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Talk of Our Towns 

Money Magazine Names Apex No. 1 Best Place to Live in America

It just doesn’t get any better than life in Apex, and Money Magazine has confirmed that fact by placing Apex at the top spot on their “50 Best Places in America to live” list.

The Small Town ranking looks at communities with 10,000 - 50,000 in population, narrowing down to 50 towns with best combination of strong job opportunities, great
schools, low crime, quality health care, and plenty to do.

Apex soared up from No. 9 on the 2013 list – small towns are ranked every other year. The town was also named No. 3 Best Place to Move To by Forbes.com in 2009, and has hit the top 5 in countless other rankings including Safest Communities, Happiest Suburbs, and Best Towns for Families.

“It’s no secret that Apex is one of the best places in the nation to live,” said Apex Mayor Bill Sutton. “One of the top priorities of town council and staff is to keep it that way by delivering excellent public services and carefully planning the growth in
our community.”

The top towns were visited by Money reporters, interviewing residents, assessing traffic, parks, gathering places, and considering intangibles like sense of community.

According to Money reporter Daniel Bortz, “Apex has all the things you’d expect in the No. 1 place to live: a charming downtown, top-notch schools, and the kind of community spirit that draws 15,000 people, or more than a third of the population,
to the annual PeakFest street fair.”

The magazine also cited highpaying jobs, affordable homes and quality schools.

“Nothing beats the community pride you find in Apex,” said Apex Town Manager Bruce Radford. "It’s what puts our town over the top and is a credit to those who call Apex home."

Cary Fire Department earns international reaccreditation

Following a unanimous vote by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, Cary has again been granted international reaccreditation. This is the third time the department received the accredited agency status since the first accreditation in 1999 and is one of only 217 fire/rescue agencies in the world to achieve the accredited agency status.

"Every day, our staff remains focused on providing the best fire protection and rescue services possible to our citizens and we couldn’t be prouder of this news, particularly on the heels of our newly upgraded ISO rating," said Cary Fire Chief Allan Cain.

Implemented last month, the Town of Cary’s Insurance Services Office rating jumped from a Class 3 to a the top insurance rating of Class 1, meaning lower insurance premiums for about 33 percent of businesses in Cary. The town was the first ISO Class 1 municipality in the Triangle; of the 49,000 agencies nationwide, fewer than 100 communities earned a Class I rating.

In addition to its fire department, Cary’s Police and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources departments are also nationally accredited.

"Chief Cain and his entire team do an excellent job, and I, along with the rest of the community, am very grateful for their hard work and dedication," said Cary Town Manager Ben Shivar.

As part of the reaccreditation process, a peer review team conducted an on-site visit of the Town of Cary Fire Department in June to evaluate the agency’s self-assessment manual, community risk analysis, standard of coverage and business plan. The assessment inspects every aspect of Cary’s fire program, including governance and administration, assessment and planning, goals and objectives, financial resources, programs, physical resources, human resources, training and competency, essential resources and external system relationships.

InnovateNC communities selected for economic development initiative

The Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University selected Asheville, Greensboro, Pembroke, Wilmington/Carolina Coast, and Wilson to participate in InnovateNC, an intensive, two-year cross-city learning collaborative.

The initiative, led by the Institute of Emerging Issues and nine partners, is a first-in-the-nation effort to spark innovation-centered economic development. The five communities were selected from a group of 18 proposals submitted from across North Carolina. Submissions were evaluated on strength of current efforts, organizational capacity, local partners, and ability to participate in evaluation efforts.

"All 18 applicant communities had terrific ideas and vision," said IEI director Anita Brown-Graham. "The five InnovateNC communities were selected because each has the right mix of assets, is fully committed to collective impact and to making major gains in building and sustaining innovation, and is ready to engage in the collaborative. The Institute and our partners look forward to working with these communities over the next two years."

Partners include NC State University’s College of Design, Forward Impact, the University of North Carolina System, Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise and Department of Public Policy, RTI International, UNC-TV, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, the Research Triangle Foundation, and the NC Board of Science, Technology and Innovation. The project launch is supported by a generous grant from the Kenan Creative Collaboratory, an initiative of the four Kenan Institutes.

InnovateNC has been specifically designed as a learning opportunity for the entire State of North Carolina. Beyond intensive work with the five communities selected, the initiative will broadly disseminate products, processes, and tools to boost innovation statewide.

Last section of major Wilmington Cross-City Trail complete

Work to install drainage improvements and construct one of the last remaining sections of the Gary Shell Cross-City Trail is now complete.

This portion of the 15-mile trail stretches 1.3 miles from John D. Barry Drive to J.E.L. Wade Park. The project includes new sidewalks, a bike lane, paving and signalized crosswalks at 17th Street/John D. Barry Drive and at the 17th Street/College Road intersection.

Drainage work that was part of a planned stormwater project was also added to be more efficient and minimize future impacts to residents.

The Gary Shell Cross-City Trail is primarily an off-road, multi-use trail which will provide bicycle and pedestrian access to numerous recreational, cultural and educational destinations in Wilmington. The trail will provide a future bicycle and pedestrian connection from Wade Park, Halyburton Park and Empie Park to the Heide-Trask Drawbridge at the Intracoastal Waterway.

The Gary Shell Cross-City Trail is a spur in a developing city-wide trails and greenways system which makes alternative transportation in Wilmington a safer, more convenient option for every citizen. It will also make up part of the East Coast Greenway, a multi-use path that will run all the way from Maine to Florida and will be like an urban Appalachian Trail.

Collaborative agreements with Cameron Company, the Cameron Art Museum, Oleander Company, Inc., UNCW and Cape Fear Commercial, along with Parks and Greenspace Bond funds, federal stimulus funds and connections with existing or funded trail facilities make this project possible.