Saturday, October 18, 2008

Week in Review 10/13/08 - 10/18/08

Highlights of my work week as a member of the Cary Town Council included meetings with WCPSS and our public art advisory board, as well as meetings with town staff and our town council meeting. Lots of meetings! :-)

Members of council met with the Wake County Public School Board and staff on Tuesday. WCPSS presented an update regarding current and future building construction and renovations, and how the deteriorating economy factors into future construction plans, land acquisition and student assignment.

After WCPSS's presentation there was a good amount of time for open discussion between the board and council. Most of my comments/questions centered around curriculum - specifically vocational education. In my opinion, the best way to address the ever increasing drop out rate is through increased opportunities in vocational education. Let's face it, the majority of high school drop outs are not college bound kids to start with. They don't care about learning a foreign language or advanced level math. School is boring for them, and they would much rather enter the workforce. While we would like to believe every child should go to college, the reality is that isn't reality. Expanding vocational education (courses such as auto shop, construction, welding, or plumbing) in our high schools will give non college bound students a reason to want to come to school - they will be learning a trade that will ultimately lead to a good career instead of a job behind the counter at Burger King.

How many of you reading this realize a automotive technician (mechanic) can earn anywhere from $40,000 - $100,000 a year? Yet there is a shortage of automotive technicians in the workforce. Why? Kids aren't exposed to trades as a possible career path that's why. This needs to change or before too long there won't be anyone to fix your car, or your plumbing, or your air conditioning, or....

On Wednesday I attended the Public Art Advisory Board's monthly meeting to learn more about the proposed art for the fly tower and lobby area at Cary Elementary. It is my hope to avoid another scenario like we saw with a certain art tower a couple of months ago. I believe there to be a problem with process. Currently the council isn't periodically updated on projects as they move along through the process to ensure that council approves of the direction in which the board is heading. This is what happened with the art tower. By the time council was made aware of the project, it was 3 weeks until final approval and design was completed. I believe that council will be addressing the process issue in the near future, but in the meantime I felt that attending the Public Art Advisory Board's meeting would be wise in case it turned out I had any concerns...which I do. At our council meeting I recommended council table this project until such time that council and the Public Art Advisory can schedule a worksession to give everyone a chance to learn more about the projects and provide direction. It is better for all parties involved that council give input sooner than later.

Thursday evening was our council meeting, preceded by a reception for outgoing town manager Bill Coleman. The reception was a great time as many councilors and staff members both past and present were in attendance. It was good to see everyone and the amount of people in attendance was indicative of the amount of respect folks have for Bill.

The council meeting was an up and downer however. During the meeting everyone was given the opportunity to say their goodbyes to Bill and for me that was difficult. I have only worked with Bill as a member of council since December, but I have known him for years. He's not only a great leader but also a friend. I will miss him. Council did however honor his service by presenting him with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine from Governor Easley, as well as a proclamation naming the main baseball field at USA Baseball the William B. Coleman, Jr. Field. Bill is a huge baseball fan - he seemed pretty stoked with that one. :-)

I also spent a good amount of time this week working with town staff and communicating with residents in the Silverton area regarding a proposed commercial/office development at Cary Parkway, Winfair, and Evans Road. Residents in the area and myself have asked a number of questions and have expressed concerns over the project and our town staff is working diligently to address all of them.

I also want to let folks know about an upcoming Regional Issues Forum hosted by Apex Councilman Bryan Gossage, Morrisville Councilman Tom Murray, and myself. This will take place this Monday the 20th at 7:00 pm at the Cedar Fork Community Center in Morrisville. We plan to discuss issues such as resource management, transportation, and economic development. Please feel free to come and share your ideas about how to best deal with opportunities and issues facing our region.

That's about it for this week. As always, thanks for reading!