Harold’s Blog: Virtual Tree Lighting, Quarterly Meeting Notes and More

Cary, NC — This post will be shorter than normal due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Pre-Recording the Cary Virtual Tree Lighting

Tuesday I joined Steve Daniels, anchor for ABC 11 Eyewitness News, in Cary’s first virtual tree lighting ceremony. Like previous years, Steve introduced wonderful talent from all over the community and they performed as a prelude to the lighting of the town Christmas tree. However, due to the pandemic, this year’s performances were taped.

After the conclusion of all the performances, I was introduced and made a few remarks. This year I invited everyone to see the lights on Academy Street (which you can do from your car or on a socially distanced walk). After my remarks, I introduced this year’s tree lighter, Brent Miller.

As is our tradition, our Hometown Spirit Award winner is also our tree lighter. Brent was accompanied by his wife, son and daughter in-law. We were socially distanced as we counted down from five and Brent flipped the switch. It was filmed on the ground and in the air via drone. The taping of our tree lighting will be shared on December 5th at 6 PM virtually on Facebook.

I look forward to seeing that as well as all the great talent.

Presentations from the Council Quarterly Meeting

This week staff sent information about last week’s quarterly meeting to council members. Powerpoint presentations from the quarterly can be seen at the following links.

Cary Operations and the New Executive Order

I, along with staff, received questions this week from the media and citizens about what we are changing due to the Governor’s new executive order. Here is our released statement:

“Cary staff is currently reviewing Executive Order 180 to see if any changes are needed to our operations.

We are fortunate that we have not had to cite any businesses since the start of the pandemic.  Based on the positive interactions we’ve had with citizens and businesses; we believe our focus on education is working and will be increasing our efforts in this area.  Although Cary has the second highest population in Wake County, we have the fewest per capita COVID-19 cases in the county.

This is a difficult time for many. We will continue to monitor, evaluate and adjust based on the needs of our community. Our thoughts are with those who are ill, have lost a loved one or have been otherwise negatively impacted.”

Response to Recent Environmental Complaint

I, along with town staff, continue to get emails complaining that we aren’t doing enough for the environment. While that can be debated, most are not aware of what we are already doing. Here is staff’s latest response to one citizen with more information about past accomplishments, current initiatives and plans for the future:

“… Town Council had a great quarterly meeting last week. We reflected on our history with innovations, such as Aquastar and the solar installations at the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility and Fire Station 8, which had significant emissions reductions benefits.

We also talked about the many successes with water quality, conservation and Jordan Lake, which has been essential for Cary’s water source and has had the net benefit of retaining significant open space for quality of life in Cary. We will continue with our leadership in this area and through Jordan Lake One Water.

Having moved to Cary less than 10 years ago, for me, this reflection was particularly helpful to understand where we’ve been and where we are going. To that end, we also talked about our best upcoming opportunities to enhance the environment (including improving quality or reducing impacts to land, water and air). The best opportunities are in four key areas:

  1. Open Space, Natural and Forested Areas:

    Since 85% of the Town is already built and 30% has been retained as open space (both HOA and Town land), this incredible asset is important for future generations. And, since much of it is forested or high quality natural land (along streams and including wetlands), it serves roles to improve air quality, water quality and flood mitigation (in addition to being important to wildlife and natural species).
    To advance our work, we are moving forward with hiring an Urban Forestry Manager and getting into more detail about the preserved open space, natural and forested land, as well as the existing (and new) tree canopy on private property. The hiring process was put on hold in April due to COVID and is moving forward now.

  2. Fleet Management:

    Particularly in the last few years, we’ve been transitioning our fleet to be more green, increasing green technologies and changing processes, to reduce emissions. We will bring proposals to Town Council for additional investment to advance that process more quickly.

  3. Solar Installations:

    In addition to discrete investments in solar this year (such as bus stops, stormwater sensors and water heater replacements), we’re evaluating options for additional investment in solar.
    We’ve initiated analysis of solar impediments and incentives through the SolSmart program and have started analysis of solar on Town Hall and USA Baseball (identified as best first options). Thank you for your many suggestion in this area!

  4. Recycling and Composting:

    This area will continue to be an important area for the Town to be able to divert more waste from the landfill, and is complicated by the dramatic changes in market conditions (who will process which items through our recycling program) and consumer behavior (participation rates, as well as content of yard waste composting and recycling).
    Our focus has been on partnerships with regional agencies and with NCSU for innovative approaches. There will be more on that for years to come, I’m sure.

There was a lot of great conversation among Council members and excitement about these opportunities. Thanks again for reaching out! I’ve appreciated the many conversations we’ve had and the thoughtful input you’ve given us. …”

Mayor’s Mailbox

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • An email from change.org for me to make a decision to save the mall. (That decision was made long ago. The development has been approved and demolition starts on February 1st.)
  • A concern that Penny Road is unsafe near Oak Grove Elementary.
  • Several emails that masks are harmful and that we shouldn’t be requiring people to wear them (This is a state mandate – and it should be)
  • Several emails from oneclickpolitics.com to not require people to take the vaccine. (This would be a federal or state mandate – I plan to take the vaccine)
  • Several cards and emails wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving (Thank You! Although I missed having a large crowd for Thanksgiving dinner, I certainly enjoyed it)

Next week’s activities include staff meetings and a joint meeting of MPOs (Metropolitan Planning Organizations).

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, December 6th. 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 from Town of Cary.

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1 reply
  1. Len NIeman
    Len NIeman says:

    “Several emails that masks are harmful and that we shouldn’t be requiring people to wear them ”

    This seems to come from a pretty much discredited Danish study done some time back. Recent studies from both the Mayo Clinic:

    And Virginia Tech University:

    Show masks are extremely effective in protecting ourselves and others from the COVID-19 virus.

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