RC officials confident of smooth transition

ROGERS CITY – Beach Hall, Rogers City’s outgoing mayor, is confident the new city government will lead well.

Hall’s last meeting as mayor is Dec. 17, when council member Tom Sobeck likely will be sworn in. His vacant seat will need to be filled by appointing a new city council member, and a new city manager won’t be selected until there’s a full council.

There are changes ahead for Rogers City government. Hall announced he wouldn’t run for another term as mayor in July, and former City Manager Mark Slown accepted a job in Ishpeming in October. Along with Sobeck being elected as mayor, current Mayor Pro Tem Deb Greene’s and council member Dana LaBar’s terms end in December.

Unless Greene or LaBar apply for Sobeck’s vacant seat, Sobeck and Gary Nowak could be the only current city council members remaining in January, Hall said.

“I’m quite sure the city will be in good hands with the new council, the new council members and a new mayor,” he said. “I’m not at all worried.”

Sobeck’s vacancy triggers a clause where the city must advertise for letters of interest and fill his seat within 30 days, Hall said. The new council will select from among the applicants, likely at its Jan. 21 meeting at the earliest.

“After that, the new council in total will select a new city manager,” he said.

This decision was reached at a workshop on Tuesday, where incoming council members Ken Bielas and A.J. Przybyla III were present, Hall said. In the meantime, the Michigan Municipal League will continue seeking applicants for city manager. MML will post an ad for a new city manager this week, Hall said. The deadline to apply will be Dec. 16, with a notice that no interviews will be held or selections made until late January or early February.

A consultant with the organization advised the city hold off on making a choice during the city council’s transition, Sobeck said. He’s confident he can take the reins when Hall’s term ends, and plans to consult with Hall and city Clerk, Treasurer and Interim City Manager Terri Koss on his new role.

“I understand how the city works, I’ve been on council for six years, so none of it’s foreign to me,” he said. “What I will have to get up to speed on is various committees and meetings that I as mayor will have to attend.”

While the new city council will be one member short, Sobeck said expects the new team to “hit the ground running.” Bielas is a former city police officer and is familiar with city staff and departments, and Przybyla has attended several city council meetings to familiarize himself with the proceedings.

Nowak also believes Bielas and Przybyla will do well in their new roles, he said. They both have a good idea of what voters want, and will get the feel for how to listen and vote their conscience.

“They’ll do fine, it takes a learning process and you don’t learn it overnight just like anything else, but they’re pretty intelligent, they’ll do the job,” he said.

Nowak said his 25 years of experience will be an asset in the coming months as well.

“I’ve been there a long time, I know how the system works and I know what we did in the past,” he said. “I think that helps a lot.”

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.