Belding’s new city manager feels “at home”


By Cory Smith • Last Updated 12:29 pm on Tuesday, April 30, 2013

 

Meg Mullendore

Belding City Manager Meg Mullendore works from her desk Wednesday evening at City Hall in Belding. Daily News/Cory Smith

 

BELDING — Shortly after Meg Mullendore began the position of Belding city manager earlier this month, she tackled one of the first items on her agenda — purchasing some “Belding gear.”

She walked over to Silk City Sports across the parking lot inside the Covered Village Mall and asked store manager Chad Hinton if he could make her a custom Belding sweatshirt.

Hinton, knowing Mullendore’s history of being a graduate of Greenville High School, offered her the opportunity to purchase a purple sweatshirt with a gold embroidered script “B,” combining the colors of her alma mater with the logo of the Belding school system.

Mullendore cracked a smile and shook her head.

“You will never see me in Yellow Jacket gear ever again,” she joked. “I’m a Redskin now — a diehard Redskin.”

All joking aside, since taking over as the city’s manager on April 8, Mullendore said she will continue to approach her position as a permanent one.

“I want to be here for 30 years, I really do,” she said. “There isn’t anything that could be dangled in front of me to make me consider looking elsewhere. I believe, very firmly, in fate and destiny, that everything happens for a reason. Me landing here in Belding — this was supposed to happen.”

Mullendore is a 2001 graduate of Grand Valley State University and earned a master’s degree in public administration. She has training in planning and zoning, labor relations, human resources, grant writing and finance and has served previously as the city manager of Buchanan and village manager of Cassopolis.

Mullendore said she has never been more excited to take on a new position and added that the comfort that members of the community have provided in her short time in Belding has played a large role in that excitement.

“When you come into a community, there’s always a little bit of fear and trepidation, but that hasn’t been the case here in Belding,” she said. “It’s been awesome, it really has. I really feel like my daughter, who now attends Belding Middle School, and I have really been embraced by the community.”

But Mullendore knows that some of the tasks that await her are daunting in nature. In her first city council meeting on April 16, she was given a list of goals from each city council member to attempt to accomplish in her first six months.

Topics of interest ranged from addressing outdated city ordinances, improving city streets, reenergize downtown, to work more closely with the schools and chamber of commerce, and create a sense of transparency between the city government and citizens.

“You just do your best to address the concerns, and I’m doing that daily,” she said. “A lot of the concerns that they’ve had are already being addressed. I have to create my own game plan. The way that I do things, it’s going to be fairly simple.”

Mayor Ron Gunderson thanked Mullendore at the April 16 council meeting on behalf of the council for approaching her position as quickly as she has.

“I want to thank you for stepping up to the plate the way you have,” Gunderson said. “I think word out there in the community is already very positive and you have people taking notice.”

Mayor Pro Tem Andrea Belding shared a similar sentiment when she asked Mullendore to help establish a more community-friendly atmosphere between city officials and Belding residents.

“I’m grateful because we’ve already had a chance to see Meg in action already,” Belding said. “I think people have already had the opportunity to meet and speak with her and that’s great.”

Meg said the last step to take before she finally feels “at home” will be to move into a permanent home.

“I’ll be able to walk to work and I’ll be walking down Bridge Street everyday,” she said. “For those people that don’t know me, it’s also a great opportunity to interact with people. I’m just an average person excited to be a part of the Belding community. This is my home.”

 

A partial history of city managers in Belding 

• Ken Mendenhall: 1965 to July 1975 (resigned amid financial and personnel controversy, as well as a recall of council members and election of new council members).

• James Walker: October 1975 to March 1978 (took another job).

• Scott Wepfer: June 1978 to June 1979 (resigned amid budget and personnel controversy).

• William Fisher: October 1979 to March 1985 (took another job).

• John Niemela: April 1985 to June 1990 (council voted not to renew his contract due to multiple issues).

• Ron Olson: October 1990 to November 1992 (took another job).

• Alan Hartley: November 1992 to November 1995 (resigned due to difficulty with city projects and personnel issues).

• Vance Ishler: December 1995 to March 1999 (took another job).

• Brian Murphy: July 1999 to May 2001 (took another job).

• Mike Wood: September 2001 to September 2004 (resigned after being charged and later convicted of child pornography charges involving computers in his office and at home).

• Randall “Randy” DeBruine: October 2004 to December 2012 (took another job).

• Margaret “Meg” Mullendore: started on April 8.

Source: Daily News archives

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