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2014 Neighborhood Stars

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Recently, Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd presented the 2014 Neighborhood Star Awards to a number of deserving individuals and businesses within the community during a public ceremony and reception at the Meridian City Hall. 

 

This annual award recognizes Meridian residents for their staunch commitment to preserving, maintaining and improving the quality of life and safety in their neighborhoods, as well as the broader Meridian community.

 

“Meridian has repeatedly been recognized by Money Magazine in their annual ‘Best Places to Live’ list because of people like this year’s esteemed recipients,” said Mayor Tammy de Weerd. “These unsung heroes have shown selfless dedication to their neighbors, neighborhoods and community, and are deserving of our appreciation and recognition.”

 

Award recipients are nominated by a neighbor or neighborhood association, and this year’s recipients were:

 

Jay & Roxanne Corsi are a husband and wife team who efficiently handle a variety of issues such as keeping neighbors calm, satisfied, and free of complaints. From making renters feel included in neighborhood activities to supervising the lawn maintenance crew, this warm and communicative couple is dedicated to their small but cooperative HOA and will respond to the needs of their neighbors at any hour of day or night.

 

Danielle Stem is the President of Meridian-based, Genesis Service Dogs. Genesis Service Dogs breeds, raises and trains service dogs for people that need them to assist with disabilities. Through her role as President she is the leader of all the raisers and trainers that help produce the dogs that will go on to be someone’s hero and lifesaver.

 

Claudia Sanders was on her way to work in February when she witnessed a little boy who was on his bicycle hit by a car on Linder and Monument Ave. Being a nurse; she jumped into action and assisted the boy until paramedics arrived. The very next day, she made phone calls to ask about getting a crosswalk put in - one month later, her neighborhood had a crosswalk.

 

Dennis Hoffman exemplifies the ideal neighbor. He constantly offers to help his neighbors with anything that needs doing, in or around the house and then some. He knows everyone in the neighborhood and uses his diverse skills to assist with issues from leaky sprinkler systems to malfunctioning doorbells, to gardening.

 

Edee White & Carol Standley are heroes of a different kind. We all know the hazards of puncture vine, also known as the dreaded Goathead. Edee and Carol worked daily for more than a week, personally pulled piles of these thorny noxious green weeds in order to save countless bicycle tires, tennis shoes, and dog paws, from damage and pain.

 

When Kendall Ford first arrived in the Treasure Valley, their staff reached out to The Idaho Foodbank and offered their help in building awareness of hunger in our communities. Their Kendall Cares program also supports causes like the annual CATCH 5k at Kleiner Park, the Boys & Girls Club of Ada County, the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, and the Boise State Broncos.

 

Norma Gale personally bought and cares for over a dozen pots of flowers around the La Playa senior community clubhouse and is always ready with a casserole for those who are ill.

 

Rachael Perry actively volunteers for her local church, serves as a Cub Scout leader, Sunday school teacher, and immediate substitute anytime there is a need.  She is currently serving as a compassionate service organizer/leader assisting those who are going through difficult times by providing and organizing dinners and babysitting, organizing activities for brightening the mood of those individuals, and being a key cog for helping those hospitalized and needing assistance from other members. 

 

Randy Hill took matters into his own hands. When a neighbor used a leaf blower to blow his leafs into the street, instead of causing a problem, Randy took a broom and garbage bags and cleaned all the leaves out of the street and properly disposed of them. Additionally, Randy keeps an eye on his neighbor’s property when they travel, bringing in their mail and boxes. 

 

Stan and Suzi Young served a full-time church mission and have helped organizations in Idaho including the Blind Services Foundation, Ride for Joy Therapeutic Riding Center, Idaho Youth Ranch, Wyakin Warrior Foundation, Foundation for Blind Children, and the March of Dimes, among others. 

 

 

Walk for Health Challenge

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By Mayor Tammy

 

October 8th was International Walk to School Day. This is an important day each year as we’re reminded of the importance of physical activity in our lives – and especially in the lives of our children. There were many Walk to School Day events and I was honored to participate in the event hosted by Ponderosa Elementary. What a great group of elementary-aged students we have at Ponderosa! I have no doubt that they are representative of the high-quality students we have at each and every one of our elementary schools in Meridian.

 

Growing up in the home of a high school football coach, the importance of physical activity and exercise was instilled in me from a very early age. That’s why I not only participated in Walk to School Day, but am also participating in, and promoting, a month-long walking challenge sponsored by the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation and Let’s Move Boise! This month-long challenge, issued by Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, is designed to promote good health for area schoolchildren by encouraging them to walk and run to school.

 

Meridian has seven elementary schools that have accepted the challenge and will be competing for $500 prizes in two categories: most miles accumulated and highest participation rate. The winning schools will earn prize money to purchase additional P.E. and fitness equipment. Currently, one in three Idaho children is overweight or obese. Our children are our legacy, which is why this month-long challenge and activity is so important. It is our job as parents and adults to encourage and help kids make sound and healthy choices. In addition, we will also gain tremendously from the amount of walking we will be doing with our children!

 

To encourage participation by our school children, I have committed to visiting each school that is participating in the challenge and walk with students at least once during their designated walking time. I am excited to visit these schools and see the excitement in eyes of tomorrow’s leaders as we walk together. Through our walking, the kids and I will enhance school pride, learn more about teamwork and increase awareness of the opportunity for children and adults to improve their health. Likewise, we will be displaying just how easy and simple it is to add physical activity and exercise into our already busy schedules.

 

I invite you to join me, and our elementary students, in walking more during the month of October. To learn more about the month-long challenge, visit www.letsmoveboise.com. It is my hope that through this challenge we not only take a few moments to identify ways to improve our physical activity each day, but that we actually do it! I’ll see you out on the walking path. 

 

5th Annual Treasure Valley Youth Safety Summit

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By Mayor Tammy

 

We are just a couple of weeks into the school year and I’m already amazed at the interest our youth have shown in getting involved in their community. At our first meeting of the Meridian Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC), we had nearly 200 youth in attendance. This is an impressive group. We saw their energy and passion displayed as many of them participated this past Wednesday in the 5th annual Treasure Valley Youth Safety Summit.

 

The overall goal of the summit was to educate student leaders on the dangers teens face. More than 200 students from the West Ada School District's high schools, charter schools, and home schools joined us for interactive safety messaging and workshops surrounding a ‘personal empowerment’ theme. This year’s theme was developed by the youth as they aimed to show how it is possible to stand up and make good choices in any setting in which they find themselves. 

 

Utilizing the many applicable resources Wahooz offers, attendees experienced the dangers of distracted driving by texting while navigating the go-kart track, participated in mini-golf while donning intoxicated vision goggles to display the effects drugs and alcohol play in judgment, and played in unfair-teamed laser tag to mimic bullying. Experts from Buckle Up for Bobby, the Mayor’s Anti-Drug Coalition (MADC) and law enforcement were at each location to share personal insights as to how their lives have been changed by singular decisions they or their children made as teens to create dialogue and give tips on how to. New this year, the youth incorporated a workshop designed to give them basic tips on personal safety, as well as a demonstration by our Deputy Police Chief Tracy Basterrechea, who is an accomplished martial artist.

 

What is truly remarkable is the summit has gone from a humble beginning of 60 attendees to a full-fledged event that is now being planned, developed and executed by the teens themselves. We have partnered with their school’s administration, guidance counselors, and the West Ada School District to ensure continuity in messaging, have engaged our police to be active participants in the interactive lessons, and found funding solutions to ensure the summit will a mainstay for years to come.

 

Special thanks must go to Kathy Chambers’ State Farm Insurance office for realizing the need for the summit and making a tremendous financial commitment. I also offer my heartfelt gratitude to the volunteers, parents, sponsors, educators, and presenters for your dedication to our youth.

 

The teens in our community continue to inspire me in everything they do. They are creating legacies, changing lives and bettering our community. I encourage you to learn more about what they are doing, support their efforts, and you, too, will be amazed.

 

Meridian a Top 50 Best Place to Live

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We did it! We cracked the top 50 in two listings rating the best places to live in the U.S.

 

Money Magazine is no stranger to Idaho, and certainly, to Meridian. The magazine named Meridian to its 2014 list of Top 50 Best Places to Live. This is the fourth time the City of Meridian has received this recognition with a ranking of 49 and is the only city in Idaho to make the list.

 

The publication alternates ranking cities or towns each year, citing their favorability and “livability” scores. For this year, the criteria included cities with a population between 50,000 and 300,000. The magazine started with a pool of 781 cities, and through research and analytics, shaved the list down to the top 50. Other criteria included: median household income, job growth, housing prices, test scores, crime rates and overall quality of life.

 

“One of the things I love most about Meridian is the people. We are truly blessed with some of the most giving, selfless private and corporate citizens a community could ever hope for,” said Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd. “We have a community that gives back and it’s great to see this recognized in such a prestigious publication.”

 

In the story, Meridian was heralded for its “giving” community and strong corporate citizenship model, citing the $25 million dollar gift to develop Kleiner Park, as well as the anonymous gift in 2012 of a food bank. Other attributes contributing to Meridian’s ranking included the varied options for dining, shopping, proximity to a plethora of outdoor recreation venues and the strong economic climate. Two local business entities called out in the article include The Village at Meridian and Scentsy. The complete list available at 2014 Money Magazine Best Places To Live.

 

To our further delight, another online business publication rated Meridian as the 22nd most desirable place in which to live. For the full article and listing, go to 24/7 Wall Street Most Desirable Places To Live.

 

And to top off the round of accolades, we’re also in an enviable position of being named the third safest city in Idaho. According to the online real estate blog movoto.com that looks at towns across the state, they started with a list of places in Idaho with populations of 5,000 or more. Crime data was then gathered for each place from the 2012 FBI Uniform Crime Report assessing murders, violent crimes, property crimes and total crimes. To read more about the assessment and listing, go to Safest Idaho Cities.

 

We should be proud of all of these accomplishments and the recognition that our fine city deserves. What a blessing it is to live in Meridian!

 

 

 

MADC's 9th Annual Recovery Day Breakfast

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By Mayor Tammy

 

We had great news at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting. It was great news, particularly for me, because we were able to see the official paperwork that will keep the Mayor’s Anti-Drug Coalition (MADC) funded for another four years. The Idaho Office of Drug Policy selected MADC as one of 11 organizations to receive a Strategic Prevention Grant to fund our community’s substance abuse prevention strategies.

 

Since 2004, MADC has been an important part of our community’s efforts to fight drug use and abuse. With award-winning and innovative programs, this coalition of community volunteers works hard to educate parents, kids, coaches and educators about the dangers of alcohol and drugs, and give them much needed tools to make good choices.

 

So what makes MADC unique and strong, or sets this apart from other anti-drug endeavors in our area?

 

From my perspective, it points to the relationships such as the strong partnership between our Police Department and our School District. Programs like these take a lot of effort, hard work and strong leadership. I would be remiss in not recognizing three people who are instrumental in making this program succeed. Special thanks go to Dr. Linda Clark of the West Ada School District, and from the Meridian Police Department, Chief Jeff Lavey and Lt. John Overton. It’s through their collaboration and dedication that we can bring positive change to our area in this arena.

 

The grant will help continue the good work of several programs, such as our Prescription Drug Drop-Off Program, which supports education, monitoring, proper disposal and enforcement to reduce prescription drug abuse. It will also provide funding for additional training for police department personnel to market and promote better choices and a drug-free lifestyle.

 

Everyone is invited on September 30 to attend the MADC 9th Annual Recovery Day Breakfast. The celebration is to recognize all the collective efforts that our community invests toward recovery from substance use disorders. Let's celebrate those in recovery and those who help. From health care professionals, to employers and insurers, to our faith based counseling, to community and family members - all offer acceptance and encouragement and play a vital role in this mission. Join us for a free continental breakfast from 8 – 9:30 am at the Meridian Police Department at 1401 E. Watertower St. Information will soon be posted on the City’s website on how to RSVP at www.meridiancity.org.

 

To get involved in MADC or to learn more, visit www.meridianmadc.org. We encourage everyone to get involved and help make a difference in a very real and meaningful way.

 

New Sharrows in Downtown Meridian

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Have you noticed anything new on some roads in Meridian lately? Like different pavement markings?

 

Shared lane markings are new to Ada County roadways and will have bicyclists and cars sharing the road in a new way, and hopefully, with more awareness.

 

Shared lane markings, also called “sharrows,” are pavement markings within existing travel lanes. The markings combine directional arrows with a bike symbol and are painted in the travel lane, requiring vehicles to drive over them. These markings serve two purposes: 1) they help drivers and cyclists be more aware of the other and reinforce the shared road condition, and 2) they guide cyclists toward bike-friendly routes.

 

Sharrow

 

Ada County Highway District crews are putting down the new bike markings on certain roads in Boise, Meridian and Eagle to promote awareness and increase safety for bicyclists and motorists.

 

So let’s remember to stay alert and to share the roads so that everyone can be safe while traveling throughout our city.

 

You can access a full list of shared lane markings, and how-to-use information, by using this link www.achdidaho.org.

Back to School Means Awareness

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By Mayor Tammy

 

For many of us, last week marked the start of a new school year, heralded with the familiar sights of yellow school buses, flashing crosswalk signals and kids toting backpacks - my granddaughter sported her beloved 'Frozen' backpack as she entered first grade. This also marks the time when I meet with Meridian high school principals to take a pulse on the trends that students in our community are facing. It’s important for all of us to be aware of the pressures our teens face as a caring community and to ensure a healthy Meridian.

 

Common topics in these meetings cover the dangers and abuse of prescription drugs, personal safety, distracted driving and relationship violence. One item of particular concern is the growing trend of bullying and cyber-bullying. This issue is increasingly alarming considering the sheer volume of kids turning to the internet and social media. It is important that we stand together to do whatever needed to stop all forms of bullying.

 

The media has covered stories showcasing the catastrophic results of bullying. Social networks like Facebook and Instagram were never intended for this use; however, easy access facilitates bullying behavior as participants hide behind the mask of a computer or mobile device. It’s incumbent upon us to teach children that any type of bullying will not be tolerated. 

 

Most consider the worst byproduct of bullying as suicide. It happens too often - one is too many; our children must learn proper coping mechanisms to handle everyday stresses. For anyone who has experienced the heartbreak of losing a friend or loved one to suicide, it’s critical to be aware of available resources to help during this time of crisis. Next week is Suicide Prevention Week, an awareness campaign highlighted by World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th. I urge you to be educated and know the warning signs when you see them. In doing so, and knowing what to do, you just may save a life.

 

Though I often extoll the many wonderful things about the quality of life in Meridian (and Idaho), we are not immune to the tragedy of suicide. Our state experienced a higher than normal rate of suicide -- 39% higher than the national average in 2011. It is the second leading cause of death for Idahoans age 15-34, and for males age 10-14. Between 2009 and 2013, 85 Idaho children (age 18 and under) committed suicide; 15 of them were under 14 years of age. 

 

The Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC) has been a leading voice on this topic. Recently, MYAC members asked our state legislators to provide continued funding to the Idaho suicide prevention hotline. Additionally, they created a public service announcement that was shared with police departments and schools across the state. You can view the video by clicking this link MYAC Suicide Prevention Hotline PSA. I applaud them for their efforts on this topic. 

 

Bullying and suicide are very real and ugly issues that nobody – especially our youth – should ever have to endure. By working together, we can make a difference to stop this alarming trend. These are our future leaders and our legacy, and we owe it to them to feel valued, safe and protected.

 


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