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Fire Station Groundbreaking and Public Safety Changes
On October 23, the Town held a groundbreaking for the relocation of Fire Station No. 9. The event was well attended by town staff and surrounding neighbors. The station is anticipated to be complete in winter 2020. At the groundbreaking, Town Manager Sean Stegall announced the appointment of Allan Cain as Director of Public Safety and the promotion of Mike Cooper to Fire Chief.
Allan Cain, with nearly 38 years in the fire service, including nine years as Deputy Chief and 15 years as Chief in Cary, is the Town’s first Public Safety Director. This position will coordinate the efforts of Police and Fire, oversee emergency management, and work to strengthen Cary neighborhoods.
Deputy Fire Chief Mike Cooper was promoted to the newly-vacant Fire Chief position. A 31-year veteran of the fire service, Cooper has a wide range of experiences and education in areas including recruitment, training, operations, administration, budgeting, urban search and rescue, accreditation, community preparedness, emergency medical services, fire code and inspections, hazardous materials, and technical rescue. Cooper became Cary’s Deputy Fire Chief in 2017, after being hired as an Assistant Chief in 2005. “Mike has impressed me as a deep thinker, respected leader, and caring human being. I appreciate his willingness to be Cary’s next Fire Chief, and I look forward to the ideas and energy he’ll bring to the organization’s leadership team,” said Stegall.
Police Chief Retires
After an illustrious 28-year career in the Cary Police Department, Chief of Police Tony Godwin retired in December. Godwin became Chief in 2015 following a national search that yielded 78 applicants from as far away as Oregon and Nevada. Beginning with a stint as an NCSU intern, Godwin’s entire law enforcement career was in Cary where he served in every position, including as the first Deputy Police Chief. Chief Godwin’s contributions to the Town and community cannot be understated. During a time in our country’s history when community relations with police departments have been greatly challenged, Godwin’s leadership produced a completely different result in Cary where officers are said to serve the community, not police the community. “When it comes to chiefs of police, Tony’s among the best I’ve ever worked with,” said Sean Stegall, Town Manager and CEO. “He has had a profound impact on me and our community. His genuinely thoughtful and caring nature, along with his tremendous capabilities as a communicator, have been key in strengthening the bond between our officers and the individuals they serve.”
Upon Chief Godwin’s retirement, Sean Stegall appointed Toni Dezomits as Interim Chief of Police. Dezomits began her career in Cary in 1998 as a patrol officer and was named Assistant Police Chief in December 2015. Throughout her career, she has served in various roles, including SWAT team, Field Operations officer, District 2 commander and Professional Standards commander. She holds certifications as a law enforcement general instructor, specialized fitness instructor and taser instructor. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Phoenix and is a 2011 graduate of the FBI National Academy. Dezomits is a veteran of the United States Army, receiving the Army Commendation Medal for distinguished service for her service during Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield.
Given the importance a police chief selection is to the community, Stegall has committed to a thoughtful and comprehensive process.
9-1-1 Services Agreement with Apex and Morrisville
A multi-department work group continues to work to be able to provide emergency call-taking and dispatch services for the towns of Apex and Morrisville. The responsibility for these services spans the Police and Information Technology (IT) Departments and will significantly improve emergency communication and operations of police officers and firefighters among the three agencies. The IT Department is preparing the computer-aided dispatch consoles, 9-1-1 telephone switch equipment, and fiber connections between each municipality. The Police Department is hiring and training new emergency communication officers for this service. Council will consider adoption of an interlocal agreement before service begins.
In February 2018, the Town was named a “Champion City” by Bloomberg Philanthropies and was awarded a $100,000 grant. This grant was used to implement a pilot project sampling wastewater for concentrations of various opioid metabolites. Sample results gave focus to a public outreach campaign to combat the stigma of drug misuse and addiction. The project received national recognition for its creative use of technology and data to combat our nation’s most pressing health issue.
More importantly, this project proved locally to be an effective tool in starting conversations about how citizens can proactively protect their families and friends. Communication is a key component, as two-thirds of people who misuse prescription opioids get their drugs from family or friends. Twenty percent of NC high schoolers have used prescription opioids recreationally.
Overdose Statistics and Pill Takeback Statistics
The Town is pleased to see these improved statistics and grateful to know lives in our community have been saved. We continue to encourage citizens to talk with their doctors about prescribed medications, to properly
secure medications and to safely dispose of expired and unused medications.
Law Enforcement Body CamerasA new body-worn and in-car camera selection process began in 2018 with 12 vendor responses to Cary’s formal Request for Proposals. Cary’s camera selection committee has been evaluating proposals through meetings, reviews of vendor literature, requests for vendor presentations, and visits with other police agencies to review their selected camera systems. Next steps for Cary include the final selection of a preferred vendor, contract negotiation, Council consideration of the contract, and budget appropriation.
Homeland Security Assistance at Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility
On December 12, staff from the Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility (WWRWRF) participated in a multi-department and multi-agency infrastructure security review. The review was led by a Protective Security Advisor from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Infrastructure Protection. The review was voluntary and requested by the WWRWRF Manager, Damon Forney.
Consultation services provided by Homeland Security are confidential and help benchmark infrastructure protection against similar facilities throughout the nation. Participants in the day-long overview of security and infrastructure protection for the facility included Town of Cary staff from WWRWRF, Utilities, Police, Water Resources, Risk Management and Information Technology, Apex staff from Fire and Utilities, and Wake County EMS.
The event provided an open forum with subject matter experts in several disciplines discussing vulnerabilities ranging from physical security and cybersecurity, to basic dependencies, such as power, fuel and staff. Multiple operational scenarios were discussed throughout the daylong event. Information and data obtained throughout the session will be compiled by a Protective Security Advisor from Homeland Security and compared with other facilities. A report will provide a broad overview of readiness and preparedness for various security risks at WWRWRF. A similar exercise with Homeland Security was completed for the Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility in November 2017.
Pressure Zone Operations
The planned pressure zone shift for the area surrounding Carpenter Village and Twin Lakes was completed on December 13, following a two-day delay due to winter weather. Approximately 1,700 homes and businesses experienced a pressure increase of 45 psi and are now part of the Central Pressure Zone. In planning for the pressure zone shift, citizens were notified of the operation through direct mailings, public meetings, web pages, Nextdoor and integrated voice response. This work is part of the Cary’s water system management strategy to ensure a more resilient and reliable water system. The pressure zone shift also supports the implementation of the Good Hope Storage Tank, which is under construction.
This pressure zone shift, the third in 2018 and the fifth since 2017, was the smoothest operation to date. While the recent shift included the largest group of citizens, it resulted in the fewest number of citizen calls after the operation. Out of more than 1,700 metered accounts, staff only received about a dozen follow-up calls, primarily requests for pressure checks on the day of the operation. We received one call for flushing and two calls for potential leaks. Town staff followed up with the citizens and assisted with troubleshooting and next steps. The success of the operation can be attributed to factors that include newer construction and modern plumbing materials, greater citizen awareness and overall preparedness, and a well-coordinated implementation plan.
Citizen engagement through multiple layers of communication has been very important in raising awareness. One of the most important citizen engagement tools has been free pressure testing provided by staff. The pressure tests provide a way for citizens to better understand exactly how water pressure affects their individual residence, and whether their plumbing systems are adequately protected from water pressure above 80 psi. From the first shift to this most recent pressure shift, the percentage of homes requesting pressure tests continues to increase. Over 60 percent of citizens from our most recent pressure zone shift took advantage of free pressure testing.
There is one major pressure zone shift remaining for the Preston Village and Heritage Pines areas, which is currently scheduled for April 2019. This last pressure zone change will complete implementation of the new pressure zone boundary. Town staff are planning for this pressure zone shift, which will affect about 1,200 homes in Preston Village and Heritage Pines. Notice letters will be mailed
Utility Assistance to Robbins
In November, Triangle J Council of Governments requested utility operator assistance on behalf of the Town of Robbins. Cary and Durham County responded by offering temporary assistance while Robbins is recruiting and hiring a Water System Operator in Responsible
The Town of Robbins, population 1,200, is located in northwestern Moore County and operates with a small multi-disciplinary staff who maintain streets, utilities, and public works for the Town. Robbins is still actively recovering from infrastructure damage associated with Hurricane Florence.
Davis Reynolds, a Cary Water Distribution System Operator and a resident of Moore County with 35 years of public service, agreed to serve in the same capacity for the Town of Robbins until they hire a new ORC. Davis has already been instrumental in supporting Robbins through his contacts with Public Water Supply and surrounding utilities that operate in Moore County. Davis and his Durham County counterpart are both meeting with the staff in Robbins at least once per week to support their water system management program. Davis recently assisted with a water main break that occurred in late December.
This is a great example of governments working together. The Town of Cary, Durham County, Triangle J and the NC Dept of Environmental Quality’s Public Water Supply section collaborated to support Robbins, ensuring that their citizens have continuous access to clean, safe drinking water. Special thanks for Davis Reynolds for demonstrating the Cary Way by going the extra mile in supporting our neighbors.
Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility Celebrates Four Year Anniversary
In celebration of four years of operation, staff from the Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility (WWRWRF) proudly shared what they call the “Greatest Place on Earth” by providing a tour for Cary staff members on October 16, and then hosting a neighborhood BBQ and tour for New Hill neighbors. Cary and Apex staff and council members joined in the evening celebration. Cary’s largest capital project, the WWRWRF provides a great model of regional collaboration among Cary, Apex and Morrisville in planning for the future of wastewater treatment capacity in western Wake County.
The facility initiated operations on July 28, 2014 and began providing treated water to the Cape Fear River on August 11. Facility Manager Damon Forney and the plant staff have successfully provided high-quality, treated wastewater to the Cape Fear River Basin during the first four years of operation. Earlier this summer, the staff received a Gold Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. The award recognizes their achievement of operating at a high level of permit compliance and consistently surpassing regulatory performance standards.
An unusual early-December storm brought the season’s first winter weather event to Cary when snow began to fall at 3 a.m. on December 9. Twelve hours later, nearly six inches of snow had landed on Cary streets. Public Works crews worked around the clock and within 24 hours plowed every street in Cary. Because of the nature of the event—a wet, plowable snow—less salt than usual was required. Total cost of the first snow storm of the season was $131,000.
In January 2018, China instituted its “National Sword” Policy which set contamination limits for imported recycled materials at a maximum of 0.5 percent. The policy virtually stopped the flow of mixed paper and mixed plastics from U.S. materials recovery facilities (MRFs). The current industry standard ranges from 4 to 5 percent. Actual contamination rates can be even higher.
In July 2017, Cary was receiving $10 per ton of recycled material and by December 2018, the Town was paying $37 per ton to have the recycled materials processed. Since it takes about eight weeks to transport material to China, the markets dropped even before the National Sword policy went into effect. In response to the changing market conditions, our local MRF slowed their processing line and added state of art sorting machines to improve the quality of their materials. With little to no material being imported by China, there is a surplus of recyclables. The remaining buyers can be very demanding, not only about the price, but also about the quality of the material they will accept. The impact on the Town is shown in the accompanying chart. Cary has experienced a $47 per ton net change in price, given the difference between currently paying $37 per ton to dispose of recycling compared to receiving $10 per ton just 18 months ago. With Cary citizens recycling about 10,500 tons of material a year, this has increased the cost of the program by nearly $500,000.
While it may not create the same hype as the 1976 Rose Royce disco hit single, “Car Wash,” the Town of Cary recently completed a two-bay heavy equipment wash facility that is worthy of “getting down.” Heavy equipment washing has been a significant concern for many years as stormwater runoff requirements continue to change and our heavy equipment fleet continues to grow. In FY 2018, the capital budget provided the final design and construction funding to bring this important project to fruition. Previously, the Town performed this function at the Dixon Avenue site in an open pit area, originally established as an interim solution. The new facility, with one automated and one manual bay, features recycled wash water, low impact controlled chemical disbursement in the cleaning process, deep pit debris collection, an oil/water separator, significant stormwater runoff improvements, and safety enhancements. The wash facility was one component of an overall project that also included storage for winter weather brine and spreader equipment and a small parking addition to the William Garmon Operations Center site. All components will be completed this winter.
From a parent, Christy Mingis Cornell:
“Just wanted to let you know that my girls, Kate and Caroline, participated in the Town of Cary’s Teen trip (for the first time) last Saturday to Myrtle Beach and had a great time with Programs Specialist Patrick Duffy. He was very professional and reassuring that the girls were in good hands on such a long day trip. I thank you for offering these programming opportunities for my girls to socialize and explore with teens their own age. Please give my kudos and appreciation to Patrick for his willingness to lead this trip. The girls look forward to going on future teen trips with him and other Teen Programs staff this winter/spring.”
From Donna Gast, USTA NC President; Kelly Gaines, USTA NC Executive Director; Francie Barragan, Chair, USTA NC Tennis Pro Relations Committee:
“USTA North Carolina, along with the Western Wake Tennis Association Executive Director, Laura Weygandt, would like to recognize and express our appreciation for the outstanding work that Daniel Ebert has done over the years not only for the Western Wake Tennis Association, but also for the Town of Cary with regards to promoting and organizing USTA programming. Daniel is highly respected across the state for his efforts, energy and passion in promoting WWTA initiatives, Junior Team Tennis, Abilities Tennis and overall play. He is recognized by his peers as easy to work with, very knowledgeable, a hard worker and very conscientious. We feel that Daniel is a tremendous asset not only to you but also the Town of Cary and to the North Carolina tennis community. We at USTA North Carolina wanted you to know how we feel about Daniel and his hard work. On behalf of the USTA North Carolina Board of Directors, we would like to express our thanks to Daniel, the Cary Tennis Park program, the Town of Cary management for all that you do in supporting tennis in North Carolina.”
From Carol Cross of Heroic University:
“The young lady at the front desk (SharDe Herr) was lovely. She made a routine transaction feel really special. I’m impressed by the high level of quality of almost all the Town of Cary staff, but she was particularly outstanding in a receptionist-type role.”