Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Merrick calls on history as his guide

Forty years in community provides his road map for City Council role


February 1, 2018

New Medical Lake City Councilman John Merrick would like to see the city's fire chief become a full-time position.

Being about as much of a Medical Lake native as one can be without having been born in or around the community, John Merrick will take that experience to heart as he sits on the City Council for the next four years.

Merrick unseated incumbent Elizabeth Rosenbeck for Council Position 2. He garnered 57 percent of the vote in the general election.

Arriving in town some 40 years ago as a 5-year-old, Merrick went all through school there, graduating from Medical Lake High School in 1990.

Like many who settle in the community, Merrick did so with a U.S. Air Force connection, albeit somewhat different than others.

His parents separated when Merrick was young and the family moved to the community where his mom's mother lived and her father worked as an instructor at Fairchild Air Force Base's survival school.

Merrick joined the Navy out of high school and served eight years, both active duty and in the reserves. He was an aviation electrician's mate and then became a load master on DC-9s.

He is the poster guy for the age-old "join the Navy, see the world," recruiting slogan. "I have been everywhere," all seven continents, Merrick said. "It was an adventure, I got to see a lot of real cool cultures, cool places and stuff, and made some lifelong friends along the way."

He saw duty at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station working on the A-6 Prowler aircraft. Merrick went to sea on board the aircraft carriers, USS Ranger and Constellation.

Upon discharge Merrick moved with a friend to Oregon to attend college and later start work in automation control systems for several years before heading back to Medical Lake.

Work included time at Martin Hall juvenile detention center and later as a paramedic for American Medical Response where he recently retired.

Another job he had along the way was in the city's volunteer fire department. Time walking a mile in those boots has given Merrick an understanding of the needs that agency faces and will be a focus for him moving forward.

One of the first things Merrick will advocate for is making the Fire Chief's position fulltime. Having served as an officer there, he knows there is more work than time allows, particularly when bouncing between regular employment and department duties.

"Just the administrative stuff I had to do was well into a fulltime job," he said.

A larger task, that was also part of his campaign platform, is looking into someday having a fire station that is separate from City Hall.

"Building a new station benefits a lot," Merrick said. The department can grow into a new facility, as opposed to outgrowing the current one in City Hall. Such an effort would allow implementation of a resident's program.

Having the fire department move also opens more space at City Hall, he said. A bigger community meeting space and larger offices are benefits Merrick sees.

"I think it works all the way around, it's just a matter of how are we going to pay for it?" Merrick said. It is something he said he will not back away from until he's convinced the idea is not viable.

Merrick and his wife, Nicole, have two children, a daughter, Elisabeth, who turns 10 soon and 7-year-old son Ewan. He recently started work as a service tech rep for Synovia Solutions, a company that does safety and GPS tracking for schools and other fleets.

Turning 46 in a couple of weeks, Merrick said he is in the middle - between the younger couples moving to Medical Lake wanting to raise families in a small town and then the older generation who does not want change.

"I kinda' sit in the middle and see both sides," Merrick said.

The younger crowd wants some change, and Merrick said he cannot disagree with it. "But there's some things I don't want to change because I don't see a need for it."

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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