Harold’s Blog: Holiday Events, Council Meeting & COVID-19
Cary, NC — This week was our last regularly scheduled council meeting of the year.
Preparing for Council Meeting Agenda
Monday I contacted council members to hear of any questions or concerns about the agenda for the upcoming meeting. The two biggest issues were the Epic rezoning and the Hatcher rezoning. Later in the day, I met with staff to go over the agenda. Following the meeting with staff I had a brief meeting with the town manager.
Council Discusses Epic Games, USA Baseball & More
Thursday before the council meeting, I joined the council in taking photos with our Hometown Heroes who will be featured in Cary Magazine. They were also recognized at the beginning of our council meeting.
The council meeting included three presentations, seven consent items, five public hearings, and a discussion item. The first presentation was a great Cary 150 moment from council member Yerha. This was followed by a presentation on our finances from staff and the auditor that evaluated Cary’s finances. As is always the case, Cary is as good as it gets. The last presentation was the town manager’s report.
The Public Hearing on the Hatcher Property was postponed at the request of the applicant. The Epic Games rezoning proposal public hearing drew several speakers and written comments complaining about the proposed relocation of the greenway, traffic, stormwater, and leaving the outer parcels for later development.
The council also echoed some of the same concerns along with others. In my comments I expressed how critical the outer parcels were to the Eastern Gateway viewshed. While the council expressed gratitude that Epic has chosen Cary as their headquarters, they pointed out that the applicant is not attached to the land’s zoning. In other words, Epic could sell the property and the conditions would still apply. It will be interesting to see what happens with this proposal as it goes through the process.
Decisions points included the approval of Thomas Brooks Baseball Park’s contract with USA Baseball along with the appropriation of funds for project completion. Also included in the vote was the bid award for the USA Baseball National Training Complex Expansion. This park has held many significant events since it has been built. This year it held the first Major League Baseball combines in addition to holding games for the Olympic team. Each year the USA Baseball National Training Complex generates millions in economic benefit for our community.
In other decisions, the Council unanimously approved funding for a Weston Parkway Area Bike/Pedestrian/Greenway Connectivity Study. This is a key component of multi-modal transportation in that area.
After a short, closed session the meeting concluded after about three hours.
Ceremony at Hillcrest Cemetery
Saturday, I participated in the Wreaths Across America ceremony at Hillcrest Cemetery. I believe this event was the best attended Wreaths Across America ceremony that Cary has ever seen.
The ceremony included comments from a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a wreath laying from each of the armed services by veteran, and a wreath laying by cub scouts for the Space Force. Cary ROTC presented the colors and other ROTC members were in attendance.
I provided remarks about how grateful our community is for the service and sacrifice of our veterans both alive and deceased. Afterwards, attendees each took a wreath and laid it at the grave of a veteran marked with an American flag. We also were told to say their names out loud. The entire ceremony lasted about thirty minutes.
Cary’s COVID-19 Data
As Covid cases continue to rise in the region I, along with staff, continue to monitor data. Here was the data from earlier in the week:
- Cary’s case rate per 100k is now the lowest in the county at 67.86, which is a decrease of 57% in the past 7 days. This is compared to Raleigh at 136.39 and Morrisville at 72.63, respectively.
- Cary’s positivity rate is also the lowest in the county at 4.2%, which is a 16% decrease in the past 7 days. This compares to Raleigh at 5.1% and Morrisville at 5.4% respectively.
- Cary’s vaccination rate is the second highest in the county at 73%. Raleigh is at 59% and Morrisville is at 68%. Apex has the highest vaccination rate at 75%.
- The number of staffed ICU beds available in the CapRAC hospital region is 5, but 71 more are available that are either unstaffed or unreported. The CapRAC system includes Wake, Franklin, Johnson, Harnett, and Lee Counties.
- This is a link to the most recent data from Wake County by municipality can be found at https://app.powerbigov.us/view?r=eyJrIjoiM2M4NzkyYzQtZDZiMC00YWU2LWFjOTEtNmY4YWQzNDgzMWZiIiwidCI6ImM1YTQxMmQxLTNhYmYtNDNhNC04YzViLTRhNTNhNmNjMGYyZiJ9
While Cary has some of the best data in the county, we must remember that Covid does not follow boundaries and that this pandemic is far from over. In fact, the entire country is bracing for another surge. If you are not vaccinated, PLEASE, PLEASE do so. If not for you, for your family and friends. Consider it your patriotic duty. Also, remember to wear masks in crowded places and social distance.
Tanker Trucks at South Cary Water Reclamation
Staff provided an interesting response this week to a question about trucks going to the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility:
“The tanker trucks are moving liquid biosolids, which is the nutrient rich byproduct of wastewater treatment from the North Cary Water Reclamation Facility to the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility. The reason we truck the biosolids from North Cary to South Cary is because our regional biosolids drying facility is located at South Cary WRF off West Lake Road. We typically move about 50-60 tankers per week, usually Monday through Thursday. The drying facility blends all the biosolids from both North Cary WRF and South Cary WRF to produce Class A, Exceptional Quality biosolids pellets, which we call Enviro GEMS. The dry pellets are marketed through a vendor for beneficial reuse as a nutrient supplement and organic soil amendment for agribusiness applications.”
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report for this week included:
This week turned out to be one planned and unplanned of reflection.
On Wednesday, Anna Crollman joined me for another All Hands during which I reflected on 2021 and talked about what’s ahead in 2022.
The feedback from staff was so warm and positive. Including about how we produced the event live from the Page-Walker Arts & History Center – a first. More than 470 staff joined us virtually, and, as always, the recording will be made available to those whose schedules conflicted.
I was also moved by the two incredible reflections shared at last night’s Council meeting from Council Members Robinson and Yerha. Whether the lessons are from recent history or from the beginning of Cary, I continue to marvel at the consistency of Cary’s desirability, which is and has always been founded on forward-thinking and hard work of our citizens.
I’ve never been prouder of Cary than I am today, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve here with such great staff and elected officials. This is truly a special place.
Wishing you all healthy and safe holidays.
Public Safety Update
There are currently 5 active cases among staff bringing the total to 177 since the start of the pandemic. 89% of the town staff has been vaccinated.
Wake County Non-Discrimination Ordinance
There have been lots of conversations on the county and municipality level regarding an ordinance that Wake County passed in October to protect residents from discrimination.
While I have spoken to several of you about moving forward with adopting Wake County’s ordinance the item is not ripe enough yet, and more due diligence needs to be conducted by Lisa and myself.
I plan to reach out to my counterparts in Wake County in the coming days to learn more about an approach for Cary to fall within the umbrella of the ordinance’s enforcement.
At last night’s Council Meeting, the Mayor and Council recognized the work of our fourteen Cary 150/Cary Magazine Hometown Heroes.
During Council Member Yerha’s History Moment, he read their names and acknowledged how each honoree went above and beyond to help others in our community during the pandemic. To read about each Hometown Hero in Cary Magazine’s October issue, click here.
Winter Wonderland 2021
On December 11, Cary Police officers invited 21 children and their families to Herb Young Community Center and provided them all with toys, hats, gloves, shoes, coats, a new bike/helmet, and a gift card!
Each year, Cary Police Department’s Project PHOENIX partners with non-profit and faith-based organizations: Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Covenant Life Church, Covenant Christian Church, the US Veterans Corps, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and the Cary CAP Team to provide Christmas for deserving children.
In addition to our partners the North Carolina Autism Society (IGNITE Raleigh) helped the police department staff wrap presents in preparation for the event.
White Christmas 2021
The 2021 White Christmas Sing Along returned to The Cary for four packed screenings December 10 – 12. Attendees received gift bags with a song book, candy cane, jingle bell necklace, and a glow in the dark snowflake wand.
It was rejuvenating to welcome over 560 attendees to this event over the weekend.
South Cary Water Reclamation Facility Anniversary
Join us in celebrating the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility’s (SCWRF) 33rd Anniversary. Since December 21, 1988, the SCWRF has provided excellent service to Cary’s southern wastewater collection system. The facility has grown from its initial capacity of 6.4 million gallon per day (MGD), to the current 12.8 MGD. The range of services has also grown, as Cary has invested in forward thinking services such reclaimed water, a public-private venture for a 1.89-megawatt solar facility, and the implementation of a class-A biosolids drying process.
First Neighborhood Meetings of 2022
The first neighborhood meetings of 2022 will be held virtually from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm on January 12, 2022. The following case will be discuss:
- 21-REZ-16 Old Apex Road Rezoning
- 21-REZ-18 921 SE Maynard Road Rezoning
- 21-REZ-19 Estes Residential Road Rezoning
- 21-REZ-21 Fenton Rezoning
For more information and to register visit the Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meeting page.
Upcoming Town Holidays, Events, and End of Year Info
With the holidays approaching, our updates for you will be limited, and there will not be another Council Weekly Report until January 7, 2022. In the meantime, if there are time sensitive updates to share they will be emailed directly to you.
In observance of the upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays, most staffed facilities will be closed December 23-27 & 31. With both holidays occurring on the weekend, curbside collections will remain unchanged, and GoCary will be closed on Christmas Day only, with limited services on Dec 24, 26, and Jan 1. Read the full news release here.
Upcoming Town Holidays
- Thursday, December 23
- Friday, December 24
- Monday December 27
- Friday, December 31
- Thursday, Dec 30 at 12 PM
Emails from citizens this week included:
- Dozens of complaints about the proposed Hatcher Rezoning (public hearing postponed)
- Dozens of complaints about the proposed Terraces at West Cary rezoning (not scheduled for public hearing yet. (See https://www.townofcary.org/connect-engage/transparency/public-hearings/public-hearing-cases/rezoning-cases/2020-rezoning-cases/2021-rezoning-cases )
- Dozens of complaints about the proposed Epic rezoning
- A complaint about leaf collection (Town crews are working long hours and as hard as they can. Please be patient.)
- A complaint about construction on Walker Street
- Complaints about not having a mask mandate
- A complaint about not being able to pay taxes at town hall
- A complaint about climate change and that we should stop development (we don’t have that authority)
Next week’s activities include the Wake County Mayors Annual Holiday dinner and the town manager’s annual review.
Harold’s Ask for the Holidays:
I have been involved in local government a long time and the holiday season, for some odd reason, is the time people like to complain the most. This has been a tough year for everyone and especially for those that are in decision-making positions. To balance out the complaints during this holiday season I would ask that you please join me in thanking all those elected officials that serve you. These include council members, school board members, Wake County Commissioners, and NC Legislators. They do their jobs day in and day out for what is essentially less than minimum wage. (BTW, not asking for me. I’m honored just to serve such a great community.)
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, December 26th.
HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS! My Christmas Wish for everyone, Christian or not, is that you find peace and joy during this week and carry it forward into the New Year.
Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communication 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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Dear Mr. Mayor,
Am happy to take you up on your invitation to thank our elected representatives. As a frequent squeaky wheel, I’m pleased, proud, and grateful that there are fellow citizens willing to give up two evenings per month to attend to Cary Council business, and am shamed that in some embarrassing instances they must endure outrageous vitriol of those who prefer to fire from the shadows. I’m profoundly grateful for their and your service.
Our form of government has been described as the worst form of government except for all of the others. This government depends absolutely on citizen participation. The voter turnout in off-year [Town Council] elections is pathetic [around seven to nine percent]. Thus, simply stated, this Town is run by those who bother to show up and participate.
You note near the ends of the Harold’s Blog pieces the “complaints” [some of us wish you would use a less pejorative descriptor of problems brought to your attention] of citizens. My own thought is that you as mayor should not lower yourself to even respond to complaints by those who have not voted consistently in the off-year elections in which they’ve been qualified to vote. The arrogance and assumed self-entitlement to relief by those who can only be bothered infrequently to participate in municipal business is striking.
Thank you Mr. Weinbrecht [22+ years on Council], Mr. Smith [32+ years], Mrs. Robinson [22+ years], Mr. Frantz [14+ years], Mrs. Bush [10+ years], Mr. Yerha [10+ years], and Dr. Liu [2+ years].