Harold’s Blog: Virtual Christmas Events, COVID Stats, Chinese Lanterns and More

Cary, NC — This week’s activities were light.

COVID Meeting & Taping a Virtual Christmas Parade

Monday started with a taping for the Jaycees virtual Christmas parade. I did several takes of Christmas greetings at the Bond Lake boathouse.

Later Monday I had my one-on-one meeting with the town manager. We primarily discussed the plans and impacts of COVID-19, especially since the nation is spiking to an all time high. In addition to the health of our citizens, we are concerned about operations of the town as employees contract the virus.

One employee can cause an entire group to have to quarantine. If that is a fire station, for example, that can have significant impacts as other stations have to cover. The town continues to have strict guidelines beyond state requirements and town hall remains closed to non-essential personnel through February.

Talking Transportation with CAMPO

Tuesday I participated in a virtual meeting of the Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organizations. The members were provided a federal update from Congressman David Price. We also heard from Kevin Leonard of the Association of County Commissioners.

The members discussed policy priorities and the 2050 Metropolitan Transportation Plan. Our meeting concluded after about an hour and forty-five minutes.

Virtual Cary Christmas Tree Lighting & Performances

Saturday was the town’s virtual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. All the acts, entertainment, and messages were prerecorded. However, the lighting was played for the first time at 6 P.M.

The staff and Digital P Media did an excellent job producing the show. While we couldn’t do it live this year, I still believe there was some Christmas magic. I look forward to seeing everyone at an in-person ceremony next year.

For those that haven’t seen it, below is the virtual show streamed live on Saturday, December 5, 2020.

Town Wins 2020 NC Tech Award

This week it was announced that the Town of Cary won the Public Sector Project category at the 2020 NC Tech Awards for its work around IoT and regional data sharing efforts.

This award recognizes Cary’s Smart & Connected Communities Program, which focuses on forward-looking, technology-focused solutions to the challenges of today and tomorrow. The NC TECH Awards is North Carolina’s only statewide technology awards program, recognizing companies and individuals who have demonstrated growth, innovation, and leadership. This is Cary’s first time winning the award.

Preventing LGBTQ Discrimination in Cary

This week I received an email asking me to change local laws to ensure that no one faces LGBTQ discrimination. The following is my response:

“Thanks for reaching out to me. I want to respond wearing 2 hats: the first as Harold Weinbrecht and the second as Cary’s Mayor.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I believe in treating every person equally. It’s part of my upbringing and the way my wife and I have raised our children. It’s also part of my religious beliefs. And, it’s what I think America is all about. I believe I see value in every person. That’s who Harold is.

As the Mayor of Cary, I’ve taken an oath to uphold the laws of our country, our state, and the Town of Cary. Cary exists, like all NC municipalities, as a municipal corporation of the State of NC. As such, we can do what we’re given permission to do by the NC General Assembly and the Governor.

Having permission isn’t the same as being able to do what we want until we’re told not to. It means asking before doing.

In my opinion, and I am not a lawyer, the communities that created formal non-discrimination rules in the past didn’t ask for permission before enacting their rules, and that led to a swift and certain negative reaction by State government leadership: HB2.

Even though a moratorium may have expired, that’s not the same as the State giving its permission. And with the General Assembly relatively the same in both party and ideal, I believe that taking action locally would simply produce the same result – or worse.

Our staff continues to look into this, including talking with other NC cities about their thoughts and plans. If you have information that could help them, please send it to me, and I’ll pass it along.

For now, I don’t anticipate that the Cary Council will be taking local action, instead continuing our long record of celebrating and harnessing the diversity that makes Cary Cary. …”

Town Manager’s Report

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

Manager’s Message to Council

As each of you knows, because I’ve spoken with most of you several times this week, it’s been a busy week. I think you’re totally up-to-date on all of the major points, so I will keep this brief. I appreciate your service, guidance and support. I hope you can recharge over the weekend!


COVID Wastewater Pilot Concludes

We will complete our participation in COVID/Wastewater research at the conclusion of 2020 as planned.

As you’ll recall, we’ve been providing wastewater samples since April to researchers working toward reliable scientific models that one day could serve as an “early warning” tool for COVID spikes and outbreaks.

Currently, the CDC says that the data cannot be used to determine the total number of infected persons in a community or the percent of the population that is infected.

Even so, we’ve notified Wake County and State officials of the pilot project, and the availability of the Cary data should it prove helpful to them in the future.

Billboard Legislation Update

The NC Department of Transportation is updating rules regarding outdoor advertising and billboards.

Next week, Cary’s legislative lobbyist will be speaking to the Rules Review Commission to ensure these updates do not infringe on local control. Here’s more information.

Public Safety Update – COVID Numbers in Cary, Wake & NC

Take a moment to look over the Public Safety Update from Public Safety Director Allan Cain. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Cases: 2,632, up 233 from 2,399, or 9.7% since November 26, 2020.

The previous week, when there was no formal report, saw an increase of 170 cases, or 7.6%.

Included are cases identified in COVID-19 outbreaks within the last two weeks at The Templeton of Cary, and Heartfields at Cary assisted living facilities. WCPH data continues to illustrate Cary’s fortunate position among the 12 municipalities in Wake County.

The cases per 1,000 residents chart underscores Cary maintaining the fewest per capita COVID-19 cases, 14.86 per 1,000 residents as of December 2, 2020. For the most current case information, go to: https://covid19.wakegov.com/.

Wake County: Cases: 30,191; Deaths: 295

During their weekly call on Wednesday, WCPH reported the county percent positive test rate is 5.1 percent, which remains lower than the state’s, 10.1%.

North Carolina numbers:

  • 377,231 total cases
  • 5,637 new cases, a new milestone: more than 5,000 new cases in one day
  • 2,101 currently hospitalized
  • 5,410 total deaths
  • 44 new deaths
  • 4 percent positive
  • The latest DHHS County COVID-19 Alert Report indicates Wake County remains a yellow tier county. See the full report.

Operational Framework & Update

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

Departmental Updates

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

  • On Saturday, Cary will kick off the holiday season with our annual Christmas tree lighting. This year’s event will be a virtual experience that can be viewed on the Town’s Facebook page, YouTube channel, and website.
  • Steve Daniels from ABC 11 is the master of ceremonies which features acts from Graceful Expressions, Zack Ledwell, Shayna Patel and Swathi Jay, and Al Strong. The show will also feature special messages from the Mayor and Town Council.
  • The Gifting Tree Project kicks off on Saturday and citizens can stroll along S. Academy Street and inside the Downtown Park as it is transformed into a dazzling Christmas tree display. Local families, schools, and organizations decorate their tree in a competition to win a donation to the nonprofit group of their choice.
  • Building permits for 5 buildings at Fenton (3 jewel boxes and buildings 3B and 5) have been approved. Attention is now focused on building permits for the final jewel box (17) and parking deck D-5 as these permits are needed before work can begin on piers and footers. Currently staff is waiting on the developer’s team to make revisions and resubmit.
  • The development plan for Meridian East Chatham, a mixed-use project including a 5-story building with 220 apartments and 8,200 SF of retail space, is in its second round of review. As part of this development, several offsite improvements are also proposed including extending Hunter Street from E Chatham Street on the south to E Cedar Street on the north; waterline replacement on E Chatham Street and Hunter Street; and a storm drainage outfall on E Chatham Street.
  • A parking studies webpage has been created to highlight both the Downtown Parking Study as well as the Multi-family Parking Study projects.
  • Representatives from Planning and Development Services attended a Wake County Builders Association meeting. Around 60 members of the development community attended and discussed current issues in Inspections and Permitting in Wake County. Most jurisdictions reported similar trends to what Cary is experiencing.
  • The November Development Pulse Report is now available. Highlights include:
    • Glenaire Expansion: The development plan was approved to create 192 independent living units, 37 assisted living units and a 7,300 square foot daycare facility south of the existing Glenaire community. Early grading began in early November. The building permits for the residential building and the daycare are currently under review.
    • Bainbridge and the Nancy Jones House: The plat to record the property for the relocation of the Nancy Jones House is currently under review. Staff is working with the applicant to complete the recording before the end of year. The development plan for Bainbridge is currently in its second round of review.
    • Duke Health at Green Level -Phase 1A, Medical Office Building and Parking Deck: Building permits were approved for a new 102,000 square feet medical office building and a parking garage with 346 parking spaces.
    • Fenton: Building permits were approved for the retail and multifamily buildings, jewel boxes, restaurant, and several other minor permits.
    • Tasu Asian Bistro at Waverly Place Roll Down Curtains: The development plan was approved to enclose the outside area in front of the existing restaurant. The building permit for this project to expand outdoor seating is currently under review.
  • This week staff received confirmation that the proposed location for the Nancy Jones House was approved by the National Park Service. The house will remain listed in the National Register during the move. The Town will begin site work on the new location shortly after the New Year with the move planned for Spring 2021.
  • As part of Cary’s adaptive stormwater and open space initiatives, the demolition of several structures either occurred or began this week. Most of the locations are prone to heavy flooding that could not be mitigated with other measures. Cary worked to acquire the properties and, moving forward, each location will be revegetated and preserved as floodplain open space:A 3-car garage apartment at 208 Urban Drive
  • Residential structures at 117 and 113 Jodhpur Drive
  • Last week, more than 20 citizens joined an online presentation on home security presented by Officer Patrick Fox. These quarterly seminars will be replacing the in-person “residential/commercial security assessments” we have been offering for years.
  • The Carpenter Fire Station Road bridge and intersection improvements project is approximately 60% complete.

Kudos for Colleagues

This week kicked off the start of our month-long celebration of employees with a variety of safe, virtual activities. A “Kudos for Colleagues” online whiteboard was created and allows staff to call out and commend each other with words and pictures, while a second board is collecting employee input on accomplishments achieved this year.

On Dec. 7, we will begin Employee Recognition Days featuring virtual slideshows highlighting years of service milestones accompanied by an outdoor evening drive-by presentation of slides from 5-8 p.m. on the southside of the Herb Young Community Center.

Chinese Lantern Displays

The NC Chinese Lantern Festival has been an annual holiday event held at Koka Booth Amphitheatre since 2015. Given the current limits surrounding events, this annual festival will not be held this holiday season; however, Cary has partnered with Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc. to display seven lanterns for the citizens to enjoy and appreciate.

These works of art will be on display from Dec 5, 2020 through Jan 10, 2021. This completely “passive” experience will allow for patrons to adhere to safe distances, with many viewing from the safety of their vehicles. All lanterns will be viewable as a walk-by, while most will also be viewable as a drive by activity. The lanterns will be lighted during the evening hours from 5 – 11 PM. Locations include the Downtown Park, the former library site and various locations in Downtown Cary.

myCary Celebrates First Birthday!

Last year at this time, myCary launched becoming the first of its kind local government Salesforce Community offering account management and program registration. Since launching, myCary has received a little over 300 enhancements and feature additions. The staff facing/Salesforce side of the Parks system has also received over 400 enhancements and feature additions.

Some of these are from external development partners and others are from in-house admins and staff. The flexibility of the platform has enabled us to quickly adjust to meet new business processes needs as the organization adjusts to the pandemic.

We’ve added new fields for virtual program offerings, adjusted the refund process to expedite refunds, and launched a completely streamlined account management page for citizens just to name a few! Cheers to myCary on its first birthday!

Camp Branch Sewer Relocation for Triangle Expressway

The relocation of a section of the Camp Branch sewer interceptor in southern Cary crossing the new NC-540 (Triangle Expressway) roadway project has been completed and the new sewer main is now in service. Testing of the new sewer main and manholes has been completed and this week the old section was abandoned.

Reconstruction Assistance Request

On Monday, members of the Police Department’s Traffic Safety Team’s assisted the Morrisville Police Department with a motor vehicle investigation at the intersection of Chapel Hill Road and Morrisville Carpenter Road. Our accident reconstructionist and drone pilot used one of our drones to photograph and document the crash scene. The data collected has been provided to Morrisville’s investigating officer.

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:

  • Requests to not make the vaccine for COVID-19 mandatory (This would be a state or federal mandate. I plan to take the vaccine as soon as it is offered to me.)
  • Questions about when the crosswalks at South West and Dry will be made safer.
  • A complaint about the MyCary website.
  • A complaint about “souped up cars” racing near High House and Davis Drive.
  • A question about a new business that has a play area with a bar for the parents (I am not aware of this business)

Next week’s activities only include staff meetings and calls to council members. I will probably spend time gathering ideas for the State of Cary address to be given in late January.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, December 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. Photos by Lindsey Chester, Ashley Kairis and Town of Cary staff.

All the Cary news for the informed Cary citizen. Subscribe by email.

2 replies

Comments are closed.