to coordinate with their own schools, churches, businesses, and neighborhoods to help build food security in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Bond Park Shuttle

This spring, Bond Park is the site of an exciting demonstration in autonomous vehicle technology. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has partnered with Cary to bring an all-electric, driverless shuttle to Bond Park. CASSI (Connected Autonomous Shuttle Supporting Innovation) will run a four-stop route from the Cary Senior Center to Bond Park Community Center weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until June 2. The pilot begins at 10 a.m. on March 6.

NC Chinese Lantern Festival Generates More Than $7 Million of Economic Impact

The numbers are in, and the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival continues to set new records. This year the event welcomed more than 216,000 visitors and generated more than $7.36 million in direct economic impact according to figures released by the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit Raleigh). The festival drew visitors from all 100 counties in North Carolina, plus visitors from 50 U.S. states and territories and six foreign countries.

The Soccer Tournament

Cary will host “The Soccer Tournament”which is a 7v7 world cup style, winner take all, $1,000,000 prize tournament. TST is a spinoff of the TBT (The Basketball Tournament) which has been running for many years now. TST is in its first year and will be a bit of a festival / soccer event, with multiple games on the first two days as teams play in groups to advance to the single elimination rounds. TST has secured some entries that are making headlines, Clint Dempsey (US soccer legend), a group of former US Women’s National Team players, and Wrexham AFC (known globally right now due to their owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, and the FX Docuseries – Welcome to Wrexham). The entry by Wrexham, along with the media presence of the owners has a lot of people talking about TST and Cary. TST will be rounding out the field of 32 in the coming weeks. TST will be held at WakeMed Soccer Park, June 1-4, with tickets going on sale March 1. 

Smartmicro Sensor for Traffic Management

Traffic Signal System staff is partnering with Control Technologies to evaluate an advanced out of pavement detection technology that features multi-lane and multi-object tracking at the southbound approach of Maynard Road and Cary Towne Boulevard. In addition to simple presence detection, the module can be used to realize dilemma zone protection, signal priority, signal phase extension, and other concepts to improve traffic flow and enhance road safety.
The intersection of Maynard Road and Cary Towne Boulevard was chosen for this treatment since it appears on NCDOT’s Highway Safety Improvement Program. With notable levels of left-turn and rear end crashes, staff will be using this technology to improve signal timing that may reduce certain types of crashes. In addition, supplemental signal heads and back plates will be added to improve conspicuity and advanced signal timing will be employed to provide better protection for left-turn vehicles.

2023 Reclaimed Water Holiday

Next week, Cary will begin its annual maintenance shutdown of the reclaimed water system, often referred to as the “reclaimed water holiday” . The scheduled shutdown provides reclaimed water customers and staff the opportunity to perform important routine maintenance on their systems while irrigation and reclaimed water use is low. Cary’s 944 reclaimed water customers were notified of the shutdown and commercial customers can switch to potable water backup supply during the annual maintenance window. Following completion of the maintenance shutdown, the system will be restarted and back in full operation by February 28. 

Upcoming Meetings

Greenway Committee
Feb. 16 at
6:00 p.m.

Parks, Rec, & Cultural Resources
Feb. 18 at 
1:00 p.m.

Mayor’s Mailbox

  • A request for affordable housing at Dillard and Jones Franklin
  • A request for a speed hump on Waldo Rood Boulevard at the Upchurch Farm community (NCDOT doesn’t allow humps on these types of roads)
  • A request for information about the White Oak Greenway that “used to be a swamp”
  • Several complaints about the proposed Kanoy Property proposal

Next Week

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, remarks to the NC Association of Zoning Officials, an Atlantic Tire Tennis Championships Board meeting, a meeting about commuter rail, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board, the grand opening of Atria, and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, February 19th, 2023. 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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