Let’s not forget an interim manager who did a terrific job

ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” story. It is an editorial by the editor.

Before he rides off into the sunset, many of us should take a little time to offer the handshake of appreciation to Wayland’s interim city manager, Larry Nielsen.

It is entirely possible that new City Manager Josh Eggleston will be at the helm for his first meeting Monday, Feb. 5. So it appears Nielsen’s tasks here have concluded.

It could be argued that Nielsen’s tenure in Wayland has been very quiet and his services have gone relatively unnoticed. Some critical thinking will reveal that because he did such a commendable job, not a whole lot has happened since last September, when he came on board.

Nielsen came here as a retired village manager for Paw Paw, and frankly he hit the ground running as a seasoned pro. His savvy understanding of how government is supposed to work made the transitional period about as smooth as I’ve ever seen it.

The interim had to be hustled into coming quickly in the wake of City Manager Tim McLean’s abrupt departure. Nielsen didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for this gig, but he’s done a terrific job.

He proved to me that he’s a pro almost immediately by holding fast to the tenants of the Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information requests. I’m not the easiest member of the pesky press to deal with, but I had absolutely no complaints about the way he handled potentially sensitive matters, thereby relegating them to the characterization of “potentially” only.

He provided the council with excellent advice on how to proceed with matters of crafting an ordinance or developing policy. His advice was sound and made sense.

The entire purpose of having a city manager, village manager or township manager is to bring professionalism and common sense to local government officials who aren’t expected to know its nuts and bolts. Some other local governments could use such services when they go off half baked into foolish waters and impede progress.

When I first launched Townbroadcast six years ago the city was mired in horrible controversy surrounding the police chief and city manager. There was much finger pointing, but few examples of truth telling, which didn’t set well with me, nor the public.

It was so bad back then that interim Manager Terry Hofmeyer had to take on the unenviable task of firing Police Chief Dan Miller and clear the way for new City Manager Mike Selden, who was coming on board after botched interviews and job offers were made, but rejected.

As the old Virginia Slims ads used to crow, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” Much of the credit goes to Selden, but the very brief tenure of McLean was a disappointment when noting five different men have sat in that city manager’s chair at the meetings in six years.

Nielsen and his quiet professionalism eased the tension and concerns between last September and now. I sincerely doubt the City of Wayland could have found a better interim for this time and this place.

So, thanks, Larry Nielsen, for a job well done, but we hope we don’t need you any more.


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