January 11, 2017ALMONT — The village council on Tuesday, Jan. 3, reached an agreement with Michael Connors to serve as new village manager.
The two-year pact pays Connors $60,000 annually, along with health insurance benefits, a pension plan and 15 days paid time off.
Connors was among three finalists interviewed for the position in early December. Others were former Imlay City Manager Jim Creech and veteran Almont Police Officer Amanda Manning-Moses.
By Wednesday (Jan. 4) morning, Connors was already in his office at the Almont Municipal Building, adjusting to his new staff and surroundings.
The president of Great Lakes Property Consultants, LLC, Connors has significant planning and development experience with the Macomb County Dept. of Planning & Economic Development and The City of Roseville.
He believes his prior experience can be beneficial to the Village of Almont.
Acting Manager Kim Keesler helps new manager Mike Connors find his way around the village offices. photo by Tom Wearing.
"I have a background in building and redevelopment, as well as in farmland preservation," says Connors. "These are skill sets I can now bring to Almont."
Having just arrived, Connors has nevertheless been making the rounds. He recently visited the offices of the Four County Community Foundation, the village's wastewater treatment plant and various businesses.
And prior to inking his contract, Connors introduced himself to the village's department heads, office staff and DDA Director Kim Schall.
"I've been impressed with their 'roll up your sleeves' and get things done mentality," he says. "We all have to do our best to best serve Almont residents. I plan to be fully engaged in that process and helping this community move forward."
Connors says he is aware of some of the issues and conditions leading up to the recent resignations of former Police Chief Pat Nael and Village Manager Sarah Moyer-Cale.
"I believe it was a matter of communication," says Connors. "Communication must always be open. Whether it's communicating with with the village council or with our residents."
One of the first items on Connors' plate will be to assist in the selection of a new police chief to succeed Nael. The village council decided to delay that process until a new manager was in place.
In recent months, veteran Almont Police Sgt. Andy Martin has assumed the duties of chief.
Needs versus budget
Connors realizes the village must make necessary improvements within the constraints of a tight budget.
"With limited resources, it's going to be a challenge," he admits. "But there are always things we can do."
He alluded to the recent $242,000 SAW Grant awarded the village for the purpose of initiating future protocol for infrastructure repairs and upgrades.
The council plans to use the grant money to televise all of the village's sewer lines as part of an asset management plan for future capital improvements.
"Infrastructure is critical for the village's long-term sustainability," says Connors. "We need to identify where areas of need exist and to prioritize those deficiencies."
In the meantime, Connors is happy to continue learning about, and acclimating to his new surroundings.
"A lot of it comes from meeting people and learning and respecting the fabric of the community," he says. "I plan to get out and do some networking.
"I'm excited to be here," says Connors. "I've always wanted to be a manager. I'm looking forward to the opportunities and meeting the challenges that lay ahead."
Village Council President Steve Schneider says he and other council members liked Connors' demeanor, his prior experience in zoning, infrastructure and grant writing.
"Those were all key factors in hiring Mr. Connors," said Schneider. "I think the council was favorably impressed with his professionalism and credentials.
"Also, his references came back as being stellar," Schneider continued. "We were contacted by one of his former employers, who had nothing but glowing praise for his performance."
Schneider noted that the council felt it imperative to hire a manager with strong communication skills.
"With all the changes and challenges that have occurred during the past year, we need stability in that position," he said. "We have confidence that he (Connors) can handle the job."
Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.