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Former SL president concerned

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:04 PM

Gone are Public Works Director Doug Whitley, Clerk/Treasurer Maribeth Lawrence and Police Chief Roger DeYoung.

Whitley was replaced by Roger Belknap in January. Lawrence’s retirement was official last month and DeYoung resigned effective Feb. 24.

“Each departure has been for a different reason,” Village Manager Chris Burns said. “There hasn’t been one common denominator amongst them.”

Burns would not say why Whitley and DeYoung are no longer on the job. She said a confidentiality agreement is in place with DeYoung to protect both parties.

Burns said Lawrence’s departure after 13 years on the job was a “mutual decision” because of changes in accounting and financial practices. The village is now collaborating with Ottawa County for financial services.

CLICK HERE to read the related story, "SL shakeup examined."

Another employee, part-time administrative assistant Amy Schmidt, was relieved of her duties in September 2013 after six years with the village.

“It just seems like a lot of real good people, from my perspective, have left the village in a short period of time,” said Filber, who served on Village Council for 10 years and was village president from 2006-11. “It’s kind of sad and concerning. These are some people who have really devoted some time and commitment and loyalty to the village.”

Filber said he is especially upset about Lawrence leaving.

“I definitely do not believe this was something she wanted to do,” he said. “I think she enjoyed her job. She was great at it. She’s the last one I would think the village would want to get rid of.”

Current Village President Jim MacLachlan said personnel matters are Burns’ decision and do not require council approval, but that he and council members support the village manager 100 percent.

As a member of the village’s finance committee, MacLachlan said he understands that sometimes personnel moves are necessary in light of changing accounting and procedural requirements.

“There’s a business end of it and a personal end of it,” he said. “These things are not easy decisions. If someone leaves, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, these situations are always difficult.”

Filber served with Ryan Cotton, who left the village manager post in 2012 to become Holland’s city manager. Burns came onboard that July.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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