October 01, 2014      42.0°F (5.6°C) | Fair
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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.

 

There's So Much to See and Do in Meridian

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The City of Meridian has worked hard to win its recognition as one of Idaho’s most desirable places in which to live and the park system has been heralded among the best in the state. With approximately 20 community parks located throughout Meridian boundaries, there are a number of amenities, activities, sporting events and unique environments that are bound to appease most every lifestyle choice.

 

We just wrapped up another successful summer of our very popular CableOne Movie Night. As the season and weather changes, the new City of Meridian’s Parks and Recreation Guide is now available outlining the multitude of offerings for participants of all ages. Whether you’re looking for preschool activities or classes in dance, art, cheerleading, martial arts, yoga or Zumba, there’s always something going on in our fine city. All this information - and much, much more – is available at our City website at www.meridiancity.org.

 

And next on the horizon, on September 6th, our fifth annual Community Block Party will be hosted again at Settler’s Park from 10 am to 4 pm. You’ll see lots of food, fun and activities for kids of all ages. We’ll have demonstrations and a sneak peak at some of our upcoming programs offered by our Parks and Recreation team. We’ll even throw in some inflatables to ensure you have a blast at this year’s Community Block Party.

 

One of the popular attractions at both Settlers and Kleiner parks are our splash pads. Those will remain open for the enjoyment of all park visitors until September 21st. And for all disc golf enthusiasts, the courses are due to go up in Bear Creek Park in the mid-September timeframe, once our fall softball season concludes. And we anticipate our disc golf course at Settlers Park course will go up in early November. Be sure to watch the City of Meridian website for updates to these, and many of our other attractions, so that you’re in-the-know and don’t miss out!

 

These are just a small sampling of the multitude of things to see and do in Meridian. To learn more, check out the community calendar on our city website at www.meridiancity.org.   

Changes ahead for I-84 and Meridian Interchange

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Guest column from the Idaho Transportation Department

 

Great progress is being made on I-84 and the Meridian Interchange! The west half of the interchange bridge is beginning to take shape. Construction crews are tying rebar and forming the deck for the bridge.

 

The work zone will be different each night for the next month, so please slow down and pay attention. In general:

 

  •  Eastbound I-84 will be reduced to two lanes under the interchange from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and until 7 a.m. on weekends.
  • The eastbound “loop” on-ramp from southbound Meridian road will be closed intermittently. Drivers will still be able to access the other eastbound on-ramp from northbound Meridian Road.
  • Westbound I-84 will be reduced to one lane under the interchange in mid-August. 

 

 

Meanwhile, ITD is replacing the outside lanes of I-84, improving drainage and resurfacing the inside lanes between Meridian and Five Mile roads. I-84 has been reduced to three lanes in both directions in this area. That gives crews enough room to haul materials, lay pavement and get equipment in and out of the work zone.

 

Construction is expected to be completed by late 2015.

 

If you have questions, visit the project website (www.itd.idaho.gov/MeridianInterchange) or contact ITD at comments@itd.idaho.gov or (208) 334-8005. 


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