Christmas in Meridian
By Colin Moss, Recreation Coordinator
The Christmas season is fast approaching, and the Parks and Recreation Department is already in the holiday spirit. The City’s Christmas tree was delivered to Generations Plaza on November 9th, and staff members have been working hard decorating it along with City Hall and Main Street. Meridian is a great place to be during Christmas time, so come help us celebrate the season on December 4th with a variety of Christmas activities.
Winterland Parade -
The Winterland Parade, sponsored by Sterling Savings Bank, will begin at 10:00 a.m. at Storey Park (Main and Franklin) and will travel north on Main Street. The parade features floats, horse units, car clubs, walking groups, and dignitaries.
Children’s Winterland Festival -
This event, hosted by the City of Meridian and the Idaho Parents Directory, is a downsized version of last year’s Christmas Street Faire and will be taking place in the Meridian Community Center (201 E. Idaho) from 12:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. There will be tons of activities for kids, including Christmas crafts, pictures with Santa, games, letters to Santa, caroling, and more!
Christmas Tree Lighting -
Join Mayor Tammy de Weerd and Stacey Skrysak of Fox 12 at 6:00 p.m. at Generations Plaza on the corner of Main and Idaho as we light Meridian’s tree! Show up early, though, for a special showing of the cartoon “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” at 5:30 p.m. on the huge, inflatable movie screen that’s used for CableONE Movie Night in Meridian. The evening will include free donuts and hot chocolate, performances by local school choirs, the announcing of the Christmas essay contest winners, free carriage rides, and the arrival of a very special guest!
Meridian Symphony Orchestra Concert -
The MSO Christmas concert, “Christmas, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is presented by Sherer & Wynkoop Law Office and Blue Cross of Idaho, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Meridian Middle School Auditorium. Visit www.meridiansymphony.org for ticket information.
December 4th will be a day full of Christmas magic in Meridian; so be sure to stop by and help us kick off the holiday season!
Celebrate Meridian – Brightest Stars
By Mayor Tammy
Community service always plays an important part in our lives as we help one another in times of need and celebration. Just a few weeks ago, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and First Lady Lori recognized 103 volunteers from throughout Idaho in front of approximately 400 guests during the annual Governor's Brightest Star Awards ceremony held at Boise State University. Meridian citizens, businesses, and organizations received several honors during the ceremony that night, giving us much to celebrate.
- Meridian honorees in the Individual Category were long-time civic leader and volunteer Terry P. Smith, who was honored posthumously; Brian Simer who is driving force behind many of Meridian’s youth sports programs; and Janelle Johnson who works tirelessly on projects benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Make-a-Wish, and the Idaho Food Bank.
- Meridian High School student Janelle de Weerd was recognized in the Student Category for her leadership, advocacy, and long-term community service efforts, including lobbying efforts behind Meridian’s recent ban on texting while driving and her leadership in a variety of youth-driven initiatives.
- UltraClean, owned by dynamic Meridian entrepreneur and small business advocate Brandon Wright was recognized by the Governor and First Lady as one of the top candidates in the Small Business Category for its numerous contributions to the community.
- The Meridian Kiwanis, who champion a large variety of programs and projects benefitting Meridian’s family and youth, including the K-Kids Club at Meridian Elementary School and the Builder’s Club at Meridian Middle School, took the top prize in the Organization Category.
- Blue Cross of Idaho and Bodybuilding.com were both nominated for the extraordinary amount of time and talent their staff members donate to our community. And Meridian’s Western States Equipment gained the top award in the Corporate Category, due in large part to their extraordinary efforts in collecting food for the hungry.
With these examples, is it any wonder that Meridian continues to be Idaho’s brightest star; a shining example for other communities in this great state to follow with such wonderful people and companies calling Meridian home? As Mayor, it is my honor and privilege to work with many of these individuals and businesses, and others who are just as wonderful, on a daily basis. We are truly blessed here in Meridian! I applaud all of our citizens for their continuous effort to help make our city the premier community to live, work, and raise a family.
Now the Holiday season is upon us and our minds turn to that for which we are most grateful. During this time you no doubt will be spending time with family and friends, taking time to reflect on what you are thankful for or perhaps exchanging gifts and expressing your love. As a city we will be celebrating this season in a variety of different ways. I invite you to join us so together, as a community; we can indeed show our unity and appreciation for one another. It is each and every one of us that makes Meridian special.
Town Hall Summary
One of my favorite activities in Planning is meeting with the public. Public testimony at hearings is interesting in the fresh perspective that citizens bring to the discussion, but nothing is as exhilarating as a good public participation meeting. There have been times (at another jurisdiction) where I was concerned enough about my safety to have plain clothes officers at a particularly contentious meeting, but, you know what, I still had a great time interacting with the public, informing them of work done thus far, letting them know what I would and could do, and most importantly, listening to their concerns. It truly is what is great about being a planner.
The Town Hall Meeting on October 19th was no exception. We had a great turnout of approximately 40 engaged and interested citizens that had insightful and useful recommendations about how the City of Meridian should develop and grow. Planning Staff briefly introduced the draft goals and objectives for our 2010 Comprehensive Plan Reformat and Update. This was followed by over an hour of citizens asking questions, providing feedback, and offering their own suggestions for discussion.
The following list summarizes the comments raised by the public during the meeting:
Variety of Uses
More parts of the City need to allow non-residential uses like retail, offices, and industrial. Specifically, we need to attract more activity centers and entertainment opportunities. We also need more affordable shopping opportunities.
We like to see more job opportunities in town. We need to be more than a bedroom community. Related to that, is someone going out to companies to promote/market Meridian? Does the city have resources and staff to go after these companies and bring them to Meridian?
One of the goals suggests that we pursue “high-tech, research, pharmaceutical firms, and high-quality retail facilities.” Are we going to lose business opportunities by limiting ourselves? What are we doing to help small, local businesses? Citizen would like to see a variety of business, including smaller, “eclectic” shops.
Transportation options are a concern. More employment will impacts our transportation system. We need ways to commute more efficiently than single occupancy vehicles. We need more buses, and we need to consider using the Railroad corridor for some form of transit. We also need to improve the sidewalk system – especially downtown and over the Meridian interchange.
The current goal related to environmental resources needs to have more detail and be more meaningful; it currently states “Preserve, protect, enhance, and wisely use our natural resources in Meridian and surrounding areas.” Related to water resources, we need to encourage the use of irrigation water for landscape areas.
Parks and Pathways
Meridian is getting big and the pool at Storey Park is already crowded. The City needs to consider additional pool sites. We need more pathways that connect to parks, schools, and the pool. We also need to work better with Nampa-Meridian and Settlers Irrigation Districts on creek and canals for the public to enjoy.
The citizens would like to see a neighborhood cleanup program and an entryway signs program.
What’s next, you ask!?! Staff will incorporate these comments into our work thus far. Then, on December 21st, during a joint City Council and Planning & Zoning Commission workshop, we will present the revised list of Goals, Objectives and Action Items. Please feel free to come and listen to the discussion at the workshop, and you may continue to provide us comments throughout the drafting and adoption process. Contact Caleb Hood at 884-5533 for more information or to provide comments.
Anna Canning, AICP
Permanent link Smoke Alarms
By Pam Orr
The month of October is traditionally the Meridian Fire Department’s busiest month in their focus of educating the community in safe practices regarding fire safety. Our biggest event of the year is our continued commitment to the NFPA’s, National Fire Prevention Week; which was the week of October 3-9th. This year’s theme was “Smoke Alarms; a sound you can live with”. We took the message to area schools, daycare centers, senior housing areas, and every media outlet possible in our efforts to get the message out. Because of our size, it isn’t possible to get this important message out in only one week, therefore our department has taken the position to educate throughout the year with a major push during the month of October. This year’s theme was an excellent one, as studies show smoke detectors may very well be one of the most important life safety items in your home. According to the NFPA, over ninety three percent of all homes in the United States have at least one smoke alarm. That’s good news! The bad news is that at least one third of them are not working. Help protect your family; test your detectors regularly and change the batteries. A great time to remember to change the batteries is when we change our clocks. On Sunday, November 7th, Daylight Savings Time ends and we will be resetting our clocks. Why not purchase a 9 volt battery for each detector in your home and change the batteries in your smoke detectors now. You wouldn’t consider risking your families’ safety by not locking your door each night. So, why risk your families’ safety from fire when they are sound asleep at night! The Meridian Fire Department are your partners in safety; if we can be of any assistance to you or you have further questions regarding your smoke detectors; please contact us at 888-1234.
By Mayor Tammy
For many years Meridian has been celebrated for stepping up to lead the way in the Treasure Valley and Idaho when it comes to programs and initiatives. We have been innovative in our use of reclaimed water – the first City in Idaho to receive a Class A permit; we created a prescription drug drop-off program that is being emulated by others; and since last week we have a new ordinance banning text messaging (or emailing) while driving. While we may not be the first in Idaho to take this step, we are leading this issue in the Treasure Valley as a way to keep our roads safe for all who travel.
Texting while driving has received quite a bit of media attention over the past month, but it is important to share the reasoning behind the change. This issue has been spearheaded by members of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC) – teens who see the dangers that occur when friends and family text while driving. Members of MYAC researched this issue and worked diligently to lobby the legislature last year; during that process I learned a lot of surprising statistics about texting while driving. Here are some you should know.
- 60 percent of drivers admit to texting while driving
- The average teen sent 435 texts a month in 2007; now its 2,899 per month – 97 a day
- If you text and drive you are twenty three times more likely to get in an accident
- Drivers who text often have delayed responses similar to those found to be driving under the influence of alcohol
- Over 20% of fatal car crashes involving teens were the result of cell phone usage
While the legislature failed to enact legislation on this issue last year, our Police Department knew that texting while driving was a growing problem that needed to be addressed. Under existing laws, texting while driving could be addressed under “inattentive driving”. The problem in using this as the only enforcement tool is that even if the officer sees someone texting and not watching the road, they can’t do anything until they swerve in and out of their lane, rear-end another car, or heaven forbid kill someone. According to the third annual 2010 Traffic Safety Culture Index by AAA, 86% of motorists rated drivers who text and email as a very serious threat to their safety. That’s 1% more than people rated those who drive after drinking.
We have a vested interest in protecting other drivers, as this behavior puts others’ lives at risk, not just their own. The Meridian Police Department would like police officers to be proactive in texting enforcement and preventing future tragedies.
This new ordinance that was passed by City Council unanimously is known as “Kassy’s Law”. Kassy Kerfoot was a Meridian High school student who died last year in an accident she caused while texting; since that time Kassy’s family has been touring local schools and the country educating individuals on the harms of texting while driving. Her story reminds us that we need to intervene before texting while driving becomes deadly.
Currently 30 states ban texting while driving, and starting November 1 the Meridian Police Department began educating the public about the ordinance with warnings to drivers. In December, the offense for texting while driving will be an infraction with a $75 fine for the first or second offense, and the third offense will be a misdemeanor with the potential of $300 and/or up to 90 days in jail. While we all recognize this ban alone will not stop all people from texting, we do hope those individuals who do text will learn about the issue and be reminded that no message is worth losing a life over.
In Meridian we will continue to lead on issues that are important and make a difference in our community whether big or small. Our City employees are being urged to not talk on their cell phones when operating vehicles unless it is on a hands-free device. We hope this action will also make our roads safer for everyone and I encourage the community to consider doing the same. Together we can take proactive measures and celebrate all those who are leaving a legacy and making Meridian the premier place to live, work and raise a family.
By Lt. John A. Overton, Community Services Division Meridian Police Department.
Recently the City of Meridian passed an ordinance making a product called “Spice” illegal. The name “spice” is only one of the many names that the product is sold under. In fact within the ordinance it lists the multiple chemical compounds that are covered regardless of what the product is called. I won’t mention all of those here except to say that just one of them is called “JWH-018: 1-pentyl-3-(1-naphthoyl) also known as Naphthalen-1-yl-(penttlindol -3–yl) methanone”.
That is just one and the shortest chemical names for one of the active ingredients found in any of the spice type products. The products are designed to mimic the active ingredient (THC) found in marijuana and you will hear these products called synthetic marijuana. This leads to one of the most significant problems with these products. They have been marketed as incense, aromatherapy, and potpourri, but regardless of what they are called they are always sold in an unregulated market. This can lead to serious health concerns as some of these products have been found to have levels of the chemicals 25% to 100% more potent than what is found in marijuana with near fatal results. This has led to a rapid increase in emergency room visits by youth and adults who have smoked spice and not known of how serious the reactions can be and suffering from serious reactions that have very little in common with marijuana. Our police officers have been called out on numerous calls where someone has been smoking these products and is no longer able to care for themselves or are an extreme danger to themselves and others and completely out of control.
That brings us to the question about why outlaw another product and not just have better education about how bad it is. In public safety we struggle with this decision often, but it usually comes down to a couple of factors. What is the chance of abuse versus common designed use of the product. In the case of these products, they are marketed to youth and adults as a legal way to get high. There is no other use for them. The products themselves were marked in very prominent letters, “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION” but then trying to sell them for aromatherapy, which is a form of human consumption. We also have to look at continued education to parents and schools officials so they know what they are looking for with students and parents with their own children. Education is a very big part of what we want to accomplish, but just like drinking while driving and wearing your seatbelt, sometimes education is just not enough. It is illegal in 13 states, 17 countries and in the U.S. Military and now it is illegal in our community, The City of Meridian.