Big Rapids City Commissioners make appointments for 2017

LIVING THE DREAM: Nick Routley swears in a a full-time firefighter with the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety. Being hired in as a full-time firefighter has been Routley dream, he told City Commissioners. (Pioneer photo/Meghan Haas)

LIVING THE DREAM: Tammy Gillis swears in Nick Routley (left) as a full-time firefighter with the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety. Being a full-time firefighter has been Routley’s dream, he told City Commissioners. (Pioneer photo/Meghan Haas)

BIG RAPIDS — Many resolutions were passed during the Big Rapids City Commission meeting Monday, including one accepting City Manager Steve Sobers’ retirement, and one appointing Department of Public Works Director Mark Gifford as Sobers’ replacement.

“You reach a point sometimes in your career and you see talented people, and you know they have the ability to eclipse what you’ve done and it’s really a proud moment,” Sobers said. “I think Mark is enormously talented. I couldn’t be happier turning the reins of power over to anybody but Mark. You hire for attitude and train for skill, and Mark is there. He is ready to take charge.”

Mark Gifford has accepted the position and the contract for the position as the next city manager.

“I am thankful to Steve and thankful to the commission,” Gifford said. “I am excited about the opportunity.”

Commissioners unanimously approved the resolution and shared their thanks with Sobers for his years of service.

“I was a member of the commission that interviewed Steve,” said Commissioner Tom Hogenson. “At the time everyone was very hopeful and encouraged by his expertise, but also by the way he handled himself and the promise he showed. We have certainly been repaid 100 times over by his good service and stewardship of our community.”

Gifford will be sworn into office during a January meeting. His first day on the job is scheduled for Jan. 28, 2017.

Other appointments made during the meeting included Commissioner Lynn Anderson, Department of Neighborhood Services Director Mark Sweppenheiser and chair of the Big Rapids Planning Commission John Schmidt to the West Michigan Regional Planning Commission for 2017. Commissioners also reappointed Mark Vanderlist and Monte Johnson to the Assessment Board of Review, with terms ending in February 2019.

During the meeting, commissioners heard from Department of Public Safety Director Jim Eddinger about a traffic control resolution. Eddinger proposed moving a stop sign on Oak Street back 20 feet. One parking space will be lost to increase line of sight at the intersection.

Commissioners approved the resolution.

During the meeting, commissioners witnessed a member of DPS in the Fire Division, Nick Routley, being sworn in as a full-time firefighter.

“Nick was working a while with the Big Rapids Township Fire Department, then he became a part-time firefighter with us,” Eddinger said.

Routley was born and raised in the area, and has been in the community his whole life.

In other business:

  • Commissioners approved Fleis and VandenBrink for engineering services for resurfacing a portion of Ives Avenue, which will cost the city an estimated $30,900. Commissioners also approved Fleis and VandenBrink for engineering services on the Dial-A-Ride facility, which will cost the city approximately $7,500.
  • Commissioners approved revocation to an Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act exemption for a change in circumstances. The OPRA was granted to the building on 706 Perry Avenue, which became The Gate. With The Gate moving across town, the OPRA is no longer needed.
  • Commissioners discussed the possibility of alternate winter parking, allowing for quicker plowing for the Big Rapids Road Commission and would help keep cars from being blocked in by snow. Other options were discussed during the meeting but no action was taken.
  • Commissioners approved an agreement to pay $500 per year to the Big Rapids Historical Preservation Commission to administration, operation and maintenance costs to the Bergelin House.
  • Commissioners approved an amended special assessment roll for improvements made to an alley between Warren and Stewart avenues, north of Oak Street.
  • Commissioners gave their blessing to start negotiations to acquire and improve the property on 717 Finley Avenue, which was destroyed by fire. After some time, a couple bought the building to improve it but the man passed away recently.
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Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at mhaas@pioneergroup.com.

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