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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
is the best place to live in America….Shh, don’t tell anyone!
By Mayor Tammy
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
the season changes, I know we are getting closer to October – or as we like to
call it “Walktober”.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.