Harold’s Blog: September 8, 2020

Cary, NC — This was another slow week as summer winds down.

Monday – A Film on Reducing Food Waste

Monday I participated in a zoom meeting for the “Just Eat It” screening. In the documentary, a couple lived off discarded food for six months. They emphasized the point that nearly 50% of food ends up in the trash. Wasted food is a huge waste of resources and a huge producer of carbon. We should all strive for food waste reduction.

Wednesday – Cary’s Economic Overview

Wednesday I facilitated a virtual meeting of the Economic Development Committee. The meeting included an update of downtown developments from our Economic Development Director and a branding update from the town manager. The committee will probably receive branding logo suggestions at our next meeting. A Quarterly Update was provided by the Cary Chamber’s Vice President of Economic Development. Highlights included:

  • Expanding the potential of existing manufacturing business
  • Telerent Leasing Corporation has relocated their headquarters to Cary
  • Amazon is bringing a delivery station that will employ 300
  • Circle Graphics is moving their headquarters from Raleigh
  • Active projects have a potential of 1300 jobs and $130 million of capital
  • Office requests have slowed a great deal this year
  • Cary’s unemployment rate in June was 5.8% compared to Wake County at 7.2%, North Carolina at 7.6%, and the United States 11.1%

Thursday – A Connected Bikeway

A bicyclist on the Lake Trail surrounding Bond Lake.

Thursday I participated in a briefing for the Triangle Bikeway. This bikeway would potentially link Raleigh, Cary, Research Triangle Park, Durham, Chapel Hill along I-40 and NC 54. Find out more about this project and please take the time to fill out their survey.

Friday – NC Doles Out the Last $1 Billion from CARES Act

Friday was a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors to summarize legislative actions:

This week, the legislature returned for a two-day session to allocate the remaining $1 billion of federal CARES Act funding.

H1105, Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0, includes

  • $75 million for PPE, $30 million for the GREAT program to improve and expand rural broadband
  • $6.5 million to eliminate the waitlist for children with disabilities to access educational opportunities
  • $45 million for small business grant programs.

Additionally, the bill establishes the Extra Credit Grant Program, which will provide $335 to families with children to help offset unexpected costs of school closures to parents. The bill also increases all unemployment benefits by $50 per week.

The Senate passed the measure on Wednesday with a vote of 44-5. It passed the House on Thursday, 104-10.

In addition to the COVID relief package, the legislature passed an appointments bill and a “mystery” incentives bill. H807, Championship NC Act, provides economic incentives to bring a sports championship employer to the state. Details on the project were not revealed, but an official announcement is planned for next week.

Both chambers adjourned sine die, officially ending the 2019-2020 legislative session on Thursday afternoon.

Town Manager’s Report

Mayor Weinbrecht sits left of Town Manager Sean Stegall in a recent Cary Chamber meeting.

The town manager, Sean Stegall’s report for this week included:

Manager’s Message to Council

In honor of Labor Day, a holiday created to pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers, I would like to take a moment to express how proud I am of the dedicated, talented, and hard-working employees that keep Cary great.

And a special thanks to our employees that will be working during the holiday to serve our citizens.

Best wishes for a safe holiday weekend.


Legislative Update

House Bill 1105, also known as Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0, is headed to Governor Cooper after passing in the North Carolina General Assembly. The legislature finalized this plan on Thursday to spend $1.1 billion of the state’s remaining COVID-19 relief funds. HB 1105 notably includes direct cash payments of $335 to nearly 2 million families with at least one child. While it is designed to help families with childcare or tutoring due to virtual learning, the money can be used for anything.

Other priorities of the bill include boosts in funds to COVID-19 vaccine research, personal protective equipment, testing supplies, broadband internet access in rural areas, recruitment of poll workers on Election Day and funds to help struggling small businesses.

Thursday also marked the adjournment of the General Assembly until January 2021. All 170 legislative seats are on the November ballot. Governor Cooper is also running for reelection.​

Special thanks to Housing and CDBG Manager Morgan Mansa and Director of Special Projects Danna Widmar for their leadership in this very important area of our work.

Public Safety Update

This week’s update shares important information on Phase 2.5, including the reopening of playgrounds.

See the Public Safety update from Public Safety Director Allan Cain. If you have any questions, please let me know. Highlights include:

  • Cases in Cary: 1,311, up 120 from 1,191, or 10.1%, since Aug. 28 (as of 9/3).
  • There have been no notable compliance issues.
  • In cases per 1000 Residents, Cary has the fewest per capita COVID-19 cases, 7.63 per 1,000 residents.

Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility Ozone System Improvements

The Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility (CAWTF) first installed water treatment ozonation as part of overall system upgrades completed in 2002, when the facility expanded from 16-MGD to 40-MGD. Ozone treatment remains one of the best and most effective water treatment systems that naturally complements our multi-barrier water treatment process.

Cary is one of a small number of utilities within NC to utilize this innovative and advanced treatment technology. After 18-years of service, our ozone generators have fulfilled their life cycle and must be replaced. A thorough engineering design was completed, and staff accepted bids this week from several contractors interested in constructing our ozone generator replacements project.

Staff are reviewing bids and will be preparing an award recommendation for Council approval.

Operational Framework & Update

This week, in the weekly operational framework team email from Deputy Town Manager Russ Overton, staff were encouraged to shift from a temporary mindset to a long-term mindset. To initiate this new way of thinking, staff were instructed to remove all auto-reply or out of office messages that were initially created at the outset of COVID-19.

The weekly operational report brings a close to the week’s activities outside of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Please take a moment to review the weekly operational report.

Carpenter Water Tank Repainting

At nearly 20 years of age, it is time to repaint and restore protective coatings on the Carpenter Elevated Water Storage Tank, which serves Cary’s western pressure zone. The Carpenter Tank, constructed in 2001, was Cary’s first 2-MG elevated water storage tank and currently stands over the skyline along Hwy 55 at a height of 167-ft.

After completing engineering design specifications and contract documents, bids were received this week. Staff are reviewing the bids and will be preparing an award recommendation for Council approval.

Departmental Updates

Included below is a summary-level overview of the operational activities continuing to take place during this health emergency.

  • Cary Teen Council new member registration for 2020-2021 is now open for current 8th-10thgrade Cary resident teens and will remain open through September 18.
  • Cary Teen Council’s Executive Board will be working hard all year to engage members through virtual programming and offering opportunities to achieve council volunteer requirements on an individual basis.
  • The Development Pulse report for August is now available.
  • The Town Manager’s Office and Information Technology partnered with SAS, Greenstream Technologies, and Microsoft staff to complete a proof of concept for predictive modeling of rainfall and stream water level to assist in early detection and warning systems for stormwater and flooding. This project enhances the work to monitor conditions through the use of rain gauges and water level sensors in the Walnut Creek Watershed.
  • The model takes information from sensors that are strategically located in the watershed and predicts likely outcomes. Since data collection in the Walnut Creek Watershed is in the early stages, these predictions will improve over time as we collect more data.
  • Staff continues to work in Walnut Creek watershed, while at the same time initiating work in the Swift Creek watershed to advance these technologies.
  • Surveys for the FY20 Sidewalk Improvements project are continuing. The goal is for all surveys to be complete by the end of October.

Design will follow survey completion.

  • Holly Springs Road: two sidewalk gaps south of Jones Franklin Road-E. Johnson Street from Chapel Hill Rd to Kingswood Elementary School
  • Johnson Street from N. Harrison Ave to Academy Street (LAPP funded)
  • Maynard Road: sidewalk gap west of N. Harrison Ave.
  • Norwell Blvd from Weston Pkwy to Bexley Bluff Lane (LAPP funded)
  • Nottingham Drive from Buck Jones Road to Donaldson Dr (LAPP funded)
  • Roberts Road: sidewalk gap east of Green Level High School
  • Sorrell Street from Chapel Hill Road to Gregory Drive
  • Summerwinds Drive from Tryon Road to Summerview Lane

T&F has been working with the Police Department on methods to help prevent police vehicles from continuously activating the Emergency Vehicle Preemption (EVP) system at our traffic signals. This EVP system will interrupt the current signal timing to allow emergency vehicles like police, fire, and ambulance services to get to their destination faster.

At times, police will be working an intersection and leave their lights on which is tied to the EVP transmitters. This has a detrimental impact on the efficiency of the traffic lights. Therefore, a new practice is being developed and shared with patrol officers to remove this conflict in the future. The desired outcome we will reduce 311 calls related to poor signal timing caused by those EVP devices on police vehicles.

Construction continues on the next phase of 540 between Pierce Olive and West Lake Roads. One of the contractors is reconstructing a section of the Camp Branch Sewer Interceptor at a lower grade and elevation to support roadway construction. Staff are proactively working with the contractor to manage utility conflicts associated with the road construction to ensure there are no interruptions with Cary utility services during this phase of the project.

Cary Fire Department Assists the Town of Clayton

The Clayton Fire Department in Johnston County needed assistance this week as they were severely affected by COVID-19 resulting in a temporary loss of 40% of their staff. Multiple regional fire departments, including our Fire Department, joined together to provide coverage.

While assisting Clayton, our Cary team responded to multiple calls within the Town of Clayton and assisted other Johnston County departments Monday evening after a persistent storm dumped over 14 inches of rain in some parts of the county resulting in mass flash flooding.

The above picture illustrates one of the water rescues that our trained swift-water rescue team performed. Our team safely removed all occupants from the vehicle and carefully ushered them to safety. A letter of commendation was received from Deputy Chief Tim Herman with the Garner Fire Department thanking the brave men of the Cary Fire Department for their service.

Carpenter Water Tank Repainting

At nearly 20 years of age, it is time to repaint and restore protective coatings on the Carpenter Elevated Water Storage Tank, which serves Cary’s western pressure zone. The Carpenter Tank, constructed in 2001, was Cary’s first 2-MG elevated water storage tank and currently stands over the skyline along Hwy 55 at a height of 167-ft.

After completing engineering design specifications and contract documents, bids were received this week. Staff are reviewing the bids and will be preparing an award recommendation for Council approval.

Carpenter Fire Station Bridge Separation Project

Construction on the bridge is approximately 55% complete. Current activities include forming up the bridge footings in advance of pouring concrete. In addition, we are also in the process of evaluating surface treatments for the concrete walls and center pier that will support the bridge as well as the bridge girders.

Additional Information of Interest

I’ve found the following articles to be particularly interesting this week and wanted to share with you for your reading pleasure:

Mayor’s Mailbox

Emails this week included the following:

  • A request to support our police (always have and always will)
  • A complaint about a proposed amendment to the development for the Cary Pointe Planned Development District in the southwest quadrant of NC 55 and Morrisville Parkway
  • Concerns about the murder that occurred in Cary last week
  • Advice on how to “unify” our departments on the Environment
  • A complaint about noise ordinance violations at the Brickyard development
  • A complaint about gun violence

Next week is a holiday week so the only activities include staff meetings and a council meeting.

Get in Touch

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 13th.  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 [email protected] and email personal comments to [email protected].

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Images by Town of Cary and Ashley Kairis.

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1 reply
  1. Doc Thorne
    Doc Thorne says:

    Just wanted to give a shout out to our brave and selfless firemen who provided their support and backup for the Clayton and other Johnston County departments in their time of need. You guys are nothing less than GREAT, and we are very fortunate to have you. Well done!

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