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Old and New Traditions Emerge This Week in Downtown Meridian

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By Mayor Tammy

This week – the old meets the new in Downtown Meridian. A long time tradition and a new community tradition will help us usher in the official start of summer – the long-standing Dairy Days and the new Meridian Youth Farmers Market!

I can’t believe it is already time for the Meridian Youth Farmers Market to kick off its inaugural season (Saturday, June 25). It feels like just yesterday we were meeting in the Mayor’s Office trying to figure out how we could make our community farmers market unique to the valley. With the idea to create a Youth Farmers Market, we launched something that had never been done before in the area – a market that is focused on our youth. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this market is a tremendous opportunity for our area youth. The focus on our kids will give them the chance to learn ‘life skills’ and profit from their hobbies and projects, but most importantly, their passions.

Every Saturday from 9am-12pm (June 25 – September 24), I invite you to visit the market in the Meridian City Hall Plaza and support our youth! You’ll find products such as fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, baked goods, refreshments and food trucks! 

We’re excited to kick off this new community event in the midst of the 87th annual Meridian Dairy Days (June 23-26).  The Meridian Dairy Board has put together an even larger Dairy Days event this year, with more options and activities for families.  New to the event this year – an Art Festival on Saturday June 25 at 11am in Storey Park. This is the first time the Meridian Arts Commission has teamed up with the Dairy Board to put this event together. It will feature 20 local artists, art classes for kids and performances by the Treasure Valley Youth Theatre.

Also at the Park; Brown’s Carnival which opens at 4pm on Thursday, June 23, and the Pancake Feed that same day at 4pm, benefiting the Meridian Food Bank and the Meridian Injured Police Officers Fund. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are packed with family activities including a bike rodeo, live entertainment and a fireworks show at the Meridian Speedway on Friday at 10:30pm.   

The large Dairy Days Parade where thousands are expected to head to Downtown Meridian is on Friday, June 24 at 6:45pm with a new route! It will begin on Main Street at the Meridian Speedway, run north to East Fairview, then south on 2 ½ Street.   

I’m looking forward to this weekend as we celebrate two traditions in Downtown Meridian, an old and new one - giving residents even more options for activities in our great community!

For more information on these events, visit week www.meridiancity.org and click on the City News and Meetings tab. 

youth fm - 2015

Protecting Our Kids

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By Mayor Tammy

As we wrap up the 2015-16 school year, it's appropriate to highlight a group of people who are near and dear to my heart. They are the ones who wake up each day and come to work with the sole purpose of protecting our kids. The Meridian Police Department School Resource Officer (SRO) program consists of 9 officers who are assigned to 13 elementary schools, 6 middle schools, 3 high schools and several alternative, charter and private schools in our community within the West Ada School District.

Our SRO’s do more than just enforce the law. They walk the halls of our schools connecting with our kids; they also attend events such as high school sports games – keeping our community safe. Our SROs are involved in youth education, mentoring kids in our community and working directly with them – as evidenced by an event that took place this past week at Mountain View High School. A few months ago, Meridian Police Officer David Gomez spoke with a local newspaper about the students he encounters who don’t have necessities, like shoes. After reading this article, local business Pulse Running and Fitness Shop donated 100 pairs of shoes to Mountain View students in need on May 31. Officer Gomez was thrilled saying “these shoes will go to kids at the school who desperately need new shoes and cannot afford them. I have given out three pairs of shoes today already.” 

 pulse shoe donation - june2016

Officer Gomez is popular amongst the students and faculty at Mountain View but he’s also well known in the community for his Internet Safety for Families Class that he offers for free throughout the year. It’s an extremely important class in this age of technology, designed to teach parents and students about the dangers of social media and how to stay protected.

Another popular SRO in our community just announced he’s retiring! School Resource Officer Mike Lock has been with the Meridian Police Department for 24 years and has served many of those years as the SRO at Meridian Middle School.  Officer Lock’s impact on our kids has been immeasurable. The community is invited to join us in celebrating Officer Lock’s retirement on Friday, June 10, 2016 at 3pm at Meridian City Hall.

I’ve called out two SRO’s by name, but it takes the whole team - and their caring supervisor - working diligently each day with our schools and youth. They are key to keeping our community one of the safest in the state and the number one place to live in America. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard from residents, even employees here at City Hall, about how an SRO has made a difference in the lives of a student. So as we close out this school year, I want to say thank you to the Meridian Police School Resource Officers who serve and protect our youth, each and every day.

lock retirement june2016


Memorial Day Meridian Vacay

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By Mayor Tammy

Memorial Day weekend is the first holiday of the summer season and a time when the roads, airports, campsites, etc. always seem to fill up in Idaho.  For those families who just want to spend some quality time together and avoid the stress of travel on a busy weekend, I’ve put together a TOP TEN list of FREE VACATION fun right here in Meridian! There’s plenty to do in our community that equates to lifelong memories with the ones you love.

10. Yoga at Fountain Square – Village at Meridian

Axiom is hosting FREE Yoga in Fountain Square at the Village at Meridian every Saturday throughout the summer. Just bring your mat, water bottle and some energy as you practice yoga!

9. Live at the Bistro – Courtyard Marriott

The Courtyard Marriott at 1789 S. Eagle Road is hosting a summer series of live music. On Friday from 6-8:30pm enjoy music from Tom Taylor, a singer-songwriter from the year who performs classic, modern, cover songs and originals.

8. Fishing

Check out our fishing ponds in Meridian! We have ponds in Kleiner, Heroes and in Settlers Parks. Don’t forget adults need a fishing license, but kids under 12 fish free.

Unplug Week Fishing 1

7. Historic Walking Tour

The Meridian Historic Walking Tour highlights some of the historic properties in Downtown Meridian.  The new tour is self-guided, and takes walkers through the streets of Downtown Meridian, transporting them to yesteryear.

6. Meridian Library – unBound

Stop by unBound- Meridian Library’s newest location on Main Street in downtown. On Saturday they are hosting a Family Make It event from 11am-3pm. The program is focused on science, technology, engineering, art and math - encouraging families to work together on projects.

5. Storey Bark Park

Have you been to our newest park, Storey Bark Park? It’s a great place to take your fur-babies and let them try out some of the agility equipment and run off some energy.

storey bark park - photo

4. Geocaching

Geocaching is a wonderful GPS-based treasure hunting and trinket swapping hobby the entire family can enjoy. In fact, Meridian has plenty of great geocache sites hiding right under your nose. Go online (www.geocaching.com) to learn how geocaching works and where Meridian’s geocaches are carefully hidden!

3. Disc Golf

Try out Disc Golf! We have a course set-up at Kleiner Park - it’s a scenic one that winds throughout the park and around the pond.

2. Splash Pads

What better way to cool off than at one of our splash pads in the park?! Kleiner and Settlers Parks both have splash pads that are always a hit with the kids. Just remember you’re never too old to splash around – so parents can join in on the fun too!

1. Memorial Day Ceremony at the Rock of Honor

The number one event I encourage you to attend this weekend is the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Rock of Honor Veterans Memorial in Kleiner Park. It’s important to remember the reason for the holiday – a time set aside to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy today. Please join us at Kleiner Park at 11am on Monday, May 30.

Kleiner Rock of Honor Memorial Monument

You can always check out more events online on our website – www.meridiancity.org- and click on the Community Calendar. And here’s a bonus item of fun in Meridian this holiday weekend:  the Girls Fast Pitch Summer Fun Kickoff Tournament. More than 40 teams and 500 players will be at Heritage Middle School, Tully and Bear Creek Parks for the tournament. It’s a great option if you want to get outside and enjoy the sunshine while supporting athletes ages 10-16 years old.

Have a safe and enjoyable Meridian Vacay! #MyMeridian 

Get Out The Vote: This Election Affects Your Community!

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 By Mayor Tammy

Early Voting for the Primary Election is currently underway here at Meridian City Hall ahead of Election Day on May 17. This is an important election and I encourage voters to get out and make your voices heard!

Your ballot will include candidates for United States Senator; United States Representative- District 1;   Idaho Supreme Court Justice; Appellate Court Judge; State Representatives and Senators; as well as Ada County Sheriff, Prosecutor and Commissioners for Districts 2 and 3. There are a lot of decisions to be made. I encourage you to educate yourself on these candidates.

A ballot item that is receiving a lot of attention is the West Ada School District Trustee Recall for Zones 1 and 3. The people who serve on our board of trustees for the school district oversee a $400 million budget and are critical to the vitality of our community and neighboring cities. When I moved to Meridian, I did so because of our great school system. I attribute much of our growth to the top notch education in our area. We can’t afford to lose that quality education reputation – for our kids and in retaining and attracting family-wage jobs. That’s why your voice is important. Did you know in the last election, trustees were elected with less than .01 percent of voters in the district? That means out of 20,000 potential votes per zone (40,000 total), one trustee received 185 votes, the other 389. It is a privilege and responsibility to vote and to have a voice, especially when we are talking about our kids and a majority of your tax dollars – so get out to the polls and decide the direction of our school district!

Another item to be aware of as you head to the polls, is where the Ada County Commissioner candidates stand regarding the courthouse issue facing  Meridian and Garden City residents, and eventually residents in all other cities in Ada County.  The issue stems from a 22-year-old court order that says our two cities must build a courtroom. This order should have become null and void when Ada County residents overwhelmingly voted to consolidate court facilities in 1996. Our courts are a countywide responsibility and that deserves a countywide solution, rather than singling out two groups of residents to pay twice (Meridian and Garden City). I urge you to find out where all of the candidates for Ada County Commissioner stand on this issue before the election. It is our hope that commissioners will sit down at the table with us and find a solution that works for all. You will find more information on this issue on our website at www.meridiancity.org/courthouse.

Primary elections matter and there are some important decisions impacting Meridian that will be made by the people we choose to represent us at all levels of government.  While early voting makes it even easier to get out and vote, you need to know the people and what they stand for before heading to the polls. You can vote here at Meridian City Hall until Friday, May 13 from 8am-5pm. On Election Day, head to your regular polling place which will be open from 8am-8pm. Ada County has set up a great page with more information on the Primary Election, polling locations and more at www.idahovotes.gov.

Get informed about the issues and the people involved. I look forward to seeing you out at the polls, where together we will define the future of our community and state.

Join Us for an Informative Town Hall

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By Mayor Tammy

I always look forward to connecting with the community. That’s why Town Hall meetings top the list of activities I enjoy as Mayor. These quarterly meetings give me a chance to update citizens and connect face-to-face.

Ambrose School is hosting our next Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, April 27. You are invited to join us as we discuss a variety of topics.

Our Police Department will be on hand to talk about crime prevention, including door-to-door solicitors. They will also have “Summer Safety” tips for your home and neighborhood as we head into the season.

We will also hear an update on North Meridian Developments from our Community Development Department.  In fact, when it comes to that area, I’ve received quite a few questions about the land at Linder and Chinden. As I write this, no applications have been filed with the City by any business, so I know just as much as you do. That being said, if there are any updates on this project, and any others, we will be sure to share those with you at the Town Hall.

Are you concerned with traffic on Chinden (aka State Highway 20/26)?! Our Highway 20/26 Task Force is off and running. The Town Hall meeting will be a great opportunity for us to discuss our goals and let you know how you can get involved!  I established the Task Force in an effort to bring needed transportation improvements to Highway 20/26 (Chinden Blvd). The goals for that corridor include; reducing congestion, improving safety and creating economic opportunity. The Task Force is focused on engaging community members, legislators and the Idaho Transportation Board to prioritize funding for additional travel lanes and widening intersections along this key east-west corridor. We believe that by investing in 20/26, ITD can relive the bottleneck in this area, make a connection to the Highway 16 extension that makes sense, and solve a problem that frustrates businesses and commuters alike. 

And finally, as you may or may not have seen, we are hoping to come to the table with Ada County Commissioners to find a fair solution to courthouse funding that does not involve the residents of our community paying twice for courts. I will discuss this issue in further detail and answer your questions at the Town Hall meeting.

Transparency is a big goal of ours, so we aim to make it as easy as possible for our community to engage. That’s why we will be live streaming the Town Hall meeting and a recording of the meeting will be posted to our website. You can find this information at www.meridiancity.org.

I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, from 6:30pm – 8pm at Ambrose School! As you can see, we have a lot to discuss!

I Serve Meridian Citizens and We Shouldn’t Have to Pay Twice

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During my State of the City, and recently in our quarterly newsletter insert in the City of Meridian Utility Bills, I brought to the attention of our citizens, a 22-year-old court order that could potentially have an unfair impact on them and residents of Garden City. Meridian and Garden City are being held to a 1994 court order to build a courtroom in each of our cities. As you might imagine, there are a number of events that have transpired over the 22 years since this order was created. Many questions arise as a result as well - such as why wasn't it addressed then? Did the 1996 vote to consolidate courtroom facilities and the resulting 2002 opening of the Ada County Courthouse not satisfy the need? Since the Ada County residents paid for one building, why is the County coming back and asking our Meridian and Garden City citizens to pay for another building again? Is there a need that our two cities specifically are being directed to fix by adding additional court facilities?

The short answer is no. The resurfacing of the 1994 court order by the County is not about needing additional court facilities, it is about money. Let me explain.

The 1994 Court order wasn’t brought up as an unresolved issue during the 1996 vote to consolidate courtroom facilities. It wasn’t brought to anyone’s attention during the 2000 ground breaking or the 2002 opening of the consolidated Ada County Courthouse in Boise - to serve all of Ada Country. It wasn’t brought up when we, as Mayor and Council, asked the County if they wanted to consider a courtroom in City Hall during our planning phase in 2004. Interestingly, the Commissioners reasoning for not wanting a courtroom in Meridian at that time was to keep all courthouse activities in one place. This made sense both logistically and remained true to the voters’ decision in '96 to centralize courtrooms. There was no mention of the 1994 order until 2010 when Meridian and Garden City were sent a bill for using the courtrooms in the Ada County courthouse. Yes, a bill to use the Ada County Courthouse that ALL Ada County residents paid to build and pay to maintain. Were we surprised? Yes! We were even more surprised when the Ada County Commissioners sued our two cities for money for using the Courthouse and require a courthouse be built.

So the dialogue began. We knew the county couldn't charge us for facilities that are not located in our city, but we struggled with a number of questions. We sought to understand. 

First question - what was the problem we were trying to fix with this old order? The County told us they were 'just enforcing a court order' from 1994....in 2010? Their reasoning to bill us, and then to sue us: We hadn't built a courtroom so we should pay [to use the one our citizens helped pay to build]. We asked, with all that had transpired since 1994, didn't that change the validity and need of this order? The '96 vote of the people, the opening of the courthouse in 2002, the request from Meridian to have a courtroom in 2004? 

Second question - does the county want to decentralize the courts against the decision of the voters in 1996? Would this be in the best interest of the taxpayers? We have yet to talk to a county official or judge who believes it would be in the best interest of the citizens to decentralize. The county’s answer was that the '94 court order said we needed to build one.

Third question - is there a need for two more facilities? Is the Ada County Courthouse not sufficient for courtroom needs? What is the problem we are trying to solve? Even today, if you walk down the hall at the Courthouse at any given day between 3pm and 5pm, there will always be at least one if not more, completely empty courtroom, and Ada County has placed other, non-court related, operation services at the Courthouse – so court space is not an issue in the present day.

Fourth question - Meridian and Garden City asked if the courts weren't paying for themselves. Our belief was the taxpayers were already paying their share but court fees hadn't changed since the 1970s. We offered to join the county in proposing legislation that out-of-date court fees be brought up-to-date. Meridian and Garden City began work on this. We talked with our legislative officials and received the support of the Association of Idaho Cities on this legislation. Ada County was not at the table however, and the effort couldn't move forward without the county support. The cities also offered to undergo steps for the transfer of court fees that cities can receive if there is a courtroom in their city; because the fee currently goes to the state. Our offer was to petition that it be assigned to the county and that was put on hold.

I, personally, have not been opposed to supplying a courtroom - as demonstrated by our request in 2004. I have felt we could offer our citizens greater access to services they might need. However, I learned this comes at a huge cost to our taxpayers. The cost of decentralizing our courts has ripple effects and inefficiencies to our judges and the County Clerk's Office. Depending on what, ultimately, the courts decide and if we need to provide courtroom space, it could also potentially impact the County Prosecutor, the Public Defender, and the Sheriff's Office. Bottom line, this makes no 'cost' sense and would be very inefficient.

Meridian's population is 20% of Ada County's total number of residents but only 17% of the caseload volume. Of Meridian's caseload volume, however, just short of 60% of the cases are NOT Meridian residents. Meridian's court load would require use of a courtroom for 1-2 days a week. Does this justify building a courtroom? We don't think so. Courtroom facilities were addressed two decades ago and fulfilled in 2002 with one centralized location. 

This isn’t about numbers. This is about money and it’s not right to ask just a few targeted communities to pay more when this is a countywide issue. We are all taxpayers to the county, regardless of what city or unincorporated area we live in and those taxes should fund our court facilities. My job is to represent Meridian and serve the taxpayers in the City; I take this very seriously. We shouldn’t have to pay twice, and certainly no more than any other Ada County citizen. This belief is shared by our City Council and by elected officials of all the cities in Ada County.  

We had hoped the County Commissioners would agree that the 1994 order - and all the events that have happened since - doesn't make sense 22 years later. We have asked the Ada County Commissioners to stand with us to ask the courts to revoke this old order. We have suggested that if the courts and the county believe that there is a current issue - today, in 2016 - that a new order be issued.  We can then begin the process the Supreme Court required and hold a public discussion on whether a facility or facilities are needed and how it should move forward.

 

We work with the county on a number of important and critical issues. We have sought to come to the table multiple times, most recently on KTVB’s Viewpoint, but the County Commissioners have refused. We need to discuss what makes sense today. We are elected to lead. We should also be expected to come to the table and publicly have a conversation about how we, as two cities and one county can move forward. Can we do that? I am willing.

County Commissioners Contact: bocc1@adaweb.net or 208-287-7000

Do The Right on April 8

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By Mayor Tammy

On Friday, April 8, you’re invited to join us for Do The Right Day! Last year the City of Meridian, with the help of many partners, launched Do The Right – one day to start a movement of compassion by encouraging residents to do something kind for the person to their right - neighbors, family members, coworkers, or classmates. With bullying and other negativity so prevalent in today’s culture, we began a mission to encourage people to put a smile on the face of someone else with a nice note, comment, gift, or act of service.  The success of the inaugural event was amazing with an overwhelming response from the community.  We distributed 7,500 #DoTheRight stickers and social media was packed with pictures from all over Meridian – even reaching other communities in the state and as far away as Texas!

The City was moved to do something to spur a movement of compassion and kindness after discussing bullying and teen suicide with our Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council.  It is something that definitely affects teens in our community and adults as well. That’s why we wanted to make this an annual event for our city, because you never know how one act of kindness can change someone’s life. We live in a giving and compassionate community and we want to keep it that way. This world is full of criticism and negativity and it’s time to focus on the positive!

This year’s Do The Right Day will be even bigger! We have so many community members on board to ensure it is a success. The West Ada School District is getting schools involved. The District plans to distribute 'post it' notes, so students can write kind messages to one another. I will also read a proclamation at Mountain View High School, proclaiming April 8, Do The Right Day in Meridian.

Ben’s Bells, also known as 'Be Kind Idaho' will be spreading the word at the Village at Meridian. Kathy Chambers with State Farm has stepped in with a gracious donation to help us purchase special #DoTheRight stickers, Dutch Bros. will be handing out those stickers at locations across the community, and The Village at Meridian will have sidewalk chalk for kind messages and a surprise event just after 6pm for families.

It has been heartwarming to see so many jump on board again this year to make this day of compassion happen – it’s obvious our citizens are eager to make being kind, a priority.

I’m looking forward to participating in Do The Right and I am hopeful that all of you will join me!  You can take part by doing an act of kindness for the person to your right – it may be a cup of coffee for your coworker, a nice note for your classmate or even offering a helping hand to your neighbor - just let them know they matter.

For more information about the event, visit our website,www.meridiancity.org.  Thanks for being a part of this movement and please share your experience on Friday, April 8, on social media with the hashtag #DoTheRight. Let this be the first day, and every day thereafter, of kindness to others!