Storm delays Alpena’s search

ALPENA – Mother Nature has a knack for throwing a monkey wrench into even the best laid plans, and that is precisely what she did to the City of Alpena’s search for a city manager when a spring ice and snowstorm hit the area on Thursday and Friday.

The fallout from the storm and the impact it had on roadways throughout the state forced Mayor Matt Waligora to cancel a special meet-and-greet event scheduled for Friday and also a special meeting today where the four candidates were to be formally interviewed. The events now will take place on Friday and Saturday.Waligora said it is unfortunate the two meetings needed to be canceled, but considering the conditions it was an easy call to make.

“There were really no negative consequences to delaying this another week,” Waligora said. “Sure we might have some food that won’t be used and people may have to adjust their schedules, but neither of those negative consequences were worth risking the safety of the candidates and their families.”

The meeting slated for Saturday had been scheduled as a date where a meeting could be held should the council decide it wanted to interview any of the candidates a second time. Waligora said now the preliminary interviews will take place then and the council will decide if and when a new date will be set for a second meeting.

“We’ll discuss a second meeting and a follow-up date during Monday’s regular meeting. I want to get something planned so people can make the plans they need and adjust their schedules if they need to,” Waligora said. “If we decide we need it, then we will have it, if we don’t need it, then we won’t have it. We really aren’t losing anything.”

The council had hoped to announce the new city manager on April 22, but now the weather has caused a brief delay and the original timeline will have to be amended. Waligora said the delay will not pressure the council from taking its time and making sure the right person is hired.

“We don’t have a real sense of urgency, because we understand doing our due diligence is very important,” Waligora said. “We have an obligation to follow the appropriate steps and getting each of them here safely was one of them. We want to give all of the candidates a fair shake and this does not increase the sense of urgency any more than what we had before.”

Joining interim City Manager Greg Sundin as finalists for the position are Onaway City Manager Joe Hefele, Grand Haven Assistant Manager Sam Janson and Daniel Swallow, director of economics and community development of Monroe. A fifth finalist, John Michrina, the city manager of Center Line, withdrew after being selected.

The meetings on Friday and Saturday are both open to the public. The meet-and-greet, which will be a social gathering, will be held at the APlex and begins at 5:30 p.m., while the meeting on Saturday begins at 9:30 a.m. and runs until all the interviews and discussion is complete. Waligora said the council will spend about 50 minutes questioning the four men before beginning council talks.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at