June 2021 Edition
Greetings from the Mayor's Office
When I shared my mayor’s comments last month, I stated that we were in such a better spot and I firmly believed the worst of the global pandemic was behind us. One month later my thoughts of positive stories and visible traction remains strong. Furthermore, we seemed to hit the button accelerating our move back to normal. It continues to be therapeutic to see people without masks on as well as together in social settings again. This all could not come at a better time as we roll into summer.
The biggest indication that our brightest days are ahead was the return of our annual Memorial Day Parade. Words cannot describe the emotions felt from the excitement of seeing everyone back together for an event that has been representative of our community for decades. We are a city who supports our military and law enforcement, and one that is deeply rooted in our respective faiths.
Seeing the crowd lined up from City Hall to Walker Village to recognize and honor those we have lost in active service was something that I believe we all needed. While we made some pandemic adjustments this year, we were still able to accomplish what we set out to do. The significance of us moving our parade to Remembrance Road are intentional and symbolic. Nearly 100 years ago, the Daughters of the American Revolution were instrumental in the naming of Remembrance Road. They also planted elm trees along the road that were meant to be a tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War. We are hoping this becomes a permanent parade route change as it can symbolically remind us of what helped to form our community.
On the first Thursday in May, we hosted National Day of Prayer in the Commission Chambers in City Hall. After a year away due to the pandemic, we had a safe, socially-distant room full of various faith leaders, city commissioners, and community members. It felt so good to have this annual tradition back and have our pastors lead us in prayer and reflection. Such a powerful visual and one, even more so, in person. Thank you to all who were able to join us.
This time of year also brings an end to our fiscal year budget amendments, as well as the new year budget. I want to thank our City staff and leaders for successfully seeing us through one of the most challenging years we have ever faced. It was challenging on several fronts: non-resident income tax impacts; federal and state support; and even local business disruption. Throughout all of this, we are managing to add new people and equipment to police, fire, and public works, continuing to heavily invest in our roads and infrastructure, as well as setting aside monies for our citywide Capital Improvement Plan. Despite the hurdles we have had to jump over - and sometimes even bust through - we continue to be a City in sound financial shape for the present and the future. More details to come as the budgets are approved later in June.

Every day is a reminder for me to say thank you for making the choice to call Walker home.

Mayor Gary L. Carey, Jr.
Veterans participating in the Walker Memorial Day Parade 2021
Families came out to show their support during the Walker Memorial Day Parade 2021
Mayor Carey speaks during National Day of Prayer, May 6
Attendees bow their heads during a speech at National Day of Prayer, May 6
Contact your Elected Officials
Mayor Gary Carey, Jr.
(616) 292-1715

Steven Gilbert
Mayor Pro Tem
First Ward Commissioner
(616) 828-7763 sgilbert@walker.city

Roxanne Deschaine
Second Ward Commissioner
(616) 885-4191 rdeschaine@walker.city
Carol Glanville
Second Ward Commissioner
(616) 443-9313 cglanville@walker.city

Elaina Huizenga-Chase
Third Ward Commissioner
(616) 334-1900 echase@walker.city

Melaine Grooters
Third Ward Commissioner
(616) 690-1719 mgrooters@walker.city
City Clerk's Department

Make a difference in your community and become an Election Inspector!  
The City Clerk’s office is in need of dedicated individuals to help administer our local elections on Election Day. No prior experience is needed; all training is provided.
Election Inspectors help ensure a fair and safe election and create a positive experience for voters when casting a ballot.
 
Election Inspectors must be:
  • Committed to work each Election Day from 6:30 am – 9:00 pm at minimum.
  • Able to run a laptop computer to check in voters and assign ballots OR be a chairperson at a precinct to oversee and manage precinct workers and the process.
  • Available to work BOTH 2021 election dates (August 3 & November 2) and future elections.
 
Inspectors are paid for attending required training classes, as well as on Election Day. Lunch and dinner are provided on Election Day. Join your family, friends, and neighbors on the front lines of democracy and exercise your civic duty by applying to be an Election Inspector today!
Deadline to apply is June 15 at 5:00 p.m. Please email Sarah Bydalek, Walker City Clerk at sbydalek@walker.city.
Serve Your City as a Walker Commissioner
The Walker City Commission is now accepting applications to fill a vacant seat in the City's First Ward.

To be eligible for appointment to this seat on the Walker City Commission, interested applicants must be:
  • A registered elector in the 1st Ward of the City of Walker; and
  • A City of Walker resident for at least one year.

Those interested may apply through one of two ways: by submitting an application through the Boards and Committee link on the City's website, or by sending a letter of interest and a resume to: Sarah Bydalek, Walker City Clerk, 4243 Remembrance Road N.W., Walker, Michigan 49534. Applications must be submitted in person or electronically to the City Clerk by 5:00 pm on June 15. Interviews will be conducted the evening of Monday, June 21, with discussion and a planned motion to appoint the new commissioner at the Commission Work Session at 6:30 pm. Official swearing in will take place on Monday, June 28 at the City Commission Meeting.
Income Tax Department Updates

Due Dates
2020 Individual resident and non-resident returns were due June 1, 2021. Second quarter estimated payments for calendar year 2021 are due June 30, 2021. Forms are available on our website.

Where’s my refund?
All refunds for 2020 timely filed returns that are correct and complete will be issued by July 15, 2021. If you received a letter requesting more information, please respond as soon as possible. If we do not receive the required information, deductions and credits will be disallowed resulting in a lower refund or an assessment. If you were expecting a refund, but have received a proposed assessment, please provide the missing information within 30 days.

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.
Police Department Updates
School's Out
June typically means that school is out for the Summer! Neighborhoods and parks will be busier than ever with kids and foot traffic. Be extra careful when driving through these areas and keep an eye out for kids playing. The Walker Police Department hopes everyone has a happy and safe summer break!
Training, Training... and More Training
The month of May was busy with training for the Police Department. We held a three-day Small Team Tactics Training at the old Lincoln County Club. We also participated in Active Duty Firearms, Field Training Supervisor, Field Force, Taser, and Firearms Instructor training. Several more training opportunities are scheduled during the summer and the officers always look forward to sharpening their skills and adding new skills to their base of knowledge.
Future opportunities will include Rifle Instructor, Physical Control Tactics Instructor, and Implicit Bias Training. We are always looking for new ways to improve on what we do and get the latest training information to our officers.
Fire Department Updates

Fourth of July Celebration

The City of Walker Fire Department urges caution when using fireworks as part of your celebration of the Fourth of July. Public Act 256 of the State of Michigan allows for the use of consumer fireworks. Use of fireworks in Walker is regulated by Section 38-16 of the City Ordinance. Some of the highlights of the State law and City ordinance are as follows:

  • The use of fireworks for the July 4 holiday is allowed from June 29 to July 4 after 11:00 am until 11:45 pm.
  • Fireworks cannot be set off after July 4.
  • You must be 18 years or older to purchase consumer fireworks.
  • Use of consumer fireworks while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances is illegal.
  • Setting off fireworks on public property, in the street, school property, church property, or any other person’s property without permission is prohibited.

Please be aware of your neighbors, and the effect that your fireworks use may have on them.
The Walker Fire Department would prefer that you leave fireworks displays to the professionals and simply enjoy from a distance. But if you choose to set off fireworks as part of your celebration, please use extreme caution.
Backyard Recreational Fires
In recent years, the Walker City Commission has amended the Open Burn Ordinance to allow for recreational fires. The Ordinance allows for either a manufactured outdoor fireplace or a fire pit. The fire pit can be no more than four feet in diameter, it must have a six-inch noncombustible ring around the outside of the pit and must be a minimum of 25 feet from a structure and 10’ off the property lot line. You must burn only solid, clean dry wood as fuel. No burning of garbage or yard waste. Your fuel should not hang over the edge of the pit or fireplace. If your fire creates a lot of smoke and is determined to be creating a nuisance or health problem for your neighbors by a Fire Officer who may be responding to a complaint, you may be asked to extinguish your fire.

Outdoor Fire Complaints
The fire department has responded to a number of complaints over the last couple of years concerning people burning in fire pits or outdoor fireplaces. In some cases, the resident burning was asked to extinguish the fire and in others the responding Fire Officer determined that they were in compliance with the ordinance and were allowed to continue. This is a judgment determined by the fire officer when he arrives on scene.
In recent weeks, there has been much discussion regarding residents with health issues that are affected by other residents burning. This is a difficult situation for a responding fire officer to deal with. On the one hand, he has the concern of a resident who may have some other kind of lung issues, while keeping in mind the other hand he may find a resident who is having a camp fire, or even just a cooking fire in a pit, who is in total compliance with the ordinance. Both residents have rights. It is difficult to require a resident who is following all of the rules to extinguish their fire because a neighbor is bothered by the smell of burning wood.

We are asking those residents who choose to have a fire pit or an outdoor fireplace in their backyard to be aware of the effects of their fire on their neighbors. If you are aware that you have a neighbor with health issues that could be aggravated by the smell of your campfire, please be compassionate and make sure your pit is as far away from that neighbor allowed by the rules. Be aware of wind conditions that could blow the smell or smoke in your neighbor’s direction. And, if you cannot have a campfire in your backyard without affecting your neighbors, then please consider some other form of backyard entertainment. By being aware of your neighbors and considering them when planning a camp fire, we are confident that we can reduce our complaints and continue to allow the use of fire pits or outdoor fireplaces.
Our Walker Standale Summer Concert Series returns this season! Our first FREE concert is Brena on Thursday, June 10! All concerts are at Walker Community Park and begin at 6:30pm! Bring your lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy this great family-friendly event! Click here for more details.
Please click on the images above to view more details about 2021 Fall Hockey and Session 5 Learn to Skate and Play Hockey!
Fall Coed Youth Soccer
We are getting ready for Fall Soccer! Our soccer program is great for teaching skills and the rules of the game while kids have FUN! Players are divided by age and the divisions are adapted to the abilities of each age group! Practices begin September 7, 2021 and the first game is September 18.
  • Registration: July 1, 2021 – July 31, 2021.
  • 4-6 yr. old age group is: $30 for Walker residents; $40 for non-residents.
  • 7-8 yr. old, 9-10 yr. old and 11-12-13 yr. old age groups: $40 for Walker residents; $50 for non-residents.
  • There is a $5.00 discount for each additional family member registered.
  • There will be a $10.00 LATE FEE charged for any registrations received after the July 31st deadline.
  • Volunteer coaches now get a full refund of 1 registration after passing a background check.
  • Register online at www.walkericeandfitness.com.
We'll Miss You, Sharon!
Just shy of her 30-year mark employed with the City, Sharon Johnson - our Parks and Recreation Supervisor - has announced her retirement. Sharon has touched thousands of people’s lives over the years while planning youth soccer, girls’ softball, adult softball, Easter Egg Hunts, Memorial Day parades, senior bowling tournaments and many more! She’s been a great mentor and friend to many of us. Her hard work and kind heart will truly be missed. We wish her the best on her retirement and hope she enjoys spending her time relaxing, camping, attending summer concerts and traveling with her husband and the rest of her family. Congratulations on your retirement Sharon, you deserve it!!
Reserve any of our park facilities ONLINE at www.walkericeandfitness.com.
Contact Walker Parks & Rec for more information and pricing at 616-735-6286 or email mmay@walkericeandfitness.com.
Summer Reading Program
Summer of Wonder! Starting on June 1. Track your activities online in Beanstack. Or by downloading the Android App or the iOS App Or pick up a paper tracking log at any KDL branch or print the PDF.

Click an image for the corresponding age group to learn more about this reading challenge!

Prizes include free books, $250 Meijer gift cards, and more!
Super Readers!
Reach 45 days of activities between June 1 and August 7 (that's 15 extra days) for a chance to win another $250 Meijer gift card! Log those extra days in Beanstack or ask a librarian for a Super Reader paper log starting in July.

Summer Events
KDL will offer many wonderful programs virtually this summer. Some branches will provide limited outdoor programming. Check the Facebook page of your preferred branch for the latest event details!

  • Get outdoors with our Find Curi scavenger hunt in select Kent County Parks. Contest begins June 1. Details coming soon!
Internet Access Assistance
Enrollment for the Emergency Broadband Benefit is now open. The temporary benefit provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible consumers who are struggling to stay connected during the pandemic. Eligible households can also receive a discount of up to $100 for the purchase of a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. For more info, please visit: fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit. 
Coronavirus Resources
All Michigan residents age 16 and up are now eligible for the vaccine. Go to https://vaccinatewestmi.com/register/ to register.

For frequently asked questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, please click here.

We also encourage you to like and follow the Kent County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Facebook for helpful tips and reliable COVID-19 updates on a county and state level.
Protect Our Watershed
As many of us work to get our lawns and gardens set for the new season, the Lower Grand River Watershed reminds us not to over fertilize. Doing so can pollute lodal waterways and cause harmful algae blooms. You can find more useful ways to protect our watershed year-round by going to www.lgrow.org/.
Friends of Walker Trails News
The Friends of Walker Trails has a Facebook page! Follow along for updates and news on our lengthy network of trails right here in Walker!