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Tag Archive | "City Manager"

City Manager gets high marks in first year


 

Cedar Springs City Manager Mike Womack recently completed his first year on the job here in Cedar Springs, and the City Council gave him high marks. The Council completed a one-year performance review of City Manager Mike Womack at their September 7 meeting.

“The worst thing they said was they think I work too much. I was surprised that was the worst thing, but I’ll take it,” he said.

Mayor Gerald Hall was the one who voiced concern about that. “I feel Mike is doing an excellent job as our Manager,” he said. “But he might get burned out if he continues to work as he does.”

Womack has been with the City since August 1, 2016 and has hired several new staff members in that time. The team at City Hall now includes a new Finance Director, Deputy Finance Director, City Clerk, DPW Director and Utility Billing Clerk. Womack has received high praise from City Council for recruiting multiple high-quality employees and building a strong team.

“I was both unlucky and fortunate to lose so many people over my first year,” Womack said. “I was given the opportunity to bring together the team I wanted in City Hall representing the direction that Council and I envision for the City.” Womack elaborated that, “It was important to bring in friendly people with fresh ideas who want to do good things for the City.”

City Hall has invested a lot of work and time in ongoing projects in the City over the last year. Womack stated, “The City is really coming alive with economic activity,” and “I’m proud of the steps we’ve taken towards being more business friendly here in the City.”

“Some of the sign and zoning ordinances are out of date and unnecessarily restrictive, and we’ve got blighted property that we’re trying to manage,” he explained.

He plans to continue City Hall’s efforts to update and streamline City ordinances and to address the blighted properties in the City. Womack said that having a good staff and an active Council is helping propel these many plans forward.  Womack also praised local businesses and philanthropic groups for their work. “From the Halloween Spooktacular event to the new Community Library Building we are very fortunate to have so many that donate their time and money to make this such a great place to live, work and play,” Womack said.

When asked about his goals over the next year Womack talked about all the businesses coming to town. He also specified that “I’m focusing on pedestrian safety, the new fire station and bringing more life to the downtown area, especially the pocket park in front of City Hall and working with the CBDT on the Heart of Cedar Springs amphitheater.”

For their part, City Council rated Womack an average of 4.66 out of 5 and noted that overall they were very satisfied with his work, his commitment and the professional environment he brought to City Hall. Councilor Powell stated that “This small city is growing so fast.  We need his knowledge and experience in all these new projects.” Councilor Nixon appreciated his “emphasis on best practices and planning for the future.” Councilors did note that Womack could come off as somewhat distant and unfriendly due to his direct communication style, dry sense of humor and naturally straight-faced demeanor.

“What can I say, people who get to know me like me. I’ll try to smile more!” he joked.

Womack has two more years in his current contract and said he was very happy working in Cedar Springs.  “The City has been so warm and welcoming to me over the last year,” Womack said. “It’s been a nice change of pace for my life.” He said he really enjoys living in the west side of the state and likes the slower pace and smaller cities in the area. Womack came to Cedar Springs from his legal practice in Macomb County and lives in the local area with his wife Glenna and their two dogs, Fitz and Leo.

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City to consider beekeeping ordinance


By Judy Reed

The City of Cedar Springs may soon join the ranks of other progressive cities that are helping to support the environment by allowing residents to keep bees. The City Council will consider the first reading of the ordinance at their monthly meeting this Thursday, September 7.

City resident Joe Frank asked the city to consider allowing beekeeping in the city earlier this summer. He has kept honeybees as a hobby for several years. He had several hives on property he owned in Hesperia, and when he decided to sell the property, he re-homed all of the hives, except one, with other beekeepers. He had previously asked a city official if he could keep a hive on his property here, and was told he could. He moved the hive to his property, but was later told that he couldn’t have it under the current ordinance. That ordinance, Sec. 8-1 Domestic Animals and Fowls reads: “No person shall keep or house any animal or domestic fowl within the city, except dogs, cats, canaries or animals commonly classified as pets which are customarily kept or housed inside dwellings as household pets, or permit any animal or fowl to enter business places where food is sold for human consumption, except for leader, guide, hearing and service dogs as required by MCL 750.502c.”

“Bees are animals and no animals shall be kept except for the ones listed or are commonly classified as pets, which bees are not,” explained City Manager Mike Womack.

Womack gave the council a copy of the beekeeping ordinance in Traverse City, and a draft ordinance for the Planning Commission and City Council to consider.

This green box is Frank’s beehive, and the two white boxes are honey supers, which collect honey. Courtesy photo.

Frank’s hive is a green box inside a shed on his property. There are ports from the hive for the bees to travel through to get outside. They do not fly around inside the shed.

“They are not dangerous,” he explained. “There are already bees flying around outside. They have to live somewhere. Better in a hive than in the wall of your garage,” he noted.

At the August 10 council meeting, former Mayor Mark Fankhauser stated that he supports and recommends allowing bees in the city. He said he has seen a direct increase in the number of flowers as a result of Frank’s bees.

According to Ranger Steve Mueller, our resident wildlife and biology expert, bees are more important than butterflies as pollinators and are not dangerous. “Bees are experiencing population decline for a variety of reasons and can use human help. They are of great positive economic importance. People have an unreasonable fear of bees. Riding or driving in a car is a greater health threat than bees in the neighborhood. Why people develop unhealthy fear of bees and other insects makes little sense but many are taught unreasonable fear as a child and hold on to those fears throughout life,” he explained.

“[Bees] are a community-building, economic resource that benefits people, plants, and wildlife. I encourage people to maintain a portion of their yard for wildflowers and native species to help maintain and sustain biodiversity. Bees are an essential component if we want plants to reproduce,” he remarked.

Mueller said he has a friend that lives close to downtown Denver, Colorado and she has a small beehive in her backyard. “The bees fly about the city in nearby areas pollinating flowers, gathering nectar, and make honey. We eat at their picnic table in the backyard and are not disturbed by bees. We watch them at flowers in the garden that surround the picnic table. We sit on their deck to enjoy the day and have had not problems with the bees that are about 30 feet away. She suits up to open the hive to extract honey and uses normal bee keeping practices for safety,” he said.

Under the proposed ordinance, residents would need to apply for a permit. They could keep no more than a total of two hives on real property less than 10,890 square feet, no more than 4 hives on real property less than 21,780 square feet, no more than 6 hives on real property less than 43,560 square feet and no more than eight hives on real property more than 43,561 square feet. Honeybees must be housed in a properly designed and constructed hive, which may be located only in the “rear yard” of the property. They also cannot be any closer than 10 feet to any property line of an adjacent property.

Frank said he was happy with the draft ordinance the council is considering.

“The State of Michigan has guidelines for beekeeping and the proposal is in line with the State of Michigan Agriculture guidelines, which I think is a good way to go,” he said.

A few of the other cities that allow bees in West Michigan include Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and Holland.

Please note that this article has been updated to refer to the specific ordinance under which bees are not currently allowed in the City of Cedar Springs. We also removed Rockford as a city that allows them. It should have read Muskegon. We apologize for the error.

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Sidewalk chalk event a hit with kids


Kids in Cedar Springs got their art on Saturday, July 8, when the City and the Library held their first Sidewalk Chalk Art event at the Cedar Springs Community Library.

City Manager Mike Womack said they had 39 artists participate in the event.

“We changed it from a contest to an event because I believe all the art was great and deserving of winning prizes,” explained Womack. He said that each artist got to keep their chalk, got to pick a prize out of the prize box (kites, yo-yo’s and sticker pads) and each artist received a gift card for a free meal from a local fast food establishment.

Supplies and prizes were donated by several different local businesses.

“I personally think it turned out really well,” remarked Womack. “The only thing that would have improved it would have been more participants.  We have enough chalk left over to do another similar event and would like to do it again in either the Fall or Spring,” he added.

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City in need of planning commission members


Do you live in the City of Cedar Springs? Would you like to make a difference in the community? The City of Cedar Springs is looking for additional Planning Commission Members.

The Planning Commission helps shape the future of land use and business development in the City. The board consists of eight members of the community and the Mayor. There is currently one vacant seat, and one or two more seats are expected to be vacant within the year.

The Planning Commission is a volunteer board and usually meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. The input from the commission provides citizens the opportunity to have an input on the decisions that will shape the community for many years to come. To get an idea of what the Planning Commission does, you can download a Planning Commission handbook from the Michigan Municipal League at https://www.mml.org/pdf/pcebook.pdf.

Those wanting to apply for a position must  be 18+ year old, a city resident, and fill out the application that you can find online at http://dev.cityofcedarsprings.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/boards-and-commissions-application.pdf. Please email applications to manager@cityofcedarsprings.org or drop them off at City Hall. The City Manager and the Mayor will review the applications and make their suggestion to the City Council for appointment to the Planning Commission. Application deadline for the vacant position will be July 24.

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City votes to retain City Manager


City Manager Michael Womack is doing a good job for the City of Cedar  Springs.

City Manager Michael Womack is doing a good job for the City of Cedar Springs.

Cedar Springs City Councilors have decided that they like the job that City Manager Michael Womack is doing for them.

On January 12th, 2017, City Councilors reviewed the first six months of Womack’s performance as City Manager, assessing him in multiple categories.

Overall the Cedar Springs City Council rated Womack’s performance as very competent. Councilors stated that they were highly satisfied with Womack’s hiring of new staff and for creating an inviting atmosphere at City Hall. Councilors were also happy that Womack has created a good working relationship with Council, staff and the public. Womack also received praise for conducting the City’s business in a pleasant, positive and professional manner. Councilors did note that Womack could work harder at reaching out to City businesses and would like to see him continue working on the Heart of Cedar Springs project, the new fire barn and new streets and sidewalks in the City.

City Council voted 7-0 to retain Womack as City Manager and voted 7-0 to increase Womack’s salary $2000 per year to $74,000.

Womack started as City Manager on August 1st, 2016, replacing Thad Taylor, who departed the City for Manistee in November, 2015. Womack stated that he was very happy with Council’s vote of confidence in him and that Cedar Springs has been very welcoming.

“I look forward to working for the community for several years to come,” said Womack. “The City is working towards being more business-friendly and I’m looking forward to all the opportunities for growth and improvement in the near future.”

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Year in Review: Cedar Springs gets new City Manager


City Manager Mike Womack

City Manager Mike Womack

It took nine months, but the City of Cedar Springs finally has a new full time City Manager overseeing operations at City Hall. Mike Womack, 34, started in his new position August 1. He filled the spot vacated by Thad Taylor, who left the post for a position in Manistee.

Womack was an executive intern for the Village of Lake Orion, Michigan, which is located on the east side of the state. He was also a Graduate Assistant in the City Manager’s office in the City of Eastpointe, Michigan, and an Attorney at Womack & Womack P.C., in Shelby Township.

Longtime City Clerk Linda Christiansen (formerly Branyan) was interim City Manager until June, when the City Council appointed former Wyoming City Manager Barb VanDuren to be interim City Manager.

Christiansen gave her notice at the same meeting at which VanDuren was appointed, and retired July 1 after 22 years. She was replaced in the interim by Christine Witt, and then permanently by Rebecca Newland.

Treasurer Deb Brunett left for another position and was replaced by Darla Falcon. The city is also currently looking for a deputy treasurer.

CBDT donates property to city

In other city news, the city now owns all of the land in the Heart of Cedar Springs project after it was officially donated to them by the Community Building Development Team and CS Manufacturing.

Over the past three years, the CBDT, comprised of two dozen organizations and businesses in Cedar Springs, along with dozens of individual volunteers, has acquired six parcels equaling approximately 7.5 acres of land through a donation from CS Manufacturing, and from land that was bought at a substantially reduced price from Rob and Jodi Coxon. The donated land connects to the City-owned property on the northwest corner of Maple and Main Streets where the library is being constructed.

The entire area will be part of the ongoing development that will be known as the “Heart of Cedar Springs.”

For many years the plan has included a boardwalk/walking trail along Cedar Creek and bridges over the creek. Other features of the Recreation Plan include an amphitheater, which is the CBDT’s next project, as well as a Community Center and Recreation Facility.

Donating the land to the City not only benefits the community, but it also opens many new avenues for grant-funded projects.

“The City is grateful for all the hard work already put in by the CBDT on the Heart of Cedar Springs project and we look forward to working together to make downtown a better experience for everyone,” commented City Manager MikeWomack.

The CBDT has met monthly over the last three years and continues to meet on the 3rd Tuesday of each month (except December) in the board room of Hilltop School at 6 p.m.

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Wife upset Post reported husband arrested


POST SCRIPTS NOTICE: The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to PostScripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

 

 

I am writing regarding the defamatory article that was published on September 15, 2016, about my esteemed husband of 20 years Richard Webb. I stand in support of my husband’s character and our business regardless of the charges mentioned. Since we were not given an opportunity to comment I will list some details that were not reported:

When my husband was a young man he voluntarily assisted The Cedar Springs Post specifically, Lois Allen and her mother, when they had computer issues. In addition he also voluntarily assisted with preparing the papers for delivery.

Zylatech has supported the City of Cedar Springs for 12 years. In recognition of our home town we waived our standard travel charge for them. We have always gone above and beyond to make sure they were taken care of. When there were no technicians immediately available I myself went onsite and installed memory in a PC for a previous City Manager so he could get back to work.

The current City Manager, Mike Womack, has only been with the City for a very short time and has never met Rich. I do not consider his comments to be an accurate representation of our company.

My husband and I have run our business with integrity for 16 years. Our goal has always been “To honor God while providing a timely response and quality service.” That is what we do and will continue to do.

I am disheartened by the fact that our own hometown newspaper has treated us and our local small business with such disrespect. Rich and his family have been members of this community most, if not all, of their lives. I personally have lived in Cedar Springs for 19 years and am proud to have our 12-year-old son, Ian, attending Cedar Springs Middle School. It’s unfortunate that no one at The Cedar Springs Post took in account the damage that this article would do to our son, family, friends, church, employees, and livelihood.

In closing I would like to remind the Post and it’s readers that one of the most sacred principles in the American criminal justice system is that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. I also want The Cedar Springs Post and it’s readers to understand that God is with us no matter what the situation or trial we face in life. I recommend everyone watch and see what our Almighty God is going to do!

Sherrie E. Webb

Director of Operations, Zylatech, LLC

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Meet City Manager Mike Womack


Cedar Springs City Manager Mike Womack started August 1. Post photo by J. Reed.

Cedar Springs City Manager Mike Womack started August 1. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

It took nine months, but the City of Cedar Springs finally has a new full time City Manager overseeing operations at City Hall.

Mike Womack, 34, started in his new position August 1.

Just prior to coming to Cedar Springs, Womack was an Executive Intern for the Village of Lake Orion, Michigan, which is located on the east side of the state,

and a Graduate Assistant, in the City Manager’s office in the City of Eastpointe, Michigan. He was also working as an Attorney at Womack & Womack P.C., in Shelby Township.

Womack said his time at EastPointe and the Village of Lake Orion was valuable. “I learned a lot. There is no substitute for the mentoring you get through internships. It helped me to prepare for this job,” he explained.

Womack was born in Rochester, Michigan, and grew up in Troy. He graduated from Eisenhauer High School in Shelby. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Oakland University; his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School, and his Masters of Public Administration from Central Michigan University.

As a lawyer, Womack defended felony and misdemeanor cases, probate, and juvenile law. He also worked in oil and gas, and property law for a time in Pennsylvania. During that time, he would commute back to Michigan for classes. “I was always going, but began to feel worn out,” he said.

So why did he decide to make a career move into small town government?

“After seven or eight years of being a lawyer, I decided I wanted to do something else,” he explained. “As a child, I thought I might do something in government. I first thought of politics, but then realized I could do more good behind the scenes.”

Womack met his wife, Glenna, when they were both undergrads. They married in 2013, at the Beach and Yacht Club at Disney World, in Florida. The children they have are of the furry variety. “We have four dogs and a chinchilla,” he said.

Womack said he was somewhat familiar with this area of Michigan, from going camping up in White Cloud, and traveling up and down the west coast of the state, and visiting the Grand Rapids area. “During college I had a few buddies who went to school here,” he explained.

What does our new city manager like to do during his free time? “I’m a bit of a policy wonk,” he admitted, “I like to go home and read a white paper on best practices.” The Post asked him what he likes to do when he’s not reading white papers. He said he likes to do some shooting, though he doesn’t like to hunt. “That doesn’t mean I don’t look forward to a bit of venison jerky every now and then,” remarked. He also likes to do some long distance running and triathalons occasionally. “I used to do some amateur astronomy, but there was too much light where I was,” he explained. He also likes computer and video games, playing softball, and watching baseball. “I’m really looking forward to enjoying some White Caps games,” he said.

Womack has been living in a hotel, but was moving into an apartment this week. He said it would be about six months before his wife is able to join him. She needs to close up her law practice first. He said that they would look at buying a house somewhere in the area within a  year.

What does he think of Cedar Springs? “I think the city is on an upward trajectory. I’ve interviewed at places where people are losing jobs, and things are going downhill. I don’t see that here.” He said he’s excited about the “Heart of Cedar Springs” project at Main and Maple. “It will be great for the community. And I love libraries, and sculptures, and sculpture parks. If I can walk there on my lunch hour, get my mile in, it will be great,” he remarked.

His first priority, he said, is to get some city positions filled: both a full time clerk, and a finance director. A temporary clerk was hired to fill Linda Christiansen’s position until Womack can find someone, and the finance director will be leaving for another job in the near future.

Womack wants residents and business owners to know that he has an open door. “I’m happy to talk about problems. There may not always be an easy solution; we have to work within the personnel and financial constraints. But I’ll do what I can.” He said that the preferred way to reach him is through email: manager@cityofcedarsprings.org. But you can also reach him by phone at 696-1330, ext. 104.

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City approves manager contract and others


Michael Womack

Michael Womack

By Judy Reed

As of August 1, the residents in Cedar Springs will have a new City Manager. That’s the day that Michael Womack officially begins his new job in Cedar Springs.

The City Council approved his contract at their regular meeting Thursday, July 14. Womack was on hand to take the oath of office.

Womack has been serving as an Executive Intern, for the Village of Lake Orion, Michigan, which is located on the east side of the state.

He is also currently a Graduate Assistant, in the City Manager’s office in the City of Eastpointe, Michigan; and an Attorney at Womack & Womack P.C., in Shelby Township.

The contract calls for a salary of $72,000, with a 2 percent increase annually at the anniversary of his start date; five days vacation to start; insurance; and other benefits. The entire contract can be found in the agenda on the city’s website at cityofcedarsprings.org.

The City also approved the contract for interim City Clerk Christine Witt. She started Monday July 17. She will work part time until the City Manager can hire a new, full time clerk. She will be paid $16.00 per hour for up to 25 hours of work.

The City also approved the contract for property assessing services with Grand Rapids Township. The township will provide property assessing services to Cedar Springs for approximately $24,600, which is about the same as was budgeted for the prior assessor, Jason Rosenzweig. The City Council fired Rosenzweig after a vote of no confidence resulting from a dispute over whether the City should pay taxes on their own property.

Bryan Jager and Robin Rothley will do the work, while Jager will be signing the assessment role on behalf of the city. There have been no conversations yet on whether Jager feels the city should be taxed on its own property.

The Council also approved an amendment to current interim City Manager Barbara VanDuren’s contract. She was originally scheduled to stay until August 31, but since Womack starts August 1, her contract will be revised to that date. But it also states she may continue her assignment here to assist in the transition if that’s acceptable to both parties.

Each of the contracts voted on at the meeting were approved unanimously.

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Cedar Springs chooses new city manager


Michael Womack

Michael Womack

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs City Council met Friday, June 17, to interview candidates for the City Manager position.

They chose Michael Womack, Executive Intern, for the Village of Lake Orion, Michigan, which is located on the east side of the state.

Womack is also currently a Graduate Assistant, in the City Manager’s office in the City of Eastpointe, Michigan; and an Attorney at Womack & Womack P.C., in Shelby Township.

He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Oakland University; his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School, and his Masters of Public Administration from Central Michigan University.

The vote was 6-1, with Councilmember Dan Clark dissenting.

So how does Womack feel about relocating to the west side of the state?

“I am very excited for the opportunity to come to Cedar Springs and contribute to the community,” he told the Post. “I grew up vacationing on the west side of the state and I spent many summers in the area when I was younger. I look forward to reacquainting myself with the area and the chance to help Cedar Springs grow and improve. I hope to make many new friends and good working relationships in the next several months and hope to provide the skills and energy needed in the city managers chair.”

The Michigan Municipal League has been in charge of the interview process, and they are currently doing a background check on Womack. No start date has yet been set.

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