Budget message: A Conservative Approach Yields Large Returns

Every four years, the Meridian Township voters are faced with Township Board elections. With the draft budget before the current board next Tuesday, I want to take this moment to acknowledge some of the major fiscal accomplishments that have benefited the residents of Meridian Township.

The current Township Board has worked collectively to respond rapidly to two major storms (December 21, 2013 and July 8, 2016), ongoing management of the Chronic Wasting Disease and increasing the general fund balance by $1,300,000. Maintaining unparalleled public safety has been the hallmark of this Board. Since 2012, the Board allocated funds to purchase all new turnout gear for the fire department and body worn cameras for the police department. Additionally, they responded to the call for school safety with improvements on Kinawa Drive near Chippewa Middle School.

Thanks to the voters in Meridian Township the new Central Fire Station opened on February 1, 2016. Plans are in place this year for each of the three fire stations to be equipped with an ambulance. The safety of our residents is of utmost importance.

Our park system is well known throughout the region and state as the model to reach for. We salute the outstanding relationship between our voters, the Park Commission and the Township Board. Over the past 4 years, the Meridian Township parks system has reached new heights. With the improvements to Brattin Woods Park, Central Park, Ferguson Park, Hartrick Park, Hillbrook Park, Nancy Moore Park, North Meridian Road Park, Newton Road Park, Orlando Park, Wonch Park, and the Harris Nature Center and Meridian Historical Village; Meridian Township Parks have become a destination for visitors.

With the exception of the Central Fire Station, all of this was accomplished with no tax increases and no additional debt burden for our taxpayers.

We have our ongoing challenges; however, at every turn we stepped up to the plate and worked as a group to provide first-rate customer service and an overwhelmingly compassionate response during our two major storms. The governing body found a way to commit a $1,000,000 in additional funding to the MERS pension fund and increased local road funding by $100,000 per year. Addressing increased pensions will be continued challenge facing us in the years ahead.

The 2017 draft budget is being presented before the Township Board on September 6. The Township Board should be acknowledged and thanked for their passion, loyalty and exemplary public service to the community these past four years. The public is invited and welcomed to attend the Township Board Budget Meeting on Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. Read the recommended 2017 budget proposal available online.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Memorial Day of Honor

My father, Carleton Walsh, served in the U.S. Air Force from 1952 until 1955. My brother is my only sibling and retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2008. My father was stationed in Greenland and my brother spent a lot of time in Okinawa.

Franks family photo
My family enjoying a Tiger Baseball Game in 2011 at Comerica Park

I grew up in a family where military service was a mainstay. Growing up in a military family taught me the respect of the American flag and the importance of properly displaying the flag. I remember my father would show up at my doorstep, no matter which home I lived in, with a flag in hand. That meant a lot to me. I participate in the Kiwanis Club of Haslett flag program which hangs flags six times a year. The “Flags Over Meridian” program brings back memories of the honor and respect my father taught me.

Ironically, the bridge completion on Okemos Road is expected to be on Flag Day, June 14th. This Memorial Day weekend, we hang the “Flags Over Meridian” to honor all those who serve and we thank them for their service.

I encourage you to take part in one of two Memorial Day Services being held in the Township on Monday, May 30th. The Township offices will be closed that day as we spend the day in remembrance, honor and tribute to those who have sacrificed for our country.

Happy Memorial Day

Meridian Township Service at Glendale Cemetery

American Legion Service at the World War II Memorial at Rayla Elementary School

2016 Township Plan

Fire truckOver the past few months our TEAM has drafted a 2016 Action Plan and Strategic Plan including Township-wide projects. The Township Board has spent hours vetting the goals and objectives to create a unified blueprint for 2016. I want to give credit to the board and staff for their hard work, passion and determination put into this massive undertaking. We have not seen anything like this yet and we look forward to our commitment that our efforts are in line with continuing to make Meridian a Community of Choice.
Continue reading “2016 Township Plan”

Serving Community members: Tax Taxi Assistance

21288088382_6f130d16d3_oDue to the many days of rainfall we’ve had, the reconstruction of our municipal parking lot project has fallen behind schedule. The high level of accumulation we’ve experienced has caused failing drainage structures and poor soil conditions, putting us further behind.

Continue reading “Serving Community members: Tax Taxi Assistance”

Pardon our Dust: Township Improvements

premier dance

Today, we welcome another new business to the Township, Premier Dance Company in Haslett who is hosting a grand opening tonight. We’re happy to be a community of choice for businesses and we’re happy to see these openings as a sign of the economy going up and thriving in Meridian Township. We appreciate the investments new and long-time established businesses have made in redeveloping sites that were vacant, signing new lease agreements where space was once vacant, as well as upgrading and renovating existing sites. Continue reading “Pardon our Dust: Township Improvements”

I Give My Heart and Sole: Parkinson’s 5K Walk and Run

Parkinson's Walk Sole LogoI am proud to be an Honorary Chair of this year’s Parkinson’s Walk-a-Thon for the Michigan Parkinson Foundation. I think most of us know someone who is living with Parkinson’s. I give my sole to Parkinson’s on Saturday, August 8th in honor of Ron Momany of St. Joseph. Ron was the Finance Director/Clerk in St. Joseph, and I had the pleasure of working with him in the mid-90’s. Ron was diagnosed with Parkinson’s around 10 years ago. He is not alone in his journey and I invite you to walk with us this Saturday to show support. Continue reading “I Give My Heart and Sole: Parkinson’s 5K Walk and Run”

Meridian Welcomes Open Doors of Opportunity

Welcoming Doggy Daycare
Welcoming Doggy Daycare to Meridian

I remember my first job when I was 10 years old. For three summers in a row, I worked at Gee Farms in Stockbridge picking green beans. This job really taught me the value of hard work. The more beans you picked, the more money you made. My second job as a Dishwasher at Bill Knapps taught me the value of good customer service and loyalty to the company. I worked there for 9 years throughout high school and college and it was more than the free birthday cake that kept me there, it was a love for the company and work ethic development. Continue reading “Meridian Welcomes Open Doors of Opportunity”

Building a Solid Foundation Behind Every Municipal Project

Building a Solid Foundation Behind Every Municipal Project

As I enter my 30th year in municipal service and look forward to the projects Meridian is on track to complete this year, I tend to reflect on the numerous people I’ve worked with and the long lasting relationships that have been built over the years.

Former Township Manager, Engineering Director Ray Severy and myself at Rays Retirement Party.
Former Township Manager Jerry Richards, Engineering Director Ray Severy and myself at Rays Retirement Party. We’ve built a great bond.

It’s the relationships I’ve made that stand out above everything else. Collectively working on projects not only contributes to a sense of pride and community placemaking, but I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to build long lasting relationships from those projects. Building community spirit far outweighs the projects themselves. When we work together and build together, the gain is significant. Right now, in Meridian, we are doing just that with the Okemos Road Redevelopment Project, the New Central Fire Station, and the new Pedestrian Pathway Bridge over the Red Cedar connecting the community together.

I treasure what is to come in Meridian and the relational opportunities while serving here.

When I think about my former days, so many relationships stand out to me like working with former Jackson City Manager Bill Buchanan who gave me an opportunity to learn, listen and grow from my mistakes. While Bill and I have both moved on in our careers, our relationship has remained steadfast. Recently, Bill invited me to his retirement in Kansas from his position as Sedgwick County Manager. It touched my heart that he remembers our time together.

I also think about the early 90’s when I served as City Manager in Cedar Springs where my family formed a lifelong friendship with former Mayor Linda Hunt. Today, we keep in touch through Facebook, but it seems like yesterday when she attended the most important day of my life; my wedding on January 2, 1993. In 2012, I was honored to be asked to help Cedar Springs find a new city manager.

While in St. Joseph for 17 years, many valuable projects were completed. But it is the relationships, not the bricks and mortar, which added to a solid foundation for my career, and one in which I cherish as I build new relationships in Meridian Township.

As my family and I attend graduation open houses and weddings this summer, it is the relationships newly formed and long lasting that are a testament to the true foundation behind the projects for each of the communities I’ve served and am currently serving in Meridian. We have so many wonderful projects in Meridian, and I look forward to continuing to build more relationships on top of the ones that have already begun. I want to thank the hospitality the Meridian Team received while in St. Joseph during our annual team building; Laurie Moore, Bonnie Lewis, Christopher Heugel, Ken Kaszubowski and Carla Sykora, Janet and Phil Dykstra, Chris Cook, Mayor Mike Garey, Lisa Czanko Bartoszek, Retired President of Whirlpool Bill Marohn, Director of Global Communications for Whirlpool Corporate Headquarters, Jeff Noel and last but not least, St. Joseph Today Executive Director, Jill Stone.

group shot in st. joe
Connecting relationships together at the Meridian Team Leader Building Day in St. Joe. These are my current leaders in Meridian building together.

Groundbreaking the Next Phase for Meridian’s New Central Fire Station

Fire groundbreaking photo edited lettersizeAs we enter April 2015, we take an important step in Meridian Township history by celebrating the groundbreaking for the new Central Fire Station. This project started under the leadership of our former Township Manager Jerry Richards who led the millage campaign and was instrumental in planning the fire station.

The project could not have happened without Jerry and the many people that we have here today to share the history of the station and all the work that we’ve done to get here. I would like to share some of the kind words from Bob Hammer, a 92 year old resident and friend of the township:

“Congratulations on a really fine groundbreaking ceremony. It certainly seemed well attended. You and other township officials and staff have worked many long hours on this project and I am one ordinary citizen who wants you to know your work is appreciated. I felt out of place being remembered on a program with so many who have done so much, but I do thank you. Thank you!”

Please enjoy this video and the rest of Mr. Hammer’s story at our groundbreaking ceremony that is a symbol of moving forward in Meridian Township.

New Meridian Projects for 2015

We’re excited about the projects that we have coming up for residents in 2015.

Towner Park Phase 1

The Meridian Township Board worked diligently with the Meridian Team to put together a list of goals and objectives that will bring some long standing projects to completion. The new pedestrian pathway bridge is being built right now on Okemos Road by Wonch Park crossing over the Red Cedar. Being able to provide and support a safe, walkable community into our downtown areas is much anticipated this spring.

We will also see updates and redevelopments to some of our parks and play structures, a new Central Fire Station and enhancements to our business districts. The year 2014 proved how much residents appreciate and utilize the services we provide, the parks we play in and visit, local establishments, and township wide special events. 2015 will bring those opportunities back and so much more.

Rendering of the New Central Fire Station

We’ve brought in the New Year with new businesses opening their doors and we expect to see Whole Foods open this fall. We hope you share in our excitement of the many things to come in 2015 and we invite you to take part in opportunities to get involved and enjoy all that is Meridian. We hope you enjoy reading Meridian’s 2015 Goals.