TST Returns, New Council Sworn In, First Responders Breakfast, Economic Development Committee, the Cary Parade, and the Palestinian Protest

Mayor Harold Weinbrecht publishes his weekly blog post on his personal blog (mayorweinbrecht.com), sharing his thoughts and updates on local news and events in Cary, NC. The Cary Report, with permission from the town, will be re-publishing the Mayor’s blog as they are posted each Sunday. The following is the latest from Mayor Harold Weinbrecht.

Read the original post here.

TST Coming Back to Cary

Monday it was announced that TST (The Soccer Tournament) was not only coming back to Cary but was expanding. Here is the press release:

Boston, Mass. (December 4, 2023) – The Soccer Tournament (TST), the 7v7 event with a $1 million winner-take-all prize, today announced its plans for an expanded 2024 event, featuring the addition of an eight-team women’s tournament for a separate $1 million prize. With the launch of the women’s tournament and an equal seven-figure prize, TST immediately becomes the highest stakes women’s professional soccer event in the world.

The expansion adds to TST’s momentum coming off of a sold-out inaugural event, where more than 35,000 fans attended the 32-team tournament in June. The women’s tournament will run concurrently to TST’s expanded 48-team event at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina from June 5-10. TST 2024 will culminate in a championship game doubleheader on June 10, where a total of $2 million in prize money will be awarded.

“We are thrilled to add a third event to our portfolio and to have it be our highest stakes competition ever,” said Jon Mugar, founder and CEO of The Tournament. “This instantly becomes one of the highest stakes events in all of women’s sports, with the only thing standing between teams and one million dollars being four exceptional hours of soccer. This will attract some of the most talented players and clubs from around the world.”

US Women, a team organized by former U.S. Women’s National Team star Heather O’Reilly, will headline TST’s eight-team field. The women’s event, which kicks off June 7, will feature two groups with four teams in each. Two teams from each group will emerge to compete in the semifinals on June 9. TST will crown its first ever $1 million women’s champion on June 10.

“I’m incredibly excited to be a part of TST’s inaugural women’s tournament,” said former U.S. Women’s National Team star Heather O’Reilly “Their commitment to a $1 million prize for both men’s and women’s players is incredibly important in our ongoing fight for equal pay. This event will be a great addition to the women’s sports landscape, and I can’t wait to take part in it with some of my former national team teammates.”

TST’s original event will see an increase from 32 to 48 teams this summer, with teams competing in 12 groups of four June 5-6. Thirty-two teams will emerge from the group stage games to the knockout rounds on June 7. TST’s round of 16 and quarterfinals will take place on June 8, and the two semifinal matches will be played June 9. TST’s winner-take-all championship game will follow the conclusion of the women’s championship on June 10.

The inaugural TST included globally renowned clubs such as Wrexham AFC, Borussia Dortmund, West Ham, Wolverhampton, and sports stars like Clint Dempsey, Steve Nash, Cesc Fabregas, and Chad Johnson, among others. More than 25 players with U.S. National Team experience and a combined 1,444 caps on both the men’s and women’s side competed in the event, including Heather O’Reilly, Kirstine Lilly, Jermaine Jones, Eddie Johnson, Geoff Cameron, Jimmy Conrad, Chris Wondolowski, Brek Shea, and more.

TST, which is an open-entry event, received nearly 400 applicants for its 2023 tournament. Spots are still open for both 2024 events, and interested teams can apply by emailing TST@thetournament.com.

Fans can now purchase all-sessions passes for TST 2024, or sign up for the single-session waitlist at https://thetournament.com/tst/tickets.

I am looking forward to the TST next year. If you missed it last year it is a must see for 2024.

Town Manager One-On-One

Monday I met with the town manager and town clerk for my weekly one-on-one. We talked about the organizational meeting and the upcoming work session on policies and procedures.

Council Organizational meeting

Thursday the council said so long to two council members, swore in two new council members, and swore in a returning at-large council member and me.

In the afternoon those being sworn in did walk through and signed documents with those in the ceremony. I was joined by NC Senator Gale Adcock, my wife Belinda, my daughter Cara, my son-in-law Brandon, and my almost two-year-old grandson Brady. Afterwards I had pictures taken of my grandson in the mayor’s chair with my gavel. That is a picture I will never forget!

Following a reception for all in the town hall lobby, everyone gathered in the council chambers for the organizational meeting. The meeting began with comments from long time council member Don Frantz followed by comments from council member Ryan Eades who was appointed in January. Then council members provided their praise before a short recess.

The meeting resumed with NC Senator Gale Adcock swearing me in as mayor, NC Representative Maria Cervania swearing in Lori Bush and Michelle Craig as a council members, and me swearing in Sarika Bansal as a council member.

Next the council unanimously elected Jennifer Bryson-Robinson as Mayor Pro-Tem. We then adopted the 2024 meeting schedule. The final action was me reading my appointments:

Town of Cary – Special Committees

  • Economic Development Committee: Weinbrecht, Smith, and Robinson
  • Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility Advisory Committee: Weinbrecht
  • Cary/Chatham County Joint Issues Committee: Robinson and Bush
  • Cary/Morrisville Joint Issues Committee: Weinbrecht, Robinson, Bush
  • Western Wake Partners Policy Advisory Committee: Weinbrecht
  • Human Relations, Inclusion, and Diversity Task Force: Weinbrecht

Town of Cary – Boards/Commissions

  • Environmental Advisory Board: Smith
  • Historic Preservation Commission: Craig
  • Information Services Advisory Board: Bush
  • Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Advisory Board: Bansal
  • Planning and Zoning Board: Robinson
  • Public Art Advisory Board: Kohn-Johnson
  • Senior Advisory Board: Kohn-Johnson
  • Zoning Board of Adjustment: Bansal

The organization meeting concluded after about two hours.

First Responders Breakfast

Wednesday morning I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Bryson-Robinson, and Council members Kohn-Johnson, Bush, Craig, and Bansal at the Cary Chamber’s First Responders breakfast to honor the Cary Police Department, Cary Fire Department, Wake County EMS, Wake County Sheriff’s Office, Cary American Legion Post 67, Duke Raleigh Hospital, UNC Health, and WakeMed Cary Hospital. The key speaker was Scott “Intake” Kartvedt who is a Blue Angels pilot. He was a phenomenal speaker with a motivational message for all. His non-profit, The Blue Angels Foundation, is “Committed to supporting critical services for our nation’s wounded warriors and their families
including transitional housing assistance and post-traumatic stress treatment.” Cary businesses raised over $24,000 for this event and presented the check to him.

After the event I had the privilege to have my picture taken with all the first responder heroes. We are so blessed to have all of them.

Economic Development Committee

Wednesday evening I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Robinson, council member Smith, and several leaders from our business community in a meeting of the Economic Development Committee.

A Summary of Economic Development Activity was presented to the committee by Ms. Roth, head of the Cary Chamber’s Economic Development. Some of the things I noted from the report:

  • Kellogg is expanding.
  • Suburban office parks are no longer as popular. Several significant leases are expiring which could result in the loss of some companies due to “flight of equality”. Those companies desire office environments in mixed use like Fenton and Downtown Cary.
  • LaunchCary is being launched by the Cary Chamber in January.
  • Coworking space is available in the new Rogers building.
  • Momentum is increasing for downtown businesses.

In Town Manager Stegall’s report, he noted the new council and potential new shifts in direction. He also talked about the strength of our intergovernmental relationships. One of the most eye-opening parts of his presentation was about the lack of available electricity from Duke to provide for future expansion of towns in the region. New transmission lines will be needed, especially in Morrisville.

Ted Boyd, Cary’s Economic Development Director, said that the South Hills rezoning should start next year. He also talked about the RFQ for town hall campus and the Kildaire Farm Road visioning project. He handed out draft documents to committee members for their feedback on the visioning. The committee will meet at a workshop in January to provide their feedback.

The meeting concluded after a couple of hours.

Cary Matters Taping

Thursday evening I had the pleasure of taping two Cary Matters episodes. One with new council member Sarika Bansal, and one with new council member Michelle Craig. I asked the following of each:

  • Tell us about yourself.
  • What most excites you about being a council member?
  • What do you look forward to in the new year?

Rapid Fire Questions:

  • Go-To Food/Meal?
  • Favorite Park in Cary and Why?
  • What was the last show you binged and loved?
  • Tell us about a concert you’ll never forget.
  • One word that describes your personality.

Make sure to watch Cary Matters to see their answers.

Sister Cities Holiday Event

Thursday night I attended an event sponsored by the Cary Sister Cities. Joining me were council members Kohn-Johnson, Craig, and Smith. After saying a few words, I introduced NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall who provided comments.

Cary Christmas Parade

Saturday the Cary Jaycees held its annual Christmas parade. While I was unable to attend this year due to a brief illness, I was able to watch the parade via WRAL streaming video.

Unfortunately, this year’s parade was controversial because of a float from Cary Pride.

(see the float and participants at time stamp 1:24:50 of WRAL’s stream at https://www.wral.com/story/cary-christmas-parade-delivers-holiday-cheer/21188256/ ).

I received hundreds of emails criticizing me (to put it very politely) for something where I, the council, and the management staff were not part of the decision-making process.

Most of the emails objected to the mocking of priests and nuns. Another significant portion of the emails objected to having drag queens on floats. And others objected to the gay community being allowed to have a float in the parade. Here is the statement I issued in response:

Let me begin by thanking you for contacting me.  I am deeply saddened that the annual Jaycees Christmas parade has become controversial as Christmas is a time for unity. Unfortunately, the Town of Cary was not in a decision-making position regarding the parade.

The Jaycees Christmas Parade is an annual event put on by the Cary Jaycees not the Town of Cary. The Jaycee’s board decides who can be in the parade not the mayor, council, or management staff. According to the town manager and town attorney: “we do not and cannot ask them to remove the float – absent a clear and direct threat to public safety – as this matter is protected free speech.” In other words, there was no authority to allow the mayor, council, or staff to prevent this from being in the parade.

The ones that made this decision are Jaycee board members who are reachable at board@caryjaycees.org and parade@caryjacees.org .

Thank you again for contacting me.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

The Jaycees issued a statement as follows:

The Cary Jaycees is aware of some concerns regarding participants in this year’s Cary Christmas Parade. As you may know, The Cary Jaycees, a subsidiary of JCI USA, is a non-profit organization that has no political or religious affiliation, therefore the events we host, and plan also run along those guidelines. Because the parade is a community event, we invite all those who would like to participate the opportunity to do so. We do not endorse or condone any political candidates who may be participating in our parade. Anyone who purchased a spot in the parade are all required to adhere to the rules and regulations of being streamed on the internet, and the laws that govern public decency and lewdness. Furthermore, the town of Cary Police Department will be on hand to ensure that the parade is safe for everyone including our diverse community members and any little one’s present. We hope you have a wonderful time at the parade and enjoy a showcase of the diverse community of Cary.

Since I have no authority to decide who or what is in the parade, I would ASK that all future participants be respectful and kind. Being controversial or extreme doesn’t help anyone’s cause. A Christmas parade is a time when the community should join as one. I hope our future parades will be a time of joy rather than a time of controversy.

Palestinian Protest

Saturday night there was a small protest in downtown Cary supporting Palestinians in the Israel-Hamas war. The protestors did a walk through the park and there were no incidents.

Town Manager’s Report

Sean’s Message

It was great seeing each of you on Tuesday, and I look forward to our meetings together on Thursday.
Have a great weekend.

Tree Lighting Video Available

Cary’s Annual Tree Lighting took place at its new location at Downtown Cary Park on Sunday, December 3. The event was live-streamed for the first time and will re-air on Cary TV through Christmas. You can also watch the full video online.

Chamber Hosts Annual First Responders Appreciation Breakfast

On Wednesday, the Cary Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual First Responders Breakfast at Prestonwood Country Club. Keynote speaker Scott Kartvedt, a former Blue Angels pilot who served 20 years in the Navy and was featured in the movie “Top Gun: Maverick,” shared inspirational stories about his personal journey with the audience, which included members of the Cary Police and Fire Departments, Wake County EMS, the Wake County Sheriff’s Department, and the military, as well as Mayor Harold Weinbrecht and Councilmembers Lori Bush, Carissa Kohn-Johnson, Jennifer Robinson, Michelle Craig, and Sarika Bansal.

Victorian Christmas at the Page Walker

On Saturday, more than 400 guests enjoyed an old-fashioned Christmas atmosphere at the Page-Walker. There were cookies with cider, Victorian carolers, a cute craft for kids, holiday stories, and a special guest from the North Pole. Councilmember Michelle Craig took part in the festivities. 

Heart of the Holidays Competition Underway

Two cherished Heart of the Holidays competitions kicked off last Saturday. Cary’s 12th Annual Gifting Tree Project has transformed South Academy Street and the Downtown Cary Park into a dazzling display of 120 Christmas trees. Local schools, organizations, and families have decorated their trees for a chance to win a donation to the nonprofit group of their choice. Voting will remain open through December 17. Additionally, community members can cast their votes in Cary’s 13th Annual Gingerbread House Competition, hosted by 15 businesses throughout downtown. On display are 24 houses built by gingerbread pros, hobbyists, families, and kids. Apart from winners chosen by judges in adult and kids categories, one People’s Choice winner will be decided by community vote. Voting for this competition will be open through December 9.

Police & Fire Hosts Heroes & Helpers Event

On Saturday, Cary Police and Fire Departments hosted their annual holiday event, Heroes & Helpers! This event is more commonly known as Shop With A Cop, but Heroes & Helpers stands out by also featuring our firefighters. This is just another example of the strong departmental collaborations and partnerships we have here in Cary. Special thanks to the Target Walnut Street location for being the host retailer this year.

Environmental Education for Climate Action

In support of climate action, Cary hosted two free engagement opportunities this week, connecting citizens to sustainable solutions for their homes. A tree health class with our Urban Forester Leslie Moorman showcased steps for proper pruning techniques while over 30 citizens learned the essentials of residential solar with our Energy Manager Sara Caliendo.

Collaborating on Cary’s Tree Canopy

Growing a resilient urban forest requires the collaboration of both experts and dedicated community members, as demonstrated during the public comment period for the draft Urban Forest Master Plan. Between November 6 and December 6, over 9,000 citizens were introduced to Cary’s long-range vision for enhancing and maintaining our community trees. Given that 83% of Cary’s tree canopy exists on privately owned land, this public comment period presented an opportunity for citizens to contribute their voices to the protection and conservation of this important natural resource. The next steps involve summarizing the gathered input and collaborating with stakeholders to finalize the future strategy for trees in Cary.

Staff Visits CASSI in Charlotte

As a follow up to Cary’s CASSI pilot, Cary staff made a trip to the UNC Charlotte campus to visit the final pilot for the autonomous shuttle. Representatives from the University, as well as NCDOT, shared their experiences during this phase of testing with particular focus on how the lessons learned during the Cary pilot led to improvements in their program. Of note, UNC Charlotte researchers will be working with Cary data scientists to integrate data and share delivery methods for the benefit of the NCDOT researchers and CASSI users.

The trip was capped off with a ride on CASSI along its new route on the UNC Charlotte campus. The new route was noted as more complex due to the increased presence of pedestrians in a college campus environment, four connected traffic signals, and multiple left-turn movements that required decision making from the shuttle. This final pilot for the CASSI program will end on December 22.

Sergeant Alexander Awarded Public Information Officer Designation

Sergeant Kenric Alexander has been awarded the Public Information Officer (PIO) designation by the Commission on Professional Credentialing through the Center for Public Safety Excellence. This designation recognizes the critical role public information officers play in both emergency and daily operations by effectively communicating valuable information to the public. To achieve this credentialing, Sergeant Alexander demonstrated the equivalency of five years of continuous education, training, and experience as a Public Information Officer, including his recent achievement of being awarded Master PIO by the FBI’s Law Enforcement Executive Development Association. Sergeant Alexander is one of only 34 Public Information Officers internationally to receive professional credentialing from the Center for Public Safety Excellence.

2023 NCAA Women’s College Cup

This past week, Cary, in partnership with the University of North Carolina, Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, and NCFC Youth, hosted the 2023 NCAA Women’s College Cup at WakeMed Soccer Park. Staff across multiple departments worked together for several months to prepare for this championship. A total of 14,907 fans from all over the country visited Cary to watch as the Florida State Seminoles defended their spotless record and claimed their fourth national championship. 

Upcoming Meetings

Human Relations, Inclusion, and Diversity Task Force
Monday, December 11
6:00 p.m.

Environmental Advisory Board
Tuesday, December 12

6:00 p.m.

Historic Preservation Commission
Wednesday, December 13
6:30 p.m.

Council Work Session
Thursday, December 14
4:30 p.m.

Council Meeting
Thursday, December 14
6:30 p.m.

Mayor’s Mailbox

  • A gazillion complaints (actually over two hundred) about float 83 in the Christmas parade.
  • A thank you for getting a plaque on a bench at Booth Amphitheater.
  • A question about presenting at a council meeting.
  • A complaint about comments made at the Downtown Park Ribbon cutting.
  • Comments on the Draft Urban Forest Master Plan.
  • A complaint about a missed recycling pickup (it was picked up shortly after the email).
  • A complaint that money was wasted in the Cary runoff and that we should have weighted voting.

Next Week

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a Human Relations, Inclusion, and Diversity Task Force meeting, a meeting with NC Senator Gale Adcock, a Menorah Lighting, a council work session, the last regularly scheduled council meeting of the year, and a Wreaths Across America event.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, December 17th, 2023. 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 Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.

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