New manager named

Jon Kangas to replace Steve Lawry


MARQUETTE — Chocolay Township will be under new management to start the new year.

Jon Kangas, who has been the director of the Ishpeming Department of Public Works and the city’s engineer for around eight years, will assume the positon being vacated by Steve Lawry.

Lawry, who acted as Chocolay Township’s manager for more than seven years, is retiring. His last day is today.

Lawry said Kangas picked up the employment paperwork earlier this week.

“I am not sure that he has signed it yet, but he seemed to agree to all the conditions in it,” Lawry said.

While the exact details of the employment agreement were unknown, the 2018 budget provided for a $75,000 starting salary for the position, with compensation to be decided by the township board in negotiation with its selected candidate.

Kangas, a resident in the township, was one of three candidates interviewed for the position by the Chocolay Township Board at a special meeting on Dec. 18.

According to board meeting materials, the other two candidates interviewed were Joseph Gunter from Northwood, New Hampshire, and Mark Polega, the current supervisor of the Electric and Public Works Department in Gladstone.

Kangas, who was unavailable for comment before press time, has held some form of a management role his entire career, beginning with managing a family restaurant in Calumet at the age of 18, according to his resume.

“These responsibilities at an early age have drawn me toward management positions and responsibilities wherever I have been,” Kangas wrote in his cover letter. “Management involves bringing people together, understanding and respecting their differences, and determining the best possible outcomes for everyone involved.”

He also touched on a personal motivation to apply for the position in his employment cover letter.

“The only home we have ever owned is right here in Harvey,” Kangas wrote. “We love it here! Nothing would excite me more than to serve the very community in which we live.”

Lawry said he supported the board’s decision to offer the position to Kangas.

“He can hit the ground running,” Lawry said. “He is a resident of the community, (and) he has been active on our planning commission so he is familiar with many of the issues the township faces. He has a background quite similar to mine when I started this position as a public works manager, so I think he is well suited to the position.”

Lawry said he expects the transition to be fairly smooth for all involved.

“I have let him know that I will stop into the office when he starts to fill him in on the status of things,” Lawry said. “His first day there is a board meeting scheduled, so he will jump right in. I have prepared the packet for him but he will be the one working with the board that night.”

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is