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Monthly e-Newsletter|January 2019 Edition
Hello from New Mayor Gary Carey
Welcome to 2019!

It is with the greatest humility that I assume the role of Mayor for our city. My first thank-you is to our departing Mayor, Mark Huizenga. Mark is now officially representing the 74 th District as our State Representative. While I am sad to see him move into what is an incredible opportunity to further serve, I believe I speak for all when I share that we are grateful for the experience to have worked alongside him. Representative Huizenga is filling the shoes of another distinguished former Mayor of Walker, Rob VerHeulen. Rob just finished his last term serving us in the 74 th District, where he ensured that Walker was always well represented. I am proud to say that I call both of them friends, and have the utmost respect for what they have accomplished.

So, what does this all mean? The best response I can provide is that it is “business as usual”. Over the last few years under Mayor Huizenga’s leadership, we have introduced key initiatives such as: new community events (ex. Winter Fest and Pumpkin Bash); succession planning; organizational alignment; increased social media presence; and improved service levels for residents and businesses. They all have a common theme of better service, more transparency, and a stronger connection to the community we serve. These will all continue to grow in scope and effectiveness. In February, the City Commission and Department Leaders will hold our annual Strategic Planning Retreat. During the retreat, we will refine to make better what we are already doing, as well as looking at new ideas to enhance our service and communication levels. We will also continue our vigilance as the financial stewards of the city, and plan for the growing needs of our community.

At the January 14 th meeting, we will be appointing my replacement as one of the two 2 nd Ward Commissioners. That person will serve through the remainder of my term, which expires at the end of 2020. If you are in attendance at that meeting, you will immediately notice the last phase of our technology upgrades to the Commission Chambers. The poor sound quality and lack of effective hardware provided many challenges the last few years. I am proud to say we have completed these last steps, and it will provide better collaboration and more effective communication. And if you did not already know, our meetings are now streamed live through a link on our city website as well as being stored on our website.

In closing, I have a special ask of each of us. As we reflect on our recent holiday season, I am sure that we all saw different departments of the city working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whether it was our Police and Fire Departments who are always ‘on’, or our Public Works employees who keep the roads cleared for our safe travels. They were all away from their family and friends to ensure that we were able to safely enjoy that with ours. Quite often this time of year, they are doing this in the most challenging of circumstances. My ask is that when you see them out in public that you take just a few seconds to extend your hand and say thank you for all that they do. They will appreciate your random act of kindness, and we will all strengthen the fabric of our community and set an example for others.

Here is wishing each of you and your families an enjoyable and prosperous 2019.

Gary Carey, Jr.
Farewell from Former Mayor Huizenga
Dear Walker Resident:
It has been my honor to serve the City of Walker. I became involved as a Planning Commissioner in 2005, City Commission in 2011 and Mayor since 2013. Highlights for me include the construction of the Fred Meijer Standale Trail Tunnel, the expansion of many businesses, the new Walkerview Industrial Park providing significant job growth for our community, as well as many road improvement projects including the realignment of the I-96 / Walker Ave off ram, and more recently the Leonard Street reconstruction. I am most proud of the tremendous strides we have made to reduce long-term debt including paying down our bonds, and a strong approach to reducing pension liabilities.

I am looking forward to continuing to serve our community as the State Representative for the 74 th District. Thank you for all your support!
Kind Regards,
Mark E Huizenga
Upcoming Events:
January 14: Mayor Gary Carey Swearing-in Ceremony @ 6:30 pm , City Hall
January 17 & 18: Senior Citizen's Bowling Tournament, Lincoln Lanes
January 30: Walker Community Visioning Workshop @ 6:30 pm, City Hall
February 14: Walker Chamber of Commerce Quarterly Meeting @ 12 pm, City Hall
Community Visioning Workshop: January 30
The Community Visioning Workshop has been scheduled for January 30, 2019, from 6:30 to 8:00 PM at Walker City Hall (4243 Remembrance Road). 

At this event, residents will help to establish a vision for the future of Walker that will directly guide the Master Plan. This will include an interactive exercise where participants put pen to paper and draw their vision for the City’s future. We encourage all to attend and get involved in shaping the future of our community.

Walker Residents: Please consider joining us for this workshop and taking our preliminary online survey here.

Find a link to the Facebook event page here.
Clerk's Office: Updates
Passports still available despite Government Shutdown

NOTICE: The State Department will keep issuing passports despite the Government shutdown.

If you need to apply for or renew a passport, stop by the Walker City Clerk's Office. Find information on fees and passport office hours by clicking the green button below:
Income Tax Department: Updates
NEW—E-file your Walker Income Tax Return
We are excited to announce that we will be accepting 2018 Walker resident and non-resident returns by e-file. If you use a paid tax preparer that e-files your federal and state return, they will be able to e-file your Walker return this year. If you use TaxAct software/online tax program to prepare your own federal and state returns, you will be able to e-file your Walker return this year. Click here to visit the TaxAct site for more information. Please note that other software/online tax programs used for self-prepared returns (TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxSlayer) do not participate with Michigan local e-filing.
Due dates
Fourth quarter estimated payments for calendar year 2018 are due January 31, 2019. Forms are available on our website at:  http://www.walker.city/income_tax_forms.php
Quarterly Estimated Payments by EFT
As we finish up the processing of 2017 returns received with payments, we have found several returns with 2018 quarterly estimated vouchers stapled into the center of the 2017 return. Quarterly estimated vouchers must be separate from the annual return if you mail them in the same envelope. If you mailed 2018 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 at: http://www.walker.city/government/departments/income_tax/income_tax_faqs.php
You can also call us at (616) 791-6880.
Christmas Trees 
Recycling Locations
12/26 through third
Saturday in January

Walker City Hall
4243 Remembrance Rd. N.W.

Walker Community Park
650 Cummings N.W.

Fire Station #3
1470 Three Mile Rd. N.W.
Walker Fire Department: Can We See Your Address?
If you called 911 for an emergency, could the agency responding find your home or business quickly and easily? If addresses are not prominently posted on mailboxes, posts or buildings, it can be extremely difficult for fire, police or ambulance personnel to find the location of an emergency at a time when every moment counts.

If it is difficult to read your address from the street in front of your home or business, emergency responders, who may not be as familiar with your area, could be delayed in reaching you.

The Walker Fire and Police Departments strongly encourages all Walker residents to post their address prominently on their mailbox, home or business so it is easily seen and recognizable from the road. 

Green reflective address signs, measuring six inches by 18 inches, can be purchased from the Walker Firefighters' Association for $10. The signs can be easily attached to a mailbox post, and their three-inch-tall reflective numbers allow high visibility in the dark. If you would like to purchase a reflective address sign, please call the Walker Fire Department office at
616-791-6840 Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and on Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.
Walker Police Department: Department News
Welcome Officer Aaron Huizenga!

Officer Huizenga joined the Walker Police Department on December 10, 2018. He was born and raised in the Jenison area.

Aaron attended Grand Rapids Community College where he received his Associates degree in criminal justice and graduated from the GRCC Police Academy in October 2017.

Officer Huizenga started his law enforcement career in New Buffalo, MI, where he served just over a year on the force. He is excited to continue and grow his career in law enforcement here in Walker, and also to be closer to, and spend more time, with his family.

Welcome Aaron!
Kent District Library: Walker Branch
One massive goal. One day at a time.
  • An out-of-this-world reading program for K-3rd graders with prizes. 
  • Help children learn to love reading and meet new Read by Grade Three requirements. 
  • Every completer wins a book and a new tablet reader! 
  • Visit any KDL Branch to sign up then prepare for blast off!

Here's how it works:
Mission: Read helps beginning readers in kindergarten through third grade read at grade level and advance to fourth grade.

We're inviting young, beginning readers (kindergarten through third grade) to come with us on a trip that's out of this world! The mission is to read for 1,000 days before 6th grade. 1,000 days sounds like a lot—and it is—but Mission: Read makes it fun!

Readers will never be told what books to read and never have to set a timer. At the end of every day, they simply ask themselves, “Hey, did I read today?” If the answer is yes, they fill in a circle in their journal. Just like that, they'll be one day closer to the 1,000 day goal! They'll learn how easy it is to read every day and how it makes them a better reader. When reading becomes a daily habit, so many things become easier and more fun!

Follow these easy steps:
Beginning in January, sign up at any of these public libraries:

Receive a reading log and a solar system poster. For each day of reading, color in a circle on the reading log. Any reading during the day counts.

After reading for 100 days, come to the library for a planet sticker. Make sure to come back every 100 days of reading to get another sticker—collect the entire solar system of planets.
After 500 days, pick out a free book to keep.

And finally, after 1,000 days, receive a tablet reader!

Booster Packs
  • Each KDL Booster Pack contains books, educational games and activities to engage young readers in a fun way while building their reading skills. These will be available at our Comstock Park Branch at the start of 2019. They should be available at all our other branches by summer 2019.

Tips for inspiring young readers:

How to find great books
  • Choose books that the reader is interested in.
  • Check out different areas of the library. Try non-fiction, fiction, audiobooks, graphic novels or magazines.
  • It's okay to reread a favorite book.
  • It's okay to read books that are above or below the usual reading level.
  • Ask a librarian for suggestions.
  • If a book isn't enjoyable, put it aside and try another. Books from the library are free to check out and there's no penalty for not finishing a book.

Becoming an expert reader
  • It's okay to reread favorite books and poems.
  • Kids can read to a grown up, a pet or favorite stuffed animal.
  • Kids (and grown ups) are never too old to have stories read to them.
  • Choose a chapter book and read to beginning readers before bed. The library has lots of audiobooks for listening anywhere and on the go.
  • Ask a librarian. We know lots of activities to help boost reading skills.
  • Want to strengthen reading? Keep reading!

What parents need to know
The Read by Grade Three law requires that all students in kindergarten through third grade are tested three times each school year. Schools will help students who are not reading at their grade level. Teachers will give parents an Individualized Reading Improvement Plan (IRIP) and a Read at Home Plan. The IRIP includes five different reading skills:
At the end of third grade, all students will be tested with the M-Step reading assessment. If their score is too low, they may not move to the fourth grade.
Mission: Read resources include:
  • A reading incentive program for young readers, designed to build a love of reading
  • Activity lists with books and activities that grow the five different reading skills
  • Expert librarians who can help parents find resources and learn reading tips

About Partners in Reading Success
Mission: Read is an initiative of Partners in Reading Success, a collaboration between Grand Rapids Public Library, Kent District Library, Literacy Center of West Michigan and Kent ISD. The group was formed to help parents and their children understand and accomplish the new 3rd grade reading requirements. Their objectives include boosting children’s reading skills and love for reading, finding the right books for children and helping parents understand their child’s Individualized Reading Improvement Plan.
Let it Snow

Your favorite winter reading program for adults is back for 2019!

Adults (18 and older) who participate and read a minimum of six books between Wednesday, Jan. 2, and Sunday, March 31, will receive a ceramic prize mug. Read or listen to four more titles (for a total of at least 10 books) by March 31 and be entered into a drawing to win an iPad or one-year Costco membership. The drawing will be done April 9.

Track your reading progress at http://kdl.readsquared.com/ or, if you prefer, complete and turn in a paper form, pick up a copy at any of our 19 branches.
Upcoming Special Events at the Walker Branch

Visit the library or call 616-784-2007 to register for events that require registration.

KDL Lab Experience: Zip, Zap, Zoom Energy Science!
Fulfill your potential as an energy scientist! Come explore renewable energy sources through solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric power experiments and more.
Monday, February 18, 2019 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Toddler Time
Nurture your toddler's love of books through music, movement and stories while helping to develop their language, motor and social skills. For children ages 3 and younger with an adult.
Mondays, till February 25, 2019 – 9:45 am & 10:45 am

Family Storytime
Read and sing together as a family. Enjoy stories, music, movement and rhymes that develop early literacy skills.
Mondays, till February 25, 2019 – 6:30 pm
Thursdays, till February 28, 2019 – 10:30 am

Rhyme Time Music and Movement
Move and groove together with action rhymes, songs, games and hands-on musical activities that will help children develop motor, listening and literacy skills.
Fridays, till February 22, 2019 – 10:30 am

Baby Playgroup
Get to know other families and help your baby develop listening and language skills while you gather and play. We provide the space and a variety of sensory and play activities. Each playgroup also includes 15 minutes of stories, rhymes and songs. For babies from birth to 18 months with a caregiver. Older siblings welcome!
Thursdays, till February 28, 2019 – 9:30 am
New Year, New January Joining Special!
Sign up for a gym membership in January and we will waive our joining fee.  Memberships includes full use of our state of the art gym as well as all fitness classes, child care, indoor track, sauna & steam rooms, towel service, open skate and drop in hockey. Still unsure? Ask about our FREE 7-Day Trial!!
New fitness class schedule started January 7, 2019. 

If you are looking to find new ways to challenge yourself in the New Year, try one of our group fitness classes. Classes are included in our memberships or if you are not a member, our drop in rate is just $7 per class. Everyone is welcome and every class is open to all fitness levels as instructors offer modifications throughout sessions.

If you’re looking to develop your own workout structure, our staff can help with that too! All new gym members are entitled to two free Gym Orientation sessions to help maximize your gym experience. You can also set up sessions with one of our certified personal trainers.   
Ice Arena News
Thank you to everyone who came out and skated with us over the Christmas Break! We had so many families and groups come and enjoy the warm lobby, hot chocolate and fun on the ice!! Check out our website homepage calendar for upcoming open skate sessions!
Don’t forget that you can always schedule a group event or birthday party during our open skate sessions by contacting Mary Kay Sherman, Facility Director, at (616) 735-6286 ex. 6113. Group packages start as low as $4 per person (25 person minimum). Birthday parties start for as little as $6.99 per person.

If you’d like to book private ice rentals or add extras such as broom ball to a group package, please contact Mike Fountain, Ice Director at (616) 735- 6286 ext. 6112.
Spring Coed Youth Soccer
Registrations: February 1 – February 28, 2019
5-6 yr. old age group is $30 for Walker residents and $40 for non-residents
7-8 yr. old, 9-10 yr. old and 11-12-13 yr. old age groups is $40 for Walker residents and $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 February 28 th deadline.

Register online at www.walkericeandfitness.com or at Walker Ice & Fitness Center.
Make sure to mark your calendar and save the date for our Annual Easter Egg Hunt . It will take place at Walker Ice & Fitness center outside on April 13, 2019 at 11:00 a.m.
Save the date for the City of Walker’s Memorial Day Parade on May 27, 2019. Parade starts at noon.
Walker Chamber of Commerce Upcoming Events
Quarterly Meetings are held at:
Walker City Hall
4243 Remembrance Rd.
Walker, MI 49534
Held quarterly the second Tuesday of the month

Next Meeting: February 14 - Health Care Reform

Connected Chamber Women
Monday, March 4
DeHops Brewery in Standale
Business Blind Date

If your business would like to host an Walker After Work Event, please let us know!
Created by the Walker Youth Commission and adopted by the City Commissioners, this exciting video highlights the main attractions of the City of Walker, from Millennium Park to beautiful neighborhoods. This video was presented to the Walker community and soon-to-be citizens on how Walker is such a great place to live, work, and grow.