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June 24
​Wake County Launches Outreach Campaign to Educate Residents about Contaminants in Private Wells

Up to 6,000 wells in the eastern half of Wake County may be affected

Wake County kicked off an educational outreach campaign on Monday, June 24, to inform residents in the eastern half of the county about unsafe levels of uranium, radon and radium found in privately owned well water. One in five wells may be affected.

Naturally occurring in the underground rock, these elements may cause significant health problems. In the short term, that may include kidney toxicity. In the long term, these contaminants may increase the risk of certain cancers.

Private well owners are responsible for the regular maintenance and testing of their water supply. Wake County is launching this outreach campaign because, as a local health department, the county has a statutory responsibility to promote and safeguard public health.

“We’re giving residents the information and tools they need to make smart decisions about the safety of their well water,” said Groundwater Protection and Wells Manager Evan Kane. “Just because your well water doesn’t look, smell or taste funny, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to drink.”

Wake County’s outreach efforts include:

  • Mailing approximately 19,000 notices to private well owners and users in the affected area. Written in English and Spanish, the mailers contain all the information residents need to decide what actions to take to determine if their wells are impacted.
     
  • Hosting community meetings to inform residents and answer their questions. The first of these is tonight, Monday, June 24, from 6–8 p.m. at New Bethel Baptist Church, 605 E Young St, Rolesville.
     
  • Connecting residents with more information via a new Wake County website: wakegov.com/wells. It includes an interactive map where residents can enter their address and learn if they live in the affected area.
     
  • Providing a dedicated 24-hour, bilingual hotline at 919-893-WELL.
     
  • Compiling a list of state-certified labs that offer retail well water testing, which is the only way to determine whether water has unsafe levels of contamination.
     
  • Offering our most vulnerable residents reduced testing rates. For households with incomes up to 2.5 times the federal poverty level, Wake County will provide testing for as little as $73.

This campaign is aimed at educating people who get water from a private well. If residents currently pay a water bill, their water system is already being tested.

As always, if residents have health concerns, they should contact their medical provider.
June 21
​Wake County Nature Preserves Open Seven Days a Week

Visitors now have more opportunities to hike through the boulders of Turnipseed Nature Preserve or paddle Robertson Millpond Preserve’s unique blackwater cypress swamp. Previously offering only weekend hours, both preserves are open from 8 a.m.–sunset, seven days a week, until Aug. 2.

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“We want to make it possible for everyone to experience our nature preserves,” said Chris Snow, director of Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space. “While Turnipseed and Robertson Millpond are already popular on the weekends, we wanted to open them up to weekday visitors, as well. The summer months are a great time to explore new areas of Wake County.”

The expanded operating schedule was included in the budget approved by the Wake County Board of Commissioners last year. The long-term goal is for the preserves to be open on the same schedule as Wake County’s eight parks – seven days a week, 361 days a year.

The 265-acre Turnipseed Nature Preserve is located south of Wendell near the Johnston County line. Special features include granite rock outcrops and boulders; diverse habitats, including wetlands, forests and meadows; and a variety of wildlife species. Entrances are available at 7100 Hunt Valley Trail and 1525 Pleasants Road in Wendell.

Robertson Millpond Preserve is an 85-acre refuge for nature lovers, canoeists and kayakers. It features the only bald cypress blackwater swamp habitat in Wake County. The entrance is located at 6333 Robertson Pond Road in Wendell.

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For more information, visit wakegov.com/parks.

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.
June 20
​Wake County Launches Park Program for People on Autism Spectrum

For many people, a day at the park is fun and enjoyable. But for others, such as those on the autism spectrum, the same experience can become overwhelming.

That’s why Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space has launched a new program, “Everyone’s Welcome,” to make all visitors feel included and comfortable. Historic Oak View County Park is piloting the program.

“Our park is here for everyone, but there can be certain barriers, particularly for people who have sensory processing disorders like autism,” said Abby Jones, assistant park manager for education at Historic Oak View. “We’re trying to remove the barriers and make our park more accessible to new and broader populations.”

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There are a few different ways visitors can take advantage of the program:

  • “My Oak View” Visual Schedule: Download, print and complete the schedule before visiting the park. It includes a visual checklist with location and communication cards that will help you and your child design and prepare for your visit.
     
  • “My Oak View” Park Pack: Check out this kit when you arrive at the park. It includes a customizable visual schedule, maps, sensory-seeking toys, noise-reducing headphones and suggestions for making your visit an enjoyable experience.
     
  • Sensory supports: Borrow noise-reducing headphones and various sensory-seeking toys any time during operating hours.
     
  • Social narratives: Get an overview of what to expect in both pictures and words. The narratives are geared toward different ways to experience the park—whether you’re visiting as a family, for a History Hike or as part of a school field trip.
     
  • Online information: Find tips and resources to prepare for a successful visit—including which areas tend to be noisy and which places are quieter.

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“Everyone’s Welcome” is part of a larger plan to explore accessibility at Wake County parks and expand offerings in the future. Park staff hope to make additional resources available for people with low vision, blindness, hearing loss and deafness.

“We want everyone to be able to take advantage of all that Wake County’s parks and preserves have to offer,” said Chris Snow, director of Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space. “We’re always on the lookout for new, innovative ways to improve our visitors’ experiences, and Wake County is dedicated to making sure everyone feels included and welcome.”

More information about the “Everyone’s Welcome” program at Historic Oak View County Park can be found here.

 

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.
June 18
​Summer Food Program Kicks Off with More than 250,000 Meals Planned during Summer Break

Fun. Exciting. Adventurous. These are three words Wake County children should use to describe their summer break. “Hungry” is not.

Wake County wants to ensure every child in the county has access to free meals when school is not in session. To make that possible, Wake County’s Board of Commissioners joined local officials and community partners today in Cary to kick off the Summer Food Program, which runs through August.

“Starting today, we will serve free meals to children at nearly 150 sites countywide – a move that shows we are serious about ending food insecurity in Wake County,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Jessica Holmes. “Our community partners are invaluable in helping us provide healthy, nutritious food to our most vulnerable residents over the summer break.”

Residents can visit wakegov.com/summerfood or call 919-250-1100 to find nearby summer food sites. Community partners may choose to serve breakfast, lunch, dinner or any combination of the three meals. In addition to meals, each site will provide fun, engaging activities for the children.
June 17
​New Opioid Crisis Campaign:  ‘Make the Call’ to Save Lives  

During the first four months of 2019, hospitals in Wake County experienced more than 100 emergency department visits for opioid overdoses alone.

To educate the public on this critical health issue – and to encourage residents to get help when help is needed – Wake County Human Services debuted a new public service campaign called “Make the Call” during the Monday, June 17, Board of Commissioners meeting.

The campaign’s centerpiece is a three-minute video highlighting the importance of calling 911 to save a life when an overdose occurs.

“When an overdose occurs, many bystanders are too scared to call for help, because they’ve been drinking while underage or using drugs,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Jessica Holmes. “This compelling video drives home the important message that the Good Samaritan Law offers them some protections when they make the right choice to call 911 immediately.”

North Carolina’s Good Samaritan Law, which the state legislature passed in 2013, provides protections for residents who possess alcohol while under the age of 21 or commit minor drug violations when they report an overdose.

Visit www.makethecallNC.com to learn more about the Good Samaritan Law and how it may apply in various situations.

The video was produced by Amazing Studios of Fuquay-Varina. Wake County Human Services partnered with the Fuquay-Varina Police Department, Wake County EMS, the Patriot Bluffs Subdivision and youth volunteers from the Wake County Drug and Overdose Prevention Coalition.

Funding for the video was provided through a program with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. The video will be made available to public health agencies and other organizations throughout the entire state to increase education about the law.

Wake County has been working since 2015 to fight the opioid epidemic through a partnership with more than 80 local organizations as part of the Wake County Drug and Overdose Prevention Coalition. Other initiatives include making the opioid-reversal drug Naloxone more available to first responders and providing rapid substance abuse counseling to those who survive overdoses.

June 06
​Family-friendly Festival Celebrates Importance of Pollinators

From bees and birds to bats and butterflies, pollinators play a big role in our lives. If you want to know what all the buzz is about, plan on making a beeline to the seventh annual Pollinator Festival at Lake Crabtree County Park on Saturday, June 15. 

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In honor of National Pollinator Week, the festival will celebrate everything that pollinators do for the planet. Bring the whole family for games, crafts, prizes, food and fun. Experts will be on hand to share the buzzworthy benefits of pollinators, and vendors will sell local honey and other hive products.

“The Pollinator Festival is a great opportunity to learn about the importance of pollinators to our ecosystem, as well as enjoy a day at the park with your family,” said Chris Snow, director of Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space.

The Pollinator Festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lake Crabtree County Park, 1400 Aviation Parkway, Morrisville. Registration is not required.

 

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.
June 03
​Board Adopts $1.47 Billion Budget for Fiscal Year 2020

54% will fund Wake County Public Schools

The Wake County Board of Commissioners on Monday, June 3, voted 6-1 to adopt a $1.47 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2020, which includes major investments in education, public health and safety, and quality of life.

The budget provides $515.9 million in operating funds to the Wake County Public School System. That is a $45 million increase from FY19 and $8.5 million increase from what County Manager David Ellis recommended in his proposed budget on May 6.

This marks the first time that the county’s annual contribution to the WCPSS operating budget will exceed half a billion dollars.

The adopted budget also includes the following changes from the recommended budget:

  • An additional increase of 0.27 cents to the county manager’s recommended property tax rate for a total property tax rate of 72.07;

  • Providing two additional staff at the Crosby Garfield Center to support services provided to residents in Southeast Raleigh and Eastern Wake County. This $60,000 increase will be offset by delaying the implementation of Human Services budget expansions; and
     
  • Adding three schools to the county-supported Universal Breakfast program: Southeast Raleigh Elementary, Rogers Lane Elementary and East Wake Middle. The additional cost of $37,000 will be offset by a $37,000 decrease in estimated county health insurance claims.

FY20 Adopted Budget Highlights

  • Adding five ambulance shifts and hiring 20 EMTs and paramedics to operate them. This investment will help Wake County EMS respond more rapidly to increasing calls for service;

  • Adding 14 new positions to the county’s Child Welfare division to lower the average caseloads for our social workers, enhance their ability to protect our youngest residents and strengthen efforts to help the children in our care find permanent, loving homes;

  • Providing funding to the Wake County Board of Elections, so it can hold the March presidential primary election and operate 11 early voting sites across the county;

  • Investing in IT security upgrades and network improvements to expand protections against ransomware and phishing scams, which can put our data at risk; and

  • Increasing accessibility to our public libraries by opening new and improved libraries in Cary, Fuquay-Varina and Morrisville. This budget will also expand Sunday hours to six more libraries and eliminate late fees for all library patrons.

Explaining the Property Tax Increase

To fund these investments in education, public health and safety, and quality of life, the county’s property tax will increase by 6.63 cents, bringing the rate to 72.07 cents for every $100 of property value.

With the tax increase, a property owner will pay an extra $66.30 in property taxes for every $100,000 of assessed value. For example, the owner of a $300,000 home will pay an additional $16.58 per month or $198.90 annually in property taxes.

It is important to note that of the 6.63-cent increase, 3.8 cents will fund projects identified by the three bonds voters approved in November 2018.

They include the:

  • $548 million WCPSS construction bond;

  • $349 million Wake Tech infrastructure improvements bond; and

  • $120 million parks, recreation, greenways and open space bond.
Of the remaining 2.83 cents, 1.98 cents would fund increases for WCPSS operating needs, and 0.85 cents would fund county operating expenses.

In all, 82% of the 6.63-cent tax increase would fund education. The remaining 18% would fund county needs.

Fiscal Year 2020 runs from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020. More information and budget materials are available at wakegov.com/budget.
May 31
​Jump into June with Fishing, Faeries and Fun at Wake County Parks

Summer is here, and there’s no better place to spend those long, hot days than at a Wake County park or preserve. Join us to explore nature, cast a line and get up close and personal with reptiles at fun, educational events throughout the month.

Here’s a sample of activities taking place in June:

Remarkable Reptiles
Saturday, June 1, 3–4 p.m.
American Tobacco Trail
Reptiles are cool critters! Learn more about these fascinating, often misunderstood animals, and meet our educational box turtle and a few friendly snakes. Bring a water bottle and your own chair or blanket. This program is for all ages, and preregistration is required. Meet at the New Hill parking area at the lower picnic table at 1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Road, Apex.

Plant Detectives
Sunday, June 2, 1–3 p.m.
Lake Crabtree County Park
Did you know there are more than 4,000 species of native plants in North Carolina? If you look outside and just see a sea of green, you are not alone. Learn how to distinguish one plant from another, and find out why it’s important to know which plant is which. This program is for ages 6 and older, and preregistration is required. Lake Crabtree County Park is located at 1400 Aviation Parkway, Morrisville.

Fishing for Beginners
Saturday, June 8, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Harris Lake County Park
Harris Lake County Park is home to a variety of fish species— including largemouth bass, black crappie, sunfish and catfish. Learn how to identify fish, and get a quick lesson on how to bait a hook, cast a line and handle your catch. Park staff will provide instruction, fishing poles and bait. Participants 16 and older must already have a North Carolina fishing license. This program is for ages 7 and older, and preregistration is required. Meet at the Fishing Pond (first gravel lot on your right). Harris Lake County Park is located at 2112 County Park Drive, New Hill.

Discovery Table: Trees
Saturday, June 8, 1–3 p.m.
Crowder County Park
Stop by our discovery table to learn about the trees see you all around Crowder Park! Registration is not required. The display table, a self-guided activity, is located at the Upper Playground. Crowder District Park is located at 4709 Ten Ten Road, Apex.

Family Wildlife Series: “Leaf” It to Me
Saturday, June 15, 10–11 a.m.
Blue Jay Point County Park
Learn what trees need to grow, and “leaf” knowing how to identify common trees by their fresh summer foliage. Enjoy a walk in the park as you get acquainted with some of our favorite trees. Preregistration is required. Blue Jay Point County Park is located at 3200 Pleasant Union Church Road, Raleigh.

Free Summer Meals
Weekdays, June 17–Aug. 9, 11 a.m.–noon
Historic Oak View County Park
Historic Oak View County Park will once again serve as a host site for the Wake County Summer Food Service Program's free summer meals for children, offering free lunches at its Bluebird Shelter to all children 18 and younger. Children's activities will be featured each day in addition to lunch. Enrollment is not required. Historic Oak View County Park is located at 4028 Carya Drive, Raleigh.

Natural Explorations: A Midsummer Day Dream
Friday, June 21, 11 a.m.–noon
Historic Yates Mill County Park
What do Historic Yates Mill County Park and the woodland faeries have in common? They both love nature! Take a short walk near the millpond to search for evidence of faeries (sightings are not guaranteed), explore the astronomical aspects of Midsummer's Day and hear a few quotes from William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." This program is for all ages, and preregistration is required. Historic Yates Mill County Park is located at 4620 Lake Wheeler Road, Raleigh.

To see a list of upcoming programs and events, visit wakegov.com/parks.

Reminder
Our Park Locator makes it easy to explore all the parks and preserves in Wake County! Filter results by activity or location, and get customized directions.

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.
May 28
​Libraries Launch New Program to Prepare Kids for Kindergarten

A new program offered by Wake County Public Libraries proves that anytime is a good time to reinforce literary skills for young children. Play Your Way to K, a new kindergarten readiness learning game, kicked off on June 1.

“Whether in the car, at the grocery store or waiting in the doctor’s office, this learning game helps children and their caregivers reinforce key literacy skills learned during library storytime,” said Ann Burlingame, deputy director of Wake County Public Libraries. “This interactive game encourages children and their caregivers to talk, sing, play, read and write their way to a successful start to kindergarten.”

Play Your Way to K continues the excitement of storytime at home and promotes early literacy skills. The portable, hand-held game board is designed for little hands and is appealing to even the youngest player.

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How does it work? 

  • WCPL will provide a list of creative ways to Play, Read, Sing, Talk and Write with your child.
  • Every time you complete one of the activities, check the corresponding star on the game board.
  • When you reach the halfway mark (indicated by the big star), visit the library and share your journey with the librarian. You’ll receive a special prize!
  • Keep playing, and when you complete your board, tell your librarian and we’ll celebrate your success. 

Literacy tips are included to guide caregivers as they prepare their children for kindergarten. And the great news is that you can play this game as many times as you like—because the tips are designed to be modified as young children learn and grow.

To get started, stop by any library to pick up a free game board, and Play Your Way to K!

About Wake County Public Libraries
The mission of Wake County Public Libraries is to promote the love of reading and foster the pursuit of knowledge for the residents of Wake County. In fiscal year 2018, our 22 libraries were visited more than 3.43 million times, and 235,251 people were active library cardholders.
May 19
​Wake County EMS to Celebrate Survivors of Cardiac Arrest Tuesday

Events planned as part of National EMS Week

Wake County EMS will honor 97 survivors of cardiac arrest at the 13th annual Code: Celebrate! on Tuesday, May 21. The free, public event, which takes place at 7 p.m. at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, will reunite survivors and the responders who cared for them.

The program will feature the story of a 45-year-old woman who received CPR from her husband after her heart stopped beating. He was able to care for her until responders arrived.

“This event provides an opportunity for survivors and responders to come together and share their stories,” said Dr. Jose Cabanas, director of Wake County EMS. “It’s inspiring for our EMS providers to talk with their former patients, meet their families and see the difference our team has made in their lives.”

The Wake County EMS system has one of the most successful cardiac arrest survival programs in the nation.

Wake County Kicks Off National EMS Week Monday

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Code: Celebrate! is part of National EMS Week, which runs through May 25. Wake County EMS will kick off EMS Week with an open house at Station 1 from 8 a.m.–noon on Monday, May 20.

  • Learn hands-only CPR and how to use a defibrillator from Pete the Paramedic Panda.
  • Check out an ambulance and learn about EMS.
  • Get your blood pressure checked and receive tips for healthy living from Wake County Human Services staff.

EMS Station 1 is located at 120 W. Davie St. in downtown Raleigh.

Wake County EMS responded to approximately 107,000 requests for service in 2018. Learn more about Wake County EMS here.

For more information about Code: Celebrate! or the open house, contact Jeffrey Hammerstein, assistant chief, Wake County EMS, at 919-625-3260 or jeffrey.hammerstein@wakegov.com.
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         Wake County Departments & Agencies:

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