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February 18
​Construction to Begin on New Preserve

Hikers and horseback riders will soon have new trails to travel in eastern Wake County.

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The Wake County Board of Commissioners approved a construction contract for Procter Farm Preserve, a 571-acre property of forest and working farmland near Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon. The preserve, located between Doc Procter and Riley Hill roads, will primarily serve as an equestrian and hiking trail facility.

“Procter Farm Preserve will provide another option in Wake County for people to enjoy horseback riding and other recreational pursuits,” said Chris Snow, director of Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space. “We’re very excited to get started on this unique project.”

The county will construct approximately 6 miles of trails in the first phase of the project, which will also include:

  • A parking area for cars and vehicles with horse trailers
  • Picnic facilities
  • Informational and trail signage
  • A constructed wetland to treat stormwater runoff from the parking area
  • Native plants throughout the landscape.

The total cost of the project is $2.3 million. The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously on February 17 to approve a contract in the amount of $2 million with McQueen Construction of Bahama, North Carolina. The county will pay for construction using funds identified in the parks, recreation, greenways and open space capital improvement plan.

Work should start in late March, and the preserve could open to the public by the end of 2020 or in early 2021. Proctor Farm Preserve, which will be the county’s third preserve, is the largest tract of land owned by Wake County for parks, recreation and open space.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners strives to implement a comprehensive approach for preserving open space and developing parks and greenways to address gaps, leverage opportunities and resources, and enhance collaboration with municipal partners.

About Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space
Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space strives to provide outdoor recreation and educational opportunities while promoting environmental and cultural stewardship through a managed system of parks and open spaces. In 2018, more than 1.3 million people visited Wake County’s 10 parks and nature preserves. 

To learn more about Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space, follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @WakeGovParks. You can also check out each of our parks on Facebook.

February 17
Wake County Partners with Sheriff, Wildlife Commission to Reopen Gun Range to Residents on March 15

The Wake County Firearms Education and Training Center will reopen to the public on March 15 – offering both law enforcement officers and local residents more hours on the gun range.

This announcement comes after the Wake County Board of Commissioners voted today during its regular meeting to approve a partnership among Wake County, the Wake County Sheriff’s Office and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

“I’m proud of these organizations for working closely together to find a solution in a short amount of time that truly benefits everyone,” said Board Chairman Greg Ford. “It’s pretty remarkable that the firing range will reopen to the public just 60 days after it closed.”

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will operate the range’s service for the public, and the Wake County Sheriff’s Office will coordinate and schedule training for law enforcement. The range is located in Apex at 3921 Old Holly Springs-Apex Road.

Under the new partnership, additional hours will be added for both the public and law enforcement.

  • The public can shoot from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays and Fridays.
     
  • The Wake County Sheriff’s Office and its law enforcement partners will have access for training 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will charge no fees for the public to shoot, although the agreement allows the agency to add fees, if needed, to cover operational costs. Before issuing range passes, the commission will require safety training and facility orientation for first-time users.

“Providing access to shooting ranges that are open to the public is very important to our mission to recruit and retain hunters and recreational shooters,” said Erik Christofferson, deputy director of operations at the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. “By combining resources with partners such as Wake County, we’re able to provide locations to educate and teach safe firearms handling at more shooting ranges across the state than ever before.”

The new agreement is an interim step that will keep the range open for up to a year. In the meantime, Wake County will hire a consultant to study the range and identify a long-term plan to continue operations at the range.

February 17
​Board Approves Funding for New Cary Indoor Sports Complex

A future multi-use indoor sports complex planned for Cary Towne Center is one step closer to reality, thanks to action taken by the Wake County Board of Commissioners at its regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 17.

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The board voted unanimously to spend up to $2.36 million per year for 25 years to fund construction of the 100,000-square-foot facility. These funds would come from revenue generated by county taxes on overnight stays in local hotels and food and drinks purchased at local restaurants.

“The hospitality tax would provide about $35 million of the project’s estimated $193 million cost,” said Wake County Commissioner Susan Evans. “This would be money well spent, because we don’t have anything like this facility in the county now, and I’m very excited about the new opportunities it would provide. The location is ideal.”

The Town of Cary would build, operate and manage the complex with additional financing coming from limited obligation bonds and corporate partners.

Plans for the complex include:

  • 25,000 square feet of multi-purpose space
  • 12 full-sized basketball courts (could convert to 20 full-sized
  • volleyball courts)
  • Arena seating for 4,000
  • Esports amenities
  • Full-service restaurant
  • Elevated walkway
  • Childcare space
  • Weight room, workout space and walking track

The facility would focus on drawing highly competitive tournaments and activities that would attract regional and national participants and drive overnight visitation to Wake County.

Next Steps
The Raleigh City Council will consider the town’s funding request for the complex at its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 18. If the city joins the county in approving the agreement, staff would then work with Cary to finalize the scope of the project.

Inter-local Agreement
In 1991, Wake County was authorized by N.C. law to levy a room and occupancy tax and prepared food and beverage tax for the purpose of supporting arts, culture, sports and convention facilities. The funds are governed through inter-local agreements between the Wake County Board of Commissioners and the Raleigh City Council. In October 2019, they released an RFP, asking for proposals to compete for multi-use indoor sports complex project funding.

February 14
​County’s Former Flexible Spending Vendor Reports Data Security Breach

Wake County’s former flexible benefit spending accounts administrator, Interactive Medical Systems, recently reported that it experienced a data security breach that disclosed the personal information of nearly 1,900 Wake County Government employees to an unauthorized third party. 

“We sincerely regret any inconvenience or concern that this matter may have caused,” said Eric Ludwig, president of Interactive Medical Systems. 

IMS is in the process of sending letters via first class mail to the affected employees to notify them about the breach and inform them of protective measures they can take. IMS will also offer a hotline that affected employees can call to ask questions and express concerns.

The breach exposed the names, dates of service and partial social security numbers of the majority of the 1,900 affected employees. A small group had their names, addresses and full social security numbers exposed, and they will be eligible for a year of free credit monitoring from IMS.

No personal information of any other Wake County employees or residents was affected.

“It’s important to note that this was not a breach of a county system, nor was it caused by a county employee,” said Wake County’s Chief Information and Innovation Officer Bill Greeves. “IMS has confirmed the breach was the result of a phishing attack against an IMS employee.”

The breach occurred from July 19, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2019. IMS discovered it on Dec. 31, 2019. IMS mailed a letter to Wake County on Jan. 29, 2020 confirming that a breach had occurred.

To prevent further breaches, IMS has taken the following actions:

  • Upgraded security systems;
  • Implemented stricter password policies; and
  • Increased security training for employees.

Wake County’s contract with IMS ended on Dec. 31, 2019. The decision to change vendors was not connected to the security breach. 

February 12
​Early Voting Under Way for the March 3 Primary Election

Wake County residents can now cast their vote in the March 3 primary election at 12 early voting sites across the county. These early voting sites will be open through Saturday, Feb. 29. Times will vary and are detailed here.

“We’ve worked hard to make early voting a quick and easy process for our voters,” said Gary Sims, Wake County Board of Elections director. “With a dozen locations countywide and weekend options, we’ve tried to ensure that no matter what your schedule might be you will have an opportunity to vote.”

Locations include:

In addition to casting their vote early, residents that missed the registration deadline may also register to vote at these sites, as well as update their name and address, before casting their ballot.

For more information on early voting in Wake County, visit WakeVotesEarly.com.

About Wake County Board of Elections
The Wake County Board of Elections is responsible for conducting all elections held in the county. The board establishes election precincts and voting sites; appoints and trains precinct officials; prepares and distributes ballots and voting equipment; certifies ballots cast in elections and investigates any voting irregularities. The Wake County Board of Elections also maintains voter registration and voting records for more than 750,000 voters.

To learn more about Wake County Board of Elections, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook or contact us at 919-404-4040.
February 11
​Find Your Purr-fect Valentine at the Wake County Animal Center

Adoption fees reduced until Feb. 17

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, love is already in the air at the Wake County Animal Center. Whether you want a furry friend to be your cuddle bug – or need a last-minute gift for the animal lover in your life – we’ve got you covered with reduced adoption fees and gift certificates.

valentine's-day-special-Instagram.jpgToday through Feb. 17, adoption rates are reduced for pets ages six months and older. It costs $25 to take home a dog, and you can name your price for cats. There are 48 dogs and 25 cats available for adoption in the shelter and foster care.

“If you’re looking for a soulmate, we’ve got the best matchmakers on staff,” said Dr. Jennifer Federico, director of the Wake County Animal Center. “We get to know our pets’ unique personalities and peculiarities, so we can pair you up with perfect pet for your lifestyle.”

Ready to find your furry Valentine? Visit pets.wakegov.com to view a gallery of animals currently available for adoption.

Give Your Valentine a Gift Certificate
Looking for the perfect present for your favorite animal lover? Skip the roses this Valentine’s Day and give the gift of unconditional love with a gift certificate to the Wake County Animal Center!

Rather than surprising someone with an animal – and all the financial and time commitments that come along with owning a pet – gift certificates allow recipients to pick out a pet when the timing’s right.

Gift certificates are available for any dollar amount and may be redeemed for the adoption of pets within a year of purchase. Any amount left over after the adoption will be donated to the shelter.

About the Wake County Animal Center
The Wake County Animal Center is an open-admission shelter operated by Wake County in Raleigh. The center receives all stray, abandoned and surrendered pets in the county and works in partnership with fosters, volunteers and local rescues to treat and rehome thousands of homeless animals every year.

To learn more about the Wake County Animal Center and animals available for adoption, visit wakegov.com/pets, and follow the center on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @WakeGovPets.
February 06
​Record Number of Christmas Trees Recycled for Happy Trails at Wake County Parks

More than 6,600 trees produced 114 tons of mulch

The next time you step out on the trail, you can thank Wake County residents for stepping up to recycle a record number of Christmas trees into mulch.

happy-trails-results.jpgIn the month following Christmas, Wake County residents recycled 6,645 trees to produce 114 tons of mulch that will fortify and beautify park trails around the county through the Happy Trails Christmas Tree Recycling Program.

“We love Happy Trails, because it takes trees that might have ended up in the landfill, and, instead, turns them into a valuable resource for our parks,” said Chris Snow, director of Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space. “Next time you hike in Wake County, take a second to thank your neighbors for some of that cushion beneath your feet.”

The 2019–2020 Happy Trails season broke records for the number of trees recycled and the tonnage of mulch produced. Since its inception in 2012, the program has collected nearly 40,000 trees and produced about 782 tons of nutrient-rich, aroma-filled mulch to improve Wake County’s park trails.

Happy Trails is a partnership between Wake County’s Solid Waste Management Division and the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Division. When the program is in effect, residents can recycle trees seven days a week at eight parks and solid waste convenience centers located around the county.

For more information, contact Solid Waste Facilities Manager Grant Jones at Grant.Jones@wakegov.com or 919-856-6436, or Blue Jay Point County Park Manager Ben Wittenberg at Ben.Wittenberg@wakegov.com or 919-870-4329.

The Wake County Solid Waste Management Division provides waste disposal and recycling services to residents and businesses in Wake County. The division manages 17 waste facilities including a landfill, waste transfer station, residential waste and recycling convenience centers, household hazardous waste and multi-material recycling drop-off facilities. To learn more, visit wakegov.com/recycling.
February 05
​Friday is Voter Registration Deadline for March 3 Primary

Wake County residents who plan to vote on Election Day in the March 3 primary must register or update their voter registration by Friday, Feb. 7.

Reasons residents may update their voter registration include:

  • Name changes;
  • Address changes; and
  • Party affiliation changes. 

“Having accurate information on your voter registration form is an important part of ensuring your voter experience is easy and efficient,” said Gary Sims, Wake County Board of Elections director. “That’s why we encourage you to take a few minutes today to review your current information on our website and update any old information by Friday at 5 p.m.”

There are several different ways residents can submit their completed voter registration forms.

They can:

All new registrations or updates to existing ones must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7, in order to vote on Election Day for the March 3 primary.

Voter registration forms can be found online.


About Wake County Board of Elections
The Wake County Board of Elections is responsible for conducting all elections held in the county. The board establishes election precincts and voting sites; appoints and trains precinct officials; prepares and distributes ballots and voting equipment; certifies ballots cast in elections and investigates any voting irregularities. The Wake County Board of Elections also maintains voter registration and voting records for more than 750,000 voters.

To learn more about Wake County Board of Elections, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook or contact us at 919-404-4040.
February 04
​Department of Tax Administration to Hold Community Conversation about 2020 Reappraisal Process, Results

How, exactly, does the Wake County Department of Tax Administration assess property values during reappraisals? Why is a reappraisal process necessary? And what kinds of tax relief options are available to property owners?

These questions – and others – will be the subject of discussion on Monday, Feb. 10, during a community conversation offered by Wake County at Grace AME Zion Church in Raleigh.

“Reappraisal is a complex topic and one that warrants open communication, since it affects so many of our residents,” said Tax Administrator Marcus Kinrade. “This community conversation will be the first of several we’ll hold in February and March to educate property owners about the process and the resources we have available to help them.”

The event will start at 6:30 p.m. Grace AME Zion Church is located at 1401 Boyer St. in Raleigh. The event is free and open to the public. Kinrade and his staff will be on hand to answer questions and assist property owners with completing tax relief applications. Kinrade will be available for media interviews after the program ends at 8 p.m.

The county is currently scheduling additional community meetings. Once the details are finalized, they will be posted online here.

The 2020 Reappraisal
In mid-January, the Wake County Department of Tax Administration mailed about 395,000 notices to residential and commercial real estate property owners, providing a first look at their property’s tax value as a result of the 2020 reappraisal, which was effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Breaking down the numbers
On average, residential property values experienced a 20% increase countywide since the last reappraisal in 2016.

  • Both high demand and a low supply of homes, particularly those valued at less than $250,000, drove the increase in residential values.
  • Commercial property values realized a 33% increase on average, driven mostly by considerable increases in hotel, apartment and industrial properties.

In North Carolina, counties are required to conduct a reappraisal at least once every eight years. In 2016, the Wake County Board of Commissioners voted to shorten the county’s reappraisal cycle to four years to re-establish property tax equity between properties more frequently.

For questions regarding the reappraisal process, contact the Wake County Tax Administration Office by phone at 919-857-3800 or by email at reappraisal@wakegov.com.

February 04
​Juvenile Crime Prevention Council Invites Youth-Service Organizations to Apply for Funding

The Wake County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council has launched its annual call for proposals and invites local youth-service organizations to apply for Fiscal Year 2021 funding.

“The NC Department of Public Safety is providing Wake County with record-setting funding to bolster programs that help youth struggling to keep their lives on a positive path,” said Eric Johnson, Chair, JCPC. “We have $1.8 million to allocate in FY21, and we encourage organizations that meet the criteria to apply for a portion of it, so they can do even more good in our community.”

The Wake County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council seeks proposals for community-based programs targeting youth (ages 10–19) who are involved in the juvenile court system or at-risk of juvenile court involvement. Applicants must provide a 30% local match (cash or in-kind) to receive funding.

The council will consider proposals from nonprofit and governmental agencies providing the following program types and services: assessment programs, clinical treatment programs, structured day programs, residential programs and structured activity programs.

When evaluating proposals, council members will evaluate specific factors related to risk, need and protection including:

  • Aggressive/assaultive behaviors;
  • Gang involvement;
  • School behavioral problems;
  • Healthy sense of self;
  • Appropriate family communication; and
  • School connectedness.

The deadline to apply for funds is Tuesday, Feb. 18.

The instructions and program application can be accessed here. Organizations interested in learning more about the process can contact Wake County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council Coordinator Deborah Andrews at deborah.andrews@wakegov.com.

About Wake County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council
The Wake County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC) aims to prioritize risk factors for youth, families and the community-at large, and then find community partners who can provide programs and strategies to prevent juvenile delinquency. The charge of the JCPC comes from a General Assembly statute that requires non-institutional strategies and programs that protect both the community and its youth.

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