Dear Eaton Rapids,
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a wonderful Christmas and splendid New Year.
You have all weathered the tumult. Whether it be the remnants of the Pandemic, an election wrought with accusations and counter accusations, uncertainty over the economy, school upheaval, mask mandates, vaccines etc. The list goes on and on and every news cycle brings something more. What it often doesn’t bring is the “Flip side.”
Let’s concentrate on the “Flip side” in our own back yard. The mini food banks are being kept stocked to give a “ hand up and not a hand out.” The community coat tree is back. I hear about it. “ Oh, we look like ‘hobo ville.” Well, that doesn’t hold true to the grateful person that obtains a gently used coat for their child so they can stay warm when they go to school. The attendance at our Christmas parade and making George our Grand Marshall. Not a person of means but a person that is pure of heart and spends his days giving back to all that pass. A welcoming smile and wave. How our Community came together when the Magnesium Products of America plant exploded and fund raisers were held to keep the families impacted on their feet. How citizens, City officials, Fire Fighters and Police Officers worked side by side to fill sand bags during significant high water events in 2018 and 2019.
I recall coming to Eaton Rapids as a member of the newly formed Eaton Rapids Police department. It was December 14th of 1981. The original department was housed in the Eaton Rapids Fire department downtown. The “new crew” consisted of 10 members. We built the department from scratch. I mean we built it. We hung cabinets, built counter tops, designed the patch, re-cycled old equipment and learned the town. All this in 17 days. It was a difficult first year but gradually we became acclimated and assimilated into the town.
When I took office in January of 2018 I had a pretty firm agenda. I wanted to see upgrades, changes, measured development and a restored sense of pride in our community. I think we did pretty well. We upgraded much neglected equipment for our DPW. We gave our employees the tools with which to serve you better. That came with an understanding. We are making an investment in you, our employees, so that you can pass that on to those that you work for. We lit and built 2 bridges, both of which had been in disrepair for several years. We wrote and enacted a new Parks and Recreation Master Plan and a Master Plan for our city. Kudos to our Parks and Rec department and our Planning Commission. We became a Michigan Main St and Rising Tides Community to spur development and put forth several new programs to aid the downtown. Nice work DDA. We created a Property Maintenance Code upgrade and a Residential Rental Inspection Ordinance. This was done to make the community more attractive and hold land lords to rigorous standards to make sure that they maintained their properties. One of the intended results was that several of our “absentee land lords” that had allowed their properties to fall into states of disrepair sold these properties and they were converted into owner
occupied dwellings. People take more pride in something that they own as opposed to something that is owned by someone else. I asked a lot from our Building Inspection department and they delivered. We have rehabilitated our river front with a new Riverwalk and re-do of our G.A.R. park. Needed upgrades at the Howe Memorial Field and the creation of several grant funded projects to aid our residents in upgrading their own homes (Curb side grants, Façade grants and MSHDA housing grants).
Paved several streets and completed much needed upgrades to both the State St and Brook St corridors in the form of new water and sewer lines and a smooth surface on which to drive.
The Farmers market has become a “come to” event and draws folks from other communities.
We have experienced an expansion at our much coveted Eaton Rapids Medical Center, truly a jewel that the entire community can be proud of.
All in all, a pretty good 4 years.
As I write to you I bid you Peace. I hope that the projects that were started and the vision for our Community that has been worked towards continues to travel a good path. I hope that the City Council continues to keep in mind that they serve the citizens and not vice versa. I ask all of you that you offer to volunteer to help and not sit on the side lines watching the parade pass by. After all, it can’t be done alone and if you aren’t part of the solution you shouldn’t be part of the problem.
Take the opportunity and be part of the “Flip side.”
Thank you for allowing me the honor of serving as your Mayor.
Keep making Eaton Rapids a great place to live, work and raise your family.