In previous blogs and during my State of the City address I have had an opportunity to speak about our commitment to Economic Excellence and the importance of working with our investors who bring quality places that attract business. In this blog we have celebrate the investors who have brought Meridian high caliber business parks and new businesses.
These ‘employment centers’ attract those who want to be located closer to the workforce and their customers. We have a number of business parks and retail centers in various stages of development that have attractive landscaping, nice amenities, and thoughtful design. Overall, Meridian’s business parks offer a great work environment and ideal locations.
One of our growing business parks is the El Dorado Business Campus. This 85-acre campus in the southwest quadrant of Eagle and Overland roads and is a project of one of our partners in our community, W.H. Moore Co. Through the El Dorado Business Campus, W.H. Moore Co. has brought investment and jobs to Meridian and currently has great businesses such as Great West Causality, Complex Care Hospital, Stanley Consultants, and others in their facility. But they are not done yet.
MDU Resources Group, the parent company to Intermountain Gas and three other utility companies, announced last August they would open a new customer service facility here in Meridian to serve the utility group’s 945,000 customers across eight states. This service center will occupy 31,000 square feet and W.H. Moore Co. is saving adjacent land for future expansion. This will be the principal point of contact location for the utility group’s customer service issues via telephone or Internet, and will handle billing questions, setting up service starts and stops, and other service-related issues.
The expansion of this facility is bringing 140 new jobs to Meridian with about 70 new jobs expected to be hired soon for this service center. The addition of these jobs will be a nice injection to the current shifting economy and will be a benefit to our available workforce. I am confident our citizens will greatly contribute to the success of our newest business in Meridian.
We are hopeful that this is another signal of a resurgence of economic prosperity in an environment that is built for business…and their success. We will continue to partner with our investors and business community to be that premiere place in meeting business needs. We must also continue to support our business here at home and recognize that supporting Meridian businesses will help them keep jobs close to home.
Join me in welcoming our newest business in the El Dorado Business Campus, and if you know of a business that is looking to launch or grow in Meridian I want to hear about it. Email me at Mayortammy@Meridiancity.org and together we can embrace these new jobs and celebrate Meridian as the premier community to live, work and raise a family.
Efficiency, innovation, and economy are not always words that come to mind when people discuss government. But the City of Meridian is working to change this.
The City’s Police and Information Technology Departments recently developed a computer application that streamlines police reporting so that reports can be processed and analyzed quickly and simply.
The Police Department had been utilizing an antiquated report writing system based on a notoriously temperamental database that crashed frequently. Different divisions in the Police Department were using different computer systems that were not compatible in all respects. Information sharing between divisions was not automated. Senior Database Developer Mike Tanner stepped in to help.
Mike, working with MPD Sgt. Jamie Leslie, learned that officers submitted a police report, administrative staff entered data from the report into their system and created a printout for the Records Department, and then the Records Department entered the data again in their system. In some cases, this process required entering the same information in different systems as many as three times.
Mike, having previously worked for a private corporation, had extensive experience with automating processes to improve efficiency -- and, in the context of the private sector, to improve the bottom line. Mike put this background to work, and designed a system that automates and integrates multiple computer systems, eliminates duplicate entry, and provides officers and detectives with a single tool to look up data and record case information. After several months of planning and development, the product “Incident Tracking” was released to officers for testing.
The buzz and enthusiasm following testing exceeded our expectations. Officers were amazed at the ease of the product and how the product is customized for the way they work. Similar systems can be purchased from commercial vendors, but an application of this quality would cost several hundred thousand dollars to purchase and implement.
Although Meridian is the third-largest City in the State of Idaho, our IT staff is one of the smallest. Despite our small staff size, the application our team developed is better than anything on the market. The City of Boise and Ada County have tested our Incident Tracking System and they agree. In fact, Ada County has decided to forgo writing its own internal application, and will adopt Incident Tracking instead. By sharing our success with other jurisdictions, we have eliminated time and costs that each agency – and their taxpayers - would otherwise have spent several times over.
The creation of Incident Tracking by the Meridian IT team has brought efficiency, innovation, and economy not just to the City of Meridian, but to government agencies throughout the valley. We are extremely excited to implement Incident Tracking at the Meridian Police Department in April.
When emergencies strike, police, fire and EMS personnel are dispatched to render assistance. If an infant is choking or someone goes into cardiac arrest, every second that passes can mean the difference between life or death. The chance of someone surviving a heart attack increases dramatically if trained personnel are able to reach them and provide aid within the first couple of minutes. Each year it appears that drivers become more complacent and in their hurry to get somewhere, forget the basic driving laws requiring them to pull to the right when being approached by an emergency vehicle with its lights and siren on. Emergency responders respectfully ask that when you see lights and hear sirens to pull over to the right and stop until the emergency vehicle has safely passed. The lights and sirens are how emergency responders request the right of way when responding to emergencies.
We are seeing a trend where drivers are not pulling to the right and stopping which makes for a dangerous situation for all on the road. We have had some drivers pull over to the right while others pull to the center turn lane. Some drivers just keep driving and lastly some stop right where they are. This combination of events makes it difficult and dangerous for the drivers of the emergency vehicle and other drivers to react to the situation. These situations are actually being made more dangerous by the way cars are being built to eliminate outside noise in the passenger compartment of cars. Compound that with stereos and heaters or air conditioning, drivers are not hearing the sirens until the emergency vehicles are extremely close to them. It is then they make the radical move to the right or just stop in front of the fire truck leaving little time for other drivers to react safely.
The reason for pulling to the right is to allow the emergency vehicle to safely pass on the left and be seen easier by motorists. Coming to a complete stop allows the emergency vehicle to make necessary turns onto other streets. If traffic continues to move, it produces blind spots that could potentially put civilian drivers into harms way. Drivers of emergency vehicles are trained to look out for the safety of everyone using the roadways. We need your help in keeping everyone safe and this can be done by following this simple rule:
When you see lights and hear sirens check for traffic next to your vehicle, signal and pull to the right shoulder stopping until the emergency vehicle has passed.
Your local Fire & Police Department
Well this is my last Chief’s blog for a little while at least. The Chief is returning to Idaho after ten (10) weeks at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. I will be glad when he returns, as it has been very busy filling in for him. We had a lot of things happen while he was gone and “I survived”. I need to thank all of the employees of the Meridian Police Department for making this a great experience for me over the last ten (10) weeks. They really stepped up and made this work. We had a lot of people who had to step outside of their normal roles and take on added responsibility which they did in excellent fashion. Also everyone else conducted themselves like the professionals they are and we had very few hiccups while the Chief was gone. I would also like to thank all of the citizens who work and/or live in our community. It has been a very enjoyable experience interacting with all of you in many different fashions. I am excited to get back to my role as Deputy Chief of Police and to continue assisting in the professional growth of our Department.
We have been busy since the Chief’s absence and I would love to update you on some of the things we have been doing. The one I am most excited about is a program called Emerging Leaders. We just started this program to help employees of the Meridian Police Department develop their leadership skills and to possibly assist them in future promotions. This program has been going really well and it has gotten very good reviews so far. In this program we discuss different ideas and philosophies of leadership from a wide variety of areas. This program has speakers from law enforcement, private business and the military who discuss their ideas of leadership and how they apply them in their specific area of expertise and then we look at how we can apply it to our profession.
We are also in the process of hiring two (2) new police officers. Once we hire the two (2) in the process right now, we will be testing again for two (2) more positions and hopefully by the end of summer we will be at full staff.
Thanks again for this opportunity and keep working to make the City of Meridian the safest around.
Well not quite, but as the weather warms and the days get longer, spring fever is everywhere! During this exciting time of year, we hear comments like, “Did you see the buds on that tree?” or “Look how green my lawn is getting.”
Even though spring is not officially here, it’s a great time of year to catch up on those outdoor garden projects. Attention to the outdoors now can save time and produce better, healthier plants and turf in the future. Some of these necessary projects that can be done at this time include:
Leaf Cleanup – Leaves that are allowed to lie on the ground create an environment where unwanted insects can live and lay eggs. Cleaning up around the base of plants and trees now can help suppress insect populations and plant damage in the future.
Pruning – Now is the best time of year to prune shrubs and trees. Without the presence of a leaf canopy, structural deficiencies are easily seen. One of the easiest deficiencies to correct is to remove limbs that cross one another. On small trees one or two properly performed pruning cuts can make a huge difference by promoting growth and reducing competition within the tree. Perennials and ornamental grasses no longer need that protective cover dormant foliage provides; they can now be cut down to expose new growth.
Turf Maintenance – It’s almost time to uncover that mower that was put away last fall a make sure its ready to go. A little time spent now servicing your mower can prevent costly repairs in the future. Mowing in mid-March will remove the dormant grass blades and give your lawn a greener appearance sooner. Whenever practical, it is always best to mulch lawn clippings back into the soil. This practice of mulch mowing returns valuable nutrients back into the soil and helps the environment by keeping lawn clippings out of our landfills.
With some immediate effort in our gardens, we can truly celebrate spring!
The City recently issued a solicitation for Professional Architectural and Engineering Services. Idaho Statute 67-2320(h) provides for “a public agency or political subdivision may limit its selection from a list of three (3) persons or firms selected and preapproved for consideration by the public agency or political subdivision”. The intent of the current solicitation is to create a roster of up to three firms to choose from for projects above the $25,000 level in over 19 disciplines.
The City received over 160 proposals for consideration from over 30 different firms. The City’s evaluation team, which consists of 15 staff members in 3 different departments, has begun the task of evaluating all responses. The proposed award schedule is to begin the week of March 5th and conclude the week of March 26th. This process will expedite projects by not having to go out for a solicitation once a project is given the go ahead. The City does however, reserve the right to go out for a solicitation for any particular project it deems in the best interest of the City. The disciplines listed in the Request for Qualifications is listed below. If you would like any further follow up on any of the information provided, please feel free to contact the Purchasing office at 489-0416. Thanks and have a good day!
● Water Supply and Distribution Engineering
a. Well Pump Facility, Booster Station, Storage Reservoir (Site / Civil), and Valve Station (Pressure Reducing, Sustaining, Relief) Design
b. Waterline Construction, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction / Replacement Design
c. Water System Modeling
● Wastewater Collection and Treatment Engineering
e. NPDES and Biosolids Permit Defense; Wastewater Treatment Plant Pretreatment Program; Wastewater Treatment Plant Design and Upgrades (optimization, odor control, solids, and liquids processing); Other miscellaneous wastewater treatment plant design and/or construction projects
f. Lift Station Design and Construction
g. Sewer line extensions, pressure sewers, and miscellaneous collections design
h. Sewer Cleaning/TV Inspection
i. Sewer System Flow Monitoring; Sewer System Modeling
● Structural Engineering
j. Building design
● Geotechnical Engineering
k. Materials Testing and Inspection; Soils and foundation reports
● Hydraulic Engineering
l. Floodplain modeling and mapping according to FEMA standards.. Development and submittal of Letters of Map Change or other documents according to FEMA standards
● Hydrogeological Services
m. Well design, well rehabilitation design, and well reconstruction design; Hydrogeological Mapping; Water Rights Analysis
● Electrical Engineering
n. Water and Wastewater control systems and SCADA system design and programming
● Environmental Engineering
o. Reclaimed Water Program Development, Design, Etc.
p. NPDES Stormwater Consulting; Environmental Assessment for NPDES Permitting; Wetlands delineation
q. Topographic Surveying, Construction Staking, As-Built Surveying, Misc.
b. Global Positioning System technical support.
●. Geographic Information Systems
a. GIS system development & upgrades.
b. Enterprise software and asset management software support. Water and sewer modeling support.
Two Saturday’s ago I had an opportunity to “celebrate” the performing artists in our community. It was more fun than a video game, filled with more fantasy than the latest teen vampire novel, and had every bit as much drama as the most popular reality TV shows.
What I experienced was a live musical stage production of the beloved fairytale Pinocchio, performed by local children under the direction of the Missoula Children’s Theatre (MTC) – a non-profit traveling theatre company with producer/director teams who travel the country in little red pick-up trucks with everything needed to put on a top-notch children’s production… except the cast. MTC was brought to our community by the Meridian Arts Commission, a group of passionate citizens dedicated to increasing appreciation of the arts and culture in our community.
Meridian’s MTC team of Eric and Ian arrived in town the morning of Monday, February 22, and auditioned more than 115 children that afternoon in an open call at the Meridian Community Center. Using their finely-tuned auditioning system, they cast the show’s 60 parts that afternoon and literally began rehearsing right away. Rehearsals continued every afternoon and evening throughout the wee; until places everyone!... it was show time!
The 60-member cast performed the show in front of an audience of approximately 450 friends and relatives at the Cole Valley Christian School auditorium on Saturday afternoon, after only six days of rehearsal. That’s right -- only six days!
The audience and I joined our little wooden friend as he danced with Geppetto’s charming toys, traveled the road to Pleasure Isle with the mischievous Candlewick and his Crew, and was swindled by the unsavory Fox and Cat. After escaping the clutches of the evil puppet master Stromboli, Pinocchio found himself in trouble once more – this time swallowed by a monstrous whale. Very scary stuff! As Geppetto and the friendly Urchins spun their magical tale, we learned through Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket that there are no shortcuts on the road to becoming a real live boy and that it’s always best to follow your conscious.
Every bit as important as the moral of Pinocchio’s tale is the experience Meridian’s children had auditioning and performing in the show. Parents remarked on how they had seen their children blossom and grow as they faced the seemingly impossible challenge of staging a full-scale musical in less than a week. Woven throughout the week they spent with MCT were valuable lessons in teamwork, trust, self-confidence, commitment, and acceptance.
As Mayor, but also as a mother and grandmother, I encourage all Meridian residents to take full advantage of opportunities for our youth to experience the arts first hand. Whether it is by viewing the art on display in City Hall’s Initial Point Gallery, attending kid-friendly Meridian Symphony concerts, or taking part in art and crafts classes through the Meridian Parks and Recreation Department, there are many opportunities to take part in the arts in our community!
If a member of your family or someone you know took part in this production I want to hear about it. Email me at email@example.com. Together we can celebrate the performing arts in Meridian helping us be a premier community to live, work and raise a family.
I’d like to share information on another City conservation initiative, the Energy Conservation Strategy.
Through the Federal stimulus program, the City is allotted $608,000.00 for energy efficiency projects. A portion of the funds were used to prepare long and short term energy strategies for the City. The short term strategy is six (6) projects for increasing efficiency in city and public facilities, thereby reducing City operating costs and reducing green house gases. The six projects are:
- Connecting two sections of the Fothergill multi-use pathway and designing the section of the Five Mile multi- use pathway between Ten Mile and Linder Roads.
- Replacing light switches with motion sensors in the City’s five fire stations.
- Upgrading the lighting in the Wastewater Treatment Plant with more efficient fixtures.
- Replacing old, less efficient pumps with turbo blowers at the water treatment plant
- Replacing street lights with more efficient lighting along Main Street between I-84 and Fairview.
- Recommissioning the Police Department building by upgrading lighting, controls and heating and cooling systems with more efficient components and fixtures.
These projects will be entirely funded by the federal grant and a grant from Idaho Power. Future projects may occur as a result of rebates from Idaho Power based on the energy savings.
Click here to view the video about the projects.
Our next blog will discuss the City’s long term strategy.
Please feel free to call me, Pete Friedman at 884-5533 if you have any questions.