It’s not always easy to get folks to pay attention to local government, with its hourslong meetings that hash and rehash the minutiae of town policy.
But Fuquay-Varina, where town board meetings often conclude with personal soliloquy from Mayor John Byrne, apparently has a knack for spinning a good yarn out of it all. The town won three first-place awards at this year’s North Carolina City and County Communications Awards ceremony in Charlotte last weekend.
Among the state’s municipalities, only Burlington won as many.
Fuquay-Varina won for its website redesign, as well as for producing the state’s best annual report – its 2016 economic development report. The town also won first prize for its eight-part video series of conversations between town police officers and children, “The Other Side.”
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Susan Weis, spokeswoman for the town, said she hopes the town will be recognized later this year for its animated seven-minute “State of the Town” video, which recapped at breakneck speed a year’s worth of town policy developments and accomplishments. The video wasn’t released in time for this round of awards, but Weis said she plans to submit it for a national prize awarded in September.
“It really is different from the way we used to do things,” said Weis, who was wrestling with the town’s new Instagram account when reached Tuesday morning. “Part of it is we’re doing a lot more and there’s more to be done because we’re a growing community.”
The Fuquay-Varina Police Department’s Facebook page, which is personally overseen by Police Chief Laura Fahnestock, has made a name for itself by breaking law enforcement and public safety news in the form of pop-culture jokes and memes.
Earlier this week a photo of three Fuquay-Varina police cars converged around a turtle crossing the road became a semi-viral hit on Facebook.
Town Commissioner Jason Wunsch also runs a Facebook page called “Today in the Quay,” which he said aims to deliver uplifting, positive news about the town.
Then there’s the snarkier Fuquay-Varina Memes Facebook page, which materialized mysteriously in January and has quickly grown its following to nearly 11,000 people.
The page is run by an anonymous person and is not associated with the town, but Weis said she thought its success says something important about who her work speaks to.
“Fuquay-Varina residents are an engaged group of people,” Weis said. “I think it’s great that we know how to laugh at ourselves, and I think there’s a lot of humor in who we are. We don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
Garner, the only other Wake County municipality to win first-place honors, took home a trophy for its general use of social media.
Apex won second place for its new logo and branding, and Holly Springs won second place for a public service announcement.
Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan