And a parting gift
By Charles Chandler
Last year Lora Kalkofen, our good friend and capable White Cloud City Manager announced her intention to retire in June of 2020. This announcement initiated a flurry of Human Resources activities. Job requirements were refreshed and Michigan Municipal League was contracted to facilitate the job search for a new City Manager. The position was posted, a slate of candidates was selected, and the City Council conducted the interviews. One candidate met and exceeded the requirements and a job offer was made. The offer was accepted and last week the City Council approved a contract with White Cloud’s new City Manager.
On July 1 Ms. Yvonne Ridge, the former Mayor of Charlotte Michigan will be White Cloud’s new City Manager. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte,_Michigan
The Near North Now White Cloud correspondent had an opportunity to briefly interview Mayor Yvonne Ridge before the City Council Meeting. The interview was arranged by Mayor Denslow and conducted at the White Cloud Airport so that Social Distancing Protocols could be follow
N3 What attracted you to the position?
Ms. Ridge- The more I read about the City of White Cloud, the more I wanted to become part of moving the City forward. Two statements that appealed to me were that the people of White Cloud live where other outdoor enthusiasts can only vacation and the fact that people are proud of White Cloud’s small-town lifestyle.
The City of White Cloud is an amazing community; the more I visit the more I fall in love with everything about it.
N3. What are your top priorities for the next 6 months?
Ms. Ridge- Work with the current City Manager to be brought up to speed on ongoing projects and budget overview.
Getting to know the Mayor and City Council and learning what goals and expectations they have set for the upcoming year.
Meeting with Staff and learning about their job functions and what they enjoy about White Cloud.
Meet with business owners and key officials in the City and surrounding areas.
Get to know the community!
N3 What do you see as the strengths of White Cloud?
Ms. Ridge- White Cloud is financially stable. The Mayor and City Council support new ideas and have the willingness to tackle big projects to move the city forward.
N3. What are the biggest challenges you see ahead?
Ms. Ridge- There is a concern that young people graduate, go to college and do not return.
The downtown is struggling and has now been hit hard with COVID-19.
We will need to look for additional revenue sources in order to bring the infrastructure up to date.
N3. The pandemic has put many businesses at risk. What would you see as the best ways to support these local enterprises?
Ms. Ridge- I will first need to meet with each business owner and learn what steps they made to survive the pandemic. After seeing what has been done, we can make a plan going forward on how best to recover. This is the time to think outside of the box!
N3. Local Municipalities will feel the backlash of cuts at the state level. How do you plan to maneuver the decrease in funding?
Ms. Ridge- I will be spending a great deal of time reviewing the budget. I will work with the Mayor and City Council on conservative spending as we wait to see the impact of the cuts to revenue sharing by the state.
N3 Do you plan to live in the City?
Ms. Ridge- Yes, I am actively looking for housing within the city.
N3. What are your hobbies or recreational interests?
Ms. Ridge- I love hiking, boating, paddle boarding, beach volleyball, and spending time outdoors with my family. Summer is my favorite season!
I am looking forward to working and living in White Cloud and assisting in creating a place where people love where they LIVE!!!
The pool of qualified and experienced City Managers is small and growing smaller each year. The competition for these candidates is fierce. Attracting one to small rural municipalities is a challenge. Ms. Ridge’s professional experience, education and accomplishments are laudable.
The residents welcome you and thank you for taking an interest in White Cloud. We look forward to this partnership and assisting you in achieving our common goals.
At the time of this interview White Cloud’s controversial James Street was being paved. At long last this decade-old project is complete. It was mentioned that this was one of the legacy gifts from City Manager Kalkofen and we were happy that Mr. Ridge would not inherit that millstone.
Many of us hope that the animosity, misinformation, missed opportunities, and potholes will be forever covered over by that beautiful layer of asphalt.