It was not only the right thing to do to honor the memory of a man who gave back to the community, but the perfect means to memorialize Mike McKeehan.
That was the general sentiment of comments Cheney Mayor Tom Trulove made Dec. 26 at the dedication of Mike McKeehan Way.
The new connector route – originally built as an extension of Simpson Parkway – joins Sixth and Washington Streets and now carries the name of the long-time Cheney teacher and tireless community leaded and City Council member who passed away suddenly July 19 at age 67.
“It’s so appropriate for him to be honored so close to schools,” McKeehan’s wife Judy said.
Longtime friend and council colleague, Cheney Mayor Tom Trulove, told a gathering of relatives and friends that “Rarely do we have the opportunity to do something that is so fitting and appropriate and so easy.”
“Never in my rather long career as mayor in Cheney have I received more citizen comments or requests than on the community’s desire to rename this street as a memorial in honor of our colleague, a respected teacher and friend, Mike McKeehan,” Trulove said.
“Prior to the receipt of citizen comments I was approached by every single member of the city council suggesting that’s what we ought to do,” Trulove said. “And I had thought the same thing right along.”
“No one had to change their address, so it was pretty easy,” Trulove added with a laugh.
At the Oct. 9, 2012 Cheney City Council meeting the group unanimously voted to rename the segment of what was going to be Simpson Parkway as Mike McKeehan Way.
Few individuals have devoted more time and energy and given more commitment to their community, Trulove said. “Honoring him as a community is all the more important because of what he gave to Cheney.”
The new street dissects Cheney School District property bordered on the north by the new middle school and south by the Cronk’s sports fields, as well as Cheney High School.
“He’s been known by generations of students in the Cheney School District so what’s more fitting than to name this street for Mike since it goes right through this wonderful complex of the school district,” Trulove said.
Trulove and McKeehan’s relationship goes back decades. The two had known each other since the 1970s he said. They two became acquainted because McKeehan taught school with Trulove’s wife, Glea.
“He and I served for six of seven years on the Planning Commission, that was the first official role we had,” Trulove said. “That augmented our friendship.”
The two reunited in an official capacity when Trulove joined the city council.
“Mike touched everyone, on the council and everywhere else,” Trulove said. “On a day like today, the day after Christmas, to have this may people turnout, that’s pretty amazing.”
The project dates back to August 2010 the city applied for a grant to finish building Simpson Parkway west from Sixth Street.
“Grants usually require some local match (and) we were fortunate to use the value of the property on this right-of-way,” Trulove told those in attendance. The land was valued at $125,600. The $807,300 grant was approved in November 2010. The contract with Shamrock Paving was awarded in June 2012.
The street is in and essentially complete right now, with the exception of lighting a crosswalk on the northwest corner of the project near Crunk’s Park, Trulove said.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.