As you may have noticed if you’ve visited or driven by Meridian City Hall lately, one of the large water features in the outdoor plaza is currently being removed by work crews. In the spirit of transparency, I believe you deserve to know the story behind the decision for its removal.
The long narrow raised stone waterway, intended to pay homage to Meridian’s early canal system, fell victim to substandard materials and improper construction. This feature, an issue of our lawsuit, has not been functioning properly since its installation in 2008. Because of these issues, the waterway had been losing large amounts of water underground, the bricks were crumbling as they failed to meet the specified standards necessary to handle the constant force of the falling water, and the capstones were literally falling off.
After the careful consideration of the repair options available and the proposed costs, the City Council sadly decided it would be most prudent and fiscally-responsible to remove the water feature altogether. While we would have preferred a different resolution, we value accountability, as you do, and will continue to try to hold the parties responsible for the water feature’s failed design and operation.
While the loss of this water feature is unfortunate, we’re confident that City Hall’s outdoor plaza will continue to be an inviting and welcoming asset to our community and a dynamic venue for future gatherings and events for generations to come. The area where the failed water feature once stood will soon be sodded and landscaped, creating an additional grassy area where visitors to the outdoor plaza can sit to enjoy the outdoors or to take in special events, such as the summertime Concerts on Broadway performances which will begin in June.
The City Hall Plaza’s remaining water features – the two large pools near the building’s main entrance and the stream and waterfall on the south side of the plaza – will remain intact. The stream and waterfall are also experiencing some of the same issues involving leaking and may or may not be able to function as envisioned. We will continue to evaluate our options and hope to make the most of this unique outdoor space for the public to enjoy.
I hope you respect the decision City leaders have made on your behalf regarding the removal of the water feature. We truly believe decisions have been in the community’s best interest and we will continue to put Meridian first when faced with tough calls such as this in the future.
We are less than a month away from this year’s primary election on May 15. I feel very strongly about the importance of voter choice and am grateful that Meridian voters have a diverse choice of candidates for the state legislature seats in all four of our legislative districts – Districts 14, 20, 21, and 22 as well as for our County Commissioners.
While having a variety of candidates is important, just as important is the need for an informed electorate. For voters to make meaningful choices, they must have the opportunity to get to know something about the candidates and what they stand for.
Recently, the Meridian Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Committee hosted a pair of well-attended candidate forums which allowed the candidates from Meridian’s legislative districts to introduce themselves and to answer a series of questions posed to them by the events’ moderators. I applaud the Chamber for holding these forums as a way for the business community and interested citizens to learn more about those running for office.
In a similar fashion, the Meridian Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC) will help the public further their dialog with these legislative candidates by hosting a pair of candidate open houses during the next few weeks. At these forums the candidates will briefly introduce themselves and then be available to meet and mingle with those in attendance and have information about their candidacy.
The first candidate open house will be on Wednesday, April 25, from 6:30—8:00 p.m. at Meridian City Hall. This event will feature candidates competing for seats in Districts 14 and 20. On Wednesday, May 2, candidates running for positions in Districts 21 and 22 will be on hand to meet the public from 6:30—8:00 p.m. at Meridian City Hall. I look forward to seeing you at one of these events.
While many in MYAC are not old enough yet to vote, it is great that they are doing their part to provide a forum for those who are so they can learn more about the candidates. This is just another example of how they go above and beyond in their service to our community.
As the primary election approaches, I encourage you to become an informed voter. While the choice is not always easy, the person that wins can have a significant impact on you and our community if they are in it for the right reasons - to represent 'we the people' not a personal agenda. You can take the following steps to make sure your vote counts:
1. Take time to learn about and understand the basics of how government and our elected bodies work;
2. Find out who represents you;
3. Determine which issues matter the most to you;
4. Find out the candidates’ positions on the issues that matter most to you; and,
5. Vote your values!
If you’re uncertain which legislative district you’re in or have other questions regarding the upcoming election, a good source of information can be found online at www.idahovotes.gov.
When you go to the polls to exercise your privilege to vote, remember the people you select and support will make a very real and practical difference in the lives of real men, women, and children in our community and beyond.
Last week approximately 60 people took part in one of two town hall meetings focused on senior transportation issues; one at the Meridian Senior Center and the other at Meridian City Hall. We had representatives on hand from the City of Meridian, Meridian Senior Center, Valley Regional Transit (VRT), and other organizations that provide transportation services to seniors in the community.
Transportation is an important issue for everyone, but especially for our community’s seniors looking for alternative ways to get around our city rather than drive themselves. As part of these town hall meetings, we discussed options on how our growing senior population in Meridian might find safe, affordable, reliable transportation in order to access personal services and travel in and around our community without driving themselves.
The challenge is to find how best to leverage scarce funding sources to serve the needs of our community’s seniors. Due to budget limitations, Ada County outside of Boise has limited bus service. While it is anticipated that more bus routes will offer enhanced service beyond the commuter service offered today, is not anticipated in the immediate future.
For now, seniors and other non-drivers must continue to seek alternatives in order to get to doctor’s appointments, social activities, grocery shopping, and other outings that enrich daily life. To aid their efforts, VRT hopes to better “manage mobility” to a greater extent by coordinating the current available options and helping to leverage resources.
According to VRT, there are some transportation options currently being considered or recently rolled out in neighboring communities. This includes a Volunteer Driver Program which reimburses volunteer drivers for driving seniors to and from errands, and Travel Training and Ambassador Programs which educate and mentor seniors on various transportation alternatives and how to use them. VRT hopes a Dial-a-Ride type program is also a future possibility, as is some type of vehicle sharing system which would create a pool of vehicles which could be accessed by groups at various days and times as needed.
Some might be surprised to find that we have a few private businesses and non-profits who currently provide transportation options for seniors. The Black & White Taxi has a policy to transport Meridian seniors anywhere they wish to go in Meridian for a flat rate, and seniors receive a discounted rate for rides to and from the Boise airport. Friends in Action is a non-profit organization that offers door-to-door transportation services for Treasure Valley seniors through a volunteer network.
Currently the Meridian Senior Center’s transportation system brings eligible seniors to and from the center each weekday for lunch and to the Ten Mile Albertsons for a weekly grocery trip. Despite the increase in costs, the Senior Center’s current transportation services will continue unchanged until after the center is well settled into its new location in Julius M. Kleiner Park as well as results of a transportation survey administered by VRT expected later this summer. At that time decisions will be made about the best way to provide transportation service to our seniors.
There is no doubt that senior transportation is an important issue in our community. We will continue our discussion to explore options to expand, coordinate, and fund transportation services for the senior population.
Poop Scoot Fun Run/Walk Saturday, May 19, 2012
Runners, walkers and everyone in between are invited to join us for the Meridian Public Works Department s 4th Annual Poop Scoot Fun Run/Walk. The race begins at 8:30 AM on Saturday May 19th starting at the 8th Street Park in Meridian. This year s race features both a 3K and 5K route. Participants will attempt to beat a tennis ball traveling through the collection lines as the course follows a path from the City s Water Department to the Meridian Wastewater Facility. After the race, racers can learn interesting facts about wastewater treatment with a free facility tour.
The entry fee for the race is an item(s) of non-perishable food. New this year are Poop Scoot t-shirts available for $10 (please specify size when registering). All donations and proceeds will benefit the Meridian Food Bank! This is a fun, educational, and family friendly event. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a registration form (participants must register by May 1st for t-shirts). Please arrive at 8:00 AM to register the day of the race.
On Thursday May 24, 2012, from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, the City of Meridian will be hosting the 2012 American Public Works Association, National Public Works Week Expo at Meridian City Hall. This event will showcase the many facets of the Meridian Public Works Department with static displays, interactive and informative booths. The Expo will have fun and educational activities for children, as well as adults, with prize giveaways and free food and refreshments for the public.
There will also be equipment demonstrations from the City of Meridian Water and Sewer Departments, Republic Waste (formerly SSC), Ada County Highway District and Western States Caterpillar. New this year is a Mini Excavator Rodeo put on by Western States Caterpillar that will challenge local contractors to demonstrate their operating skills for a shot at the Best Operator in the Valley trophy and bragging rights.
Canned donations will be accepted with all proceeds and donations benefitting the Meridian Food Bank. This is a free event open to all citizens of Meridian. For more information or questions, please call the City of Meridian Public Works Department at 898-5500.
Believing that every child deserves the opportunity to play with other children, a dedicated group of community volunteers has started a fundraising effort to help build a new All Abilities Playground at Meridian Elementary School.
Although located on school property, the playground would also be open to children of all abilities from the nearby Meridian Boys & Girls Club and from the community in general. This would be a great asset to have for those that live in and visit our downtown.
Designed and maintained with access as a key priority, the playground will feature a series of ramps and structures that allow for children and parents in wheelchairs or with limited mobility to move throughout the area. Plans also include a soft-surface play area and attractions that will provide visual, audio and tactile stimulation and interaction.
This group first approached the City in 2011and applied for money for this playground through the Community Development Block Grant process. They were successful in receiving partial funding for this project in the amount of $75,000. This is for the purchase of the playground equipment that will be installed as part of the overall project, but the community will need to come together in support of this playground for it to move forward.
The Meridian Playground project needs to raise $100,000 to fund the remainder of this project. To help accomplish this goal, they have launched a Buy-a-Brick program. For a donation of $25 each, individuals and organizations can purchase engraved bricks that will be incorporated into the walkways of the playground. In all, the group hopes to sell as many as 1,700 bricks.
Organizers hope to begin construction this June, once school lets out for summer. If all goes according to plan, Phase I of the project would be completed within the year. To make this happen we need to come together as a community.
To learn more about this playground project and opportunities to contribute or volunteer, you can visit the website www.meridianplaygroundproject.com. There you can view an illustration of the playground, learn how to purchase a brick, or contact project administrators to discuss corporate or in-kind contributions.
In light of the enormous popularity of Adventure Island Playground – Meridian’s award winning accessible playground located in Settlers Park, another playground with enhanced accessibility would do much for our community as we strive to provide a wealth of play opportunities for children and families of all abilities. I know the organizers look forward to your support and I hope to see your name on a brick at the grand opening of this new community amenity.
By Pam Orr
The Meridian Fire Department was honored to be chosen to receive a Department of Homeland Security Fire Prevention and Safety Grant to provide smoke alarms to Meridian homes. The department has named their program project S.A.F.E. for Smoke Alarms For Everyone.
Smoke Alarms are important life saving devices should a home fire occur. According to the National Fire Protection Association roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. About one in five smoke alarm failures are due to dead batteries. Additionally, working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half. Along with the smoke alarm program, the department has also received funding to supply devices to assist the hearing impaired/deaf community in Meridian.
In order to successfully complete this grant program, the department is looking for households to participate. If you live in a home located within the Meridian Fire District where smoke alarms are nonexistent, not functional, or outdated, they will be replaced with new alarms at no cost, (while supplies last) meeting the standard of one alarm on every floor of the home, in each bedroom, and outside sleeping areas. Additionally, if you or a family member cannot hear your smoke alarms due to a hearing impairment the department wants to assist you as well. The department is estimating they will be able to supply alarms or hearing impaired devices to just over 1,000 homes between the beginning of May and the end of June.
For more information contact Pam Orr via email at email@example.com or call 884-0597. To view a video on testing a smoke alarm go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPGr7oiVQ6Y
Meridian is a city in which many communities reside, each enriching our living experience in their own unique ways. We have an engaged business community that continues to grow and supports many of our most cherished events such as Dairy Days. Our neighborhood communities and homeowners associations provide safety and stability where we choose to live and raise our families, and our educational community continues to find innovative ways to energize and develop the next generation of leaders in a variety of fields and disciplines.
Meridian is also blessed to have diverse faith communities that are active and dedicated to serving others; helping people no matter their religious affiliation. Our faith community provides needed and valued services to our community. Some churches, like Ten Mile Christian Church, offer treatment programs for individuals seeking recovery from substance abuse through groups such as “Celebrate Recovery.” Others, like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, host emergency preparedness fairs that teach local families how to be prepared and aware should a disaster strike. And Valley Shepherd Nazarene, Holy Trinity and others work diligently with the Meridian Food Bank to provide for those in our community who need additional assistance to make ends meet.
The one thing that all of our faith institutions have in common with these things they do is they are putting Meridian. They share the values and principles that make us unique, are solution oriented to meet those needs, and are part of our vision to be a vibrant community.
While each faith community may have activities they do individually, on Thursday, April 12th, at 6:45 am, at the School District Service Center, many of them will come together as the Meridian Ministerial Fellowship will host the 43rd Annual Meridian Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. This is a a non-denominational community gathering which everyone is welcome to attend.
This uplifting morning celebration will feature words of prayer and encouragement by church, business, and community leaders; a hot breakfast catered by Meridian’s JB’s restaurant; live music by Mountain View High School’s Premier Jazz Ensemble; and a special address by featured speaker Joseph Lowe. Joey, a young local retired Marine who will share his captivating story and challenge us to stay positive while overcoming life’s challenges.
Tickets for the Prayer Breakfast are $15 and can be purchased at the Meridian Chamber of Commerce Office, at Ten Mile Christian Church, or by call Deborah Martin at 888-3101.
I hope you’ll take this opportunity to show thanks and support for Meridian’s churches and faith organizations that bless our community by helping us lead spiritually fulfilling lives and to serve the needs of others.