By Susan Bromley
Ortonville- John Lyons is stepping down as village manager.
Lyons announced his resignation to the village council at their March 28 meeting. His last day will be May 26.
“I’m just done,” said Lyons. “I’ve been through some medical issues within the last couple months and I realize how fragile life is and I want to spend time with my family.”
The 63-year-old said his medical concerns have been resolved, but he and his wife, Carol, agreed it was time for him to go. He noted that since he began working at 15-years-old, he has taken perhaps four months total off work. Most recently, he on leave for about a week for his health.
Lyons was hired as village manager here in August 2011. Prior, he had worked for 17 years as the DPW director for Lapeer, spent four years as the Inkster DPW director, and also served in the same capacity in Tawas City as well as in Texas, where he managed sewer and water operations for several municipal utility districts.
It was that experience, as well as his down-to-earth manner, that convinced the village council to hire him. Lyons was instrumental in bringing to the ballot a proposal for a village wastewater treatment system to remedy failing septic systems and possible e.coli contamination of Kearsley Creek. The proposal, which would have put an estimated special assessment of more than $25,000 on each residence in the village, failed overwhelmingly last year.
“We tried to do sewers and people didn’t agree, but it was all good and had to be done,” said Lyons. “The septic fields are going to continue to contaminate the property in the village and eventually, they’ll be made to fix it. Just as the DEQ didn’t force Flint to fix the lead situation in their water, they didn’t make us fix the sewer issue and we will have the same issue eventually. Septic fields are contaminating the property in the village no doubt, and that needs to be dealt with. It won’t be a joke when someone gets sick.”
While sewers was the most time-consuming of his projects here and his efforts ultimately didn’t bring the results he desired, Lyons is proud of other accomplishments, including obtaining new equipment for the Department of Public Works, benefits for employees including vacation and sick days as well as the opportunity for healthcare, and improvements to the Old Mill.
Lyons plans to complete the village budget before he leaves and said many positive things lie ahead for the village, including the Iron Belle Trail and additional pathways.
Council President Wayne Wills expressed his appreciation for Lyons.
“He was a very hands-on individual who worked well with the DPW crew and the village council,” said Wills. “Unfortunately, we were unable to find additional revenue sources to make the wastewater treatment system more palatable to the public… The village is a better place since he came here as our village manager. We wish him well and continued improvements in his health.”
Wills said the personnel subcommittee will meet and post the open village manager position as soon as possible, with interviews likely taking place by the end of April, beginning of May.
By Susan Bromley