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.

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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

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”

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.

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.

Meridian Township COMPREHENSIVE RESPONSE TO 2013 ICE CRISIS

Dear Meridian Township Residents,

Meridian Police answering Ice Storm Emergency
Meridian Police answering Ice Storm Emergency

The ice storm has created havoc over the holiday season and I want to thank the Meridian Township Board and our Staff for all they have done to step up to plate in answering the call to one of the worst ice storms in Meridian’s history. I want to share with you some of the efforts our staff has made to ensure the safety and welfare of our residents. Not only has Consumers Energy called in over 1,000 workers from out of state to address the power outages, but Meridian Township staff members have worked countless hours through the holidays to serve Meridian residents during the storm and through the aftermath.

Since Sunday, we have created a warming shelter to serve as a mini motel complete with showers and   food served by our team members. The Meridian Police Department Team have staffed the warming shelter 24/7 as a safety precaution for our residents. They have also increased focused police patrols in the neighborhoods that remain dark including calling in extra police and fire to handle the aberration in daily call volume. The Ingham County Road Department quickly placed stop signs in appropriate areas where signals where out and our police directed traffic where needed.  Our Police Team also answered to calls of downed wires and branches marking necessary areas with police tape.

FIRE on Scene
Meridian Fire answering Ice Storm Emergency

Emergency staff have been making periodic visits to large apartments and senior citizen complexes to check on our vulnerable citizens including offering transport to our most vulnerable to the warming shelter. Our Fire Department Team have been going out and doing well being checks as calls come in from concerned people about their loved ones including recontacting the caller or letting the person being checked on use a phone to call them directly. Medical equipment has been given to people to get them by until they can be resupplied.

Emergency Communications Press Conference
Emergency Communications Press Conference

Our Communications Department Team continues to work with administration and police and fire to bring safety tips, awareness, and updates to our residents through blogs, social media, the Meridian Township website, and emails. I have been and will continue to be in daily contact with the power providers to make sure Meridian Township is responded to.

brush on sidewalk
Meridian Township will facilitate a community wide brush pick up program

We are establishing a quick and decisive response to handle the plethora of brush and tree limbs. To the extent possible and with your help, Meridian Township will be facilitating some curbside pick up of fallen branches less than 4 feet long and 4 inches in diameter beginning the first week of January. Details will be posted on the Meridian Township website Monday, December 30th. Brush and limbs are to be placed between the sidewalk and road.

Thank you for your patience and we will not rest until Meridian residents are with power.

Frank Walsh
Meridian Township Manager