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A Magical Time in Meridian

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 By Meridian City Councilman Luke Cavener, Guest Contributor

I love the holiday season in Meridian.  There is something truly magical about the time where friends and families come together to celebrate our blessings, freedoms, and all that our community has to offer.  For many the meal is a precursor to mid night shopping sprees and early morning discounts.  Others, (like me) will sleep off the turkey hangover and wait for Small Business Saturday - a day to celebrate and support our small businesses and all they do for our community. We have so many amazing businesses throughout Meridian with many located in our downtown; great restaurants, amazing service providers, fabulous entertainment options, and retail stores for the whole family. 

And speaking of downtown, following the big shopping weekend, the Downtown Business Decorating Contest is November 30th thru December 3rd. Be sure to head to one of the participating businesses and vote on the “Best in Show” and most festive decorations!  December 3rd, you’re invited to the City of Meridian’s Christmas Bazaar at City Hall featuring several local craft vendors. Then on December 4th our Parks and Recreation Department kicks off Christmas in Meridian with the family favorite Winter Lights Parade and Tree Lighting. You can also participate in the Winter Lights Fun Run that initiates the start of the parade, beginning at Storey Park at 6:30pm. Racers will get to run the parade route ahead of the brightly lit floats. 

Wrap up the week of Christmas fun on Saturday, December 5th at the Children’s Winterland Festival from 10am to 3pm. Bring your kids to Meridian City Hall for pictures with Santa, cookie decorating, toy building and much more! There’s no cost to attend the event, we just encourage all to bring an item to donate to the Meridian Food Bank. Also on Saturday, the Holiday Classic Volleyball Tournament at Heritage Middle School and the Meridian Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas Concert that includes a sing-a-long and an appearance by Santa himself!

 Visit our website for more information on our Christmas in Meridian events: www.meridiancity.org/christmas.

There’s so much fun to be had right here in Meridian – it truly is a magical time of year for our community. This year – I want to see your pictures around town and at these events! So snap a photo and post it to social media with the hashtag #ChristmasInMeridian.

Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving and I look forward to seeing you all out and about this Christmas season!


Meridian is the Best Place to Live in America

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The secret is out - Meridian is the Best Place to Live in America.  I have long believed that to be true and according to 24/7 Wall St, they know it’s true.  So what is our secret sauce in Meridian?  Our people of course! The people who live here are willing to roll up their sleeves and work together to get the work done.  For it is together that we are building this great community.

According to 24/7 Wall St, one of the reasons they selected Meridian was our safe city. In Idaho we perform well against our peers, often being the safest city in Idaho for our size.  24/7 Wall St also looked at the national violent crime rate and saw that Meridian’s violent crime rate is a fraction of the national violent crime rate.  We have only 80 per 100,000 people compared to the national rate of 366 per 100,000. 

People will say I am biased when I say that our Police Department is second to none, however to me this says more about the people who are choosing to call Meridian home. People who live in Meridian are drawn to the area because it’s safe and because of our family friendly environment with our community events, outstanding parks and abundant recreation opportunities.  Parents want their kids in our schools; grandparents want to live near their grandkids, and people want a community that cares for one another. This is Meridian.

Another notable criteria 24/7 Wall St highlighted was our economy.  All you have to do is drive down the road and see the new construction or opening soon signs to know our economy is on the move. And with an unemployment rate of just 4.1% and the number of jobs being created by our new and expanding businesses, we are a destination of choice for employers and employees alike.

Being selected as the Best Place to Live in America is great recognition for this community because of what we have achieved by working together. We have so many people who are doing what they love every day to make our community great.  From events like the recent Trunk or Treat, where the Mayors Youth Advisory Council and hundreds of businesses, school, and non-profits provided an amazing opportunity for thousands of people; to citizens stepping up in support of our schools by passing the levy -- we are a community that cares.

As I wrap up this musing, I want to say that I am honored to have been reelected to serve four more years as your Mayor.  Your continued trust is humbling and I want to thank you for your vote of confidence.  I truly believe that optimism works and there is nothing we can’t accomplish together as a community.

Meridian is the best place to live in America….Shh, don’t tell anyone!


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By Mayor Tammy

A good number of Meridian residents and citizens from other parts of Ada County have been showing up at City Hall this past week to vote early.  I wanted to thank Ada County Clerk Chris Rich, Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane, Meridian City Clerk Jaycee Holman - and their teams – that helped make this happen.  There are two reasons why this is so important.    

First, in Meridian, we are committed to our citizens to making services more accessible. In previous years if someone desired to vote early it was necessary to go to Boise to cast your ballot; but not anymore.  In my conversation with the County earlier this week they were pleased with the turnout of voters in this location and it is my desire, and theirs, that this will become a regular part of the voting process.   

The second reason this is so important is that we need to make voting easy and convenient for people so that more people exercise this important right. Voting is as fundamental as any other liberty afforded to people under the constitution. As a nation, a great number of men and women have fought long and hard to protect this right to vote.  In fact, as an American citizen and Meridian resident, your vote is your voice. This is your opportunity to let your thoughts be known about important issues to the community and as a way to hold elected officials accountable for our decisions. On Election Day, every vote matters.    

Here in Meridian and Ada County, much like around the rest of the country, we see huge swings in voter turnout during Presidential and Congressional elections – 62% in the 2014 election and 73% in the 2012 election.  However, during other elections the attendance for voting drops off dramatically.  The high mark in Meridian was for the last Mayor/Council election in 2011 with 23.6% of eligible voters participating.  But in some elections such as for bonds, levies, special districts, and school board elections turnout can be in the single percent – as low as 2.89% in one trustee race. As a community we can, and need to, do better.    

That is why I am asking you to get out and vote on November 3. In addition to the election for Meridian Mayor and City Council, the West Ada School District is seeking support of their supplement levy (www.westada.org) and the Meridian Library District is asking voters to fund the building of a north and south library branch in Meridian (www.mld.org). These two community partners have a huge impact on the quality of life here in Meridian. I encourage you to get educated about the local races and the issues on the ballot.      

For complete election information and forms, please visit the Ada County website at www.adacountyelections.com where you can see a sample ballot, locate your polling location for the upcoming election and answer any additional questions you may have about the voting and the election process.  You can also visit www.meridiancity.org for a link to the candidate’s websites and check out local newspapers to see responses from the candidates to questions they posed.   

We live in a great community – on November 3rd please share your voice and vote.

Celebrating the Meridian Interchange Completion

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By Mayor Tammy

Over the last ten years we have seen a number of road improvements from I-84 to Fairview/Cherry Lane making traveling through the heart of our community easier. The last improvement – the rebuild of Meridian interchange – will soon be complete. These major improvements have seen tremendous public participation providing feedback; attending Town Halls and community outreach meetings; supporting businesses through organized ‘cash mobs’; etc. We have seen intersections rebuilt, roads widened, sidewalks installed, lighting and safety improvements, and attractive landscaping welcoming the motoring public - home or to our community. These have all made Meridian Road, Main Street, intersections along the corridor and other roadways safer. I wanted to say thank you to our transportation partners for making these improvements a priority and our citizens and businesses who have endured the inconvenience of these improvements – especially our businesses – so that we may all have a safer, more accessible, and higher functioning entrance into our community.  

The work began with Ada County Highway District (ACHD) investing in the expansion and rebuild of the intersection of Overland and Meridian Road.  Next came Phase I of the Split Corridor which included the realignment and rebuilding of the Waltman/Meridian/Main Intersection.  This project was followed by Phase II of the Split Corridor which was completed just over two years ago and saw Meridian Road widened.  These were major financial investments by ACHD in our community. 

For the last 18 months, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has been working diligently on wrapping up the rebuild of the Meridian Road Interchange.  As a community this rebuild has been a priority for at least 20 years and we are excited for its completion as it is the last puzzle piece for the transportation network of Meridian Road and the I-84 corridor.  We had a Task Force that worked on this project, including some of the design and safety features, which we are excited to see.  These include elements like pathways, pedestrian signals, color and stamping of the concrete, landscaping, fencing, art, and more. 

It is now time to celebrate!  We will be holding an interchange dedication event with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, October 29.  The dedication ceremony will take place at noon at the Wahooz Family Fun Zone’s Event Center with a luncheon and speakers.   You can sign up to attend this luncheon event by contacting the Meridian Chamber of Commerce at 888-2817.  Pre-registration is required and tickets are $15.  At 1:30 pm we will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony in the Roaring Springs overflow parking lot (off Overland Road, between Roaring Springs and the Mr. Sandman Inn). 

This is an exciting time for our community so I hope you will come out and join us for this celebration.  Through all of these projects, and especially the Interchange, we will have seen improved safety, congestion relief, and job creation.  And while we still have more road improvement projects ahead, it is important to celebrate this big win before we roll up our sleeves and get to work on the next one.

“Walktober” Challenge

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 By Mayor Tammy

As the season changes, I know we are getting closer to October – or as we like to call it “Walktober”. 

The month kicks off with National Walk to School Day on Wednesday October 7th, an important day each year as we’re reminded of the importance of physical activity in our lives and safety when it comes to walking to school. I am pleased to be walking with my grandkids at the Hunter Elementary School planned event! We will have Meridian Police Officers at other school events as well.

National Walk to School Day serves as a springboard into the Mayor’s School Walking Challenge, a month-long competition sponsored by the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health, St. Luke’s and the Idaho Dairy Council. This month-long challenge is designed to promote good health for area school children by encouraging them to walk to school.

Meridian schools who accept the challenge will be competing against other schools in our community. The school with the highest average number of miles per student will win $2,000 for physical activity equipment and food service equipment.  In addition, the Treasure Valley Mayor who walks the most miles in October will receive $5,000 to donate to a park or school of their choice for new physical activity equipment. So I’m on a mission!  I’ll be armed with a FitBit all month that will not only track my steps as I walk alongside students but also the walking activity I take part in throughout the day.

To encourage participation by our school children, we are continuing the efforts of last spring and are rolling out Mayor Tammy’s Walking Club.  The club is our way of encouraging elementary schools and students to keep track of their walking throughout the year, not just during the month long challenge.  I am committed to visiting each school that is part of the Walking Club to join the students during their designated walking time. I really enjoy walking with the students in our area because I love seeing the excitement in their eyes as they ‘walk’ to improve their health. Likewise, it is a great reminder of just how easy and simple it is to add physical activity and exercise into our already busy schedules. At the end of the year we will celebrate with the top three classes at each participating school.

I invite you to join me, and our elementary students, in walking more during the month of October. 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! Hope to see you out on the walking paths.

Public Safety Training Center Opens - First of its Kind in the Valley

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 By Mayor Tammy

Meridian’s New Public Safety Training Center has opened and was immediately put to use! The official ribbon cutting isn’t until Monday, September 21st but agencies across the valley are utilizing the classroom space and fire and police personnel are already using the training grounds.


This facility is the first of its kind to be built in the valley – giving agencies across the area the ability to train locally instead of out of state. Meridian Police Chief Jeff Lavey says it will greatly improve the efficiencies in training our officers. While the new center is next door to the police department, it will serve many other departments, including our fire and public works personnel. This is something Chief Lavey says is hugely beneficial when preparing for tactical responses.


Our training center features four classrooms, a defensive tactics mat room, simulators to create real situations for training, a K-9 agility course and it will house a mobile command post.  The cost of the new facility,  in addition to a needed remodel to the police department building was $5 million.


Meridian is ranked one of the safest cities in the state of Idaho and we want to keep it that way. This new facility helps us maintain the high level of safety our residents are accustomed to. We appreciate the community partnerships that will enhance this facility in the years to come.


One of those partnerships is with the Ada County Highway District. This fall the district will install traffic lights at the facility, providing for a training space involving traffic incidents.


Other partnerships will be in the next phase of the training facility in the form of a Scenario Village. The Meridian Police Department is working with the West Ada School District and students from the Ada Professional Technical Center pre-engineering and construction program who are designing buildings for the village. They are currently designing a convenience store prop and a restaurant that is envisioned to be sponsored by local companies. Once complete, this facility will not only be used to train public safety professionals, but also to assist local companies with emergency preparedness.


Our Public Safety Training Center will not only be the first of its kind in our area – but in our region. It will strengthen our public safety and it will make our community a destination for emergency training. Please join us for the ribbon cutting and tours of the new facility on Monday, September 21st at 10:30 am at 1223 E. Watertower Ave. in Meridian.

Neighborhood Stars Shine Bright

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By Mayor Tammy

I feel so fortunate to live and work in Meridian. I meet people every day who go above and beyond to make this community an even better place to call home. That’s why our City’s Neighborhood Star Awards are so important to me. I think it’s important to recognize our residents for the work they do – and their contributions to the quality of life and safety in our community.


We are currently seeking nominations for this year’s Neighborhood Star Awards. Do you have a family member, friend, neighbor or nearby business who shines brightly and makes a significant contribution to Meridian? Now is the time to step forward! You can recognize a business or individual’s acts of goodness and honor them! The award is for those who are exceptionally committed to preserving, maintaining and improving the quality of life and safety in their neighborhoods and our community.


In the past, neighbors or neighborhood associations have nominated individuals, couples and businesses out of appreciation for something they did that year or to recognize their overall effort in adding something more to our community.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – our City has been recognized numerous times for being a Best Place to live, and that is because of our people. Unsung heroes throughout our community consistently demonstrate strong dedication to their neighborhoods and Meridian as a whole.


If you’d like to nominate someone, you have until September 21st.  Simply send in a note of 300 words or less describing why you believe the nominee enhances the life in your neighborhood or our community. You’ll find more information, including how to submit your nominations on our website, www.meridiancity.org.


I look forward to awarding this year’s shining residents and/or businesses on October 13th here at Meridian City Hall.