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Another Great MYAC Year!

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By Mayor Tammy

 

I can't believe we are at the end of another school year – and I can tell you it has been a busy one! It’s also the time of year when the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC) activities wrap up. 

 

What a year it has been! From brand new projects, to the continued success of ongoing and annual events, MYAC has once again surpassed all expectations!

 

This year over 100 teens joined MYAC. Together they gave nearly 8,000 hours to the community in the form of community service, events, activities, and advocating for issues important to our teens.

 

MYAC kicked off the fall with another successful Trunk or Treat that brought in donations for the Meridian Food Bank and over 7,500 people. They also planned and executed another successful Treasure Valley Youth Summit. Last September’s event brought in over 200 students from Meridian area high schools to Wahooz for interactive lessons, guest speakers, and school specific workshops. They learned the dangers of texting while driving by simulating the act with go-karts and they wore fatal vision goggles while playing mini-golf to learn the affects drugs and alcohol play on judgment. They also participated in unfair laser tag to better understand bullying. The youth summit gives teens and “MYACers” a way to be part of the solution in addressing issues teen’s face. 

 

Keeping in line with teen safety – MYAC produced a Public Service Announcement called iCLICK. The purpose of the video announcement was to enforce the importance of wearing seatbelts and was part of the council’s presentation to our area legislators to make not wearing a seatbelt a primary offense.

 

MYAC held great events such as Ignite Youth which gave teens in our community an opportunity to prepare a 5-minute presentation on whatever topic is important to them. This year 12 teens participated on topics including renaming Idaho to Star 43 and bullying.  Another big event for MYAC this year was the City’s Do the Right campaign. The teens in MYAC really wanted to host a day-long, community-wide event that would promote kindness, because they realize bullying and sadness affects people of all ages. The first event was a huge success and next year is sure to be even bigger – with more people doing something kind for the person to their ‘right.’

 

MYAC wrapped up the year with the Ball at the Hall – A Prom for Grown Ups. The Ball at the Hall also doubled as an end-of-year group celebration and raised critical operating funds for the Treasure Valley Youth Summit. Our teens are all looking forward to once again bringing this important educational event to their peers across the community in Fall 2015.

 

This was such a fantastic year and I am thankful to all of the teens who serve on MYAC and would like to give a special acknowledgment to those who served as officers on the Executive Council. They give so much back to their community – in terms of service and hosting events. These teens are an inspiration and a reminder of the bright future we have in the next generation. Thank you as well to this years’ advisors Ken Corder, Patrick Dilley, Jake Garro, Debbie Shaner, Officer Gomez, and the number of parents who help throughout the year.

 

While our graduating seniors will be missed and the community appreciates all they have done, I look forward to next year as these teens continue to make a positive difference across our community! 

Town Hall Recap: Meridian’s Future

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By Mayor Tammy

Recently we held a Town Hall meeting at Siena Elementary focused on the future of our beautiful City. We shared feedback about the Listening Tour I just completed, the results of the Parks and Recreation master plan survey and an update on the South Meridian YMCA. 

I kicked-off the meeting with a report on my latest Listening Tour in which I met with Meridian residents to get their feedback and additional insight into specific questions from the 2014 Meridian City Survey.  Generally participants agreed with the results of the 2014 City Survey as it related to questions revolving around transportation and priorities for investing, with pathways being one of the most talked about items - our residents want to see more connectivity throughout the community. Looking to the future, our citizens expressed reservations about higher density housing and its impacts to infrastructure such as schools, but that issue has been somewhat addressed with the recent bond passing.  What was abundantly clear was that people felt that growth should pay for growth; including new schools, and that they need a greater commitment from the state. In addition, people would like to see more evening activities and dining options in Downtown Meridian.

 

Overall, people love Meridian and our small-town feel.  They believe our people are friendly, and appreciate our growing parks system. They are also fond of the West Ada School District, and the opportunities for youth to engage in the community. We agree!

 

After I discussed these results with the audience at our Town Hall – it was GreenPlay’s turn to present. Greenplay is a company we’ve hired to help us craft a master plan for our Parks and Recreation system over the next decade.  Their feedback collected so far has been clear as they spoke about the community’s desire for more pathways.  Preliminary ideas for the Parks master plan include; connecting trails to each other, parks and to schools, acquiring land for future parks, and communicating more effectively utilizing technology.  We’re about half way through the process in creating our plan and hope to finalize it by this Fall, but you can still voice your opinion until May 15 – just go to meridianparks.mindmixer.com.

 

Finally we received an update on the much-anticipated South Meridian YMCA project planned near Eagle and Amity roads. Current plans include a two-story elementary school that connects to the YMCA in the area where a library will be housed and a large gym and basketball court to be connected to the school.  The YMCA will feature a health and fitness space, a track that covers more than one floor to mimic hill runs, and an aquatic center complete with an outdoor splash pad and possibly a water slide.  This facility will also be located next to a City park.

 

I am thrilled about this new project, that wouldn’t be possible without critical partnerships including the YMCA, West Ada School District, the Meridian Library District, and a giving community. There are still funds that need to be raised, but I look forward to seeing the goal reached and cutting the ribbon on this facility.

 

Our Town Hall meeting was very informative and helped those in attendance better understand the direction we are going, and we appreciated their questions and feedback. It’s an exciting time for our City! I encourage you all to stay informed and be part of the process. Visit us at meridiancity.org and sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube! 

 

Click here to view a video of the Town Hall meeting. 

Idaho Gives

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By Mayor Tammy

 

One of the things I love most about Meridian is how generous and giving our community is to those around them.  In fact, the generosity of our citizens is a primary reason Meridian was recognized among the top 50 best places to live by Money magazine.  

 

People of all ages throughout the community are outstanding philanthropists!  Every time I turn around the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council is working on another event to raise money or to give back to their City, such as the upcoming Ball at the Hall on May 16th. It’s a prom for all ages that benefits the Treasure Valley Youth Summit held each Fall to educate our local high teens on ways to keep them safe and healthy.

 

It is because we are a community full of caring and giving hearts, I wanted to let you know that May 7th is Idaho Gives Day. Idaho Gives was launched in 2013 by the Idaho Nonprofit Center and in its first year raised over $500,000 for 541 causes. In 2014 the amount raised jumped to nearly $800,000; this year I except that number to increase even more!

 

I’m a huge fan of movements like this because I believe that while one person can do a lot, with the focus of thousands statewide we can move mountains and really change the future course for many nonprofits, including several in our community.

 

Currently the Boys and Girls Club is raising money for a gymnasium next to their current facility and the YMCA is raising funds to build a new location in South Meridian. These are just two examples of tangible ways you can see your gift noticed with huge community impacts.

 

May 7th will be here before we know it! I look forward to seeing the results of this giving day statewide and the impact it has on our local nonprofits.

 

Visit the Idaho Gives event listing on the City of Meridian’s community calendar for more information. www.meridiancity.org/calendar

 

 

It's Time to Unplug!

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By Mayor Tammy

 

Turn off the TV, computers, portable games, tablets and other screens used for entertainment in your household! It's time for your family to celebrate the City’s fourth annual Unplug and Be Outside Week. During the week of April 20 – 25, the Meridian Parks and Recreation Department is offering free activities, workshops and events to inspire and empower families to get off the couch and get active.

 

This annual celebration is intended to educate families about the negative effects of too much “screen time” and challenge them to explore the endless opportunities for screen-free fun and relaxation.  Over the past 30 years, the obesity rate in children 6-11 years old has quadrupled and researchers say there’s a connection between the number of hours spent in front of a television and childhood obesity.  The average American child spends more than 30 hours a week in front of a screen (TV, computer, and video games). 

 

That’s why the City has put together a great week full of diverse activities for the whole family such as tennis, golf, fishing, martial arts, dance clinics, to more unique offerings like a GPS scavenger hunt, gardening classes, family yoga, and theatre workshops. The Boys and Girls Club and Meridian Library will also be hosting events.

 

One of the highlights of the week is the Family Tennis Fair and Ribbon Cutting that will take place on Friday, April 24 from 4:30pm – 7:30pm at Settlers Park. We will be officially cutting the ribbon to commemorate the new complex at 5:30pm during that fair.

 

To learn more and view the complete schedule for this year’s Unplug and Be Outside Week, visit our website: www.meridiancity.org/unplug/.  It’s time to get off the couch!  Be Outside!  Be Active!  And Play!  I’ll see you out and about enjoying all the outdoor fun that Meridian has to offer next week!

Join Us for Do The Right

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On April 8 we are launching Do The Right here in Meridian – 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 are on a mission to encourage people to put a smile on the face of someone else with a simple note, gift, or act of service. 

 

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. In the fall, we lost a community advocate to suicide and his death certainly affected those of us in the Mayor’s office who knew him. I couldn’t help but think – what if someone had said something nice to him or left him a nice note? What if…

 

That’s why we are launching Do The Right – 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! 

 

Since we first announced our idea, it has been thrilling to see the overwhelming response from the community to help get the word out about his event. 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. Ben’s Bells, also known as 'Be Kind Idaho' will be spreading the word by hanging 150 bells around town to honor kindness. Kathy Chambers with State Farm has stepped in with a gracious donation to help us purchase special #DoTheRight stickers to hand out community-wide to people participating in Do The Right day. Other businesses helping get the word out include the Meridian Chamber of Commerce, Dutch Bros., The Village at Meridian and the Meridian Library. It has been heartwarming to see so many jump on board to make this day of compassion happen – it’s obvious our citizens are ready 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 feel free to share your experience on that day on social media with the tag #DoTheRight. Join us on April 8 to Do The Right. Let this be the first day, and every day thereafter, of kindness to others! 

Mayor Tammy Spills the Secrets

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 by Mayor Tammy

I recently read an article in Reader’s Digest titled, “13 Secrets Mayors Won’t Tell You”. It was very interesting, so I decided to share some of it here, but add my commentary to each “secret”.

1. You really can change our minds. A well-informed citizen who gets up and speaks at a meeting on an issue can be very compelling. But you have to be well-informed. And you have to do it in a respectful manner.
Mayor Tammy: Good advice - this works for both Mayors & City Council members.

2. In small cities, residents are always telling us they want certain stores and restaurants to come to town. Well, so do I. But I can’t wave a magic wand and suddenly make an Olive Garden appear. It’s a free country, and retailers get to choose where they want to locate. 
Mayor Tammy: This topic is probably my most frequent type of request; In-N-Out Burger being the most often requested.

3. The politics can be very petty and sometimes mean-spirited. The council wasn’t happy when I got elected, so the first vote they took was to take the reserved parking space away from me. It was the height of immaturity. 
Mayor Tammy: I can honestly say that this has not been an issue in Meridian. The Mayor and Council work together well – we don't always agree but can shake hands and walk away 'agreeing to disagree'.

4. It’s easier to pass a $20 million water-treatment project than it is to spend a few thousand dollars on new laptop computers for the police squad cars. People’s eyes tend to glaze over when you review the details of a big project. But small costs are a lot easier to grasp, so people jump all over them and the money. 
Mayor Tammy: In the beginning this was true; not so much today. The City Council is very engaged and thoughtful in their approach to budgeting. It gets better every year - this year we will pilot a participatory budgeting approach we hope will bring greater interest and transparency.

5. In most cities, whether you elect a Republican or Democrat makes very little difference. Most of our responsibilities…are nuts-and-bolts issues, and there’s no partisanship in them. 
Mayor Tammy: I must say that I am glad I don’t have the need to be involved in party politics.

6. I’m not as powerful as you think. If your town has a council-manager form of government, I don’t actually run your city; the city manager does.
Mayor Tammy: Our city - as most Idaho cities are structured - is the strong mayor form of government; meaning that the Mayor is the city manager. The Mayor oversees the day-to-day operations of the City with most policy, budget and land-use decisions made by the City Council.

7. People are always surprised when they see me out grocery shopping. They’ll say, “Oh, you do your own shopping?”
Mayor Tammy: The funniest I have heard are from school kids I visit - they are always looking for my 'bodyguard' and limo!

8. One of my favorite moments was when we had a shelter open because we had houses without power and heat. One family was really worrying about the dog they’d left at home, but the public works department wasn’t letting any cars on the road. So I said, “Hop in,” and I drove them up to their house. They were able to take their dog back to the shelter, and they were so appreciative. 
Mayor Tammy: There are some great mayors out there!!!

9. If you have an idea, bring it to me. The cool thing about being mayor is that, unlike at the state and national levels, you can make a decision and often see concrete results. I love how much can get done at the local level. I feel sorry for the politicians that are stuck in large scale bureaucracy. 
Mayor Tammy: City government is local and closest to the people - just like our founding fathers envisioned.

10. When it comes down to it, most people fear change. Many projects that people hate at first—the ones they complain loudest about—end up being much loved after they’re built. Some of our most controversial projects are now icons that everyone in the city is proud of. 
Mayor Tammy: True in many cases...

11. We never tell residents that the mayor is on vacation. Even when I really am on vacation, my staff will shut my office door and simply say the mayor is unavailable. 
Mayor Tammy: True – but most people know because of social media and I still tend to answer my emails and phone calls.

12. Taxes are always too high. No matter where I go or whom I talk to, that’s the first thing people say. The second thing they do is list all the things we need. But those things cost money. 
Mayor Tammy: We work to find the balance of meeting our citizens’ service needs and expectations while keeping costs to our residents in check. Meridian remains one of the lowest levies among the larger full-service Idaho cities.

13. In some states, we can legally marry people. That’s a lot of fun, one of the best perks of the job. 
Mayor Tammy: While I legally can 'marry' people this is not something I do often - by choice.


Courtesy: Reader’s Digest

Sources: Andy Berke, mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Alex Morse, mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts; Alex Torpey, mayor of South Orange, New Jersey; Don Ness, mayor of Duluth, Minnesota; Richard Martin, former mayor of Sarasota, Florida; Gary C. Smith, former mayor of Galesburg, Illinois; Maria Harkey, former mayor of West Milford, New Jersey

 

Read the original Readers Digest article here: http://www.rd.com/culture/mayors-secrets/#ixzz3THpyTmGb

Vote March 10th for Meridian Schools

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By Mayor Tammy

 

I felt it extremely important to dedicate this column to the upcoming West Ada School District bond that voters will consider next week. I haven’t been shy about my personal commitment to the education of Meridian’s future leaders – our children. One of our biggest jobs as parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents – neighbors - is to ensure that our youth are equipped to face the many new and difficult challenges that they most likely will face. The education of our children is a huge concern for our business community who provide jobs in the 385 square mile region the West Ada School District serves. These businesses – large and small - cite the importance of having an educated workforce, and list this as one of their top concerns in wanting to grow here and new businesses in moving here. 

 

Across the valley, and state, our school districts are struggling to meet the needs of a growing population. Districts have had to reduce school days, hire fewer teachers, figure out how to deal with overcrowded classrooms, eliminate or change bussing patterns, and that’s just to name a few things that have been done in light of tight budgets. The West Ada School District - that serves West Boise, Eagle, Meridian, and Star as well as portions of Garden City and East Canyon County - continues to grow in the number of students they serve and several of our schools are way beyond capacity. That’s why the upcoming vote for the building bond is so very important; not just to me, but to all of us.

 

On March 10th our community will have the chance to step up and support our kids – and our schools – by passing this bond.  This bond will not increase the property tax rate levied by the school district, thanks in large part to the new construction and the increased property value in the District.

 

For Meridian, this bond is very important. If passed, the $96 million bond will provide:

Two new middle schools, costing $60 million. One of the middle schools will be built in south Meridian to relieve the severe overcrowding at Lake Hazel Middle School in Boise.

A new elementary school, costing $10 million for south Meridian to relieve elementary schools south of the freeway from being over capacity. A YMCA collaborative partnership has helped reduce the cost of this project.

A $24 million remodel and expansion of the district’s oldest high school, Meridian High.

And $2 million to purchase land for a future high school site in the county’s Northwest corner.

 

Our community has been consistent and firm in their concern that overcrowding of schools is an issue and education of our youth is a priority. I heard it consistently from citizens of all ages and our city survey listed education and schools as one of the most important issues we are facing as a community. 

 

I, for one, will vote on March 10th in favor of this bond, as I believe our future as a community and the entire school district (all 385 square miles of it) will most certainly benefit from the passage of this important measure. Regardless of whether you agree with me, it is important to educate yourself on this upcoming bond and to exercise your right to vote. You can find information at adacounty.id.gov/elections. See you at the polls, March 10th!

 

Polls will be open on March 10, 2015 from 8am to 8pm. The election is run by Ada County Elections. Voters should go to their regular precinct polling location to vote. 


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