Harold’s Blog: October 19, 2020

Cary, NC — This was a short week due to a lack of meetings.

Wednesday – Outdoor Interview for Documentary

I was interviewed for the Cary’s Sesquicentennial documentary film on Wednesday. The location was next to the steps of the Cary Art Center. I also strolled around the fountain for some B roll.

We did about 45 minutes of Q&A which will result in about 3 minutes of time in the film. The questions were about past, present, and my thoughts of the future. I can’t wait to hear and see what others, who were interviewed, said.

NCAA Championships Awarded to Cary

This week it was announced that the NCAA awarded Cary 11 championships for the years 2022-2026, an accomplishment we are all very proud of.  We just learned late Friday afternoon that WakeMed Soccer Park was awarded more NCAA championship events (7) than any other venue in the U.S. Incredible!

Town Manager’s Report

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

Manager’s Message to Council

Long-term mindset is dependent upon the person, but one thing is for certain – people are yearning for human connection and routine.

In yesterday’s email to Council, Public Safety Director Allan Cain shared that North Carolina reported the highest on day number of positive COVID-19 cases (2,532) and outlined the possible reasons for the spike.

As an organization we must remain vigilant and protect our staff and residents, as best we can while others explore the need for normalcy. Early voting is a prime example of routine, and as we witnessed this week many still prefer to wait in long lines at the poll over voting by mail.

Our amazing staff is doing an excellent job offering safe places for our citizens to exercise their right to vote despite the pandemic. However, an upcoming event cancellation that reinforces the long-term mindset is one of my favorite events that Cary undertakes each year – the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival.

Due to COVID-19 uncertainties and state restrictions on how many people can gather outside organizers made the difficult decision to take this year off, and the press release will go out on Monday.

In place of the Lantern Festival at Koka Booth, staff are planning to keep the magic alive by bringing several lanterns that will prominently display in downtown Cary this holiday season for people to enjoy.

In other weekly news, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that 2020 Census counting ended on October 15. As of October 14, Cary had a 79.9% response rate.

Assistant Planning Director Debra Grannan, who led the Census initiative for Cary, requested all Census signage be removed beginning today. With the support of each of you and our dedicated staff we overcame pandemic obstacles to collect as many names as possible to fund Cary projects and programs.

Stay safe,


AAA Credit Ratings

As a follow-up to last week’s report on the confirmation of Cary’s exceptional credit ratings, below is a link to six reports published that document the rating observations. The AAA credit ratings were for both Cary’s general obligation bonds and revenue bonds.

These ratings reflect Cary’s credit strengths, such as a stable service area with strong income levels and a long-term trend of healthy debt service coverage and strong liquidity.

Fitch’s report indicated that while the coronavirus outbreak and related government restrictions worldwide has created an uncertain environment, Cary can expect to see break-even net results, leaving reserves roughly unchanged and well above Cary’s minimum fund balance policy 33% of spending.

Moody’s report concurred, stating, “Cary’s financial position will remain sound given management’s conservative budgeting practices and commitment to maintaining sound reserve levels.”

S&P expects Cary’s economic fundamentals to remain strong over the long term but will continue monitoring for any adverse effects in the near term that may arise from COVID-19-induced recessionary pressures.

They view Cary’s management as very strong, with strong financial policies and practices, typically based on conservative budget assumptions, initially appropriating fund balance but not actually using the funds to balance the budget, which results in actual outcomes consistently outperforming budget estimates.

The specifics within the reports can be found here.

Operational Weekly Report

The weekly operational report brings a close to the week’s activities. Please take a moment to review the highlights from this week.

Departmental Updates

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

  • Early Voting started on October 14 at two Cary locations, Herbert C. Young Community Center and Cary Senior Center.
  • The first day’s total number of voters who attended the Cary Early Voting sites was 3,110. The daily turnout can be found here and updated each day after the polls close.
  • The move to Phase 3 in the reopening of North Carolina had minimal impact on traffic volumes in Cary. Traffic volumes have increased 2% in the month of October, which built on the 4% increase seen in September when Phase 2.5 commenced. Overall, Cary traffic is still down 22% as compared to pre-COVID levels.
  • Streetlights are being installed along the Morrisville Parkway Extension and NC540 Interchange Project this week. Installation includes placing underground conduit, drilling down to the conduit, splicing in the electrical wire, lifting the street-light base into the drilled hole, backfilling and then turning the lights on.
  • Earlier this month, staff reviewed mock-ups of the Carpenter Fire Station Road Grade Separation Project with CSX Railroad and confirmed the look and feel of planned enhancements, on a small scale, in advance of the contractor moving forward with construction. The mock-ups include textured concrete walls and painted steel girders that are intentionally designed to acknowledge, complement and be inclusive of many historic and architectural elements that currently exist within the Historic Carpenter National Register District. Overall construction of the project is approximately 60% complete.

North Carolina FC defender Manny Perez (2) and Louisville City FC midfielder Napo Matsoso (27) during a match between North Carolina FC and Louisville City FC in Week 1 of the 2020 USL Championship regular season at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC – Saturday, March 7, 2020.

  • The NCAA announced this week that Cary and its host partners were awarded 11 National Championships between the years 2022 to 2026. The championships include Division 2 Baseball, Division 1 Men and Women’s College Cup Soccer, and Division 1 Women’s Lacrosse. To date Cary has hosted a total of 26 NCAA National Championships.
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)is experiencing delays in processing payments received for vehicle registrations. North Carolina Department of Revenue (NCDOR) has indicated delays are due to COVID-19 restrictions, headquarter relocation, and agent transitions. Individuals are being directed to pay for vehicle registration via the DMV website (NCDMV) or visit the License Plate Agency (LPA) office in-person, to cut down wait times on receipt of vehicle tag.
  • Several HR staff members attended the annual Smith-Anderson Employment Law Update seminar. Topics ranged from timely discussion on employers’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts and COVID-19 workplace challenges to ongoing employment law trends and updates.
  • At a news conference held Thursday afternoon, Governor Roy Cooper announced a new $117 million assistance program for renters. The NC Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) program may provide rent and utility assistance to eligible low and moderate-income renters experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. Applications can be submitted by visiting https://nc211.org/hope/or calling 211 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Cary’s recent effort to leverage IoT for increased flood protection was chosen as a 2020 Public Sector Innovation Winner by Public Sector 360. Staff learned partners at SAS nominated Cary for the award. The highly competitive Government Innovation Awards showcase the best examples of discovery and innovation in government IT. The winning projects will be profiled on http://www.gcn.com/ in the November/December issue of FCW (Federal Computer Week).
  • Beginning this week, City of Raleigh Planning and Development staff are collecting input on the New Bern Avenue Station Area Plan. Although their online survey does not ask specific questions about Cary, this feedback could inform the next steps in the planning process for the Western Blvd corridor. For more information, see the New Bern Avenue Station Area Planning page.
  • GoCary created a temporary bus stop on Wilkinson Avenue by Herb C. Young Community Center, which will be served by Fixed Route #3 from October 15through October 31for early voting and on Election Day, November 3. Additionally, even though the Cary Senior Center remains closed, GoCary Route #4 will serve the stop during early voting hours, October 15through 31. Fixed Route and Tier 1 Door to Door service will remain fare free through Election Day. GoCary is also offering one free roundtrip on Door to Door Tier 2 service for early voting, or to any polling location in Cary on Election Day. For more information, visit GoCary.org.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)reporting deadline for dental offices nationwide to document the management of amalgam (mercury) discharges to public sewer systems for cooperation on reduction into the environment ended Monday. The final EPA rule was passed in 2017 and Cary/Morrisville dental facilities have a 90% compliance rate with the rule. Cary staff will reach out by telephone to the remaining facilities to encourage reporting per the federal requirement, and Small Business Liaison Kenneth Caudle will work directly with dentists to serve and meet our community needs by helping answer questions about the requirements and encouraging compliance by any remaining facilities prior to December 12.

New Hope Disc Golf Course Opening

The New Hope Disc Golf course will officially open Friday, October 23. The new facility, located off New Hope Church Road, will be Cary’s second after the course at Middle Creek School Park.

The New Hope course has 22-holes which can be reconfigured into multiple 18-hole layouts for varying skill levels. This includes an 18-hole championship level course, making it possible to bring in national level tournaments, while providing the best possible facility to our residents.

The course design and construction were in collaboration with the Capital Area Disc League.

Swift Creek Pump Station –Pump and VFD Addition

The Swift Creek Pump Station originally built in 1989 with three large on/off style submersible pumps was expanded in 2006 to include two variable frequency drive (VFD) pumps and expansion capabilities to add a third pump.

The Swift Creek Pump Station is a large 14 MGD terminal station that pumps wastewater from central and southern Cary to the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility. The pump station averages 4 MGD and sees increased flow during heavy rain fall events.

During significant wet weather events, the larger original pumps are needed and discharge at higher rates. To improve operating conditions and the pumping range of the station, the USM Division along with contractors have installed a third VFD pump and electrical controls.

Programming and installation occurred this week on the VFD which now allows us to use the new pump and allow for smoother and more efficient operation of the pump station and discharge to the water reclamation facility.

Nelson Road Pump Station &Pipeline Improvements

A pump station and pipeline improvement project is underway on Nelson Road and Pleasant Grove Church Road near the RDU International Airport. Improvements include replacement of air release valves and concrete manhole structures on buried discharge pipe and replacing pipe and valves in the pump station. A pipe connection will also be installed at the pump station to allow the use of a temporary portable pump as a backup in emergency situations.

Additional Information of Interest

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

Mayor’s Mailbox

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A request to have wide-scale solar in Cary
  • Thanks for planting trees in Heater Park
  • A request for more pickleball courts
  • Complaints about political signs (see the state legislation allowing political signs)
  • A complaint about trash pickup
  • Complaints about the proposal for duplexes on Roberts Road
  • A complaint about the lack of enforcement for the COVID-19 restrictions
  • A complaint about parking at the Herb Young Center during early voting
  • A complaint about climate change

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a meeting of the Wake Mayors Association, an online 20-year celebration of Cary Diwali, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board and the last regularly scheduled council meeting of October.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, October 25th.  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 augustanat@mindspring.com.

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Images by Town of Cary staff and Hal Goodtree.

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