N3 asked the Mayors of our local cities to provide us with a bit of a review of the past year as well as a little preview for what might be coming down the pike for 2020.
Our first offering featured the city of Grant. https://www.nearnorthnow.com/the-pulse/the-cities-of-our-county-a-review-a-preview
Now we move north to the county seat of White Cloud, a designated Trail Town where one will find “A Trail for Every Season” and a place “Where the North Begins and Pure Waters Flow”.
The City of White Cloud is poised to be the "break-out" city of West Michigan in future years. Being the intersection of two major highways, the county seat, a trailhead for the North Country Trail, and a variety of outdoor activities, White Cloud is working hard to set up our vision for the future.
This Spring we hit a bit of a setback with the White Cloud Mill Pond Dam having some damage after the thaw. However, the dam worked exactly the way it was supposed to work, and the damage and repair were minimal. Working with the State we were able to use primarily grant/emergency money for the work.
Our Airport has a new runway lighting system, LED, to step up our level of service to those that use our airport. Usage is still small at this time, but we are still looking forward to our airport being used much more with future business opportunities, as well as, the opening of the Dragon Trail.
Some of the biggest decisions this year have come by way of new laws in the state. This past Spring White Cloud ushered in the opening of our first Medical Marijuana Facility, and they have been a pleasure to work with. With the State of Michigan laws allowing for recreational marijuana as an option, the City Council has decided to work within this new business opportunity and opened up the option for recreational sales in White Cloud. With just the discussion of these new policies coming into play, we have received several calls on our status of the ordinances, and our vision of how the applications will be accepted. As of December, our ordinances are in place and many businesses are beginning to vet White Cloud as a potential home.
One of the biggest concerns in White Cloud over the last twenty-plus years has been our Industrial Park. Sadly, it has spent years being unsold and undeveloped. This past year, with the help of our City Manager, Lora Kalkofen, we have sold (or with option) every parcel in the industrial park. Some sights have already begun clearing trees, and others are working with our planning commission on their sight review process. In a short time, our industrial complex should be seeing some incredible growth. Our downtown industrial park even saw some growth this year with our first 70,000 sq ft marijuana grow facility.
One of the biggest needs in Newaygo County, and White Cloud specifically, is affordable housing. After a three-year commitment of searching for, touring, and selling our city to a variety of developers, it seems White Cloud may be getting close to seeing a new housing development. We have been working with the Hope Network over the last few months on finding them not only a location but a sense of 'fit' without community. We have hosted several informational times, and Hope Network even rented out space for questions. We are hoping early this year we will be able to shake hands and move forward with plans for new development.
How can you talk about White Cloud and not discuss our roads? In 2018, we were able to commit a little over $150,000 to do some badly needed "band-aid" repairs to a number of our roads. One major project, James Street, was left off that list. James street was even mentioned in recent years as being one of the "10 worst roads in Michigan". I don't think anyone in White Cloud would deny that. This year the city worked with a grant writer and we were able to get matching funds from the State to work towards the repair of James Street. Timelines, strikes, water line work, and Michigan weather got in the way and sadly, we didn't get the repair job finished. We are excited for the Spring to get this paved and in a standard that we can be proud of. We just ask for a bit more time.
Where is White Cloud going in 2020 and beyond? That is one of our goals for the year. With new and returning faces on our City Council, Downtown Development Board, and Planning Commission, we are working this year on a complete revamp of our City's Master Plan and will need input from our residents for that. Our downtown area is ready for growth with business, and our community is looking to help build our town back to its former glory. We welcome our most recent business additions and are looking forward to working with them as they grow and succeed with us.
I want to thank the City residents for my first term as Mayor and hope to continue to serve positively. I am continually learning how our city works and am hopeful we can make it successful.
Mayor, City of White Cloud
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