The State of our City is thriving with a focus on transparency in all we do. I was over the moon to deliver so much great news about our community this past week!
It’s that time of year again – I’m busy preparing for Meridian’s annual State of the City address. The theme for this year is A Rising Star. There are many reasons why this theme resonated so much this year and I look forward to sharing those with you at my annual speech. The idea for the theme came from the title of a feature story about Meridian in a North American business magazine called “Business in Focus”. The reporter, who was based on the east coast, said the facts he had gathered for the story almost sounded unreal. It made me realize that often because we live here, we forget just how awesome we have it!
The world of recycling is changing – it’s a global market. If you read the news, you’ll know China was the main importer of recyclable materials and has now banned more than a dozen types of materials in an effort called “National Sword”. The big issue is contamination. Recycling efforts here and around the U.S. may have been a victim of people’s over-zealousness to recycle anything and everything that seemed like it could be recycled. The contamination of the recyclable waste stream with materials that should not have been included is part of what prompted China to ban materials.
The New Year ushers in some changes for the Meridian City Council. Our Council President Keith Bird retired after 20 years serving on the council - he will certainly be missed. As we begin 2018, I am looking forward to continuing the City’s work with our City Council and welcoming our newest member on board!
As I sit here searching for the words to write of my appreciation for Keith Bird and his service to our City, I’m finding it difficult to quantify just how grateful I am to him. For the past 20 years he has devoted time to our community as a City Council member, but his work as a public servant began far before that.
This past summer, I put together a “Top 5” list of things to do in Meridian. Since most students in the area will soon have the next couple weeks off from school, and families will be looking to spend quality time together, I decided to put together a “Top 5” Holiday Family Fun list in Meridian!
5. Christmas in Meridian Events
I am really looking forward to this year’s all new Twilight Christmas Market. We’ve always hosted a market as part of Christmas in Meridian but this year’s is larger and is sure to be a magical event! The market is on Thursday, Dec. 7th from 12pm-8pm at Meridian City Hall and will feature a variety of locally hand-crafted gift items, seasonal foods, holiday treats, mulled wine, craft beers, and live entertainment.
Other events include the Children’s Winterland Festival on Saturday, Dec. 9th, the Downtown Lights Business Decorating Contest happening now (vote here), and we have Santa’s mailbox set up outside Meridian City Hall so children can write letters to Santa and they will receive a reply! Get all of the details on these events and activities at www.meridiancity.org/christmas.
4. Meridian Businesses Get in the Spirit
There are so many businesses locally that get in to the Christmas spirit. In Downtown Meridian, the Christmas Tree at Generations Plaza lights up the area and restaurants and businesses are featuring specials and live entertainment.
At the Village at Meridian, there is another grand Christmas Tree that you can enjoy while ice skating or shopping in the square. You can also get a picture with Santa and bring your pets on Mondays so they can meet the jolly happy soul as well!
And of course the lights at Scentsy! This year, Scentsy has 724,000 twinkling lights, including a tunnel of lights that you can walk through! On Dec. 11th and 12th from 6pm-8:30pm Scentsy is hosting a free evening of music, lights, and hot chocolate in the Scentsy Commons – at Eagle Road and Pine Avenue. This is a popular event so plan on arriving early to get a good spot!
3. Meridian Parks
Nothing beats a friendly game of football or, after a good snow-fall, making snow angels or a snowball fight with loved ones. If you are looking to do something as a family outdoors, give Disc Golf a try. You can head out to Settlers Park or Bear Creek Park to enjoy this fun activity for people of all ages. Also, don’t forget we have paved pathways in our parks and throughout the City, if you need to get out and run or walk off some holiday calories.
When the snow does fly, many people head to the hill by the Kleiner Park band shell to do some sledding. You can also grab your cross county skis or snowshoes and head out to any of our parks for an afternoon of great exercise.
2. Initial Point Gallery
If you are looking for something FREE to do indoors – check out the Initial Point Gallery on the third floor of Meridian City Hall. This month features artist Joni Frey and the Idaho Gourd Society. The gallery is open Monday – Friday, 8am-5pm.
1. Little Free Library
And while you are at City Hall, stop by the Little Free Library in the outdoor plaza. The library is stocked with Christmas books throughout the month. Come by to pick up some great Christmas reading and you can also leave your own holiday favorites for another Meridian family to enjoy.
BONUS: Meridian Christmas Lights Tour!
Finally – bundle up the kiddos, make some hot chocolate, hop in the car and check out the Christmas Light Displays in Meridian Neighborhoods!
Your tour should include: The Montgomery Family Light Show at 1728 E. Summerridge Drive! ‘Lights only’ on Sundays – otherwise, music and lights till 10pm weekdays and 11pm on Saturday. Tune to 95.9 to listen to the music. Or there’s a great display on Valentino Street in the Paramount subdivision that is always a popular stop! They raise funds for a different charity each year. The neighborhoods really shine bright this time of year – and it’s fun to see the creativity of our residents!
Enjoy this time with your family and friends. Please be safe as you navigate this busy season. I look forward to seeing you out and about in #MyMeridian!
You can always check out more events online on our website – www.meridiancity.org.
For those that know me well, the holidays are a very special time a year – especially Christmas. However, it all starts with Thanksgiving when families and friends come together to celebrate with one another. Whether you are gathering in Meridian or traveling to another location, I wanted to take a moment and encourage you and your family to consider the blessings we have as a community.
This week – both as a country and in our community - we have the honor to thank all those who have served our country. Veterans Day is Saturday, November 11th and began as “Armistice Day” commemorating the end of World War I. Meridian will celebrate and honor our military men and women at 11 am with an event at the Rock of Honor in Kleiner Park. We want to take time and gather in support of those who have protected our communities through war and during peacetime. I appreciate our veterans service and eternally grateful for their sacrifices!
Today early voting starts in Ada County for the November 7th elections. A good number of Meridian residents and citizens from other parts of Ada County will be showing up at Meridian City Hall to participate as we are one of the early voting locations. I want to thank Ada County Clerk Chris Rich, Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane, Meridian City Clerk C.Jay Coles - and their teams – who helped make this happen.
Two weeks ago I took part in the annual Parks and Recreation Facilities Tour. This is an annual opportunity for City Council, city commissioners, volunteers, and other interested citizens to take a tour of our ever-growing parks system. We visit current parks, future parks, pathways, recreation facilities and learn about our sport activities, recreation classes and community events. We have so many exciting things happening in our Parks & Recreation Department, I wanted to share an update of what we saw and heard.
Even though the attacks of September 11th were 16 years ago, I like many others remember the exact place I was when I heard about the devastation and I’ll never forget it. We as a country, as a community, should never forget it. And right now more than ever, we all need to remember how important it is to come together and stand united.
One of my new favorite events in our city is just around the corner - Meridian Art Week (Sept. 9 – 16). This year a community tradition will kick off the week: the Community Block Party, which is bigger and better than ever this year with some awesome featured performers. It’s on Saturday, Sept 9th at Kleiner Park and is a perfect lead-in to a great week full of arts and culture in our community.
It’s hard to believe it’s already time for school – time does fly! Most of the students will head back to the classroom next week, so that means families will be busy prepping for the upcoming school year this week! I’m thrilled that I will be participating in the National Foundation for Women Legislators 2017 National Backpack Program – a partnership with the Office Depot Foundation. These partners are helping us kick off this school year by helping those that need an extra hand! I’ll be handing out 150 “sackpacks”, containing some essential school supplies and other fun items, at the Meridian Youth Farmers Market on Saturday, August 26 from 10am-12pm. Families with children who are in need of a sackpack and supplies for school are encouraged to attend! Having the opportunity through this partnership program to give kids a kick start to the school year is truly rewarding.
Each year I invite groups of people into my home for my annual Listening Tour. It’s an opportunity to meet with residents and business owners, face-to-face in a quiet setting at my house. It allows me to host a discussion with those I either don’t know or don’t meet with regularly to get a pulse on the community from their perspective.
We just received the results from our City Survey and to say I am pleased with the numbers is an understatement! I can’t tell you how proud I am of our City Staff – all of whom work diligently to provide the best service they can for our customers –you, the citizens of Meridian. We all take pride in working for you!
I love summertime in Meridian! There is something for everyone! In fact, just this past Saturday I shopped for produce at the Meridian Youth Farmers Market, cooled off at the Kleiner Park splash pad with my grandkids, and watched the sunset from my patio on a gorgeous summer evening. As I watched the sun go down, I thought of all of the amazing things we have to do, right here in our own backyard! So if you are looking for some summer fun in Meridian – here are five ideas to consider:
Over the past several months we’ve had a few citizens raise concerns about the noticing process for public hearings. Whether they felt they should have been notified but weren’t, or they received notice but didn’t understand the information in the notice, or they felt the notice didn’t have enough information - we rolled up our sleeves and reviewed the current processes to see what more we could do. After fully vetting our process, we identified several areas we could improve on and/or pilot. First, we will implement some changes on the notice we mail to residents. We also found one more key area where we can reach community members – online – via the social media tool called NextDoor.
The public is invited to attend the annual Memorial Day Tribute at the Rock of Honor Memorial in Kleiner Park on Monday, May 29, 2017 at 11am. New this year will be the burial of a time capsule, including community and military memorabilia. I am honored to have been asked to include the letter below for residents to read when it is opened in 2042 – in twenty five years…a lot can happen in that time! Aside from predicting our population at that time to be 175,000, I share the vision I see for our community based on work we’re doing today.
I support #GowenStrong and I am urging our community to join me. The Citizen Airmen and women of the 124th Fighter Wing of the Idaho Air National Guard at Gowen Field are being considered as an Air National Guard base location for the F-35. As one of five finalists, Gowen Field is a smart decision as a preferred location - for the military, our economy, and our neighbors, friends, and family who serve in the Idaho National Guard.
The City of Meridian is going “Unplugged” at the next Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, April 26, 6:30pm – 8:00pm, at Cole Valley Christian High School (200 E. Carlton Ave)! What do we mean by this? Well, we simply want you, our residents, to set the agenda for the meeting. We want to hear from you! This is your chance to share what’s on your mind with myself and other City leaders.
You are all invited to join us for Do The Right Day on Wednesday, April 12, 2017! Two years ago the City of Meridian, with the help of many partners, launched Do The Right – 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 began a mission to encourage people to put a smile on the face of someone else with a nice word, simple note, gift, or act of service. The success of this event over the past two years has been amazing with an overwhelming response from the community. We distributed 7,500 #DoTheRight stickers last year and social media was packed with pictures from all over Meridian – even reaching other communities in the state and as far away as Texas!
As the Mayor of Meridian I am constantly looking for more ways to get fit in our community! In fact, we just started up a new program called Meridian Mondays with Fleet Feet Meridian - it has been a blast to connect with other people of all fitness levels and get active in our beautiful downtown!
As I meet with citizens or gather feedback through our citywide surveys – one of the number one issues that always surfaces is public transportation. Not everyone needs it, but it is essential for those who do. The City of Meridian has contributed to several different options which have included an express or commuter service and a limited route service. We worked with Valley Regional Transit (VRT) for months on a service that would address a great need to our seniors and persons with disabilities. I’m pleased to announce the latest partnership that launched called Harvest Transit!
Following my State of the City address, we released the City of Meridian’s Annual Report. While hard copies were provided to those who attended, it is now available online for the community to enjoy! I would encourage all residents to take a look at this document. It includes information about the work of our City employees and Departments in a variety of different areas.
The Annual Report helps you see what we’ve accomplished over the past year in such areas as public safety, community and economic development, public works and parks and recreation thanks to our “Top 16 of 2016” section. You can also read about what’s “On the Horizon,” with a look at projects ahead in 2017. And if you are more into numbers, then check out an overview of the City’s budget.
The City of Meridian is thriving. Take a look here and see for yourself.
Thank you to everyone who came out to our Christmas in Meridian festivities! Our Parks and Recreation Department organized a host of events that launched December with great fanfare and loads of Christmas spirit - officially kicking off the holiday season in our community!
This winter I’m thrilled to say that we have even MORE activity options for you in our community! The City of Meridian purchased the Homecourt Facility from the Treasure Valley Family YMCA this fall and we are now offering recreation opportunities in that space located off Franklin Road (936 Taylor Avenue).
This week is Thanksgiving a time to reflect on all the things we are thankful for. That is so easy to do sitting here at my desk! I can think of many reasons I’m thankful to call Meridian home - #MyMeridian. We get to live in a community that is recognized as one of the top places to live in the nation! I don’t know if you realize this, but recently we were named
This Tuesday is Election Day and I encourage everyone to head out to the polls (8am-8pm) and let your voice be heard. This election has the ability to transform our community, so do your research and cast your vote! You can find the information you need, and your polling place at www.idahovotes.gov.
I wanted to update our citizens as we move to the next step in the process begun long ago on providing a courtroom, or not, that was initiated in 1994. The Ada County Commissioners brought to life this ’94 court order that was long forgotten, frankly, because the issue was already addressed in the ‘90’s.
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.
Absentee voting has begun and early voting for the November General Election begins one week from today. Ada County voters will have the opportunity to vote early at Meridian City Hall, October 17 – November 4, 9am -6pm (closes at 5pm on Nov. 4). This is a great time to cast your vote ahead of Election Day, November 8, when polls are open from 8am-8pm.
Recently my husband Jan and I spent some time at unBound, the Meridian Library’s makerspace located in downtown. We expanded our imaginations and experienced innovation first hand with the virtual reality headsets, 3D printers, the woodworking and engraving machine and more. Needless to say we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and all the learning that takes place for people of all ages and abilities at unBound.
I was thrilled to see so many people attend our recent Town Hall at the new Hillsdale Elementary gymnasium. It showed me that the feedback I received from my Listening Tour was true - people want to hear what’s happening in South Meridian! So here’s a recap of what we heard regarding developments.
The start of school always means that change is in the air: new teachers, classmates, curriculum, sports, clubs, etc. It signals the end of summer and the start of a new season is right around the corner in our community. It’s a good time to remind area residents that this brings about changes on the roads and in our neighborhoods.
Each year I host a Listening Tour with community members from across our city. People from all walks of life are invited to attend - and from all parts of our community - into my home to have a conversation about Meridian. The group meetings are set by geographical areas with the goal of getting a pulse on our City from those who live and work here. These conversations help us identify things we are doing well, and ways we can improve.
I had already started writing my musing for this week when the incident in Dallas occurred (and now the latest in Baton Rouge). I am horrified by what I see unfolding. That musing will be saved for another day… My heart aches for Dallas and Baton Rouge. My prayers go out to their law enforcement officers, their families, and their communities. My thoughts and prayers are also with the families and friends of those lost in shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota and their communities.
I love summertime in Meridian! The other day I was able to shop for produce at the Youth Farmers Market, attend Dairy Days, cool off at the Kleiner Park splash pad with my grandkids and watch the sunset from my patio on a gorgeous summer evening. As I watched the sun go down, I thought of all of the amazing things we have to do, right here in our own backyard! So if you are looking for some summer fun – here are 10 ideas to consider:
This week – the old meets the new in Downtown Meridian. A long time tradition and a new community tradition will help us usher in the official start of summer – the long-standing Dairy Days and the new Meridian Youth Farmers Market!
As we wrap up the 2015-16 school year, it’s appropriate to highlight a group of people who are near and dear to my heart. They are the ones who wake up each day and come to work with the sole purpose of protecting our kids. The Meridian Police Department School Resource Officer (SRO) program consists of 9 officers who are assigned to 13 elementary schools, 6 middle schools, 3 high schools and several alternative, charter and private schools in our community within the West Ada School District.
Memorial Day weekend is the first holiday of the summer season and a time when the roads, airports, campsites, etc. always seem to fill up in Idaho. For those families who just want to spend some quality time together and avoid the stress of travel on a busy weekend, I’ve put together a TOP TEN list of FREE VACATION fun right here in Meridian! There’s plenty to do in our community that equates to lifelong memories with the ones you love.
Early Voting for the Primary Election is currently underway here at Meridian City Hall ahead of Election Day on May 17. This is an important election and I encourage voters to get out and make your voices heard!
During my State of the City, and recently in our quarterly newsletter insert in the City of Meridian Utility Bills, I brought to the attention of our citizens, a 22-year-old court order that could potentially have an unfair impact on them and residents of Garden City. Meridian and Garden City are being held to a 1994 court order to build a courtroom in each of our cities. As you might imagine, there are a number of events that have transpired over the 22 years since this order was created. Many questions arise as a result as well - such as why wasn’t it addressed then? Did the 1996 vote to consolidate courtroom facilities and the resulting 2002 opening of the Ada County Courthouse not satisfy the need? Since the Ada County residents paid for one building, why is the County coming back and asking our Meridian and Garden City citizens to pay for another building again? Is there a need that our two cities specifically are being directed to fix by adding additional court facilities?
On Friday, April 8, you’re invited to join us for Do The Right Day! Last year the City of Meridian, with the help of many partners, launched Do The Right – 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 began a mission to encourage people to put a smile on the face of someone else with a nice note, comment, gift, or act of service. The success of the inaugural event was amazing with an overwhelming response from the community. We distributed 7,500 #DoTheRight stickers and social media was packed with pictures from all over Meridian – even reaching other communities in the state and as far away as Texas!
The City of Meridian and the Idaho State University (ISU) Meridian campus are focused on expanding the health science and technology corridor, The CORE, as well as bringing family wage jobs closer to where people live. The announcement of Idaho’s first medical school, the proposed Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM), is one that meets these goals and would be a huge addition for our community and the State of Idaho. This development is proof that investments made at ISU in Meridian have been critical in creating more employment, as well as research and grant opportunities. ISU’s new Anatomy and Physiology Lab and BioSkills Learning Center was a great draw to this new College and will be a tremendous compliment to their mission.
It’s no secret that the youth of our community hold a special place in my heart. We are always looking for more ways to engage our younger generation, especially when it comes to the process of government. That’s why I was beaming with pride as students from our Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC) stood before the State Senate Transportation Committee this month to present a bill on seatbelt requirements for youth that they have spent the past few years putting together.
Heart disease and stroke cause one in three deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds. Fortunately, we can change these statistics, because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events could be prevented with education and action.
As the community transitions to winter and the holidays, many of us move our families and activities indoors. While the weather outside might be frightful at times, there still remains plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy our parks and open spaces over the next few months.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Meridian Parks and Recreation Department has been very busy this summer! Not only have they produced another wonderful season of family favorite events, such as CableONE Movie Night, but they also recently opened the long awaited Storey Dog Park and just released the Fall Activity Guide.
The City of Meridian is going “Unplugged” at the next Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, July 22! What do we mean by this? Well, we simply want you, our residents, to run the agenda for the meeting! We want to hear from you! This is your chance to ask myself and other City leaders a question you’ve been wanting to ask us or discuss a certain topic.
The City of Meridian is a place for families, where our children are a priority. We are constantly striving to provide meaningful programs for our youth. In continuation of this tradition it is only fitting that our newest venture, not only answers a long-time community request but has a focus on youth. It gives me great joy to announce the Meridian Youth Farmers Market will debut in September.
The Association of Idaho Cities (AIC) held its annual conference this month and it was a bittersweet time for me. This conference marked the completion of my term as President of AIC where it has been an honor to serve the cities and state of Idaho. As the conference wrapped up I was extremely proud to see Meridian’s Historic Walking Tour be recognized by AIC with a City Achievement Award for community outreach.
With all the celebrations behind us now - I can honestly say the 1st year of our Mayor’s Walking Club was a smashing success! It was so fun getting out to the schools in April and walking alongside such fantastic students in our community. A huge thank you to the students, staff, and volunteers at the five elementary schools that participated in the inaugural Mayor’s Walking Club: Ponderosa, Peregrine, Discovery, River Valley, and Siena elementary schools. I had a blast!
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.
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.
On April 8 we are launching Do The Righ 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.
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.
Downtown Meridian is on the cusp of a transformation. At a recent city council meeting, we heard a proposal for a Performing Arts facility and Conference Center to be built in the heart of our City. While we are still in the very preliminary stages of this and there are no definite plans at this point, we are eager to learn more, because we believe these possibilities would be huge additions to the heart of our downtown.
As I gear up for my State of the City address on Wednesday, February 4, I find myself reflecting on the significant changes Meridian has gone through over the last decade. Our community has evolved into a full service city with a growing business community, great places to go and lots to do! Meridian is no longer a well-kept secret – we are a desirable place to live, work and raise a family. It comes as no surprise that we were recognized as one of the fastest growing cities in the nation this past year. While we have been steadily growing, we have maintained a “smart growth” approach – we grow from the inside. This ensures we can provide the level of services that our citizens expect, regardless of our size. This was one, among many, reasons we were named by Money Magazine as one of America’s top 50 Best Places to Live in 2014.
January is always a busy time at Meridian City Hall as we wrap up 2014 and look forward to what’s ahead for 2015. This month also signifies the start of the legislative session, a time when our senators and representatives evaluate Idaho and its needs and take action on what they believe to be in the best interest of the state and its citizens. In doing so, they rely heavily on what they hear from the public when making these important decisions that impact us all.
As we gear up for another legislative session, I think it is important for legislators to hear from our citizens. Collaboration is key in ensuring Idaho continues to be a great place to live, work, and raise our families! That’s why we are once again inviting the community to our Legislative Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, January 14 at 6:30 pm at Meridian City Hall.