This was a slow week for me as mayor since I had three birthdays and an anniversary.
Cary 101 Reception
Wednesday I joined the council for a reception to meet the Cary 101 students. Cary 101 is a “citizen’s college” that provides the community with a behind-the-scenes look at municipal government structure, culture, and decision-making. Through discussion and hands-on activities, students obtain greater awareness of Cary’s planning and operations. It is my hope that these students will become Cary Ambassadors once they graduate.
Council Candidate Meeting
Wednesday evening I briefly met with two candidates for Cary Council. My practice is to endorse incumbents while offering advice and information to anyone who asks.
Sports Alliance Event
Thursday I joined a few dozen people at a Sports Alliance luncheon. Ted Reese, President of TTS, talked about Collegiate and Professional Tennis Tournaments, programming, and facility upgrades around the Cary Tennis Park. The audience was mostly made up of business leaders with a vested interest in tourism dollars.
Global Horizons Event
Thursday night I attended an event for Global Horizons focusing on the Gillings School of Global Public Health. The featured speaker was Dean Nancy Messonnier. I had the joy of talking with her and hearing about her time at the CDC, especially at the beginning of the pandemic. If you remember she was one of the first warning of a pandemic early on in 2021. Trump replaced her but she was proven correct. We also talked about how the CDC’s work before the pandemic allowed for the quick creation of vaccines. What an amazing person and I am glad she is the dean at Gillings. There were several other amazing doctors (PhDs and MDs) at the event and it was a joy to talk to them all.
NC Metro Mayors
The North Carolina Metro Mayors met virtually Friday to hear of legislative actions. Here is a summary of actions from KTS Strategies:
In conjunction with the inaugural Lumbee Day at the North Carolina General Assembly, hosted by the KTS Strategies team, the NC House passed HR499, Support Lumbee Fairness Act. The resolution requests Congress to grant the “benefits, privileges, and immunities that accompany” federal recognition to the Lumbee Tribe. In February, bills identical to House Resolution 499 were introduced by Senators Thom Tillis and Ted Budd in the U.S. Senate and by a group of bi-partisan members of Congress in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Lumbee Tribe has been formally recognized in North Carolina since 1885 and has fought for full Federal recognition for over a century. Legislation passed by Congress in 1956 recognized the Tribe, but denied benefits that every other federally recognized Tribe receives. North Carolina House Representative Jarrod Lowery (R-Robeson), a member of the Tribe, spoke in support of the measure and called on his fellow members to support the resolution.
On Wednesday, House and Senate leaders held a press conference announcing companion bills S406/H823, Choose Your School, Choose Your Future Act. The legislation would expand access to the Opportunity Scholarship Program to all North Carolina families. Grant amounts would be based on household income. It would also eliminate any requirement for recipients to have previously attended public schools. S406 received a favorable report from the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday and was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. The House bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Education Committee next Tuesday. Both bills are co-sponsored by all Republican members of each chamber.
Mental Health Initiative
This week, House members announced a bi-partisan plan to overhaul the State’s mental health system. H855, Strengthening Care for Families and Children, lays out a plan to invest $1 billion of the $1.75 billion bonus the state will receive from the American Rescue Plan for expanding Medicaid. The plan would invest significant dollars to three key areas:
- $225 million to improve access to behavioral health services.
- $200M to building a statewide behavioral health crisis system; and
- $50M for tele-health programs and a centralized bed registry.
The legislature passed Medicaid expansion last month. Implementation is contingent upon passage of the State budget.
Town Manager’s Report
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to attend the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce 2023 Inter-City Visit & Leadership Conference in Denver, Colorado along with Town Manager Sean R. Stegall and Business Services Manager Bryan Hayes. It was nice to reconnect and strengthen relationships with leaders and business owners within Wake County while observing the business market and community of Denver.
I was especially impressed with their Union Station, which is their version of a multi-modal center. The Union Station serves as a great example of a multi-modal hub with train and bus connections surrounded by residential and commercial properties and amenities.
I’m looking forward to seeing several of you at next week’s Cary Chamber of Commerce Inter-City trip to Tampa, Florida. I’m hopeful that we can explore best practices as it relates to the areas that are most important to us.
Thankfully, the weather should be clear tomorrow just in time for Spring Daze Arts and Crafts Festival at Bond Park!
Enjoy your weekend.
Last week, Mayor Pro Tem Don Frantz and Council Member Lori Bush filmed a Cary Matters segment covering Year of the Trail and Bike Month events in May. Be on the lookout for this production which will be released in early May.
On Monday, Council Member Carissa Kohn-Johnson participated in a pinwheel planting ceremony at First Baptist Church in Downtown Cary for Child Abuse Prevention Month. During the ceremony, she read the Mayor’s Proclamation. Other speakers included Cary Police Lieutenant Ashlee Dean, Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina President and CEO Sharon Hirsch, Wake County Health and Human Services Program Manager Jason Mahoney, and Cary Police Detective Rebecca Platz.
Cary Participates in NC State Energy Conference
Staff participated in a unique networking opportunity at the North Carolina State Energy Conference held in Raleigh this week. The event hosted forums that connected participants with technical innovations and highlighted industry opportunities to help move North Carolina’s regional energy economy forward. Assistant Town Manager Danna Widmar served as a panelist on a forum focused on municipal environmental opportunities, fostering an innovation culture, and building energy stakeholder relationships. Chapel Hill-based Spotlight Solar displayed an innovative stand-alone, no grid connection required, solar shelter that was a hit among participants. A key objective of Spotlight Solar is to provide a variety of publicly visible and attractive solar structures that engage citizens and complement stewardship initiatives that are otherwise out of view.
2023 Cary 101 Program Underway
The Cary 101 program kicked off last week for a group of 20 citizens who are excited to learn about Cary’s projects, programs, and services. In addition to hands-on activities, facility tours, and presentations, this year’s participants enjoyed meeting with Cary Council members on Wednesday. This event included a unique view of the Downtown Park from The Walker Apartment’s Sky Lounge. Participants will continue attending sessions over the next several weeks before graduating at the end of May.
Fire Participants in Nuclear Plant Emergency Exercise
Fire staff participated in the annual Harris Nuclear Power Plant Emergency Exercise, which is graded by FEMA. Fire’s role was to set up the Apex municipality Area Command Post and Staging Area at Cary Station 5 and provide logistical support for site access, radiological monitoring, and route alerting simulation. The Area Command Post and Staging Areas were run concurrently with FEMA evaluations conducted at Wake County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Joint Information Center (JIC), and a forward Area Command Post near the Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant. Initial feedback from FEMA evaluators at the Area Command Post was positive. FEMA will issue a final report next month.
Duke University Student Presents Project Findings
Will Hager, a Master of Public Policy student at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, selected Cary as the client for his final thesis. This week, he visited Town Hall to present his findings to Cary staff. His report titled “Governing a Boomburb: Guiding Cary’s Growth into the Future” analyzes trends and challenges among five rapidly growing communities, or “Boomburbs,” including Cary. Robert Lang and Jennifer LeFurgy characterize “Boomburbs” as suburbs with a population of over 100,000 people, a double-digit growth rate for multiple consecutive decades, and not the largest community in the metropolitan area. Will’s full report includes policy recommendations for Cary to consider moving forward.
West Point Leadership Program Graduates
Sergeant Titus Moore and Corporal David Jones recently graduated from the West Point Leadership Program (WPLP). The WPLP is a 102-hour program through Methodist University, with a goal “to inspire police leaders to develop an informed, systematic, and dynamic approach to leading in police organizations.” The program adapts a military leadership course at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. The course examines and integrates leadership in organizations from four perspectives: the individual, the group, the leader, and the organization.
Cary Launches Shape the Crepe Campaign at Earth Day Celebration 2023
No matter the tree species, pruning in the urban/suburban landscape is an important part of maintaining tree and canopy health. Unfortunately, topping Crepe Myrtles has become so commonplace that people and some landscapers have come to believe it’s the right thing to do. To help debunk that myth and support a healthy urban forest, Cary is launching a multi-year Shape the Crepe campaign Saturday at the tree booth along Earth Day Lane at Spring Daze. Over several years, staff will reach out to stakeholders, including the landscape community, to join us in conversation and practice to stop the chop and Shape the Crepe instead.
ACC Tennis Championships at Cary Tennis Park
The Atlantic Coast Conference Tennis Championships were held this past weekend, April 19 – 23, at Cary Tennis Park. The NC State Wolfpack upset the top-ranked University of North Carolina Tarheels in the Women’s Final. This was the Wolfpack Women’s’ first ACC Championship title. In the Men’s Final, the top-seeded Virginia Cavaliers defeated the Duke Blue Devils for their 3rd straight ACC Championship. More than 3,000 spectators were in attendance, with ticket sales almost doubled from the last time ACCs were hosted in 2019. The new collegiate seating was a big hit with spectators and teams! The ACC Tennis Championships will be back at Cary Tennis Park in 2024.
Children’s Day Festival of Cary 2023
Approximately 2,000 people attended Cary’s Children’s Day Festival last Saturday. After years in Bond Park, the festival moved to the Town Hall campus and, ultimately, Kay Yow Court at Herb Young Community Center due to the weather. Council Member Ryan Eades presented the mayor’s proclamation. Other activities included music and dance performances by more than 100 children, craft activities, food trucks, and booths from community organizations. The annual event celebrates the importance of children, sharing with them the cultures and traditions of their neighbors. Children’s Day Festival is led by the American-Turkish Association of North Carolina, sponsored by Cary Sister Cities, and hosted by Cary.
Coffee, Cops, and Conversation
On Tuesday, staff from the police department held another successful community engagement event of Coffee, Cops & Conversations. We are thankful for our community partnership with Esteamed Coffee, located on South Academy Street, and their hospitality in hosting the event. It was a great day of fellowship, and the next event is scheduled for May 9.
Upcoming Closure of West Park Street
Beginning on Monday, the Annual Water Main Replacement project contractor, Carolina Civilworks, will place barricades on W. Park St. between Academy St. and Harrison Ave. in preparation of upcoming construction. At the same time, Northview Partners, working on behalf of First Baptist Church, will place barricades at the existing exit onto W. Park St. for coordinated paving and construction of the southernmost church parking lot to minimize disruption to residents and visitors. W. Park St. will be closed to through traffic, and on-street parking will not be available. The road closure is expected to last approximately 4 months. Additional updates will be provided as we move forward with other phases of the planned water main replacement project.
Parks, Rec & Cultural Resources
Monday May 1
at 5:15 p.m.
Information Services Advisory Board
Monday May 1
at 6:00 p.m.
Human Rel. Inclusion & Diversity
Tuesday May 2
at 6:00 p.m.
Senior Advisory Board
Wednesday May 3
at 2:00 p.m.
Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meeting
Wednesday May 3
at 6:30 p.m.
- A complaint about affordable housing for veterans
- A complaint about the Kanoy Rezoning Proposal 22-REZ-13
- Several complaints about NCDOT proposal for the 401 Bypass
- A complaint about a civil disturbance
- A complaint about Google Fiber damage
- A thank you for my blog (You’re Welcome!)
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, an intercity visit to Tampa, and Fest in the West.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 7th, 2023. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communication with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to email@example.com.