Over Christmas my wife and I watched the “The Polar Express” yet one more time. As just about all of you know, the affection for this movie is not just the rich story line with so many unique and touching layers, and the number of adventures the characters experience, but also that the author, Chris Van Allsburg, was from East Grand Rapids and used a number of references in the story from the Grand Rapids area. The story is basically about a boy that is beginning to have doubts about believing in Santa. Each year we watch the movie and each year, I discover another aspect of the story I hadn’t noticed before. I learn something new based on the experiences I gathered over the previous year. These experiences and the passing of time are keys that unlock the door to experiencing additional insights and flavors of the story previously hidden from me.
Certainly 2017 has been a year packed tightly with experiences at the city and in my personal life. From the Water Project and the EDA, waste water issues, the WWTP Upgrade, Muskegon Sewer Forcemain Project, the Reserve of Coopersville, DDA Pocket Park, future DDA projects, the Historical Museum merger with the City, the Fire Authority and the new proposed fire station, economic development, Emergency Rescue, the State of Michigan, the issues that are being discussed at several of the boards I sit on as representative for the City, and the recent announcement of my upcoming departure at the end of June.
There are also the routine tasks associated with the management of the city, from serving our citizens’ needs, to human resources, filling employee vacancies, assisting our elected officials as required, collaborating with others as we market our community, on-going team building with members of the city staff, and the constant need to be alert for both opportunities for the city and potential hazards that would impede its success. There is much going on in the City of Coopersville.
So, what on earth does any of this have to do with The Polar Express? Plenty! At the end of the movie, and after a number of stunning and magical adventures, the boy receives a special present from Santa Claus (“Mr. C”) in a handsomely wrapped box under the tree. Sarah, his sister, discovers the perfectly wrapped box and gives it to her brother. He sits by the tree with his sister, opens the present and brings out a beautiful sleigh bell that he thought he lost earlier in the movie. He brings it to his ear and shakes the bell. The bell delightfully rings. His sister hears the bell ring as well and the boy passes the bell to his mother and father. They also bring the bell to their ears and this time, they cannot hear the bell ring. His father says, “What a beautiful bell. Broken; Sorry about that, Sport.”
At the end of the movie, the narrator (the boy) shares one last memory with us:
“At one time most of my friends could hear the bell. But as years passed, the bell fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could not hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, it still rings for me, as it does for all that truly believe.”
For me, the movie is about believing. Not necessarily about a sleigh bell, but about believing in the sound that resonates within your soul, which ignites the energy to discover what others cannot see or cannot hear. The weight of all of the tasks and projects mentioned above have the potential to gradually and unknowingly gnaw away at the spirit, not just for me, but for others as well. It has the potential to erase the sweet sound of the bell. But it is believing in whatever ignites the energy in your soul that insures the bell does not lose its sweet sound. It is about believing in Coopersville – believing in the potential of Coopersville. It is about believing what is possible for Coopersville and preparing for that possibility, no matter what.
During this time in my life, I still hear the beautiful sound of the bell. At times the sound may be faint and I have to bring it ever close to my ear, but it still rings and eventually the sound becomes robust and full of life again. I still hear the beautiful sound of Coopersville even when others do not. That’s okay, as many of my colleagues and friends still hear the bell and smile, because they believe as well. They believe as I that opportunity and success are best achieved when you believe.
We have a number of agenda items including a discussion on park reservation fees and the 2018 SWAP Agreement with Ottawa County, among others. Please contact me if you have questions or require further information. I wish everyone on council a healthy and prosperous 2018. Enjoy your weekend, stay warm, and be safe out there!
Save the Date: Celebrate Coopersville 2018
Celebrate Coopersville will be taking place this year on March 22, 2018, at the West Michigan Plumbers, Fitters, and Service Trades Union Hall at 1008 O’Malley Drive. Save the date for this stellar event to honor the hard-working city staff and deserving volunteers of our great city.
Downtown Pocket Park
The Pocket Park is now blanketed in white. When Spring arrives, and it won’t be soon enough, there are a few details that require completion. Until then, enjoy what is there and we’ll finish it up when the snow departs.
REPEAT: Snow Plowing and Salt
The staff and I have been asked on a number of occasions about what our snow plowing policy will be. The answer is simple. We are going to continue with what was done last year both in plowing and the laying down of salt. Our goal is not to make the roads 100% clear and dry of snow and ice since this is winter in Michigan after all. We will salt the major intersections and roads as conditions dictate. The Sheriff’s Department will notify the personnel on call if road conditions deteriorate during the night. Major roads are done first then local roads. Priority is given to roads leading to the school in the morning.
The city, as in other years, is following the Ottawa County Road Commission in its use of salt. Salt will be mixed with sand to reduce its introduction to the environment and to also save money for the city and the taxpayers. Obviously, if there are severe conditions safety will always be a priority and we will do whatever is necessary. The best information drivers can be given of course is to slow down and be cautious at intersections and stop signs. Please call if you have further questions.
REPEAT: Multi-Purpose Rink & Ice
I’m sure as more cold weather engulfs us, Recreation Director Matt McKinnon will be inundated with questions as to when the multi-purpose rink will become an ice rink. The one advantage about this cold weather we’ve been recently experiencing (and will be experiencing) is that the ground surrounding and under the rink concrete is getting valuable time to cool off and hopefully start to freeze. This will allow us to begin making ice sooner than previous years, but exactly when is still unknown. Keep in mind that making ice is not the same as maintaining ice in the typical fickle weather that defines Michigan. Once we begin to make ice, we’ll keep everyone updated on the website and social media. Cross your fingers.
REPEAT: Waste Water Treatment Plant Upgrade
Design plans and specifications were sent to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) over a month ago for review and the issuance of a permit. We are still in a holding pattern waiting to hear from the MDEQ on where we are in the process.
Obviously, there are other projects and issues I’m involved with as is Jonathan Seyferth and others. It’s not always a wise decision to write about the status of these projects and issues when there are delicate, complicated, or confidentiality aspects still in motion. I will always be available to answer any of your questions to the best of my ability within the confines of the aspects just mentioned. There is certainly never a dull day in the bustling and thriving environment of Coopersville.