PIERSON — The long-troubled village of Pierson has a new leader – and he has plans for positive change in this tiny town.
Marshall Dillon, who previously served on the council, ousted Karl Van Haren as president in the Nov. 6 election. Dillon received 21 votes as a write-in candidate compared to Van Haren’s 19 votes. Van Haren did not request a recount.
Six people filed as write-in candidates for four two-year council positions. Tammy Patton received 12 votes, Gerald Meyer and Alan York each received 10 votes and Patton’s son Jeffery Patton received eight votes. Tina Ladd, who filed as a write-in candidate for one of two four-year positions, was elected with 10 votes. Larry Atkins was appointed to fill one remaining four-year position.
In the wake of Nov. 6 election results, Lori Graham quit as clerk and Tesha Rush Gould quit as treasurer. Dillon has already hired their replacements – Julie Hammond as clerk and Jackie Dines as treasurer.
With an entirely new village council in place, Dillon is ready to bring some positive changes to Pierson after a year filled with recalls, resignations and more.
Van Haren survived a recall attempt by just three votes on May 8. That recall was initiated by then-councilwoman Rebecca Starr. Van Haren then initiated a recall against Starr, Smigiel and Duane Griffes, all councilmembers. Starr and Smigiel held onto their seats, but Griffes was recalled on Aug. 7.
Starr attempted to resign from the village council on June 5. However, the council was unable to accept her resignation due to the lack of a quorum and the fact that two councilmembers, Atkins and Lucinda Keech, had recently resigned.
“I watched it (the village) not get run well so I figured I’d throw my hat in there and see if I could do any good for the community,” Dillon said. “I think we have a pretty good council there now. It’s all brand new. I think we’ve got a pretty good chance of moving forward. I told them I don’t want to dwell on the past.”
Dillon said the council’s first goal is to improve the village’s sewer system, which has had problems for the past 30 years. Dillon is hoping someone can help him apply for grants to improve the system with new pumps and more.
Dillon is employed with the Grand Rapids Department of Public Works in the forestry division. He is hoping some of his connections there will assist him in bringing a KaBoom project to the village park. KaBoom is a national nonprofit that envisions “a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America,” according to kaboom.org online.
“I’d like to get that going, get some restrooms put back in there,” Dillon said. “There’s been years of vandalism there and the restrooms had to be locked up.”
Speaking of vandalism, Dillon also has his eye on the troublemakers who enjoy doing “doughnuts” on the village’s Little League ballfields.
“Warning: If you continue, you will be caught and prosecuted,” he promised. “They’re just tearing up the kids’ stuff and that’s not right.”
Dillon has lived in Pierson most of his life, but leading the village council will still be a challenge for him.
“This is all new to me so it’s going to be a learning experience,” he said. “A lot of the people have never been on a council before, but we’re going to try to get things done. I want to try to look forward and try to get as much help as we can to try to better the place. I’m not afraid to get right down in the trench and do some digging myself.
“I told people around town, don’t be surprised if I come knock on your door and ask you for help,” he added with a smile.
The Pierson Village Council meets at 7 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month.
Call the village office at (616) 636-5101 for more information.