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Monthly e-Newsletter | December 2019 Edition
December Greetings from the Mayor's Office
This past week, we held our sixth annual Winter Fest with the highest turnout we have had yet! The weather even cooperated, and our community came together for a great night. There are so many people to thank from our sponsors who generously help to underwrite our events, to the many city staff who tirelessly plan and prepare to make these events impactful. We are blessed to live and work in a community full of such great people.

While not necessarily the most glamorous part of our city, the annual financial audit summary and findings was recently presented to the City Commission and Managers. As our track record goes, the City is on strong financial footing and our conservative financial approach is reflective of the community we represent. We continue to aggressively pay down our long-term debt obligations so that we are better prepared for a solid financial future, regardless of what challenges we may face.

A few statistical items of note are around our funding sources to keep the government services we provide rolling along. Reflective of the strong economy, this past year saw our Income Tax Revenue at a record high and represents about 68% of our revenues for the City’s General Fund. The healthy economy paired with a rapidly growing industrial base puts us in a good spot. However, that 68% of revenue is something that I and our City leaders watch with a very close eye. That is a lot of eggs in one basket, yet for us in Walker we don’t have any indicators that our local growth is slowing down any time soon. Our property tax millage rate of 1.336 mills continues to be one of the lowest in the State of Michigan that also collects a City Income Tax. These property tax collections represent just over 7% of our City General Fund Revenues. The last big bucket funding our General Fund is State Revenue Sharing. This past year, this represented approximately 11% of the General Fund Revenue. Regarding expenditures from the previous year, those increased only 2.6%. Despite the record growth we are experiencing, the expenses are still approached with a conservative approach. We invested in some new positions this year that were needed to help the city run more effectively, as well as investing heavily in both Public Safety (Police and Fire) and Public Works. We are adding new positions that were needed in all three of those departments to keep pace with and get ahead of the projected growth. We then invested approximately $2.7 million of our local monies on significant road projects like Leonard Street, and the Three Mile and Walker intersection. We also spent $883,000 on repaving throughout the city, in addition to approximately $579,000 on snowplowing roads this past winter. In summary, I want to recognize the incredible leadership with our City Managers and various Department leaders. Their financial awareness is reflective of our City’s values, and they help to put us in another strong financial position as we enter 2020.

In November, we completed the last of our Master Plan open houses. Walker is taking a collaborative and transparent approach as we update the Master Plan. Those that were able to attend, or even provide feedback in other means of communication, we thank you. We need your input, so the plan reflects your vision of what the City needs to be. We expect to see a finalized report sometime in early 2020. Further in the spirit of resident input, we are also holding a Community Visioning Open House on Tuesday, December 10 at both 11 am to 1 pm, and again from 5 pm to 7 pm at the Walker Ice & Fitness Center. The City of Walker, along with the Kent District Library (KDL) Walker Branch, have been working to respond to community requests to provide a larger KDL Walker Branch, along with other Community Center-type amenities for our residents. We need your input, so if you can make it please do so or even reach out to myself or your City Commissioners to provide your input. We will also post a public survey link on our website and Facebook page following the session.
In closing, I want to extend my best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a healthy, safe and Happy New Year to each of you, your families and friends. As we travel through the holiday season it is natural to reflect upon both the successes and challenges, we faced in 2019. We are fortunate to call Walker “home”, and have the residents, businesses, community groups, and quality of life that help to shape our city. We are truly blessed in so many ways. My ask of each of us is to enjoy that time together with those we hold dearly and be able to reflect on our blessings together.

Gary L. Carey, Jr.
City of Walker
Upcoming Events:
December 10: Community Visioning Session/Open House @ 11:00 a.m. & 5:00 p.m., Walker Ice & Fitness Center
December 10: Neighborhood Watch Meeting at 6:30 p.m., Fire Station #3
December 24: Christmas Eve, City Offices Closed
December 25: Christmas Day, City Offices Closed
December 31: Neon NYE @ 5:00 p.m., Walker Ice & Fitness Center
January 3 & 4: Walker Mayor's Cup Hockey Tournament, Walker Ice & Fitness Center
City Service Notices
December 26th through the third Saturday in January

Walker City Hall - 4243 Remembrance Rd. N.W.
Walker Community Park -  650 Cummings N.W.
Walker Fire Station #3 - 1470 Three Mile Rd. N.W. 

Walker Residents only

Trees only no plastic

Winter is here and we are now faced with the chore of snow removal from driveways and sidewalks. However, many people do not realize that keeping our fire hydrants clear of snow is equally important. 

In the event of a fire emergency having access to the fire hydrants for a water supply is critical in order to successfully combat a fire situation where time is of the essence.  Therefore, the Walker Fire Department is asking for help in keeping the snow cleared away from the fire hydrant in front of (or near) your home or business. The best way to do this is by clearing the snow from the street to the hydrant in a three feet circle around the hydrant since this allows the fire hose to connect toward the fire truck faster.  
The Walker Fire Department would like to thank the many residents and business owners that have taken time to help in the past and to those who may assist us this winter in keeping our hydrants clear of snow.  
Walker Fire Department: Clothes Dryer Safety
Doing laundry is most likely part of your every day routine. But did you know how important taking care of your clothes dryer is to the safety of your home? With a few simple safety tips you can help prevent a clothes dryer fire.
  • Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional.
  • Do not use the dryer without a lint filter.
  • Make sure you clean the lint filter before or after each load of laundry. Remove lint that has collected around the drum.
  • Rigid or flexible metal venting material should be used to sustain proper air flow and drying time.
  • Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe is not restricted and the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating. Once a year, or more often if you notice that it is taking longer than normal for your clothes to dry, clean lint out of the vent pipe or have a dryer lint removal service do it for you.
  • Keep dryers in good working order. Gas dryers should be inspected by a professional to make sure that the gas line and connection are intact and free of leaks.
  • Make sure the right plug and outlet are used and that the machine is connected properly.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions and don’t overload your dryer.
  • Turn the dryer off if you leave home or when you go to bed.

Doing laundry is most likely part of your every day routine. But did you know how important taking care of your clothes dryer is to the safety of your home? With a few simple safety tips you can help prevent a clothes dryer fire. Dryers should be properly grounded. Check the outdoor vent flap to make sure it is not covered by snow. Keep the area around your dryer clear of things that can burn, like boxes, cleaning supplies and clothing, etc. Clothes that have come in contact with flammable substances, like gasoline, paint thinner, or similar solvents should be laid outside to dry, then can be washed and dried as usual.

The leading cause of home clothes dryer fires is failure to clean them.
Source: NFPA Public Education Division 
Disposing of Ashes from Fire Places
Many residents spend a lot of time indoors during the winter months, and many enjoy the comfort and warmth of their fireplace. While many people have a natural gas fireplace, many more use a wood fireplace or wood burner. The Walker Fire Department would like to offer some safety tips to help you enjoy your fireplace fires and keep your family safe.

Hot ashes that are not correctly cooled and disposed of are extremely significant fire hazards, they are capable of starting fires when disposed of into a trash container. Improper disposal of ashes or hot coals from fireplaces, or mobile fireplaces designed for decks or patios has become a common cause of many recent fires.
Embers often concealed in what appears to be cold ashes, can remain hot enough to rekindle a fire for several days. We want residents to enjoy their fireplaces, but to always dispose of the ashes wisely.

Fire Department officials remind residents to:
  • Allow ashes and coals to cool in place for several days, if possible.
  • When it’s time to dispose of the ashes, transfer them to a metal container and wet them down. Only use an approved metal ash bucket that has a tight fitting metal lid.
  • Store the container outside, away from structures, decks, fences, wood piles or combustible materials
  • Never use a vacuum cleaner to pick up ashes.
  • Never dump ashes into a plastic container, cardboard box, bag, or anything or in any place where combustible fluids or fumes are present.
  • Don’t dump ashes outside on a windy day. The wind can whip up what may have seemed like cool embers, making them fiery hot and sending them traveling to ignite nearby combustibles.
  • Always have working smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them monthly.
  • If you do have a wood fire place be sure to have if inspected and cleaned by a professional chimney sweep on a regular basis.     
Walker Police Department: Department News
Winter is coming! Be sure to know a few different routes to and from your destinations, as winter weather & crashes may create road shut downs or detours. Leave yourself plenty of time for travel, to avoid feeling hurried and driving too fast for road conditions. Keep extra distance between other vehicles and be aware it may take longer for your vehicle to stop on icy roads. The moral of the story is this… TAKE IT SLOW ON ICE & SNOW!

Regarding the larceny from vehicle incidents over the past month, road patrol officers were able to apprehend a suspect in the act. Arrests were made and further investigation is ongoing.

Don’t forget to join City Leaders at our Year End Open House on December 10. The Mayor, Police Chief, and Fire Chief will be providing 2019 Year in Reviews for their respective departments, and we have invited the US Secret Service to discuss counterfeit money trends in our areas. The event is 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Upper Community Room of Fire Station #3 on 3 Mile Road. Hope to see you there!

Last month, Sgt. Troy Myers retired after 25 years of dedicated service to the city. Promotions were made to fill the void, and we would like congratulate Cpl. Frank on his promotion to Sergeant, and Officer Jeltema on his promotion to Corporal. They will begin their new duties in mid-February 2020.

Walker PD, in conjunction with The West Michigan Church Security Network will be hosting a “Church Safety & Security Seminar ” on February 8, 2020. Topics will include civilian response to active shooter events, creating & maintaining a church security team, dealing with disorderly persons, trespassing, and more. The event is free & lunch will be provided. For more info on this event, and all things Walker PD, please like/follow us on Facebook at “City of Walker Police Department.”
Clerk's Department Updates
Did you know…. Anyone can vote via an absentee ballot since 18-3 passing in 2018.

Everyone can vote via an absentee ballot (by mail) if you have not contacted us to be put on our automatic permanent absentee application mailing list please email us at [email protected] .

If you have any questions pertaining to any of this information, don’t hesitate to call us at 616-791-6865 or [email protected]

2020 Election Dates:
Tuesday, March 10, 2020 Presidential Primary
Tuesday, May 5, 2020 Possible Election Date
Tuesday, August 4, 2020 Primary Election Date
Tuesday, November 3, 2020 General Election Date
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 AM – 4:00 PM and Friday from 7:30 AM – 11:00 AM. Visit our website for details on passport requirements.

Passports are currently taking longer than usual to process, please allow at least 6 weeks for your passport to be processed and mailed to you.
The Secretary of State’s office is rolling out the new REAL ID driver’s license, which will be required after October 2020, to fly domestically. You will need visit the Secretary of State office to convert your current driver’s license to a REAL ID driver’s license.

You will be required to take your original birth certificate and any certified name change documents, such as your marriage license or court order with you to apply.
Income Tax Department
Due dates
Fourth quarter estimated payments for calendar year 2019 are due January 31, 2020. Forms are available on our website.
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 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.
Fall/Winter Facility Hours:
Mon-Fri 5am-10pm
Sat-Sun 7am-8pm
Holiday Skate Schedule and Family Skating Pass
Ask about our skating party packages and room rentals! The Walker Ice & Fitness Center is the perfect place for all your celebrations. Parties can be hosted during open skate or we also have conference rooms available for parties. For more information, please call (616) 735-6286 or email [email protected]  
Give the Gift of Health this Holiday Season!
Here are some great gift ideas for active family members! We also have gift cards available that can be used anywhere in our facility. Come in today!
Toys for Tots

The Toys for Tots drive is here and the donation boxes are ready for your kind contributions! Drop off new, unwrapped, toys to benefit a great cause for kids here in West Michigan. 

Available through Monday, December 16!
News and Events
Annual Senior Citizen Bowling Tournament

Mark your calendar, our annual Senior Citizen Bowling tournament is coming up again January 23 & 24! You don’t want to miss this!! Raffle prizes, snacks, bowling and lots of fun with the Walker Rec Department! 
Lincoln Lanes
3485 Lake Michigan Dr. NW
Walker, Michigan 49534

Dates: Thursday, January 23 and Friday, January 24, 2020
Entry fee: $17.00 - bowl 3 games
Handicap: 90% of difference between most recent averages and 200
6 divisions for both men and woman

55 to 64 yrs.   65 to 69 yrs.   70 to 74 yrs.   75 to 79 yrs.   80 to 84 yrs.   85 yrs. & over

Squads: Thursday at 1:00 pm or Friday at 1:00 pm

Make your reservations now! Get a group together and have a fun day of bowling!
Men's and women's trophies will be awarded for actual and handicap scores in each age division.
Bowlers may win in only one category.
Pre-registration is required, deadline for registration is Friday, January 10, 2020.

Attention non - league bowlers!
If you are not presently bowling or have never been affiliated with a league –
you may enter and be eligible to compete for prizes in the actual score category.
KDL Walker Branch:
Library News
Brewery tours, beer and book pairings, a tap takeover and a more: This year's KDaLe series brimmeth over! For ages 21 and older. See the full listing of all the KDaLe Events here!

KDaLe Homebrew Competition: Book-Inspired Brewing
KDaLe is excited to present the fifth annual "Book-Inspired Brewing" home brew contest! Imagine taking your favorite book, shoving it into a carboy and letting the magic of fermentation turn it into liquid literature gold. Kent District Library, in collaboration with  Gravel Bottom Brewing Railtown Brewing Broad Leaf Beer  and  Pike 51 , is calling on home brewers to enter this unique competition: creating a beer inspired by your favorite titles or authors.

The top four brewers will get a chance to brew a scaled-up version of their winning beer with professional brewers at either Gravel Bottom Brewing, Railtown Brewing, Broad Leaf or Pike 51, to be released sometime next summer. (Date and place to be determined).

Jan. 24, 2020:  Deadline to  sign up  (the first 50 entrants will be accepted)
Feb. 29, 2020: Deadline to submit your three 12-ounce bottles
March 2-8, 2020: Judging
March 9, 2020: Winner announced
Late Spring/Early Summer: Brew Day, to be worked out with breweries after winners are selected. 

KDaLe Quest Guide
Fans of our brewing series of programs have another quest to complete! Earn an exclusive prize by completing the KDaLe Quest. Attend our brewery tours, programs, a tap takeover and more for the ultimate brewery experience.

Collect any five stamps in this guide to win a choice of shirt or KDaLe pint glass.
Collect 15 stamps to earn a mega prize! When you have 15 stamps, please email  [email protected]  for information on how to receive your mega prize.
If you choose a T-shirt as your prize, please bring your stamped KDaLe Quest Guide to any KDL branch after Jan. 15 to pick up. If you wish to receive a KDaLe pint glass as your prize, please email  [email protected]  to arrange pickup.

The deadline to complete The KDaLe Quest is Saturday, Dec. 30, 2020.
The KDaLe Quest is for ages 21 and over.
This month's highlighted database: Testing and Education Reference Center

Plan for college, identify scholarships that meet your financial needs and take online practice tests to obtain your education goals. There is even U.S. Citizenship Practice Tests, Practice Tests for the Firefighter Exam, Practice Tests for the Real Estate Exam and more.

Access this database via than click Learn and Research on the lefthand side of the websiete and choose College & Career from the drop down menu and scroll to the bottom of the webpage to find Testing and Education Reference Center.
Reoccurring Regular Programs

Toddler Time
Mondays, January 6 – February 24
9:45 10:35 A.M.& 10:45 11:30 A.M.
Nurture your toddler's love of books through music, movement and stories while helping to develop their language, motor and social skills.

Baby Playgroup
Thursdays, January 9 – February 27
9:30 10:15 A.M.
Get to know other families and help your baby develop listening skills while you gather and play. We provide the space and variety of sensory and play activities. Each play group also includes 15 minutes of stories, rhymes and songs. For babies from birth to 18 months with a caregiver, older sibling welcome.

Family Storytime
Mondays, January 6 – February 24
6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays, January 9 – February 27
10:30 a.m to 11:30 a.m.
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.

Rhyme Time Music and Movement
Fridays, January 10 – February 28
10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Move and groove together with action rhymes, songs, games and hands-on musical activities that will help children develop motor, listening and literacy skills.

Drop-In Tutoring with Sparta Adult Education
Wednesday, December 18, January 8 & 12, February 5 &19
4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 14, February 1 & 15
9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Drop-in tutoring is available to adults 18 and up enrolled in any of the following programs: High School Diploma, English as a Second Language (ESL), Adult Basic Education (ABE), High School Equivalency (GED) and Career Technical Education (CTE). Questions on all subjects are welcome. Tutoring is hosted by Sparta Adult Education.

Adult Book Discussion
Tuesday, January 14
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Join us for a fun, informal book discussion. This month's selection is The World is Murder by Anthony Howitz.

KDL Lab Experience: Magna-Tiles Mania
Thursday, December 26
10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Drop-in and build. Create cubes, pyramids or other geometric shapes and patterns from two-dimensional or three-dimensional systems. Discover patterns, symmetry, 3D building skills and magnetic principles.

KDL Lab Experience: Magical Menagerie
Monday, December 30
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Embark on a fantastical quest to a land full of unicorns, dragons and more! Adventurers in the Magical Menagerie will see how far their dragon flyer can soar, conquer the troll bridge challenge, construct their own magical gardens and explore the secrets of unicorns.
Countdown to Happy Noon Year!
Tuesday, December 31
11:30 AM to 12:30 PM
We're giving kids an exciting way to ring in 2020 with a countdown, noisemakers, crafts and fun -- at an hour that won't keep them up way past their bedtimes.

Snowflake Studio
Thursday, January 2
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Explore winter with your creative side! Drop-in for snowflake-themed arts and crafts for the whole family.

Saturday, January 4
10:00 AM to 3:45 PM
Pre-registration for individual teens and adults opens November 18 and is required. (Groups: please sign up each person) When the waitlist is full, the registration buttons disappear because registration is closed.

Just in time for holiday break, Escape Rooms On the Go brings their latest challenge: Wizards! Sign up as a group or meet new teammates for a fun, collaborative 45 minute challenge. Follow clues to avoid the magic and spells. Sessions start promptly at the top of the hour and late entry is not allowed. Children age 8-12 are welcome if accompanied by an adult.
Friends of Walker Trails News
The Friends of Walker Trails has a new Facebook page, follow along for updates and news on our lengthy network of trails right here in Walker!
Walker Chamber of Commerce Upcoming Events
Quarterly Meetings are held at:
Walker City Hall
42 43 Remembrance Rd.
Walker, MI 49534
Held quarterly the second Tuesday of the month
Created by the Walker Youth Commission (2018) 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.