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Negaunee Township hires manager

Nick Leach, manager, Negaunee Township

NEGAUNEE — A person who may be familiar to Negaunee Township residents has taken on a new role in municipal government.

The township board recently hired Nick Leach, who formerly held the role of township zoning and planning administrator, to fill its newly created township manager position.

Negaunee Township Supervisor Gary Wommer said out of the three applications received once the position was posted, it was clear Leach was the right man for the job.

“Even though we went out and we advertised and took applications and all that, he ended up being the best fit for our needs in the township,” Wommer said.

Township officials have been working toward the creation of a manager’s position for about four years, Wommer said.

“We felt that Negaunee Township, being the growth township that it is, and the young township that it is, has so much going that the normal powerful supervisor is not going to be able to cover all of this,” Wommer said.

The median age of Negaunee Township residents is 36.9 years as compared to the Marquette County median age of 38.9, according to Marquette County’s 2040 Master Plan, with 23.4 percent of residents age 14 and younger, and 10.4 percent in the 65-plus age bracket. The township grew from 3,088 residents in 2010 to 3,113 residents in 2017, the report states.

Wommer said those results solidified the need to address the changing demographics in the township.

“I am as guilty as anybody else,” Wommer said. “I thought when we got our information from the county we’d see that we are kind of a bedroom community, old people retiring and stuff like that. But we are the youngest township in Marquette County, we are the growingest township in Marquette County, and we’ve got all this stuff going on.”

As those demographics change, so do the needs of the township population, Leach said.

“I think it goes back to understanding the people we have here and the services they request of us, and figuring out a way to streamline the ability to utilize our commerce district on the U.S. 41 corridor and the main county roads while still holding true to our residential neighborhoods,” he said.

Leach said former Supervisor Bill Carlson, who stepped down from the position effective March 31, was another catalyst for creating a township manager positon.

“I think it would do a disservice to not give credit where credit is due with Bill Carlson,” Leach said. “He was here 40-plus hours a week sometimes, and that’s well beyond what a typical requirement would be. That was kind of my pitch towards why I thought I was a good fit for it was that the transition from having no manager to a full-time manager could be kind of, you know, seamless with the development as my role is fully realized.”

Wommer said officials are still ironing out what the supervisor will be responsible for and what tasks the manager will take on.

“His position right now is heavily commingled with his position of zoning administrator because that’s what he was,” Wommer said. “We’ve just got a wonderful staff here that just keeps the township going and Nick and I are working closely together to find a good set of values of who’s going to take what.”

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