Monday, May 31, 2010

Remember why we celebrate Memorial Day

As we celebrate Memorial Day I want to share a poem written by Mary Castaldi. It is a tribute to her father who was killed in Korea when she was six years old.

Over 1 million brave men and women have died fighting for freedom, liberty, and democracy since 1775. Over 400,000 were killed in WWII alone. Many were husbands, wives, sons and daughters who never returned to their families. We are forever in their debt. Freedom isn't free.

World War II called out to him
And that was all it took
But he was there when I was born
I saw my baby book.

When I was six he left again
He looked into my eyes
"I'll be back with hula skirts"
And then he said good-bye.

His uniform was crisp and green
He held me in his arms
I knew he wasn't coming back
No Dad, no skirts, no charms.

And though I was a little girl
I cried upon his shoulder
I knew deep down this was good bye
He wasn't getting older.

I felt so old, so wise that day
I still can feel the shame.
The family gathered round and played
I thought they were insane.

Twas Christmas day and he was gone
Korea was the name
Two months later MIA
No words can share the pain.

Fifty years have come and gone
Since we received the letter
He never came back home to us
It never does get better.

I need to tell the story
Because old men forget.
It's not just soldiers that we lose
their families are bereft

They hold a family update
To pacify our hurt
And then they send more babies
Out to die on foreign dirt.

It's not that I'm a pacifist
I'm not against all war
But I'm for talk and talk and talk
And then you talk some more.

The wars may be inevitable
And we will be prepared
But war should be the last resort
So little girls are spared.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What an Honor!

Don Frantz named 2010 NFIB NC Small Business Champion

Monday, May 17, 2010

Week in Review 5/9/10 - 5/14/10

Monday was our monthly Parks Recreation and Cultural Resources Advisory Board (PRCR) meeting. I serve as the council liaison to PRCR. The highlight – or maybe lowlight is a better word? – was a brief retirement reception for Cary’s outgoing PRCR Director Mary Henderson. Mary’s passion and dedication to making Cary a better place to live, work and especially play will be sorely missed.

On Thursday I attended the Cary Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Awards Luncheon at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Cary. Council members Jack Smith, Jennifer Robinson and Julie Robison were also in attendance. A good time was had by everyone – especially the folks at S&A Cherokee, the 2010 Cary Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year Award Winner! Other businesses and community partners receiving awards were:

· Carolina Auto Spa: Award for Innovation
· Avcon Inc.: Community Service Award
· Tri-Clean Inc: Employer of the Year
· Green Hope High School: Entrepreneurial Award in Education
· Triangle Aquatics Center: Charitable Partners Award

Congratulations to all the award winners and thank you for everything you do for our community!

Afterwards was our council meeting. Two notable topics included whether or not to pursue LEED certification for Cary Fire Station #8 (being built soon) and a shared leave policy for Cary Town employees.

The council voted 4-3 to not support pursuing LEED certification due to the additional $41,000 it would cost Cary taxpayers. The council did however agree to pursue a green-build. In a nutshell, the fire station will be built to LEED standards, but without the certification due to cost. These are trying economic times. To fund this initiative would mean we would have to cut somewhere else and our budget has already been scraped to the bone. Make no mistake, the council takes environmental protection seriously. The definition of environmental protection is just that – protecting our environment. By constructing the fire station to LEED standards that’s exactly what we are doing.

The shared leave policy is a program that allows an employee to donate some of his or her vacation time to another employee if that employee or an immediate family member experiences a catastrophic medical event. For example, if a town employee was diagnosed with cancer, and after using up their own sick leave and vacation time, town employees could donate some of their own vacation time to help the individual meet his or her financial obligations while they recover. Since an employee is donating time that they would otherwise be paid for to another employee, it costs the town nothing. The discussion centered on how much time an employee may ever receive. The council approved the town staff recommendation of 160 hours (4 weeks) and directed staff to investigate the effects of expanding that to 480 hours like that of many other area municipalities.

That’s about it for this week. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Week in Review 4/26/10 - 5/2/10

On Monday afternoon Mayor Weinbrecht and I taped the May episode of Cary Matters – the monthly program designed to help keep you informed about and involved in the issues that we, the members of your town council, are working on as your elected representatives ;-) Taping Cary Matters is always a lot of fun and who knows, maybe the Mayor and I will win another award!

Afterwards I attended the Western Wake Republican Club’s monthly meeting at Ragazzi’s near Cary Town Center.

On Tuesday I met with the developers of a potential project in northwest Cary. While they are in the early planning stages, and most of what they are proposing makes sense, I encouraged them to meet with the area residents to better understand whatever concerns they may or may not have. Things tend to work out for the best when all stakeholders have a voice up front in the process.

Afterwards the council held a worksession to discuss stormwater runoff and flooding. The council has worked hard over the last couple of years to strengthen our stormwater runoff and retention ordinances which are now the strongest in the state. While I am confident they will better protect area residents from any runoff associated with future development, unfortunately these ordinances were not in place 5, 10 or 20 years ago. Some of the older areas of town that didn’t used to have any stormwater issues now do.

The majority of council felt that Cary’s current policies (policies 35 and 146 which enable residents to petition the town for assistance) are working well and that we did not need to make any significant adjustments. While I too believe these policies are working well, I believe we can do better.

What council ultimately directed staff to do was:

· Better incorporate flood control measures into future stream restoration projects
· Reevaluate the 50/50 cost share associated with policy 35
· Perform a FEMA Floodplain study and report back to council

(note – it appears that Cary will be receiving a $750,000 federal grant to perform this comprehensive study. When council approved our Federal Legislative Agenda a few months back I had requested we include a request for federal assistance to address stormwater/flooding issues. It appears that request was successful)

On Wednesday I attended the Civitas Poll Luncheon in Raleigh and the Cary Chamber of Commerce Elected Officials Reception at the Matthews House in downtown Cary. Thanks to everyone at the Chamber and the Matthews House for their hospitality. Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time…, well, almost everyone ;-)

Our council meeting was Thursday evening. Notable agenda items included five annexations – all voluntary, two comprehensive transportation plan amendments, one comprehensive plan amendment, a rezoning, the award of contract for C-Tran services, and a partridge in a pear tree.

The discussion regarding the C-Tran contract award took much longer than expected as one council member believed this to be a good time to try and reengineer and expand the current program. While that discussion may or may not have merit, that was not what was on our agenda. The town’s contract with our current service provider is expiring and it was council’s responsibility to review the eligible bids received, and award a new contract. That was all. The council selected MV Transportation as our new service provider, replacing First Transit as MV offered increased services at a lower cost than what we are paying now.

After a healthy discussion, the council voted to deny the Weldon Ridge Planned Development District rezoning. The property in question was previously restricted to a school or church use during a previous rezoning and the applicant was requesting a change to allow age restricted (senior) housing. Council members that were on the council when the original rezoning was approved stated that their basis of support for the original rezoning was the reservation of this site for a school – and that had they anticipated this site being developed as residential they never would have supported the original rezoning in the first place.

On Friday morning I spoke to a group of area businessmen and women about the economic climate in Cary and North Carolina and my work during the last 2 ½ years on the council. I also answered a number of questions from those in attendance regarding business and town policies.

On Sunday I had the pleasure of attending the Historic Landmark Plaque Presentation Ceremonies hosted by Capital Area Preservation and the Wake County Historic Preservation Commission at the Guess-Ogle House in downtown Cary. It was truly an honor to be a part of the event’s festivities recognizing four area historic properties, including the old Carpenter Farm Supply Complex located on Morrisville-Carpenter Road in Cary. Thanks to Carroll and Sheila Ogle for opening up their home for this special event.

Before I wrap it up I want to take a minute and say, “Good Luck” to all the candidates running for office who have a primary election this Tuesday. It has been a pleasure to get to know each and every one of you, and while everyone can’t win, you’re all winners in my book. Anyone with a desire to become involved in their government and the guts to stand before the voters will always have my respect. May the best man or woman win!
That’s it for this week. As always, thanks for reading!