Crunching the numbers

CITY TREASURER: Jonathan Locke started as treasurer for the City of Big Rapids on Feb. 20. His first major task will be to present to city commissioners a balanced budget proposal for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which starts July 1. (Pioneer photo/Jonathan Eppley)

Jonathan Locke gets settled in new position as city treasurer

BIG RAPIDS — Although Jonathan Locke is a new face at City Hall, he is no stranger to the Big Rapids area.

The new city treasurer has traveled to the area from Ohio with his wife about five times a year for the past decade to visit her family in Stanwood. In their many visits, Locke recalls enjoying the many local parks and recreation areas.

“I’ve always enjoyed the area anytime we came to visit,” Locke said. “We’ve enjoyed camping, going to the beach and the parks the area has, which have a lot of different (amenities) we like.

“Moving up here has been all new to me because I’ve never spent more than a few days here. It’s starting to feel like home. I’m learning the roads and where different things are on my own without having to use my GPS.”

Locke, 35, started as Big Rapids’ city treasurer on Feb. 20. He replaces Julie Tetsworth, who retired in December to spend more time with her family.

A Somerset, Ohio, native, Locke married his college sweetheart, Jennifer Marek, who hails from Stanwood. The two met while attending separate colleges in Columbus, Ohio; Locke went to Franklin University and Jennifer went to Capital University.

For the past 11 years, they have lived and worked in Locke’s hometown, where he most recently was assistant director for the Perry County Department of Job and Family Services. Jennifer worked for the county Board of Developmental Disabilities. Together they have a 1-year-old daughter, Lily.

“We didn’t go to the same school; we met through our roommates,” Locke said. “We were thinking of relocating to the area and when this opportunity presented itself it all worked out. … Jennifer’s parents still live here. She also has one brother here and the other (brother) just moved about an hour away. That’s a lot better than the seven hours away we were in Ohio.”

Locke earned a Bachelor of Science with a major in accounting in 2003 and a Master of Business Administration with a major in financial leadership in 2005, both from Franklin University. He also is a certified public accountant in Ohio, a designation he plans to obtain in Michigan.

His first major responsibility as head of the City of Big Rapids’ finances is to prepare the 2012-13 fiscal year budget. Because the city was without an official treasurer for two months, its budgeting schedule was shortened by several weeks.

City Manager Steve Sobers

City Manager Steve Sobers is impressed at how quickly Locke has learned the city’s budgeting process and is getting acclimated to city operating procedures.

“He’s met each and every employee on a leisurely basis to talk to them and get a feel for his staff,” Sobers said. “He also has gone to every city facility to get a feel for what his responsibilities will be in the financing of the different departments. On top of all that, he’s meeting his responsibility to do the budget.

“You can just tell he’s wide-eyed and eager to understand everything. That’s the kind of character he’s become. It’s a pleasure to have him here.”

The city has allowed Locke to squeeze his workweek into four, 10-hour days, so he can have three-day weekends to see his wife and daughter, who are still in Ohio. Jennifer is helping to train her replacement at her current employer. She has yet to find a job in Michigan.

Locke has been staying with his in-laws since February. His wife and daughter are expected to move to Michigan at the end of April.

“We still own a home in Ohio that we’re trying to sell, so we’re kind of at both ends of the housing market,” Locke said. “We’re hoping that our house will sell prior to her moving up here, but if not we’ll have to look at some other options. We’ve been looking at some homes in the area to buy, but it’s hard to get too excited about anything until all the other chips fall into place.”

The most difficult aspect of splitting his time between city finances and visiting his family on weekends is not seeing his daughter for days at a time, Locke said.

“She’s just now starting to talk and do all those fun things, so that’s one of the more difficult things in this transition period,” Locke said. “It seems like every time I see her she’s grown so much, even though it has only been a week since I’ve seen her last.”

Locke, who is anxiously awaiting his family’s move to Michigan, plans to stay in Big Rapids for many years to come.

“When you look at the history of the treasurer position, you had Lorraine James who was here for 25 years, then there was a couple of treasurers (Lynne Fields and Julie Tetsworth) over the past four years or so. I’m hoping to be more of the long-term treasurer,” Locke said.

Although Locke is pretty busy settling in to his new position and preparing the city’s 2012-13 budget, in his spare time he and his wife enjoy watching and attending college and professional football games and NASCAR races. He also enjoys camping and riding his all-terrain vehicles.

With a laugh, Locke cautiously admitted his favorite football team is the Ohio State University Buckeyes. However, he is excited to watch and cheer for some Michigan-based teams, including the Ferris State University Bulldogs, Detroit Lions and Detroit Red Wings. He hopes to attend a NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway to cheer on his favorite racer, Kevin Harvick.

“College football is pretty big in Ohio, which a lot of people up here probably don’t like to hear about. … We’re pretty big Buckeye fans,” Locke said, with a grin. “I have a couple things I’m going to bring in to decorate my office, but I’m waiting to pick up some Ferris State Bulldog things first to balance it out.

“We also follow the NFL, but I don’t have any allegiance to any team in Ohio, which is a good thing because I know the Detroit Lions really made a turnaround this past season. I’ll probably be watching a lot of them now.”


Posted by Jonathan Eppley

Jonathan Eppley is news editor for the Pioneer. He designs and copy edits the Pioneer daily, and manages staff in the evening. Eppley joined the Pioneer staff in 2010. He can be reached at (231) 592-8357 or at

Leave a Reply