If you missed the story in Sunday's N&O, Allan Tortorice and Laura Strain were married over the weekend at a Starbucks on Kildaire Farm Road.
Artist Michael Klauke of Cary who draws images with small hand-written text in a technique called textual pointillism. Video by staff ... more
I came across an interesting submission to our Beliefs Briefs. Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Cary ran this item about a planned sermon by the Rev. Pat Russell, the church's pastor: "Why is Good Shepherd the only church in the country with a vital connection to a team of Rollergirls?”
Encouraged by a colleague, I had to find out more. I went to the church's Web site and found that Good Shepherd has an outreach ministry to the Carolina Rollergirls roller hockey team. They provide volunteers for the games "just to let the girls and their fans know that we stand beside them in their commitment to well-run amateur women's athletics and their efforts to provide great sports action suitable for the whole family and for the whole community," a newsletter states.
Intrigued by this church program, I e-mailed Pastor Russell to find out more. Russell said the church usually provides 6-12 volunteers for each game. He said he is impressed by the commitment and dedication of the all-volunteer team of women. He wrote in his reply, "Although there is a lot of hard-hitting competition, CRG has worked very hard to make their events good family entertainment for all ages at a cost that virtually everyone can afford. They work hard to be good role models, and they are eager to serve as mentors for new skaters and for new teams. The sense of community among the skaters, as well as with other members of the GRG “family,” is very strong and positive."
Russell was preparing a sermon on the ministry for this past Sunday. If you'd like to read it, it should be up soon on their Web site, gsucc.org.
Day 2 of Cary's annual council-staff retreat began with a slightly different agenda than Day 1. Much of the first day was spent discussing largely philosophical ideals on how the council could work together as a team -- along with town employees, of course -- and identifying strengths and weaknesses within the town's overall governmental operations.
The second full day was spent in part on more meat-and-bones issues. Interim Town Manager Ben Shivar helped walk the Town Council and Cary's staff through a series of agenda items discussed at last year's retreat in Southern Pines. Shivar and other staff members provided updates on various projects and asked the Town Council to identify those the board would like to focus on in the coming year.
A few highlights:
*Find a downtown development manager. Council member Erv Portman likened the position to the kind of work a mall manager might perform, but added that anyone selected to fill such a post would need to strike a balance between the public and private sectors.
Council member Jennifer Robinson said she envisioned the manager perhaps working alongside officials at the Cary Chamber of Commerce to draw new business downtown. Interim Town Manager Ben Shivar, who will temporarily fill the role, said it was an important role.
"We need someone who can bring focus to that area and direct competing interests," he said.
*Begin planning for a new business park. Interim Town Manager Ben Shivar said that he, along with Cary's economic development manager, would likely meet with staff in Chatham County in coming weeks to discuss an idea to build a new business park that would provide economic benefits to both parties.
Some on the council liked the idea in theory. "I don't think there's anything better we can do from an economic development standpoint than to make sure this is built," Council member Erv Portman said of the concept. "It's a relatively cheap economic stimulus initiative."
But Julie Robison and Jennifer Robinson were among those on the board who urged caution in moving forward with the idea of building in a neighboring county. Both Robison and Robinson suggested as an alternative that the Town Council might want to also explore development near the NW Cary rail station or in downtown.
*Continue promoting 'green' practices. Mayor Harold Weinbrecht expressed a dissatisfaction with the amount of litter he sees along Interstate 40 and suggested an anti-litter campaign as a means of raising awareness of environmental issues.
Ideas proposed for such an initiative included Julie Robison's idea of sponsoring a cleanup day through the Haw River Assembly, a non-profit group helping to protect the Haw River and Jordan Lake. Also, Erv Portman proposed conducting an anti-litter campaign to coincide with Earth Day in April.
In his 13 years working for the Town of Cary, Interim Town Manager Ben Shivar says he can't recall a year in which the Town Council has held its annual retreat at home. But in a slow economy, money talks.
"The main thing for this year is that, given the current economic situation, the council felt it was important to hold the cost as low as possible," Shivar said.
In keeping with that idea, Cary's council and staff have indeed traded what might be viewed by some as the luxuries of the past -- in recent years, the council has stayed at swanky hotels in Southern Pines and Wilmington -- for the comforts of home. This year's retreat is being held at the Embassy Suites Raleigh-Durham on Harrison Oaks Boulevard.
A cost analysis provided by the town shows that Cary has trimmed its costs for the retreat by about $5,000 when compared to 2008. The total estimated costs this year are $12,900.61. Last year, the town spent $17,954.24.
The biggest savings this year came in the area of hotel costs, which have been estimated at $3,921.65. That's less than half of the $8,622.08 Cary spent on its 2008 retreat at the Mid-Pines Hotel in Southern Pines.
Valiria Willis, Cary's human resources manager, said the difference could be attributed to the fact that no council members or town employees are staying at the hotel. The bill this year primarily includes the costs of food and reservations, she said.
Another break from tradition: Council and staff held only one dinner social this year. On Friday, the Town Council and town employees dined at Maximilian's on Chapel Hill Road at an approximate cost of $978.96.
Also factored into this year's retreat costs are $7,000 to pay for a facilitator and $1,000 in miscellaneous expenses, including travel costs for two guest speakers.
As it begins to shape its vision for, well, shaping its vision, the Town Council turned today to leaders in two other growing communities for insight.
Council specifically sought information about the reasons that the communities sought input from their citizens. They also wanted to know how town leaders in Columbus, Ohio and Franklin, Tenn., accomplished that task, the costs associated with the process and the ways in which the results helped redefine those towns.
Dan Klatt, an alderman in Franklin, and Vince Papsidero, planning administrator in Columbus, spoke to council today even as Cary tries to decide how to shape its own vision for the future.
Last year, town officials sought proposals from contractors interested in helping Cary through its visioning process. The town received 26 proposals, from which it hopes to choose one by the end of March. Work on the vision project could begin by April 15, according to Jeff Ulma, Cary's planning director.
Perhaps most notable in the presentations by Klatt and Papsidero were the reasons they gave for their own towns' efforts to define a vision. Klatt said Franklin spent more than $150,000 and received almost matching funds from the community for its project, which he said was partly a response to development in the growing town.
(According to Klatt, Franklin's population exploded in the 1990s. The town's current population of 60,000 is expected to reach 90,000 residents by the year 2020, he said.)
"Early in 2000, our community leaders felt that the grade and type of development could degrade our quality of life," Klatt said. "We wanted to create a vision for the future rather than just letting things happen and then reacting."
Papsidero said his hometown took on the task of defining a vision at the behest of Mayor Michael Coleman, who Papsidero said hoped to see the project completed before the city's bicentennial celebration in 2012. He said Columbus spent more than $350,000 on a massive outreach effort to the community. About 6,000 residents participated in the process.
"We put it out there to people and said 'This is your chance to speak out on the future of your community," Papsidero said.
WhetherCary will expend those kinds of resources remains to be seen. In their own discussions today, council members seemed to struggle at times to explain the need for third-party involvement in the process and define the scope of the project. Ultimately, no clear decisions were made, but the council seemed pleased with the discussion of the project.
"Leadership is supposed to be challenging and make you feel on the edge," said Council member Gayle Adcock, speaking on the topic of seeking public and private input. "It's a gutsy thing to do to ask people what their opinions are. But then it's also going to take some guts on the back end to say, 'Yes, we will' or 'No, we won't' to certain things."
A few other quotes of the day:
"I think there's a demand to live in Cary. We're going to have increases in our population, and now we're reaching our boundaries. And our core is getting older. Those are the three things in my mind as to why we need to think about how we're growing."
--Mayor Harold Weinbrecht
"I think there's consensus on what we don't want. We don't want something where we frame it so much that we know what they're [citizens] going to tell us or so broad that it doesn't provide any definition."
--Council member Erv Portman, on the idea of surveying citizens about a vision for Cary's future
In his own words, Mayor Harold Weinbrecht opened the Cary Town Council's annual retreat today by putting into perspective the year 2008 -- the second year of his first term in office.
"It's been better than I ever could have expected," he said.
But that doesn't mean he didn't expect more. The same could be said of his fellow council members, who, along with Weinbrecht, reflected on their expectations of the governing body and by defining the degree to which the Town Council has met those expectations.
Led by Phil Boyle, an independent consultant with Carrboro-based Leading and Governing Associates Inc., the councl reviews a list of 20 expectations. As a group, the council members chose from the list a few expectations they felt had been met or exceeded:
*Recognizing and respecting the need for council members to take different positions on different issues
*Respecting different perspectives
*Getting things done
*Striving for excellence
The town council also chose from the list three expectation that had perhaps not been met to their satisfaction, or in other wods, areas in which the Town Council could improve its performance:
*Coordinating communication with constituents
*Remaining supportive of council decisions that deviate from one's personal ideology
*Doing great things
Town employees were also given a chance to weigh in on the their expectations of the Town Council. Cary's staff offered up the following as its perceived strengths and weaknesses:
Strengths -- supporting staff in public, only criticizing in private; communicating the values on which decisions are based; trusting, recognizing and respecting staff; showing a willingness to consider multiple alternatives
Weaknesses -- identifying problems instead of solutions; raising concerns in advance; setting priorities.
Council member Julie Robison expressed her appreciation for and satisfaction with the team-building exercise. "It's reaffirming," she said. "These are the kinds of things I would hope our council would exhibit. I would be disappointed if we didn't connect ourselves in these ways."
It was about a year ago that Helen Joostema got her red-light camera ticket in the mail from the town of Cary. A candid camera had snapped her as she turned left from Kildaire Farm Road onto Cary Parkway.
"I'm still fuming," she said on the phone today after she read this week's Road Worrier. "I thought I had gotten over it until I read your article."
Joostema didn't think the fleeting yellow light had given her enough time to stop safely before the light turned red, especially with another car right on her tail.
"If I just jammed on the brakes, I would have been hit from the back," she said.
She dialed the phone number on her ticket. She talked to a rude guy who insisted that the yellow light lasted 4 seconds. . . .
OK, maybe the Road Worrier's crude method of counting time won't hold up in traffic court ("Yellow is fleeting on Cary traffic light").
If the Road Worrier wants to do a more credible job of counting traffic signal times, reader Paul Ferguson points out that even cheap digital watches have timer options. Agreed.
But you get the idea: When you only get a brief yellow-light warning that you'll have to stop soon, it's easy to get caught running a red light.
How brief is the yellow light warning at some intersections in Cary's red-light camera program?
Cary says 3 or 4 seconds. I'm skeptical. And some readers are skeptical, too.
I really believe that the yellow traffic light at Kildaire Farm and Maynard goes off within 1 or 2 seconds - Trupti Desai . . .
Briarcliff Elementary School music specialist Janice Wilson teaches her students about The Nutcracker Ballet on Friday morning December 12, 2008. ... more