Thornapple Kellogg High School

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Village Officials Give Students Lesson in Local Government

Village Manager Duane Weeks shared with students how village officials are there to make sure residents are well cared for with services like public utilities, police and fire protection, and that those services are safe for all citizens.

As village manager, Weeks said he runs the day-to-day operations of the village. He explained the village is a “common law” village with elected members serving as trustees. 

Trustee Phil Van Noord enthusiastically encouraged students to get involved. “Be good citizens, vote and get involved in your local community,” he said. “It’s important.”

He also encouraged students to listen to others so they can learn to work collaboratively. “Even if you don’t always agree, that’s OK,” he said.

Brian Urquhart, planning and zoning administrator, asked students what they would like to see in Middleville. Some suggested entertainment venues like a movie theater or other attractions, fast-food restaurants, a coffee shop, more retail, and attractions for young people.

Urquhart explained there are rules new businesses have to follow when they apply to build or renovate sites in the village. He told students the rules are there to protect property owners and make sure growth and development occur in a well-planned manner allowing for areas of residential, industrial and commercial growth.

Mike Schmidt, Downtown Development Authority coordinator said his job is to encourage interest and growth in the area. 

“DDA equals ADD - assist in the development of downtown,” said Schmidt.

He told students the job includes marketing the downtown area and helping plan events to entice people from outside the community to come in and see Middleville.

Schmidt said events like the Riverbank Music Series, Christmas parade and Holly Trolley night, Farmer’s Market, and others attract new people to the area.

Village officials extended an invitation to all students to attend any village council or planning commission meeting to learn more about government in action.