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Many of our readers and neighbors do not even realize that they pass over Wake County’s Swift Creek when they travel on US1 near Tryon Road, along Regency Parkway, on portions of Kildaire Farm Road and Holly Springs Road as well.

Swift Creek

For the curious who want to sneak a peek at Swift Creek, you can walk the Swift Creek Greenway between Regency Parkway and Kildaire Farm Road (park at Ritter Park), walk the Swift Creek Loop Trail in Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve on Kildaire Farm Road, or hike in Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve (7800 Holly Springs Road).

For those who want more than just a glimpse of Swift Creek as it meanders quietly amongst us please consider the following:

According to some reports, the Swift Creek watershed comprises more than 66 square miles and the headwater tributaries that create Swift Creek seem to begin in Cary and Apex on the west side of US 1.  Swift Creek eventually passes through Lake Wheeler and while some studies suggest that this watershed terminates at the dam of Lake Benson in Garner, there are also thoughts that Swift Creek may ramble all the way to the Neuse River near Smithfield.


According to the Upper Neuse Basin Association website at its major tributaries include Williams Creek, MacGregor Downs Lake, Regency Park Lake, Long Branch, Lynn Branch, Speight Branch, Dutchmans Branch, Silver Lake, Yates Mill Pond, Buck Branch, and Reedy Branch and that upper Swift Creek has been identified by the State of North Carolina as an "impaired stream" because it does not adequately support aquatic life.


Possible causes of impairment may include excess storm water from urban development, lack of riparian vegetation in many areas, pesticides, fertilizers, oils, and other pollutants that flow directly into the creek through storm drains, and "illicit” discharges which include chemical or sewage spills into the storm water system or the stream.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Wake County, Raleigh, Cary, Garner and Apex jointly developed (with the North Carolina Division of Water Quality) and adopted the Swift Creek Land Management

Plan to manage development in the Swift Creek watershed, which contains Lake Wheeler and Lake Benson watersheds.

In Cary, much of Swift Creek is protected by the Swift Creek Critical Area and Watershed, and part of its floodplain has been aside as conservation and recreational land including in Hemlock Bluffs State Park, Lochmere Park, and Lochmere Golf Course.

Wherever it may begin or end, much of Swift Creek’s life is spent out of the sight to most of us and thus is a safe haven for many of the birds, small animals, fish, and turtles that thrive in the protected Swift Creek watershed.

But is Swift Creek really “swift”as it name suggests?  Well this may depend on when and where you see it. If it has recently rained, one might say that it runs very very swift. In fact, it may be so high and swift that it might be difficult to navigate all parts of the trails and greenways that border it.  And during dryer periods, its waters may be clearer and it may move sluggishly below its banks – not very swiftly at all!


Swift or Slow….. Well it depends!

Please visit the Triangle Land Conservancy’s Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve web page at  to learn more about this preserve and how you can see for yourself our own Swift Creek in one of its most natural and protected environments.


The Cary Police Department indicates that the intersection at the end of the exit ramp from US1 south turning onto US64 west is one of the top locations for vehicular accidents in the Town of Cary. In the first 10 months of 2019 there have been 92 crashes (including four hit and runs) in that area.  

This intersection is “right turn on red” for traffic at the bottom of the exit ramp from US1 south turning right onto US64 west. The right-most of the two turn lanes has no clear view of approaching traffic heading west on US64 from Tryon Road.   Almost all of the accidents here were rear end collisions caused by the right-turning lead vehicle (exiting US1) being hit from behind as a result of the lead vehicle stopping abruptly when entering this intersection.

While this in part may be due to the curvature of this exit lane, the larger problem may be that vehicles in the left turn lane limit the sight-line of vehicles in the right turn lane.

While making this a “no turn on red” intersection may seem like the logical solution to this problem, this may result in other complications including longer backups on US1 south in both exit lanes during peak travel periods. Another alternative may be to increase the duration of green lights for traffic exiting US1 onto US64 while still making this a “no turn on red” intersection – However, this may increase delays for thru traffic heading west from Tryon Road.

The Town of Cary traffic engineering department is working with NC-DOT to remedy this situation and have advised that a plan is already in place to make that intersection a “no right turn on red”.  Part of this plan calls for lane and intersection changes to accommodate the anticipated additional queuing on the US1 exit ramps. 

The improvements at this location are part of a larger DOT plan for US64 Improvements in Apex & Cary that calls for an investigation of options to improve the flow of traffic in Wake County along US64 and intersecting roadways from just west of Laura Duncan Road in Apex to US1 in Cary.

At the present time, the plans to actually initiate the preliminary engineering activities necessary to start these improvements have been temporarily suspended because the NC-DOT needs to control its spending in order to ensure that their cash reserves remain above the state-mandated minimum figure of about $300 million. As a result NC-DOT is currently on a spending freeze pending budget negotiations. A timeline to when this project is to be implemented is unknown at this time.

Earlier this month (Nov 2019) there were media reports that said that some of the suspended projects might have their pre-engineering work resume early next year. The decisions as to what projects to resume will be made on a case by case basis depending on several factors, including when a project is scheduled to start. The NC-DOT is currently trying to determine if that may be the case for this project. No further information is available at this time.

NC-DOT indicated that it is very likely that no final decision on resuming work on specific projects will be made until next year when they know their financial picture is improved. They also indicated that preference will be given to the projects that are scheduled to start the earliest or perhaps those that already had much of the pre-engineering work completed.

During the period before any improvements are made, the Cary Police Department advises drivers that they are the most important factor in reducing accidents and injuries at this location. Many rear-end collisions occur because drivers may follow the vehicle in front of them too closely and do not allow sufficient distance to stop if the driver in front of them stops abruptly for no apparent reason. Another cause for these types of collisions is distractions from cell phones, GPS, or simply diverting attention to anything other than the obstacles in front of the car.  

Please drive safely and obey all traffic laws and regulations, not only at this intersection but in all of your travels. You are the best defense against serious bodily injury and damage to personal property, others, and yourself!

Frying Pan Tower

Frying Pan Tower is located 32 miles off the coast of North Carolina and rises 135' above the Atlantic Ocean.


In 1979 the light station was fully automated so it would no longer need to be manned and the responsibility for its operation was shifted to the Oak Island Coast Guard station. The subsequent development of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and improvement in radar eventually rendered the station obsolete, and in 2004 it was retired.

In 1979 the light station was fully automated so it would no longer need to be manned and the responsibility for its operation was shifted to the Oak Island Coast Guard station. The subsequent development of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and improvement in radar eventually rendered the station obsolete, and in 2004 it was retired.



Although no longer in operation, it could not be dismantled or relocated because it was in a protected reef area.   In 2010, it was purchased at auction with restriction placed upon it due to the protected reef.

For a while. the station was converted to a bed & breakfast in order to generate funds for updating, maintenance and repairs.  That program is no longer being offered and today, the Frying Pan Tower Restoration Project is managed by FPTower Inc., a federal and state (NC) registered non-profit organization.

The goals for restoration have remained the same over the years and the benefits of restoration include providing safety to mariners, a location for environmental research and education studies, and the shelter of a natural ecosystem for marine wildlife.


Today the tower is powered using wind turbine and solar energy for electricity, has a filtration system for potable water, and high-speed Internet for communications.


The main level of the tower is a furnished 5,000 sq. ft. livable space with a fully equipped stainless-steel kitchen, a common area for dining and recreation, 9 bedrooms, a washer and dryer, hot shower, and toilet facilities.  There is also a helicopter landing pad and 2 high-speed hoists for accommodating supplies, volunteers, and scuba divers from boats to the tower.


All restoration projects at the tower are volunteer-driven.  There is a critical dependance on volunteers who are willing to provide their time and talent for restoration projects on and offshore. Many of these projects require volunteers skilled in welding, electrical work, painting, and metal working.

While the labor for projects is provided by volunteers, the cost of materials and the cost of sustaining operations is not.  As a result, FPTower Inc. depends heavily on monetary donations, on-line merchandise purchases, and the funds generated by its fractional investment program.

Here are a few examples of current projects that require funding for their completion:

Replace and Install New Watertight Portals

Each side of the tower has watertight doors to keep out the elements during hurricanes, stormy weather, and other extreme ocean events.  The current doors are over 50 years old, are in poor condition and are in the process of being replaced. 


Install Seafloor Mooring and Buoy System
Because the sea floor around the Frying Pan Tower is a protected reef, there are restrictions on dragging objects like anchors across it or other actions that could damage or destroy it.  FPTower Inc has secured permission to drill non-obtrusive anchors into the bedrock to moor vessels for access on the tower.


Replace Cross Pipes and Replace Cathodic Protection System


These two projects are necessary due to the corrosion effect of salt water is aggressive. The existing structure needs to be reinforced to provide a platform for water level activities and research and a new Cathodic Protection System will help reduce corrosion as well. 




Volunteer application:



Look far out into the Atlantic ocean from the tower and watch the weather shift and the day come and go from 34 miles off the coast at

What marine life is found 34 miles off the coast of North Carolina? Watch live and find out more about the sharks residing in these waters at 

Watch more live footage from beneath the tower at


Swap Spots

Learn how to be safe when selling goods or merchandise to someone you do not know and where you can make an exchange safely.

Swap-spots are public meeting places chosen by a buyer or a seller to exchange or buy/sell goods in order to complete a local sale. Swap-spots, also sometimes called safe meet-Up spots,' are designated locations that are generally open and available to the public, such as a police department designated area, coffee shop, or a local repair shop.

The purpose of Swap-spots is to help insure the safety of both parties that are involved in a sales transaction and the buyer and seller will communicate after an agreement of sale or exchange to determine the time and date of the meeting to complete the sale.

A swap spot should be a safe place. If the suggested meeting location for a sale does not look or feel safe to either the buyer or the seller , then they should  not meet there and mention their concerns to the other party.  If an agreement for a safe location cannot be reached, it may be better not to continue considering this transaction.

While many people who conduct business online are honest and sincere in buying and selling items, there are those who use it to facilitate crimes. Buyers and sellers should take safety precautions, including:

  • Telling a friend or family member where you are going and when you’ll likely return.

  • Bringing a friend with you to the transaction site.

  • Conducting exchanges during daylight hours and in a public place.

  • Bringing a cell phone and keeping it turned on and on you during the transaction.

  • Trusting your instincts and taking additional safety precautions as necessary. Never be afraid to cancel a transaction if you identify a red flag or have a concern for your safety.


Many police departments in areas in which Regency Park Partnership volunteers serve have established swap-spots at their facilities.

The Cary Police Department has a designated area with marked parking spaces in front of the police facility which is monitored, 24/7, with video surveillance.   You can obtain more information about the  Cary swap-spot here  


The Clayton Police Department has a swap-spot that tries to make it safer for citizens to conduct online buy/sell/trade transactions from popular sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, etc.  The spot is located in the Clayton Police Department parking lot at 315 E. Second Street (near the intersection of Second Street and Lombard Street).  They further stated that online buy/sell/trade sales are popular, but citizens often don’t feel comfortable meeting with someone they don’t know. If you purchase an item from an online user and want a location that makes you feel more comfortable with the exchange, request to meet at the Safe Meet-Up Spot.   CPD cannot guarantee the exchange will be seamless. However, we offer a location that is highly visible, next to the Police Station, and under 24/7 surveillance.

The Fuquay-Varina Police Department makes posts to the Fuquay-Varina Nextdoor about their safe exchange zone, as well as posts on their Facebook Page.  You can find information about their swap-soft at

The Apex Police Department has an area in the Police Department parking lot where you can exchange items purchased over the internet. This area is located in the small lot beside the Police Department and is under 24 hour surveillance.  Please go here to obtain more information.

The Holly Springs Police Department maintains a Safe Exchange Zone in an area located in front of the Law Enforcement Center that has been established for the safe exchange of money or goods.  The marked spaces are under video surveillance which is monitored by police staff.  Click here to see more information:

We reached out to the Sanford Police Department about swap-spots. but they have not returned our call or email.

We reached out to the City of Raleigh.  A spokesperson there indicated that there is no information regarding swap-spots on its website.

The citizens of any area or location that does not have swap-spots or published information about their swap-spots are encouraged to use the swap-spot locations of any towns that do sponsor swap spots.  The important thing is to be safe when selling or exchanging merchandise to someone you may not know or be familiar with.

There is also a very informative video about swap-spots that is sponsored by the Town of Holly Springs which may be viewed at 

The information in this video is applicable to other area swap-spots as well.

The NC State Turtle Rescue Team

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About 62% of the injuries
they find are from
vehicular trauma,
and almost 8%
from general trauma

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5% are from dog attacks.

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Overall, almost half of the turtles they see survive, and are eventually released back into the wild. And of those who survive the first day of treatment, two-thirds are eventually released back into the wild.

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More than 97% of the turtles they treat are native turtles with half of these being Eastern Box Turtles. 

NC State’s Turtle Rescue Team is volunteer organization run by veterinary students at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.  Its primary purpose is to rescue and rehabilitate turtles in the Triangle area.

The Team provides medical, surgical and husbandry services free of charge in the hope of releasing rehabilitated turtles back into the wild. Currently, Turtle Rescue Team sees and treats over 500 wild turtles, and nonvenomous reptiles, and amphibians each year. With such a high caseload, veterinary students involved with Turtle Rescue Team have the opportunity to not only learn, develop, and refine their medical skills on “exotic” species, but they also have the chance to contribute to protecting North Carolina’s native wildlife.

Turtles that no longer need daily treatments but are still not ready for the wild, will be sent to rehab, where they will have progress checks
every 3-4 weeks until they are finally ready for release.

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It is interesting to learn that turtles, much like migratory birds, have an intuitive knowledge of what home is, and will cross rivers, woods, and roads trying to get back there.  • It is therefore essential that turtles be released back  to where they came from.

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The Turtle Rescue Team’s bustling center of reptile and amphibian healing has its headquarters in the NC State Veterinary Health and Wellness Center, courtesy of its generous supporters and volunteers.

You can learn more about its history and operations here

If you find a sick or injured turtle, please contact us, and leave a message via phone or email (options listed below.) Please note that it is illegal for us to treat or accept pet turtles due to our permit.  If you have a pet turtle that needs veterinary care, please contact the Exotic Animal Medicine Service at NC State.  Call: 919-397-9675   E-mail:

Those that wish to support the mission of the Turtle Rescue Team may make a monetary donation to go toward the treatment of our wildlife patients. Because we run primarily on donations from our community to provide treatment and a safe, enriching environment to our patients, adopting a turtle can make all the difference for an animal in need.  If you are interested in making a donation, please go here



Symphony Lake has never been dredged and now has many shallow areas and there are sediment islands forming. While maintaining the lake water elevation, the dredge material will be removed, dried on site, hauled off via a portion of the Symphony Lake greenway trail, and taken to the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility (SCWRF) where it will be used to close a lagoon that is no longer in use. Once the dredging is complete, the site will be restored, and the greenway trail repaved.

A combination of mechanical dredging (with a long-reaching piece of equipment) and hydraulic dredging using a small barge will be used to remove sediment from the lake  and dewatering is going to be done using a belt dryer.  There will also be noise associated with land-clearing in the work area, and some trimming/removal of trees along the greenway in order to allow trucks to pass.


Some noise, similar to that at a construction site, will be unavoidable.  The work will be done between 7:00 AM and 6:00 PM M-F.  Work on Saturday will be approved on a case-by-case basis, with work hours shortened to 8:00 – 5:00.  No work will be allowed on Sundays.

There will also be noise associated with land-clearing in the work area, and some trimming/removal of trees along the greenway in order to allow trucks to pass.

And as the watershed above Symphony Lake is built out and now stable, a worsening of the erosion along the lake feeder streams is not anticipated, and it is projected that the lake will not require dredging again for several decades.

An August 2023 report submitted to the Town of Cary by Schnabel Engineering  was prepared to assist the Town in removal of deposited sediments of Symphony Lake.



Symphony Lake is an impoundment of an unnamed tributary to Swift Creek which is within the Neuse River basin. Symphony Lake has a surface area of 27.3-acres and a max design impoundment capacity

of 350 acre-feet.


The dam at the lake is an earth fill embankment dam and its principal spillway is a pipe-and-riser system with a 12-inch diameter, low-level outlet gate mounted on the upstream face of the intake tower structure.


Since construction was completed, sediment has accumulated within the reservoir basin. Sediment accumulation reduces storage capacity of the reservoir and can impact functionality of the spillway system. Sedimentation also decreases water depth which often negatively impacts water quality. At Symphony Lake, the decrease in water depths is especially evident in the upper reaches of the reservoir where sediment accumulation to levels near the normal water surface elevation leading to poor aesthetics and water quality.


Removal of sediment in the lake is expected to improve stormwater storage capacity, health of the reservoir, aesthetics of the lake, and spillway gate functionality.

A bathymetric survey was performed to assist in evaluating the location and quantity of the accumulated sediment at Symphony Lake using a dual frequency, single-beam, echosounder sonar equipment.


We calculated the volume of the sediment across the entire reservoir at about 32,500 Cubic yards. We also selected high priority areas for targeted dredging with the understanding that dredging the entire reservoir is likely not practicable considering the thickness of the sediment, the project constraints, and the Town’s goals.

Chemical characterization lab testing results indicate that the sediment does not contain heavy metals at concentrations that would be considered hazardous or require disposal at a regulated facility. Concentrations of pesticides, herbicides, VOCs, SVOCs, PCBs, cyanide, and 1,4 dioxane were not detected in the sediment sample. Concentrations of soil nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorous, and sulfur and ammonia are elevated, but should be within acceptable concentrations for land application.


Mechanical dredging uses conventional construction earthwork equipment to dig and extract sediment from the reservoir bottom. It is commonly performed by long-reach excavators, bulldozers, draglines, or a crane with a clamshell bucket.


Hydraulic dredging is the removal and transport of sediment in a slurry form. Specialized hydraulic dredging equipment floats in the reservoir collecting and pumping material from the base of the reservoir. Common hydraulic dredging equipment includes horizontal auger dredges and cutterhead dredges.  The hydraulic dredging equipment is connected to a temporary pipeline that transports the sediment-water slurry to a dewatering processing location. The dewatering process separates the solid sediment particles from the water. The water is then pumped back into the reservoir through a temporary return line.

We have estimated that there is about 32,500 cubic yards of sediment deposited in the reservoir, most of which is submerged. A small portion of sediment is aerated, or above water, however, this volume depends on the current water surface elevation. Survey data indicates a large percentage of the sediment is deposited in the upper reaches of the reservoir. The thickness of the sediment in the upper reaches of the reservoir ranges from 1 to 5 feet in thickness. Elsewhere in the reservoir, the sediment thickness is approximately 1 foot or less in thickness.

We wish to thank
Schnabel Engineering
the Town of Cary
for their contributions to this article.

Dredging Project
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