Harold’s Blog: Inspired by InterAct and Other Stories

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, covering the week through May 2, 2011. Photo of Magic Tom at Spring Daze by Selena NBH.

Harold’s Blog – Week Ending May 1, 2011

This week was a busy week that seemed to be dominated by food and receptions. It also included a redistricting work session, a council meeting, and a few private meetings. It was a tiring week with a lot of long nights.

Monday – Planning Ahead (and Looking Back)

Monday I called council members to see if they had concerns or questions about Thursday’s council meeting agenda. I was able to contact all council members except Robinson and Portman. I left messages with them. I let each council member know that starting this council meeting we are using a new procedure for quasi-judicial hearings. They will now have a one hour time limit.

Monday evening I met with managers and directors to go over Thursday’s council meeting agenda. We went over the few comments I received from council members including questions about the force main project on Holly Springs Road and the playground at St. Michael’s church. We also talked about the new procedure for quasi-judicial hearings. In this new procedure I am given a lot of responsibility or “discretion of the mayor”. I hope the hearing goes well and everyone has a chance to make their points. I anticipate a three hour meeting or less.

The rest of Monday evening was spent with my lovely bride as we celebrated our 24 wedding anniversary. I am so very fortunate to have a smart, loving, caring wife.

Tuesday – Inspired by InterAct

Tuesday started with a breakfast for InterAct. InterAct is a private, non-profit, United Way agency that provides safety, support, and awareness to victims and survivors of domestic violence and rape/sexual assault. To find out more about InterAct of Wake County go to http://www.interactofwake.org/.

There were at least a couple hundred in attendance to hear the keynote speaker Victor Revas Rivers who is an actor, author, athlete, and most importantly activist to end domestic violence. His story about his life, the life of his siblings and mother was incredible. It was truly an amazing story about growing up with extreme abuse. I can’t wait to get a copy of his book “A Private Family Matter” to read more. If you feel so inspired I would encourage you to give to InterAct. It is a great organization that meets a great need.

Tuesday – Apply for Boards and Commissions

Tuesday evening I taped the May episode of Cary Matters with council member Portman. Our main topic focused on our nine boards and commissions. BTW, the application period for boards and commissions starts May 1st and goes through June. PLEASE consider applying and serving your community.

Later Tuesday I had a private dinner meeting which will become more of the norm as we approach the filing date.

Wednesday – Elected Officials Reception

Wednesday evening the Chamber held an elected officials reception. After Chairman Paul Ashworth gave the opening I made comments to the gathering of hundred or so Chamber members and elected officials. Here are the comments I made:

On behalf of the Cary Town Council and staff, it is my pleasure to join the Chamber in welcoming local, state and federal representatives to the Elected Officials Reception. Each year, this event recognizes officials that have been chosen by the people and connects them with the people they serve in the local business community. As an elected official, I know that the call to serve isn’t easy, but it’s very rewarding to provide leadership that builds up the place we call “home”.

At this time I would like to introduce my colleagues on the council…

I am also honored to welcome members of the Chamber for this opportunity to interact with elected officials. At the Town of Cary, we work closely with the Chamber to develop new initiatives that promote sustainable, desirable growth. As business leaders, you have unique insight into issues facing the community, and we always look forward to speaking with you about topics that matter the most.

And we believe that our hard work and partnership with the Chamber is paying off. Cary continues to be recognized for its high quality of life. This past year we were named a great place for new jobs, for maintaining jobs, and for working moms. We were noted for our intelligent population and recognized as a healthy community for active aging. We were also named one of the best small cities in the country.

Even during the recession we’ve continued to maintain a remarkably hot business climate, being one of the few areas in the country where businesses continue to want to locate, relocate, and expand. Our three major sports venues – the Cary Tennis Park, the USA Baseball National Training Complex, and WakeMed Soccer Park – continue to have a huge economic impact in Cary and surrounding areas. We’ve hosted several national and international events including ACC tournaments NCAA championships. Combined our major sports venues were estimated to have generated well over $5.8 million in economic benefit in 2010.

One of our largest and most visible current capital projects is also tied to fun: the renovation of the old Cary Elementary building into the new Cary Arts Center, which will open this summer. But the opening of the Community Arts Center is only one piece of the good news for our downtown. We’ve hired a professional manager, Ed Gawf, to help spearhead our downtown redevelopment and he will develop and lead the implementation of short-term action plans that promote community awareness and momentum for continued reinvestment.

So there is a lot going on in Cary. Again, welcome, and we look forward to continuing to work with you to provide excellent service to the people of Cary.

After I spoke I was able to speak with many in attendance including Congressman Miller, and several state, county, and local officials. This event is very important to allow local business leaders and elected officials to interact.

Later Wednesday I had another private meeting which kept me out way past my bedtime.

Thursday – Voting Districts and Town Council

Thursday started with a work session to redraw the town’s four voting districts. The council agreed to select option O with a minor adjustment that impacts 5 homes in District B. In option O District A lost several precincts to District D since District A had twice as many residents as any other District. Downtown will now be represented by District B with the exception of precinct 4-15. Council will hold public hearings on this proposal and if approved will be in place for this year’s elections. It should be noticed that we are required to redraw districts to make them more balanced.

The council meeting’s most dominating issues included a proposal to rezone an area next to the Weycroft community. In addition, the council heard from staff that St. Michaels will be allowed to build their playground without further action.

Thursday – Town Manager’s Report

The Town Council meeting also included a report from the town manager, Ben Shivar. Here is his report:

Western Wake Regional Wastewater Management Facilities

  • Received the Authorization to Construct from NCDENR.
  • Already out for bid.
  • Expecting to receive bids in June and begin construction by September.

Spruce Program

  • Won Spotlight Award from Carolina Recycling Association that recognizes success of community recycling events (America Recycles Day, HHW/e-waste collection, compost giveaways) in engaging the community.
  • During January-March of 2011, 376 Spruce volunteers spent 773 volunteer hours on litter/waste reduction and beautification projects. In all of 2010, there were a total of 652 volunteers so we on track to surpass that total yearly number. There were 17 Spruce events or workdays during the first quarter, up significantly from 3 in the first quarter of 2010. Events included 9 group litter sweeps, mulching workdays, tree and flower plantings at Koka Booth and the first MLK Day of Service spreading recycled leaf mulch at North Cary Park which was attended by 80 volunteers.
  • Adopt a Spot will be launched on Monday.

Inflow and Infiltration

  • Sewer system maintenance and rehabilitation program is paying off – wastewater plants are not seeing extremely large “spikes” in flow during storms. This has allowed the town to defer a $10M sewer line project (paralleling the Crabtree Creek Interceptor).

Project Phoenix

  • 15 apartment communities are already participating in the program.
  • Seeing early successes such as 20 abandoned vehicles having been removed from one complex.
  • Apartment managers are appreciative of the support and structure the program provides to help resolve issues.

Aquastar

  • 7 regional collectors are operational along with approximately 10,000 meters already installed. To help ensure quality, we are inspecting 100% of the meter installations. Customer inquiries have been minimal and the numbers are decreasing.

Sustainability

  • Three grants totaling a little over $600K ($609,118) have been awarded to help with our program and those will be coming forward for Council recognition and appropriation in May.
  • $101K for Hybrid Trash Truck from Triangle J COG Blue Skies
  • $496K for Fire and Police Initiatives including solar photovoltaic cells for the rood of FS#8 and hybrid vehicle purchases
  • $12K idle reduction pilot for battery packs to run auxiliary vehicle equipment

Budget

  • Planning to present the Recommended Budget at the Council meeting on May 12.
  • It will be available for review on the Town’s website.
  • A public hearing is planned for the following two Council meetings (May 26 and June 16).
  • Adoption is planned for the Council meeting on June 30.

Friday – Le Touquet

Friday night my wife, daughter, and I had dinner with the French delegation from our sister city Le Touquet, France culinary school which is part of an exchange program with Wake Tech. In the past my family has hosted many students during this exchange and has become friends with the teachers.

Saturday – James Jackson and Spring Daze

Saturday morning I attended the James Jackson breakfast hosted by the Democratic Women of Wake County. Speakers included the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, House Minority Whip, and others. There were also several big democrats in the audience including Congressman Miller and Secretary of State Marshall. The comments were very interesting and brought a lot of criticism on the current Republican majority.

Saturday afternoon I spoke and read a proclamation at Cary Spring Daze to recognize Arbor Day and Earth Day. I also spent time looking at the exhibits and talking to several folks from town. This event was not as large as Lazy Daze. It was still well attended but seemed to have more locals whereas Lazy Daze seems to draw from further away.

Mailbag

Emails this week included criticism about the Cary Parkway and Tryon proposal, a complaint about how the amphitheater handled bad weather during the recent bad weather, a complaint about the Carpenter proposed rezoning, a request to keep red light cameras, a request for chicken coups on small lots, a complaint about crime near Havana Grill, a complaint about speeding on Glade Hill, and two emails of thanks.

Public Service Recognition Week

This upcoming week is public service recognition week. It is a week to honor the millions of public employees at the federal, state, county, and city levels. Americans are served every single day by public servants at the federal, state, county and city levels.

These unsung heroes do the work that keeps our nation working. Public employees take not only jobs, but oaths. Many public servants, including military personnel, police officers, firefighters, border patrol officers, embassy employees, health care professionals and others, risk their lives each day in service to the people of the United States and around the world.

Public servants also include teachers, doctors, scientists, train conductors, astronauts, nurses, safety inspectors, laborers, computer technicians, social workers, countless other occupations. Day in and day out they provide the diverse services demanded by the American people of their government with efficiency and integrity; and without these public servants at every level, continuity would be impossible in a democracy that regularly changes its leaders and elected officials.

So please take the time to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of government employees at all levels – federal, state, county and city.

Get in Touch

Next week my schedule includes mostly private meetings.

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 8th. Please feel free to email me with a comment. Email all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.orgg. Email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

 

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