NOVI, Michigan – Rockford City Manager Michael Young is the new leader of a statewide association representing Michigan’s municipal managers. Young was named the 2015 president of the Michigan Local Government Management Association (MLGMA) during the organization’s annual Winter Institute in Novi Jan 27-30. He succeeds 2014 MLGMA President Peter Auger, manager of the City of Novi. MLGMA is the professional association for local government managers from cities, villages, counties and townships throughout Michigan. “Having served as a MLGMA member since the early 1990s, it is truly an honor to represent the organization,” Young said. “I’ve had so many outstanding mentors, some of whom have also served as president of MLGMA, so to follow in their footsteps is humbling, yet also exciting.” Young’s public service work started in 1990 as an intern in Spring Lake under the tutelage of the then Spring Lake Manager Eric DeLong. He was an assistant city manager in Greenville for two years before becoming Rockford’s manager in 1995, where he has remained for the last 20 years. Young, who grew up in Grand Haven, has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in public administration from Grand Valley State University, He and his wife of 25 years, Melissa, have three children, Michaela, Mckenzie and Jake. Prior to being named MLGMA president, he spent the last year serving as the organization’s president-elect and also served on various MLGMA committees. Young said one of his main goals this year as MLGMA president is to better inform the public about the role of municipal managers. “I’m concerned with the high turnover and lack of new municipal managers in Michigan,” Young said. “Why aren’t more college graduates going into community management? Let’s face it, if all you read about is a community manager being fired or is in trouble, why would you want to go into that field? But I’m really idealistic about this profession. I think it’s a real noble profession.” To address those issues, Young hopes MLGMA can become more of a resource for struggling local governments and managers. “There seems to be a blurring of the role of an elected council in a community and the role of the manager. The council is supposed to set policy and the manager is to carry […]
by MICHAEL YOUNG guest editorial I am pleased to report that we have had very few complaints/problems with the recently approved, new, state of Michigan fireworks law. With that said, there is still quite a bit of confusion regarding the implications of the new law and whether or not local ordinances still apply. The purpose of this article is to clarify some of the ambiguity in the law to and to address the City of Rockford’s ordinance. The first thing to know is that local ordinances still do apply as to the sale and use of consumer fireworks. Consumer fireworks, as defined, were previously prohibited and they include fireworks that explode or leave the ground. The State has gone on to further clarify that local ordinances also apply with respect to noise, litter and safety. Under the state law, there are 30 days within the calendar where a municipality cannot prohibit the use of consumer fireworks. The City has had a long-standing nuisance ordinance, which regulates noise complaints. We are applying this nuisance ordinance to the use of all fireworks and prohibit their use between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 11:00 a.m. So while the State does allow the use of consumer fireworks the day before, the day of and the day after all national holidays, we are still restricting their use between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 11:00 a.m. The City of Rockford has recently amended its own fireworks ordinance to restrict the use of consumer fireworks between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 11:00 a.m. on any day during the year. With the many festivals and special events we have in the City, it is not unusual to hear fireworks throughout the City and we felt it important to regulate the hours in which they can be used. For those who choose to ignite fireworks, it is important to remember that all other City ordinances apply. The most important thing is to use common sense. During these times of extreme heat, we are advising people it is simply not worth the risk and to stop the use of any and all fireworks until we return to a more normal weather pattern. We are also asking people to be respectful of other […]
‘We said from the beginning it all goes back to rescue’ by BETH ALTENA Fourteen fire or police departments have funding for life-saving equipment they needed thanks to the generosity of those who supported the West Michigan Healing Fields (WMHF) memorial to 9/1/1 held last September. The Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE) met last month to give away the money raised by the sponsorships of the 3,200 flags—each representing one of the people who died 10 years ago in terrorist attacks that changed the U.S. in one horrific day. According to Rockford City Manager Michael Young, the project was brought to RACE by Susan Bodenner, who heard about the program. It allows communities to honor those lost while raising funds for grants to first responders, many of whom were among those killed. She brought the idea to the RACE board, where it was enthusiastically embraced. “We said from the beginning it all goes back to rescue,” said Young. “The franchise was $50,000, so RACE could either lose $50,000, break even or make money.” In addition to covering the initial franchise fee for the WMHF, the project raised nearly $60,000 more given away at the RACE annual meeting held at Rockford City Hall on Tuesday, May 18. Not all of the 20 grant applications or all of the grant request amounts were approved, but an amazing $57,840 in grants were given for worthy needs of local rescue. The grants included $5,000 each to Cannon and Courtland township fire departments, the City of Rockford Police and Fire, and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department Mounted Division, which is located in Rockford in Plainfield Townshhip. Plainfield Fire Department received $4,900 to purchase thermal imaging unit equipment; Algoma Fire Department received $4,882 for needed equipment; Sparta Fire Department received $4,785; Grand Rapids Police Department received their entire grant request of $4,473; Wyoming Police and Grandville Police departments were given $3,500 of their grant request; Grattan Fire Department received $2,400 of their requested grant; and Grandville Fire Department received a check for $2,200 of their requested grant. Polly VonEschen, who is an at-large member of the RACE board, said the grants represented the most the board has given since her tenure on the board. The endowment was formed in the early […]
Individuals made Rockford what it is today by BETH ALTENA “Service is the rent we pay for out little spot on this Earth.” This attitude was exemplified in the life led by the late Lynn Gill, who along with his wife LaZelle (Zell) were the lone addition to the Rockford Area Community Endowment (R.A.C.E.) Recognition Plaza. A ceremony took place Tuesday, May 28, beginning with the R.A.C.E. annual meeting at City Hall and ending at the plaza, located on the west side of the Rogue River by the dam. Zell Gill, before a large crowd of well-wishers at the Plaza, spoke with dignity and said the chance to help Rockford become what it is today has been a great honor for herself and her late husband. A plaque with her and Lynn’s name will serve as a permanent tribute to the contributions the couple have made to Rockford. Rockford City Manager Michael Young and the Rockford Area Historical Society nominated the couple and both Young and Historical Society President Terry Konkle spoke during the ceremony. Young talked of his experience of the couple. “In 1995 when I came here, whether it was God’s will, he put me right next to the Gills,” he said. Young described how fortunate his family felt getting to know the Gills and of their kindness and generosity. He noted that when his daughters ran away from home, as kids usually do during their childhood, his girls, ages 3 and 4, ran away to the Gills’ home next door. The Gills were very active in Rockford and are people that were well known as well as universally admired. According to a biography compiled by the Historical Society, the Gills moved to Rockford in 1940. Lynn Gill passed away in March 2009, and Zell still lives in the house they built on Dayton Street. The couple lived their lives with service as a major factor in their activities. Lynn was from Big Rapids, where he graduated in 1935 as salutatorian of Big Rapids High School. He and his brother were well known as semi-pro baseball players. Lynn was inducted into the Mecosta County Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. Zell was from Reed City and also had a love of sports. Both […]
by BETH ALTENA Among other votes, the Rockford City Council unanimously passed an extension on electronic billboards Monday, May 14 at the regular meeting. According to City Manager Michael Young, the nine-month extension of an original nine-month moratorium on the roadside digital advertising is, in part, waiting for the results of a federal study on whether digital billboards are a distraction to drivers. “The result is three years late. Given the federal government, we aren’t surprised,” said Young. The extension has nothing to do with a current lawsuit against the City by CBS Outdoor Signs, an electronic billboard company that wanted to put one within City limits near Shaw Creek Estates on Northland Drive. The City is in the midst of the suit brought against them by a refusal to allow the billboard by CBS. The company is suing Rockford, and other communities who have refused to allow the billboards, on the grounds that the refusal is hampering the right to free speech. According to Young, Rockford felt it was in the best position to take on the suit as the City’s ordinances specifically forbid the digital signage. Young also noted that the suit includes mandatory mediation, and joked that, given the electronic billboards are prohibited by City ordinance, the City has very little room to mediate. Young said that if the federal study comes back with a ruling that the billboards are not a distraction to drivers, the City will still refuse to allow them. “We will fight it all the way and I have no doubt we will win,” said Young.