Originally published Jan. 22, 2019 in the Standard-Journal.

By Victoria Varnedoe

REXBURG − Mayor Jerry Merrill gave money to several Madison County Schools on Thursday, Jan. 17 at Madison Middle School.

Mayor Merrill presented four checks, each worth $250, to Adams Elementary, Kennedy Elementary, Lincoln Elementary and Madison Middle School. The money will be used for physical education equipment and programs.

Mayor Merrill walked with students at each of the four different schools during the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation’s Mayor’s walking challenge in October of 2018.

The Mayor’s Walking Challenge was a statewide competition for the month of October where mayors were asked to walk an average of 10,000 steps a day. If they met that goal, Mayors received a thousand dollars for a program or project in a city park or school.

Courtney Frost, the program officer at the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation, in a previous interview, said that in 2018 they had 72 mayors participating in the challenge.

Mark Bates, the principal of Adams Elementary, said that the $250 they each of the four schools received would be used for physical education equipment and programs.

When asked how he felt about the money and the walking challenge that Mayor Merrill did, Bates said “It’s awesome, we appreciate it.”

Shane Williams, principal of Kennedy Elementary, said that the children and teachers at his school enjoyed their time with the Mayor in October.

“I think it’s a wonderful program and I’m grateful to the city of Rexburg and Mayor Merrill to be able to promote physical activity in the schools,” Williams said.

Cori Hintze, the “Pacer Mom from Lincoln Elementary” accepted the check on the school’s behalf. She said that she thought it was great to see the community involved with the schools and felt that it was good for students to get to know the community.

“The walking part that I did in October was really the highlight of my day,” Mayor Merrill said.

He said that kids would hold his hand and give him hugs when he left. He said that he enjoyed talking to students about a wide array of topics. During the interview, kids at Madison Middle School gave the Mayor fist bumps and called out for his attention.

“We love it when Mayor Merrill comes and visits us and walks around with the kids,” said Michael Bone, principal of Madison Middle School. “It’s good to see the community partnerships that we have here. That the kids get excited not just walking at their own school but having a representative from the city come and walk with them, especially with him being the mayor. We really appreciate that.”

The PE Teacher for Madison Middle School, Debby Miles, said that she plans to use the $250 possibly for needed equipment or for fitness finders, rewards for physical challenges and activities, or to help extend their walking program at the school.

Mayor Merrill said that he will continue to walk at Madison Middle School for their monthly High-Five Mayors Walking Challenge.

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