Monthly e-Newsletter |May 2020 Edition
Greetings from the Mayor's Office
As I write this update for our May newsletter, I remain immovable on my personal commitment of “uncompromising positivity” that I have been sharing since the Covid-19 Pandemic came into our community. We have so many positive things that we are witnessing, maybe even doing, with our families and neighbors that define “Walker Strong”.

Over this past month on Friday afternoons, I joined our Fire and Police Departments in neighborhood tours through the three wards of the city. I need to be fully transparent here in that while these were designed to share a message from the city that we were “thinking of you”, they accomplished so much more. I believe I can speak for our Fire and Police when I share that we were all revitalized with your energy and spirit as we drove through the neighborhoods. Based on the countless smiles from both kids and adults we can say mission accomplished. We have also stepped up the positivity and humor in our social media and news messaging. My hope is that if we can inspire others to do the same, we are continuing to make our community stronger.

On the topic of schools, I want to congratulate the 2020 graduates in the City of Walker. Whether that be a high-schooler, college, or other graduate, our community is incredibly proud of your accomplishments. Your perseverance through these last couple of months and not knowing what your graduation might look like is unimaginable, yet you made it through. What you have recently overcome provides you with the confidence and proof that you can handle anything in life. Congratulations again, your community is proud of you.

Financially, because we had our affairs in order before the global pandemic started, we are going to be able to better weather the budget storms to come. This past week the Finance Committee reviewed our budget amendments for the fiscal year that ends on June 30 and had our first look at the budget for next fiscal year that starts on July 1. We know that we have some actions we had planned on taking that we will temporarily delay, yet we believe that we will still be able to do much of what we had planned on doing this coming year. This is due to sound financial prudence from our city staff as well as a consistently risk-averse approach from our policy making at the City Commission level.

Many have asked of what our summer schedule looks like. Working side by side with our partners at the Kent County Health Department and other local municipalities, we will continue to take an evidence-based approach at the right time on whether we will have an event or not. My personal commitment is to ensure that we will try and hold whatever we can within the medical guidance provided to us. That is why our playgrounds and parks have stayed open from day 1 and will continue to.

Lastly, I want to reinforce the need for civility in our community with those we might not agree with. An example of that would be the wearing of masks. Some may be wearing one because they have a reason to, and some may not be wearing one for different reasons. This should not be an issue of judgement or politics. Instead, in these challenging times we should be accepting of others and their decisions as we might not know the whole story
Thank you for all that you are doing with your uncompromising positivity and may God continue to bless each one of you and your families and friends.

Gary L. Carey
Mayor
Revised List of Walker returns due July 31, 2020:
  • 2019 Walker Individual Resident or Non-resident form
  • 2020 Walker first quarter estimated payment
  • 2020 Walker second quarter estimated payment

The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service has announced revised guidelines for federal and Michigan income tax filing due dates for 2019 returns and 2020 first and second quarter estimated payments. Due dates for federal and Michigan returns are automatically extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020.

The City of Walker will be following the IRS revised due dates based on Sec. 78-54 of the local ordinance. The Income Tax Administrator will be moving the date due from April 30 th to July 31 st for 2019 income tax returns and 2020 first and second quarter estimated payments. 


Taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or call us to qualify for this automatic tax filing and payment relief. Individual taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the July 31st deadline can request a filing extension by filing our extension form found at www.walker.city.

There will not be any penalty or interest on 2019 tax due unless it was for failure to make timely estimated payments. All court dates have been postponed and will be rescheduled. 

If you have already completed a W-1040-ES form requesting an automatic withdrawal of your 2020 first quarter estimated payment on or before April 30, 2020 or a 2020 second quarter estimated payment on or before June 30, 2020 and wish to extend the payment date, please call 616-791-6870
Walker Ave and Coopersville & Marne Railway Improvements
Coordination between project stakeholders, including Bissell and the Coopersville/Marne Railroad, have been outstanding. Meijer has also reached out to keep their corporate team members up to speed on project details.

Physical demolition of the bridge has begun. The construction zone is now completely impassible. Work began on Monday, 4/27.

Walker PD continues to monitor the closure and write tickets to violators.

Minor adjustments to signage are occurring to help further.

Mailboxes to businesses at Waldorf are being adjusted due to the intersection closure.
Work for the coming week will include continued bridge demolition, storm sewer and culvert installation, earthwork around the bridge structure, DTE Gas relocations at Waldorf and moving east towards Bristol.

The project is on schedule for the adjusted completion date due to the Covid-19 delays.

For more detailed information, please go to our website .
Check your Facts! Coronavirus Disease
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Please refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's  website  for credible information regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus). 

We have added a quick link to the CDC's website under the residents tab on our website.

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.

Keep washing those hands!
Be Counted Walker | Census 2020
An accurate census ensures Michigan's voices are heard and our vulnerable populations receive needed assistance.

Over 130 federal programs use census data to allocate more than $675 billion each year to households, towns, cities and states throughout the nation. An inaccurate count would impact funding for programs that support our state’s most vulnerable populations.

An undercount could also lead to decreased representation at the federal level, decreasing Michigan’s voice in Washington. Michigan is at risk of losing another congressional seat and a reduction of electoral college votes.

Be counted today at 2020Census.gov . It takes just 10 minutes!
Walker Fire Department: Department Alerts
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Grilling Safety Tips from the Walker Fire Department and NFPA 

  1. Propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors. If used indoors or in any enclosed spaces such as tents, they pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation
  2. Position the grill well away from siding, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches
  3. Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.
  4.  Keep children and pets away from the grill area. Declare a three-foot “safe zone” around the grill.
  5. Use long handled grilling tools to give you plenty of clearance from heat and flames when flipping burgers.
  6.  Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so a hot grill cannot ignite it.
  7.  For charcoal grills, make sure you purchase the proper starter fluid, and store the can out of reach of children and away from heat sources.
  8.  Never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal lighter fluid to get the fire going, and never add lighter fluid to coals that have already been ignited.
  9.  As with cooking indoors, when cooking outdoors on the grill you should never leave the grill unattended.
  10.  If you live in an apartment, you should check with the management concerning the rules pertaining to the use of grills on decks or under overhangs. The International Fire Code prohibits the use of open flame grills on balconies. The exception would be grills that use a small one-pound propane bottle. We have required all apartment complexes in Walker to enforce this rule.
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Disposing of Ashes from Grills, Fire Pits and Fire Places
Many residents are spending time outdoors, enjoying the summer weather, and having barbecues. It’s very important that you take the time to allow the ashes from their grills – as well as any fireplaces or fire pits – to cool down completely before you properly dispose of them.

Hot ashes that are not correctly cooled and disposed are extremely significant fire hazards-- especially during the hot, dry weather conditions in the summertime. They are capable of starting fires when disposed of into a trash container. Improper disposal of ashes or hot coals from fireplaces, grills 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 and grills 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.
  • 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 metal container outside, away from structures, decks, fences, wood piles or other 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.

This article was edited from an article written by a staff writer with the MYMC Media in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Walker Police Department: Department News
Social Distancing is still being practiced by the citizens of Walker, and the Police Department is no exception. Although the department is still responding to calls for service, we are missing the opportunities to interact with the citizens and businesses within the City. In an effort to interact while keeping the social distancing in mind, Mayor Carey organized several neighborhood parades that the Police Department took part in. We are looking forward to the day when officers can stop and play basketball with kids, pass out stickers for being safe kids and make contact inside business just to check in. Until then, we are still here to serve the community by providing exceptional police and medical first responder services.

April 28, 2020 was a sad day in Walker when we all had to say goodbye to “Yogi” Many citizens loved seeing and getting updates about the bear that was observed hanging around the area. Although some wanted the bear to be relocated, the DNR decided that relocating him was not the decision to make. Wildlife roaming in Walker is a normal day to day occurrence, but for some reason the bear sparked interest and fear. Yogi was not reported to be aggressive or seeking out human interaction. He caused his mischief though; tipping over trash cans, getting at bird feeders and visiting the occasional neighborhood pool when it was hot outside. Although “Yogi” is gone, we are sure there are other bears in the area who just have not found the neighborhood fun that he did. Keep in mind the safety tips that we provided though our Facebook page if you come across another beautiful visitor from the woods. Rest in Peace “Yogi”

Officers participated in a food distribution event at the Delta Plex organized by Kent County Community Action. The well-organized event served 1000 Kent County families in need of food. Thank you to the Delta Plex for the use of their parking lot, the volunteers who braved the wind and rain and Kent County Community Action for all of the hard work organizing the event.

As always, keep on with our daily posts on Facebook by liking & following “City of Walker Police Department.”  
Clerk's Department Updates
Dear Walker Residents:

We are facing some extraordinary challenges as a community and as a nation due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Your City Clerk is working hard to ensure you are kept informed on the continuous election changes to make sure your voice will count in the 2020 election cycle.

Currently we are anticipating that all precinct locations will be open for the August 4 th and November 3 rd elections, however, “Vote by Mail” is a convenient and secure option and is highly recommended.

Due to the changes implemented by voters in Proposal 18-3, every voter in Michigan has the right to cast a ballot by mail in all elections. You can ensure that you receive an application for a ballot by requesting to be placed on our Permanent Voter Application list.

Email us at elections@walker.city with your name and date of birth.

Once placed on the Permanent Voter Application list, you will receive an application for a ballot about 2 months prior to every election. Please complete the application and return it to the Clerk’s office immediately in order for us to issue and mail your ballot to you. You can review your ballot and research the choices in the comfort of your own home.

Ballots are NOT allowed to be forwarded to another address, so if you need your ballot mailed to a different address, you must place this mailing address on your application with the dates you will be away.

How to return the Application:
  • Place the application in the Green Drop box located outside City Hall
  • Email a digital image of the full application including your signature to elections@walker.city
  • Return it by mail

Voters may receive multiple applications in the mail from other political party groups. We have no control over this. However, only one ballot can be issued to any registered voter from our database.

If you need to change anything on your ballot once you have submitted it, you can come to the City Clerk’s office to spoil your ballot and receive a new one until the day before the election.

Summary - Understanding the Vote by Mail Ballot Process
1) Clerk’s office mails an application to all voters on the Permanent Voter Application list 2 months prior to each election.
2) Application must be signed by registered voter and returned to the local clerk. This signature is verified against the Secretary of State database signature on file and MUST match. (Power of Attorney signature is NOT acceptable)
3) Once the application is received by the clerk and signature is verified, a ballot is sent to the voter.
4) Complete your ballot and place in the ballot envelope. Voter must sign the envelope for the ballot to be counted.
5) When ballot is received in the clerk’s office, the ballot envelope is verified for voters’ signature and marked received.
6) The ballot envelope remains sealed and secured in the clerk’s office until election day, when they are opened and tabulated. Your ballot must be returned to the clerk’s office by 8 pm on Election Day in order to count!

You can also track the status of your application and your absentee ballot at www.michigan.gov/vote
Spring Facility Hours:
Currently Closed
WE MISS YOU!

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for healthy tips and fitness inspiration while you are away!

We can't wait to see you soon!
Join us for a Silver&Fit virtual exercise class!

Instructor Penny Bailey teaches this 30-minute balance and flexibility workout. Balance moves can help boost your strength, stability and body awareness. For this class, you should have four plastic cups or small bowls and sturdy support such as a chair, countertop, couch or wall.
The Memorial Day Parade may be cancelled, but we can still honor fallen veterans from our homes this year.

We encourage you to decorate your yards and porches with red, white and blue in honor of all those who lost their lives in service for our country.

These brave men and women will not be forgotten.
I wanted to thank everyone involved with HAWK for all their hard work and dedication to our hockey association. I know the season didn’t end the way anyone expected – but everyone’s efforts are appreciated.

Our players are dedicated and passionate about hockey, that’s down to our 80+ coaches and 40+ volunteers who make HAWK a top notch, fun program for all participants.
Our HAWK travel teams play in strong, challenging divisions where we compete well and often finish in the top portion of the standings. This season, we had numerous teams qualify for the Adray Championship Weekend – had it gone ahead, we would have brought some more banners home!

Our HAWK House Program is the strongest/healthiest in West Michigan. We have Travel teams at all levels and are still able to field multiple House teams at each level. This is due in large part to our commitment to treat our House program the same as we do our Travel program. But, it’s also a reflection of the efforts of our entire HAWK family.

I hope everyone is safe and ready for more HAWK Hockey as soon as we are able. Registration for the Fall season is open at www.hawkhockey.net. By registering you secure your spot on a team for fall. If you aren’t sure if you will make or want to do travel, just register as a house player for now. I can’t wait to see everyone. The rink just isn’t the same without our HAWK teams!

Coach Mike
We are still accepting Adult Softball Team registrations online. We will reevaluate the season after June 1 st to see if we can continue depending on the orders from the state.
All City of Walker Parks and Playgrounds remain open, however please note we DO NOT sanitize playground equipment. Also, all public restrooms at City Parks remained CLOSED until further notice.

Please be mindful of social distancing etiquette when visiting our parks. Please sanitize your hands often, distance yourself from others and be safe. We encourage you to take advantage of the open spaces and trails while enjoying the outdoors!
Check out M Parks' Virtual Play and Wellness Network: Physical activities for everyone from children to seniors!
Kent District Library has a new eBooks platform! Libby from OverDrive will be replacing the CloudLibrary app. Overdrive is more than just eBooks, it also has eAudioBooks and Digital Magazines.
Visit here https://kdl.overdrive.com/ to explore the new service.

We've temporarily turned off the ability to place more than 1 hold. We made this decision in order to offer you access to OverDrive as quickly as we could, while we continue to work with cloudLibrary and OverDrive to investigate transferring all existing holds. More information will be coming soon!
KDL is currently closed due to COVID-19.  Visit the KDL Blog for details and updates.  
The situation will be closely monitored and we are exploring alternate ways to continue providing service. For updates, visit KDL.org/coronavirus  and our social media pages.
In the meantime, many digital services are available to you remotely and for free, such as eBooks, eAudiobooks, movies, music, newspapers, magazines and more. Visit kdl.org/virtual for more details.

Use the library from home
Want to learn a new language, keep the kids busy with a craft, or simply relax with a good audiobook? Stream your favorite music, flip through a digital magazine, or watch an award-winning film. Check out free online resources and programs that you can access anytime from home. It’s all here.

Are you missing your favorite Library programs? KDL staff is livestreaming and recording programs for you to enjoy from home.

COVID-19 Information You Can Trust
Sharing accurate information from trusted sources is critical to reduce misinformation. Find reliable and current information about the outbreak from local, state and national agencies at  kdl.org/coronavirus#covid
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 Firehouse Cafe / Senior Neighbors
We all know by now the effects COVID-19 has had on our planet. We are constantly striving to do our part in making sure seniors stay safe. In order to keep the members of our senior centers, exercise classes and transportation clients safe, Senior Neighbors has temporarily suspending our senior centers. We hope to be open soon and will be following the lead of our governments. At this time we have staff answering phones from our centers and central office if you have questions.

Questions? Contact Sherri Meines at 616-735-3240 or by email.