Deep Dive into Aquastar

One of the truly innovative and cost-saving projects that I’ve been privileged to learn about since I joined Town Council is Aquastar.

Aquastar is the name we use in Cary to refer to the advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system for our water. The Aquastar program replaces what WAS the monthly manual reads of your water meter, with a wireless system that collects multiple remote meter reads every day. The technology used is often referred to as part of a Smart Grid infrastructure. The vendor of the system, Sensus (in Raleigh), worked closely with the town to find the right solution, while Johnson Controls developed and managed the project.  (In what the Town Staff refers to as “The Cary Way.”  I like that!)

(Here is the video that the Town used to share the process with all of us.)

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A Solar Farm in Cary

On Friday I got a chance to visit the new solar farm located at the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility. 

We’ve all seen solar panels, but you haven’t seen anything like this before.  Ok, well, I haven’t.

What is it?

Picture from Town of Cary

This solar farm is Wake County’s largest public-private solar energy system, located on a 7 acre plot of land within our South Cary Water Reclamation Facility. FLS Energy, an Asheville, NC company, was selected at the Town’s solar energy partner.  (You may have read about them before, they installed the solar project as SAS, and have several other projects in the area.)

Not only is this our first and largest public-private partnership, it’s the beginning of a number of installations that will not only support our sustainability efforts, but will also make money for the town. Yep, that’s right.  Without any upfront costs or maintenance costs during the life of the lease, the Town will generate lease revenue of $35,000 a year for this part of the project, alone.  (The town’s lease is for 20 years.)   Read More…


As I sit here at my lunch break, I realized that I haven’t been very public about all the various issues that have come before council lately.

So, in the spirit of open communications – here are my thoughts regarding some of these recent issues.

Chickens aka “Backyard Hens”

Photo from Tour D'Coop

I was a late comer in the “chicken” issue.  It was an issue that came up during the municipal election last year, and has been discussed at the council table in prior years. During the election season, I was cautiously supportive, concerned that Backyard Hens would alter the character of Cary.

But after Councilman Frantz brought it forward to council for consideration, I took the opportunity to do some in-depth research. I visited a number of homes on the Raleigh Tour d’Coop,  spoke to Josh Stein (who had a Chicken Coop in his backyard in Raleigh), and met with and talked to the folks at Cary Chickens.  I spoke with folks at the City of Durham and Raleigh – both municipalities that allow it.  What I heard from them, and from our staff, is that the nuisance complaints are few, and backyard hens have become a bit of an economic engine, in fact.

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Green fire station coming soon

I’m sure that I’ll be writing a number of blog posts that comment on my first “this” or my first “that.”  And this is one of those.

My first “ground breaking.”  

Yes, I wore the required construction hat.  Yes, there was dirt.  And yes, it looked like they had already started work.  (Hence, “ground breaking -> “ground broken.” )

Along with Councilmembers Jack Smith, Jennifer Robinson, and Mayor Weinbrecht, we were joined by representatives from Senators’ Richard Burr and Kay Hagan’s office, and Representative David Price’s office, as well as Representative Renee Ellmers.  We were also joined by State Representative Jennifer Weiss and a member of the EPA.

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Fracking, Round 2

There are two questions I get most often from people when they learn that I’m a member of Cary Town Council.

  1. How much time does it take? (I haven’t figured that out, yet.)
  2. How different is working on council than in the private sector? Now that’s a harder question. 

Normally, my answer is that I’m surprised how much longer things take in the Public Sector.  Not because there aren’t good people – in fact, quite the opposite.  But, if you can imagine doing your whole job, where just about every decision you make is out in the open, that just takes more time.  Also, because you and I and all citizens have the right to ask questions, provide feedback and input, and need to be informed – that can lengthen the process.

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