National Night Out (NNO) is an annual campaign that promotes positive community-police relationships by allowing neighborhoods to organize different unique events. Celebrations across the Treasure Valley uplift first responders through parades, cookouts, block parties, and festivals. Police officers travel around these events to introduce themselves, talk, and be part of the community celebrations. Here in Meridian, firefighters and city employees join in on the fun with the police, creating interactions between citizens and first responders in a non-emergency setting building relationships with attendees and neighborhoods.
In Meridian, our budget process is important as it builds on a history of conservative financial stewardship and allows us to provide the services our residents expect with our available resources. As a City, we are debt free and have long held a philosophy of saving before we spend. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 proposed budget continues those practices, and looks forward with optimism and a higher bar for the City as our residents and businesses expect premier services day-in and day-out, which our employees are ready to deliver.
As the center of the Treasure Valley, Meridian is the connection point for key roadways to and thru our community. Residents, business owners, visitors and more all drive through Meridian on a regular basis, seeking ease and safe accessibility to their destinations. As a City, we are vested in bringing more road improvements by working with our partners and with the resources we have available. As your Mayor, I remain committed to improving transportation in Meridian and the Treasure Valley.
Earlier this month, I delivered my third State of the City address as Mayor before our local business owners, City employees, and the public. It was a great opportunity to provide an update about the City of Meridian, primarily focused on infrastructure, public safety, services provided by partner agencies, and the great need to treat people with dignity and respect.
While the summer heat is right around the corner, I have been very thankful for the cool, wet spring weather we have been able to enjoy this year. As I was driving back from Stanley this weekend in the rain, I was reminded about the beauty, power and importance of water in the west as the South Fork was raging through the canyon. I have said it before and I will say it again, water is our most precious natural resource. While earlier this spring there was much discussion about our reservoirs being low and it likely being a short irrigation season, the recent weather has helped improve our surface water levels immensely. Despite these turn of events, when we live in a high mountain desert it remains important that we have regular conversations about our water picture each year and over the long-term.
For many, Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer. For others, it is a day for quality time with family and friends. For all of us, it is a day to honor those Americans who gave their lives for our country. I encourage you to recognize our fallen heroes and the families that have been impacted by their loss. There is no way we can repay the debt these heroes paid for us, but we can and must honor their sacrifice and their love of this country.
Idaho residents will head to the polls tomorrow for May’s primary election. Voting is as fundamental as any other liberty afforded to people under the Constitution. As a Meridian resident, your vote is your voice. This is your opportunity to let your thoughts be known about important topics to the community and state.
One of the many great things about Meridian is how our community members are dedicated to helping those around them. Whether it is donating time and talents to local service organizations, helping a neighbor in need, or so many other ways of getting involved, you will often see our residents on the front lines. While many can give time and talents, there is also another need organizations have, and that is treasure.
This week is Volunteer Appreciation Week, and I want to take this opportunity to thank the many people who choose to volunteer their time and energy throughout our community. Volunteers selflessly give their time and expertise to help, comfort, or simply be present for community needs. They are our coaches, provide food to those in need, help in our schools, are leading our Homeowner Associations - and so much more! Their dedication is the reason we are the premier community that is built for business and designed for living.
The Idaho Commission for Reapportionment established new Congressional and Legislative districts this year. With those boundaries in place, candidates for the November 2022 legislative districts have been actively campaigning for the May 17 primary election. New for Meridian, we have two legislative districts central to Meridian - Districts 20 and 21; along with a portion of Districts 14 to the north, 15 to the east and 22 in the south. I encourage you to take time to get to know those running, what they stand for and why they are interested in representing our community in the Idaho Legislature.
As spring starts to arrive and our community continues to evolve, one of the City’s most consistently admired assets is our parks and recreation system. We want our open spaces to be easily accessible and near our residents. We are always looking to bring innovation to the design of our parks while ensuring we provide diverse recreational opportunities. All of this happens with a great team at Meridian Parks and Recreation and a clear plan for the future.
As Meridian evolves as a community, I want to ensure that we are the premier place to live for people of all ages, including our senior citizens. That’s why, in 2021, I enrolled the City of Meridian in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. Cities that join this Network commit to going through a process of assessment, action plan creation, and implementation, all with the ultimate goal to determine and develop age-friendly initiatives that our citizens want to see implemented in our community. Age-friendly initiatives are policies, projects, and programs that make communities livable for all people, irrespective of age, ability level, income, socioeconomic status, and so on.
Every ten years following the national census, the Idaho Commission on Reapportionment establishes new Congressional and Legislative district boundaries. This public process occurred last fall and into 2022 when the Idaho Supreme Court recently issued a unanimous ruling, upholding the state’s newly established boundaries.
Our leadership team here at the City of Meridian serves several functions and are crucial to our success. They help provide the vision of our City, ensuring we work together to be successful. Most recently, I welcomed two new Directors to our leadership team; Public Works Director Laurelei McVey and Community Development Director Bruce Freckleton. These Directors oversee departments that are focused on protecting the well-being of our residents, whether it’s by ensuring premier development that is safe for the public, or by maintaining safe drinking water and wastewater. We recently invited residents to attend a Town Hall meeting where both of these Directors shared their experience and visions for the departments moving forward.
Meridian’s Vision is to be the West’s premier community in which to live, work and raise a family. Like any vision this takes time, planning, and deliberate efforts to be successful. We have an engaged community, dedicated employees, key stakeholders, and committed leaders to see our vision through and build upon the successes. Our five-year Strategic Plan was initiated at the beginning of this year and categorized into six focus areas: Transportation & Infrastructure; Responsible Growth; Business & Economic Vitality; Public Health & Safety; Vibrant & Sustainable Community; and Government Excellence. These focus areas help to drive specific goals and actions, which guide the work of the City.
Christmas is a special time of year. It is full of joy with community events, family gatherings, and religious celebration. It is also full of tradition with the beauty of decorations in our homes and lights in our neighborhoods, with the fun that comes from the first snow (no matter how fleeting), and with the opportunity to give back to others so all may feel the peace and warmth of the holiday season. What really makes Meridian special during this time of year is our people and our businesses who step up and lead so others may enjoy.
Citizen involvement is an essential component for strong local government. We promote citizen involvement by inviting Meridian residents and others to serve on a variety of commissions, committees, and councils which are designed to assist the City in its information-gathering and decision-making processes. We want feedback, solutions, and direction on a wide array of community topics and challenges; serving on a commission provides just that.
Two weeks ago the final votes were cast, and counted, and decisions about our community were made. I want to acknowledge all of the Meridian City Council and West Ada School District Board of Trustee candidates for their willingness to serve. Putting your name on the ballot and opening up yourself to others who want to know about you is not an easy process and for many it is uncomfortable. But it is necessary for the community to make informed decisions.
With Veterans Day approaching, I want to express my deepest gratitude to all veterans who have worn this nation’s uniform. For those of you who have answered the call to protect and defend our United States of America, weather you served at home or abroad, in wartime or in peace, you are part of an unbroken chain with those who served our nation with honor and grace.
Absentee voting is taking place and early voting starts today in Ada County for the November 2nd elections! This year’s ballot includes three City Council seats and a proposed West Ada School District Levy. In addition, for some there will also be candidates for the West Ada School Board. Once again, Meridian City Hall is an early voting location and although I prefer to vote on election day, this is a valuable resource for many offered by the Ada County Clerk. There’s a lot to consider this election season, and I encourage you to have your voice heard and vote.
Friday was our first-ever State of Downtown Meridian address for the City of Meridian. This virtual event was put on by the Meridian Chamber of Commerce and done in collaboration with the City of Meridian and the Meridian Development Corporation (MDC) – our urban renewal district – for local downtown stakeholders. It covered a variety of topics presented by key leaders from the development industry, all centered around the historic heart of Meridian - Destination Downtown. The topics of discussion included the merger between Meridian Chamber and the Meridian Downtown Business Association, urban renewal activities, downtown projects under development, and a panel discussion on the unique strengths and opportunities with commercial real estate in Downtown Meridian.
Last week during Meridian City Council’s Work Session, we received a report from the National Golf Foundation regarding a new Master Plan for Lakeview Golf Club. This report evaluated the current conditions of Lakeview Golf Club and provided a path forward to address the maintenance needs and different options for operating the course. The National Golf Foundation’s analysis and knowledge base of the golf industry provides the City with options to help achieve our goals of operating self-sustaining, high quality, and affordable recreation for Meridian residents and visitors. Their comprehensive study included details that really focused on three elements – project background, facility overview, and operations overview.
Good morning Meridian, Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11 — a day which has defined the course of our country and altered the way we think about those who serve — from first responders to the military — in a way few other days have done. As a nation, many of us will take part in 9/11 observances tomorrow such as the ones being held at Meridian Fire Station #1 in the morning and the Blue Mass at the Holy Apostles Church in the afternoon. Whether you attend a specific event or pause in memory, I urge you reflect back to that Tuesday and remember those who gave their life on that day and in the days since.
Most Meridian students have begun the new school year, and first and foremost I say, welcome back! I am happy that kids are back in session learning. I recently attended the Owyhee High School ribbon-cutting where many community members and staff came together to celebrate student education and our thriving community. Owyhee High School was years in the making and driven by community support to fund the construction of this needed resource through bonds.
Today marks the first day people are able to file paperwork to run for the Meridian City Council in November’s election. In Meridian, we elect City Council members by seats for four years. A few weeks ago, we held a Town Hall about how to run for City Council. You can find relevant information from that event, as well as the requirements and process to become a candidate on our website, HERE. Additionally, you can find information at the Ada County Information for Candidates webpage HERE.
The positive relationship between our citizens and first responders is one of my favorite things about Meridian. This bond helps guarantee that our city stays a safe place to live, work, and raise a family. That’s why I love efforts such as National Night Out, which aim to bring residents together. These events are the backbone of Meridian which helps give us a sense of pride and community.
Law enforcement plays a critical role in our safe and thriving community. One way this is achieved is through the services provided by the Ada County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) and the collaborative working relationship with the Meridian Police Department. Recently ACSO Lieutenant Matt Clifford – who was contracted to the City of Eagle and serving as their Police Chief – was sworn in as our new Ada County Sheriff. I applaud the decision of Chairman Rod Beck and Commissioner Kendra Kenyon for selecting Matt Clifford. I have had the opportunity and pleasure to get to know Sheriff Clifford through the process of being selected, and our Police Chief Tracy Basterrechea has known and worked with him for years. The Commissioners made the right choice as Matt Clifford not only has the knowledge, skills, and abilities, but he has instilled trust and demonstrated leadership for the citizens of Ada County.
Make no mistake about it, water is our most precious resource in Meridian. Due to the low snowpack this past winter and extended hot weather, low water supply in reservoirs is impacting many parts of Idaho. With this hot summer and little-to-no rain, I know people are concerned about how the City is positioned to provide drinking water and water for outdoor use for residents. Rest assured, while there is a lot of talk about the supply of irrigation surface water this year, the City is well positioned to deliver quality drinking water to our residents, with no concerns for providing ample potable water.
As a City, we are dedicated to being a premier community to live, work and raise a family. We provide a safe and caring atmosphere focused on families with excellent education, recreation, and entertainment opportunities. This is through our great relationships with key stakeholders and our efforts to remain fiscally responsible. We have done well by proactively saving before spending for critical services and large-scale projects. This type of planning has allowed us to remain a debt free city.
Earlier this month, I delivered my second State of the City address at the Galaxy Event Center. With local business owners, City employees, and sponsors in attendance, it was a great opportunity to provide an update about the City of Meridian. There was a lot of information covered during this year’s State of the City and I would like to take some time and share a few highlights.
One of the things I love about living in Meridian is walking out of my door on Memorial Day and seeing the work of our local Boy Scout troop and neighbors with their flags proudly displayed. It is a beautiful scene, and great way to honor the memory of our servicemen and women who paid the ultimate price to protect our freedom and to thank their families for their sacrifice. We honor these brave Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard with recognition, respect, and gratitude. There is no way we can repay the debt these heroes paid for us, but we can and must honor their sacrifice and their love of this country.
Three months into my term as Mayor, Covid-19 started impacting our community. From the beginning, it was very clear my original plans would be altered as our priorities changed. Covid-19 impacted our employees and every community member one way or another, and it is important we all take time to recognize the stress it created and find time in our own ways to slow down and relax a little. Too often this past year, we all have been asked to make big sacrifices at times of great uncertainty, and that can take its toll.
The ability to get from point A to point B in Meridian is essential. Whether you are going to and from work, trying to get across town to coach your kid’s game, or headed to unwind with friends, moving about the community is a priority for our citizens. As a City, we don’t have the pleasure of taking care of our roads. Between Ada County Highway District (ACHD) and the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), they make the ultimate decisions about what roads will be improved, to what level, and when. This can be frustrating for a growing city and valley with competing needs for safety, capacity, and connectivity.
It takes a lot of hard work and planning to be one of the safest cities in the state, and public safety is job number one. Over the past few months we have seen leadership changes in both our police and fire departments that will help us maintain the great police and fire services you have come to expect and prepare for the challenges that lie ahead in our growing and evolving community.
This past year has brought many challenges and at the top of the list has been education for many of our families. With kids in West Ada School District back in-person last week, I have heard and seen firsthand the excitement for many. I want to applaud everyone – especially our kids – who have shown great resilience and perseverance through the last year.
An important partner in our community is the Meridian Library. You may or may not be aware that the libraries in our community are operated by the Meridian Library District which is a separate taxing entity with its own elected officials that oversee the services provided to the community. As an entity, they are an award-winning, innovative organization that has a mission to enrich lives, ignite curiosity and cultivate connections.
The year of 2020 will go down in history and I hope beyond the masks and sanitizer, we remember the challenges we faced and the important lessons we learned last year. The biggest was that it takes everyone in the community working together for us to be successful. The responsibility to keep our kids learning, family, friends, and neighbors safe and healthy, and our economy thriving fell on each of us. It was a responsibility none of us could bear alone and required us to work together, adapt, and find new and creative ways of doing things.
I recently worked with the Meridian City Council to develop an opinion editorial addressing the recently proposed legislation surrounding property tax. This is a complex issue and while we believe there are ways to address this issue to help tax payers, the proposed legislation is not the answer. Below you will find the editorial piece that was published in the Idaho Press on January 30th.
Last week I announced my intent to appoint Tracy Basterrechea as Chief of Police, filling a role made vacant with the recent retirement of long-time Chief, Jeff Lavey. City Council will consider Tracy’s appointment tomorrow, January 26th during our City Council meeting and if approved, he will be the Chief for the Meridian Police Department.
Last December, I had the opportunity to hear from several mayors from around the country as I was preparing to take the oath of office. The one item I heard over and over was the importance of the Police Chief and the need to have complete confidence in the person who leads the Police Department. How law enforcement officers serve in the community every day is determined by the leadership of their Chief and it reflects on the community as a whole. I can say that Tracy Basterrechea has my complete confidence to serve as our City’s top law enforcement officer and I am honored he is willing to accept this new challenge.
This past year was one that saw us all challenged. No matter what stage of your life, industry you work in, or how you spend your free time, we all had to make adjustments to meet the goals and expectations from ourselves, our employers or others. The City was no different and as we made adjustments to our operations, City business continued to move forward and we had some great accomplishments throughout the year.
This year we have seen some big and much needed transportation improvements in our community. With the much anticipated widening of Chinden Blvd., four lanes of Chinden are open from Locust Grove to Eagle Road and Linder Road to State Highway 16 marking a major milestone in the ChindenWest Corridor project. Residents will soon notice a detached 10-foot pathway to the south for bicyclists and pedestrians and changes to turning movements along the new road sections. Improvements were also made to Ten Mile Road as part of this project. The Linder Road to Locust Grove segment of Chinden will wrap up next year completing the expansion to four lanes for this roadway until 2024 when Chinden will be widened to Star Road.
Regardless of what holiday you celebrate this time of year, Meridian is all dressed up for the occasion. It seems the community has gone a little extra jolly this year with more twinkle lights, louder Christmas music, and more yard decorations than ever before. After the year we have all experienced, this is just what we need and I’m loving it!
This year has been a difficult one where we have seen businesses close their doors, kids have been kept home, our favorite events have been canceled, travel has been postponed, and gatherings with loved ones have been missed. Many of us had smaller Thanksgiving meals as family and friends stayed home this past weekend. This was tough for us all and with Christmas and other holidays coming up, this season is bound to be emotional as we are so used to being together during this time of year.
Last week, West Ada welcomed Meridian’s youngest learners back to the classroom full-time. This was an effort parents pushed for in their responses to the district’s surveys. As the parent of a fourth-grader myself, I am happy to have my son back to a more normal learning environment, and I am dedicated to keeping that environment safe and healthy for him, his peers, teachers and staff. As Governor Little pointed out in his press conference last week, in-person learning is important, not only for our kids, but our parents who are serving on the front lines of this battle against COVID-19 in our hospitals and clinics across the state. With COVID-19 cases on the rise, it’s more important than ever before that we focus our attention on keeping the community healthy.
Everyone has their favorite annual traditions. When asked what they look forward to most, many would tell you Thanksgiving, Christmas, or another holiday surrounded by big festivities and friends. While I enjoy family holidays, one of my favorite annual traditions happens tomorrow! That’s right, the first Tuesday in November, Election Day.
I truly believe that connecting with residents is one of the things that makes our community special. When we are engaged and involved together on where we are going, it makes for a stronger end result. We have seen this with our updated Comprehensive Plan and are looking to do the same with our Strategic Plan that is being updated.
This year has created challenges about how we carry on the events, activities and relationships that make our community special. One of the programs I’m focused on is the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Commission (MYAC) which is comprised of our 9th-12th graders in our community. MYAC gives its members an opportunity to develop leadership skills and apply those skills through giving back and participating in the processes of government. It also allows these driven individuals a chance to network, collaborate, and grow together.
We are in the final countdown for residents to complete the 2020 Census and help shape the future of our community. I first want to thank all of you who have already taken the time to fill it out. Meridian was one of the top cities for self-reporting with 79% of households choosing to do so. If you didn’t have a chance to respond yet, I am asking for just ten minutes of your time to do so by September 30. Your actions help provide vital information to will impact Meridian for the next ten years.
We have been doing a great job as a community and region wearing masks, keeping our distance and washing our hands. The proof is in the numbers, safety measures are working and it continues to take all of us working together to make it happen.
Meridian City Council recently approved a new venture for the City which will transition operations of the Lakeview Golf Club to the City. Many may not know that the land the public course sits on has been owned by the City since 1978, with buildings and equipment owned by the operator. As the current operator transitions out of the business, it makes sense to bring the assets into public ownership. To help make that happen, Western Ada Recreation District (WARD) has entered into a Purchase and Sale Agreement to buy out the business and assets whereby they will then transition course management to the City. Lakeview Golf Club is an important part of our community, and I am committed to ensuring this asset is properly maintained and operated with needed improvements made to the course.
Now more than ever it is important that we build strong relationships among our residents and first responders. In Meridian, we pride ourselves on being one of Idaho’s safest cities, and can credit that to the mutual respect between citizens and our officers. This respect has been earned through longstanding efforts that begin with education, and continue with each interaction that takes place between our police and fire departments and the community they serve.
Amongst all of the COVID conversation, I also want to remind everyone that City business is still moving forward and we have a lot of other important information for everyone to keep on your radar. To that, we recently released our 2020 City Survey online, and want your feedback about services in Meridian.
Watching the news, reading social media posts, and hearing from members of our community, I feel disheartened by the state of our nation. A human life was taken at the hands of a few who were called upon to protect and serve. Outrage swept through the nation, and rightly so.
In this time of uncertainty, I know our minds and hearts are heavy with concern. Concern for how to stay healthy, pay bills, educate our children, and access essential services without risking our health. I share your concerns and want to assure you that we are working tirelessly to navigate the constantly evolving situation of COVID-19. As your Mayor, I will continue to make decisions using guidance from the experts as best I can over the months to come.
As I peer out my office window this morning, I can’t help but feel excitement. There are big things happening right in the heart of Meridian, our downtown. Three major projects (and several other small projects) are underway that will add to the vibrancy of our downtown. These projects were big ideas for local visionaries a few years ago, and today, dirt is moving and they are preparing to lay the foundation for a vibrant downtown!
Recently, the City Council held a joint meeting with the Board of Trustees from West Ada School District. During this meeting we discussed the impact of growth on the community. Specifically, we discussed our schools, the City’s recently adopted Comprehensive Plan, and the importance of identifying priority growth areas so we can collaborate on where investments might be needed by our organizations.
Being a premier community to live, work and raise a family in is more than just a simple statement, it’s the vision we have for Meridian. Like any vision, it takes planning and execution to make it a reality. In our case, it takes dedicated employees, an engaged community, collaboration with partners, and committed leaders to transform a string of words so the Meridian of today becomes the Meridian of our future.
This last weekend, I traveled across our great state to the City of Salmon with my family to take a ski trip. We traversed the Idaho roads, and for the most part were without cell service for 90% of the time as we drove through the passes and canyons of our beautiful state. I realized during this drive that we all survived being disconnected from our phones. Not for 30 seconds at a stoplight, not even for 20 minutes getting to work, but for hours at a time.
Growth is on the heart and minds of our community. For many that is because of increased traffic, impacts on our schools, and increased density with multi-family development. Along with these concerns, we have also seen benefits of growth such as more family wage jobs, additional retail and entertainment opportunities, and needed road improvements such as the planned widening of Linder Road, Ten Mile Road, and Chinden Boulevard.
I can hardly believe that this will be my last Mayor’s Message… I send it to you today with a lot of mixed emotions. After 16 years, I enter my final week as your Mayor. Admittedly, stepping out of office is bittersweet. It’s been hard letting go; Meridian is in my blood!
It’s hard to believe that we are already halfway through November! Fall is always a time of reflection for me – and as I reflect, I can’t help but be thankful. Some days it’s much easier to focus on the negative as it seems that’s all we see on social media and on the news. It’s important to take a deep breath and fill our thoughts with thankfulness. I made a list of what I’m most thankful for. You’ll see my top 10 below, I encourage you to do the same.
You may have noticed that the City has been sprinkled with campaign signs and the neighborhoods are abuzz with talks of the 2019 General City Election. It’s officially campaign season - campaign signs, social media posts, door knocking, phone calls, debates and more are coming your way! This November 5th there is a BIG election here at the City. Citizens will have the opportunity to vote for three new City Council members, as well as your next Mayor.
There are certain people that you meet in life that seem to leave an impression wherever they go. Those individuals with selfless spirits and hearts made of gold. They shine light into our lives on dark days and always seem to be there with a hand up or strong shoulder.
I’m actually writing today’s blog post with a different audience in mind. This one is for our younger Meridian residents. Those of you that couldn’t wait to be on summer vacation last May, and are now counting down the days until you’re back at school with your friends. This one is for you.
I have loved my time as your Mayor - almost 16 years. However, my time with the City began long before that. I spent 4 years on the Meridian City Council and before that, served as a charter member of the Parks and Recreation Commission. Throughout that time, my commitment to our parks system has been, and continues to be, among my top priorities.
Each year, city leaders from across the state gather together at the Association of Idaho Cities (AIC) Conference. The annual AIC Conference offers us an opportunity to learn from one another. We – elected officials and key staff - share struggles, solutions, and best practices to issues we face as Idaho municipalities.
When it comes to local government, there are a lot of moving parts and pieces – and each municipality does things a little differently. In Meridian, we have 20 departments and within those, 48 divisions, which are operated by over 450 incredible employees (I may be biased!). But – who does what? It can be confusing how each piece – each department – is connected. That’s why its important to do our best to ensure that Meridian residents understand the basics. One way that we do that is through our City 101 classes.
It’s so fun to walk in downtown Meridian this time of year. Between the colorful flowers and beautiful trees, it seems that everything is in full bloom. But – that’s not all that’s blooming and budding in our downtown. New amenities and services are sprouting up, downtown events are blossoming, and existing businesses are changing color.
Each time I step inside a voting booth, no matter what issues are on the ballot, I feel an immense sense of duty and pride. I love living in a nation where we can not only form our own opinions, and voice those opinions, but we can act on them. This is a right that did not come easy or without sacrifice.
One of the best things about living in Meridian is that we get to experience every season! There is great anticipation as we welcome the arrival of spring and summer - we are able to get out of our homes and enjoy all of the outdoor fun that Meridian offers.
As you may have already heard, this year will be my last serving you as your Mayor. After a great deal of thought, deliberation and discussions with my family, I have decided not to seek re-election in November. This was a very personal decision and one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. After losing my dad this last fall, I questioned my decision to run for re-election in November 2019. I continued to consider this decision up through the holidays. Being able to spend time with my mom, my kids and their families, and in talking with my husband I knew what that ‘next chapter’ would and should be. It’s time that I focus on them. I need to spend time with my mom. Two of my girls live overseas – I want to spend time with them. I have grandkids that I haven’t spent much time with, and another grandchild on the way – I will know this one much better. And my husband is traveling more and I want to experience the world with him.
As our great city continues to attract more people who want to call Meridian home, we are committed to maintaining (or exceeding) service levels expected. While we hope that most days in Meridian are fun and carefree for our residents, we are all too familiar with those heart wrenching days which require assistance from Meridian’s premier emergency crews. In those instances, it is important that police and fire are able to respond to Meridian residents quickly.
For two decades I sat right next to Keith Bird every Tuesday evening for council meetings. It was a privilege – and always an experience. Keith taught me so much, but the biggest thing he taught me was that you can make real change if you have passion for something. He had passion for this community…big time!
January marks the beginning of a new year, the creation of new memories to be made and the start of so many possibilities before us! It also means my State of the City Address is right round the corner. This year will be my 16th year serving as Mayor of Meridian, and I am honored by the fact that I get to host this address – an event that lets our citizens, City employees, business leaders and community partners know how we are doing and where we are headed as a City. This year’s theme is “The Greatest Home” and there is much to discuss about all that makes Meridian the greatest home, not just for residents, but for businesses as well.
The State of the City Address will be held in the brand new Galaxy Event Center at Wahooz on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 3:29 p.m. We are excited to help showcase this new facility that was highlighted during my 2018 address. We will be live streaming the event here, so you can tune in during the speech or watch it after the event. Immediately following, those who purchase tickets, are invited to attend the Taste of Meridian, where nine local restaurants will provide samples of food. This has become a beloved event for the community.
As we usher in 2019, I want to take a moment to let you know that we are listening! I recently held a series of Listening Tours at my home. The goal of the tours is not only to meet new people, but to hear concerns and/or highlights about Meridian from different stakeholders representing different areas across Meridian. The 25 residents who participated, included local business owners, PTA/PTO presidents, neighborhood representatives, district chairs for political parties, and leaders of service groups.
This week we will gather to celebrate the life of one of the City’s former leaders, Mayor Robert ‘Bob’ Corrie. Mayor Corrie passed away on Monday, December 10 at the age of 82, just before his 61st wedding anniversary with his wife, Jeri. He served our city for more than a decade, first as a city councilman, then as Mayor from 1996-2004, and he later served as a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Commission.
I love this time of year because there’s a kindness and giving spirit in the air and people are committed to helping others enjoy the holidays. For this reason, I’m excited to tell you about a new addition this year at city hall during the holiday season. Aside from our large Christmas tree in the main lobby, this year we also have a smaller “flocked” tree – A Salvation Army Angel Tree. Anyone is welcome to choose from a variety of wish tags and purchase a toy for a local child in need. Then deliver the unwrapped to the Salvation Army location in Boise at 4308 W. State Street or to the Parks and Recreation Department at Meridian City Hall by Thursday, December 13. We are more than happy to be able to host an angel tree – encouraging neighbor helping neighbor - and look forward to seeing more families enjoy this Christmas in our community.
For those who know me well, the holidays are a very special time of year. It all begins 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 to encourage you and your family to consider the plentiful blessings we have as a community.
The Ada County Elections office says early voting numbers are up and that is very apparent by the number of people we saw here at Meridian City Hall over the past two weeks. I enjoy seeing so many people take advantage of early voting, whether here at city hall, other locations or via the mobile voting options. Every election is important and your voice does matter!
Every year we try to host at least one “Unplugged” Town Hall, when we ask our citizens to drive the agenda for the evening. I think it’s incredibly important to hear from you and discuss what is on your minds and hearts. I encourage you to join us on Wednesday, October 24, from 6:30pm – 8pm at Lakeview Golf Club. We’ll have a representative on hand from each department, so if you have parks, police, public works, community development, fire or even finance questions – we’ll be ready to discuss those with you. It’s a great time to connect with us and learn more information about your community. You can send your questions ahead of the event to Jodi St-Martin, firstname.lastname@example.org in my office.
The leaves are changing colors across our community and the air outside is crisp. It’s beautiful! Fall has arrived in Meridian. This is a wonderful season in our area and I especially like it because it marks the return of my walking club with local students.
Fall is in the air – having grown up with a dad who had been a football coach that always meant football season. There is a lot that is learned on the football field – but there are many learned in the bleachers as well. I watched my dad from the bleachers but also standing on the field beside him; he taught me many life lessons during that time.
We are so excited to kick off the Hefty® EnergyBag® Program today (sign up here beginning at 12pm (noon) on Monday, Aug. 27). The global market changes in recycling have had a huge impact on not just our city, county, region, and country, but the entire world. The Hefty® EnergyBag® Program will provide residents with the opportunity to bag select plastics numbered 4-7 for recovery. This new program is a collaborative effort of several cities in the surrounding area. Participants can throw lids, straws, and other accepted plastics into the orange bags that will then be shipped out of our area to Renewlogy, a Salt Lake City based company. Renewlogy will take those plastics and convert them into Synthetic Diesel Fuel.
I’d like to personally invite you to check out Downtown Meridian – for a good cause! As you might know, this past weekend the intersection of Pine and Main was closed for paving. The road construction project and this road closure has had a real impact on our downtown businesses – and we want to show them some love! So this weekend, Friday through Sunday (August 17-19), join us for a CASH MOB! A Cash Mob is an organized effort to show local businesses support from the community. We want to let our businesses know we support them. You can join in during your work day on Friday, bring the family down on Saturday or check it out after church on Sunday. Grab a bite to eat downtown or attend a live music event in the evening, stop by for family fun at the Meridian Library’s UnBound, shop at one of the local boutiques for home goods, clothes, flowers and more! You can also get a wellness check or even a haircut at one of the salons. There are all kinds of businesses in Downtown Meridian and more and more are hosting weekly events for the community - from game nights, to craft classes and live music. The Meridian Press has a weekly section highlighting these events and we even have some posted to our Community Calendar.
It has been a rough summer for our public safety teams (across the valley). Two weeks in a row, I received a call that our Meridian police officers had been faced with life or death situations. One of those incidents landed our officer in the hospital. I’m so grateful that he is expected to make a full recovery. In a separate incident, one of our Meridian firefighters was rushed to the hospital but thankfully is okay as well.
It’s probably no surprise that the number one topic I get approached about is growth. It’s happening here and it’s happening across the entire Valley. We all know how awesome Meridian and Idaho are - and now others have discovered us as well. Despite our popularity, it is imperative that we grow responsibly, which takes careful planning.
July marks the introduction of many new laws and legislation passed during the winter legislative session. Among this year’s new updates is a piece of legislation spearheaded by the Meridian Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC).
Most of the area youth are out of school, and June has arrived. That means it’s time for free, family fun in #MyMeridian! Our employees are busy planning a whole host of activities for you to enjoy this month. Here is a list of my #Top5 events to check out in June:
This week we will see the amazing result of what can happen when multiple community partners and citizens come together with a focus on the future of the valley and the well-being of others. I am honored to join the Treasure Valley Family YMCA, St. Luke’s Health System, the West Ada School District, the Meridian Library District, Meridian City Council members and our team with the Meridian Parks and Recreation Department in cutting the ribbon at The Hill. The 22.5 acre campus, located near the intersection of South Eagle and Amity roads, is designed to serve as a hub for education, recreation, wellness and literacy.
Town Halls have always been an important priority. I value our time outside City Hall, speaking with citizens about real issues in our community. It is so imperative that we work together. That is why I hope you will join me at our next Town Hall this Wednesday, May 9 at 6:30 p.m. at St. Ignatius Catholic School. We have several important topics to discuss including smart planning for future growth, a transportation alternative, the election process and recycling alternatives.
One of the things I love most about Meridian is how generous and giving our community members are to those around them. In fact, the generosity of our citizens is a primary reason Meridian was recently recognized as one of the best places to live in Idaho by Money magazine.
I remember the discussion like it was yesterday. My staff and I were talking about how the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council wanted to do something to combat bullying and we had just found out a community member had been lost to suicide. We decided enough was enough and we need to make being kind COOL and a habit! That day, Do The Right was born. We knew it was just one day, but the goal was to make it something that would start a movement of compassion, change the hearts and minds, the attitudes of all, each and every day.
Now more than ever we need a movement of kindness and compassion in our world. We need to stand up and BE KIND. This year marks the 4th annual Do The Right Day. We launched this day to encourage everyone 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 want to urge others 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 few years has been amazing with an overwhelming response from the community and even beyond (reaching all the way to Texas). We have distributed thousands upon thousands of #DoTheRight stickers and social media is always packed with pictures from all over the area – updates that show the true character of our caring community. We live in a giving and compassionate community and we want to keep it that way.
I, like many in our community, moved to Meridian because of our quality schools nearly three decades ago. The West Ada School District (WASD) is one of the best in the State of Idaho and the largest. WASD is 385 square miles large and serves five cities and parts of two counties! Our district and teachers are a shining example – we have much to be proud of.
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!
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.
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:
08 August 2022
Public Safety is a Top Priority for Meridian
25 July 2022
Share your Feedback – City Budget & City Survey
27 June 2022
The State of Meridian
13 June 2022
Water - Every Drop Counts
30 May 2022
Memorial Day, in Honor of Our Heroes
16 May 2022
Get Involved, Stay Involved
02 May 2022
Join Me for Idaho Gives
18 April 2022
Volunteers, You Make the Difference
04 April 2022
Election Season Changes