City of Walker Newsletter  | November 2017


A Message from the Mayor
 
Greetings,

It is hard to believe that we are in the month of November already. It has been a busy year for the City with lots of improvements and changes. I'm very proud of our team for the rebuilding of the I-96 / Walker avenue off ramp. This project will provide a safer road as this part of the city continues to grow. The road is open and traffic signals will be installed in the next several weeks.   Many other roads have been rebuilt or repaved this "construction season".  I know that these projects have been disruptive - but ultimately these improvements will provide a safer environment for all of us.

It has been great to see so many residents participating in events - the Pumpkin Bash was a great success again this year. Just around the corner is Winter Fest. I hope you will join us on November 30 for an evening of ice skating, crafts reindeer and Santa Claus - The evening will conclude with our annual Christmas Tree lighting - we hope to see you at Winter Fest 2017!

Best wishes to you and your family as you celebrate Thanksgiving and the Christmas season.

Mark E. Huizenga
Mayor
 

 
  

Winter Fest
Save the Date 

Presented by: The City of Walker, Kent District Library Walker Branch, and Walker Ice and Fitness Center
 
Thursday, November 30, 5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Enjoy an evening of free ice skating, reindeer, hot chocolate, kids crafts, holiday music, and our 7:00 p.m. tree lighting. Santa will also be visiting from the North Pole!  Event will be held at the Walker Ice & Fitness Center (4151 Remembrance Rd. NW.). We encourage you to bring your own ice skates. Rental skates will be available for free on a first come basis. 
 
Please help us spread some  holiday cheer by bringing a canned good item to donate to our local food bank. Our Youth Commission will be collecting donations at the entrance. For more information or to sponsor these events, please contact newsletter.article@walker.city.
 
 
Clerk's Office
Updates

November 7th Election Results
Thank you to everyone who voted in our City's election on November 7th. For full details and statistics, please visit Access Kent. We want to congratulate and welcome the following individuals:
  • Mark E. Huizenga, Mayor
  • Steven Gilbert, Ward 1 City Commissioner
  • Roxanne Deschaine, Ward 2 City Commissioner
  • Melanie Grooters, Ward 3 City Commissioner

City of Walker had a 20% voter turnout (including absentee voters). Voter percentages are calculated in the table to the right. Blank ballots and invalid write-ins are not listed on the table.


Passports make great Christmas gifts!
The holidays are quickly approaching, why not gift your loved ones the gift of travel!

You can apply for a passport in the Clerk's Office. No appointments are necessary during Passport Office Hours which are Monday - Thursday from 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and Friday from 7:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Visit our website for details on passport requirements. Turn around time for passports is currently 4-6 weeks.




Christmas Tree Recycling Program
Recycling Locations
 
The City of Walker offers a Christmas Tree Recycling Program for Walker Residents only. Please bring your tree (no plastic bags) to one of our locations below between December 26th and January 20th.  
 
Walker City Hall 4243 Remembrance Rd. NW
Walker Community Park 650 Cummings NW
Fire Station #3 1470 Three Mile Rd NW

Walker Fire Department
Carbon Monoxide Safety

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that has no odor. CO gas is poisonous and can make a person feel sick and sometimes can be deadly. Heating and cooking devices that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.
 
CO ALARMS
  • CO alarms should be installed outside each sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. It is best to use interconnected alarms because when one alarm sounds, all CO alarms in the home sound. If interconnecting is not feasible, battery operated CO detectors are still very effective.
  • Follow the instructions on the package to properly install the CO alarm. CO alarms should be replaced every 10 years, so it is a good idea to mark the date on your alarm so you know when it was installed.
  • Test CO alarms at least once a month.
  • Replace CO alarms according to the instructions on the package.
  • Know the sounds the CO alarm makes. The alarm will sound if CO is detected. It will make a different sound if the battery is low or if it is time to get a new CO alarm.
  • If the battery is low, replace it.
  • If the CO alarm sounds, you must get fresh air. Move outdoors or by an open window or near an open door. Make sure everyone in the home gets to fresh air. Call the Fire Department from a fresh air location. Stay there until help arrives.
PREVENT CO POISONING
  • When warming a vehicle, move it out of the garage. Do not run a fueled engine indoors even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not blocked. Clear snow away.
  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
  • Clear all debris from dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace vents.
  • A generator should only be used outdoors. Use in a well-ventilated location away from windows, doors, and vent openings.
  • Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO. Only use them outside.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys inspected by a professional every year before cold weather sets in.
  • Open the damper when using a fireplace for adequate ventilation.
  • Never use your oven or stove to heat your home.

Walker Ice & Fitness Center 
Events and Updates

Become a Member in November
The weather is getting colder, move your workout indoors! This month at Walker Ice & Fitness, join  for just $10 plus $10 for November dues. *Regular monthly dues apply starting December 1st. ALL classes are included. Enjoy new equipment and NO CONTRACTS!   
 
Black Friday Week Long Specials (November 20th- November 30th)
  • Buy a 10-month membership - GET 2 MONTHS FREE!
  • Family Skating Pass - $20 includes 4 admissions, 4 skate rentals and 4 hot chocolates
  • Personal Training Packages - Buy 5 sessions, get 1 FREE!
  
Website Updates

Our website in under construction; we apologize for any inconvenience. Our goal is to have our new website functional by December 1st. Please call our facility if you have any questions at (616) 735-6286.


 

Fall Fitness Schedule
We have classes Sunday-Saturday. To view the fall fitness schedule click here. 

 
 
For complete information on all of our programs, special events and schedules, please contact the Walker Ice and Fitness center at 616.735.6286,  www.walkericeandfitness.com  or visit our  Facebook page.

Income Tax Department
Important Information

Due Dates
Fourth quarter estimated payments for calendar year 2017 are due January 31, 2018. Forms are available on our website.
 
Quarterly Estimated Payments by EFT
As we finish up the processing of 2016 returns received with payments, we have noticed several returns with 2017 quarterly estimated vouchers stapled into the center of the 2016 return. Quarterly estimated vouchers should be separate from the annual return if you mail them in the same envelope. If you mailed 2017 quarterly vouchers with EFT requests, please check your bank account to make sure that the payment has been deducted. Contact us at (616) 791-6808 if you have any questions.
 
Forgotten Returns
If you have past years of Walker returns that you have forgotten to file, contact the tax department immediately at (616) 791-6880. If you file prior year returns and pay the tax and interest due, you may request a waiver of penalty. If the tax department contacts you first regarding unfiled returns, you will not be eligible for a waiver of penalty. We are continuing the process of electronically matching State of Michigan returns filed from a Walker resident address with Walker returns filed. If you have forgotten to file Walker returns from prior years, now is the time to get that cleared up before the letters go out from this matching program.
 
Have questions?
If you are not sure if you need to file Walker Income Tax returns, the most common questions are answered on our website. You can also call us at (616) 791-6880.



Walker Police Department
Community Resources
 
Scam Warning
It has been reported that an African American male in his 30's riding a bike was in the Standale Business area claiming to need money for a flat tire on his vehicle. He was observed talking to multiple groups of customers at different businesses in that area asking for money. One of the local businesses contacted police, but the man and his broken down vehicle were not located. Please be aware and stay safe!  We've dealt with this same individual before and determined it to be a scam.  If you spot this individual, please contact Walker Police.  
 
 
Safety Tips
A home safe can be a good investment for protecting important documents and personal property from fire, burglars, or other dishonest guests of your home. Remember to hide it where it will not be easily found. Choose an unpredictable place away from the master bedroom or in a closet. Try to make it part of the home's permanent structure by anchoring it to the floor or built in shelving.   Choose a safe code that would be difficult to guess. Change it occasionally.


Engineering Department
City of Walker Speed Limits
 
In January of this year, the Governor signed into law several changes to how speed limits are set in Michigan. The changes to the Michigan Vehicle Code are outlined in MCL 257.627 through 257.628. What do these changes in the law mean to us in Walker?
  
If you travelled around the state this summer you probably saw a few stretches of interstate where the speed limit went from 70 mph to 75 mph. The new law requires the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to raise the upper threshold from 70 to 75 on at least 600 miles of limited access freeway. The implementation of this requirement began almost immediately but must be completed by January of 2018.
  
We may also see some roads with the "M" designation get increases. The law requires MDOT to increase the speed limit from 55 to 65 on at least 900 miles of state trunkline. While we don't expect any changes in Walker you could see increases on roads like M-37 (Alpine Avenue) or M-45 (Lake Michigan Drive) north and west of our city limits.
  
On the local level the new law firms up restrictions on how cities set speed limits within their municipal boundaries. Loopholes from the previous 2011 update have been minimized and the 2017 version of the law is focused on having consistent rules across the state. When we look at a speed limit we have two ways of setting that speed limit. First we can use a method called the Vehicle Access Point (VAP) method. In this approach we count the number of driveways along a ½ mile segment. If there are 60 or more driveways and intersections we can set that speed at 25 mph. The VAP speed limits are further detailed below:
  
            Access Points                          Speed Limit
            60 or more                               25 mph
            50 to 59                                   30 mph
            45 to 49                                   35 mph
            40 to 44                                   40 mph
            30 to 39                                   45 mph
           
The second method we have to set speed limits is based on the 85th percentile speed of free flow traffic. The 85th Percentile Speed is the speed that 85 percent of vehicles do not exceed. Another way of looking at this is that only 15 percent of vehicles go faster than this speed, and 85 percent go at or below this speed. The state believes that this helps to minimize crashes and promote a more uniform traffic flow along a corridor. Many professional traffic engineers also believe that using the 85th percentile speed to set speed limits is the safest way to set top speed expectations.
  
If you are thinking of requesting a speed study along your road please keep these new rules in mind. Often when a speed study is performed the calculated 85th percentile speed can result in increases to that limit. It's a pleasant surprise when a lower limit is justified but this is a rare event. Remember that the city's hands are tied when it comes to flexibility. If we study a roadway we must come into compliance with the law. In fact, the law is written to allow MDOT or the Michigan State Police to actually step in and raise local speed limits if they believe that the community is not in compliance with the law.
  
Using these two criteria to set speed limits can often raise speed limits above resident expectations. Unfortunately, this is the law and we must use these regulations when updating speed limits in order to have enforceable limits. One common misconception to remember is that drivers are not always afforded a 10 mph buffer to exceed the posted speeds before getting a ticket. If you are traveling above the posted speed you are "speeding" and you could receive a ticket for any speed in excess of the limit.
  
The best advice we can provide to our residents is to slow down and plan extra time in their travels. Please pay attention to yellow advisory signs that might suggest a curve or limited sight distance. Also enter roundabouts and intersections at safe speeds. And look out for the increasing number of pedestrians we have along our busy corridors and near our schools. Thanks and have a safe winter!



Kent District Library, Walker Branch
News and Events


Write Michigan Short Story Contest
Short story writers, grab your laptops! It's time for the 6th annual Write Michigan Short Story Contest presented by Kent District Library and Schuler Books & Music. Writers of all ages can enter in English or Spanish, with cash prizes awarded for Readers' Choice and Judges' Choice. Winning entries will also be published by Chapbook Press.

  Contest Guidelines:
  • One short story per author
  • Maximum story length: 3,000 words
  • Entry fee: $10 for 18 and older (free for 17 and younger)
  • Contest open to Michigan residents only
See www.writemichigan.org for more information and the contest timeline.

Upcoming Events
 
Toddler Time
Monday, Nov 13 | 9:45 am - 10:30 am & 10:45 am -11:30 am
Nurture your toddler's love of books through music, movement and stories while helping to develop their language, motor and social skills.
 
Family Storytime
Monday, Nov 13 | 6:30 pm -7:00 pm
Thursday, Nov 16 | 10:00 am - 10:45 am
Read and sing together. Enjoy stories, music, movement and rhymes that develop early literacy skills and encourage everyone in the family to share their love of reading.
 
Adult Book Discussion: Outliers
Tuesday, Nov 14 | 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Join us for an informal and lively discussion of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

Babytime
Thursday, Nov 16 | 11:00am - 12:00pm
Delight and stimulate your baby with songs, a story and playtime. Get to know other families and help your baby develop listening and language skills.
 
Rhyme Time Music and Movement
Friday, Nov 17 | 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Move and groove together with action rhymes, songs, games and hands-on musical activities that will help children develop motor, listening and literacy skills.
 
Adult Book Discussion: The Reader's of Broken Wheel Recommend
Tuesday, Dec 12 | 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Join us for an informal and lively book discussion of The Reader's of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald.

KD aLe: Building Beer City
Monday, Dec 18 | 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Patrick Evans, author of Grand Rapids Beer: An Intoxicating History of River City Brewing, presents on the deep history of our area's beer culture. Learn about brewing from pre-prohibition to the resurgence of local craft beer. Join us for a lively and interesting discussion of the history and future of Beer City.