The Laketown Township board appointed Coast Guard veteran Patrick Dietrich to the open trustee seat at a special meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 30.
“He’s got that strong military and leadership experience,” said Treasurer Jim Johnson.
“He has a really good pulse on Laketown,” said Clerk Amber Davis. “I think he brings a lot to the table.”
Over two-and-a-half hours, the board interviewed five candidates for the seat that opened after the retirement of Gary Dewey in July.
Other candidates were Ray Buursma, Jay Cravens, Stacy LeFevre and Mike Van Putten.
Supervisor Linda Howell said the township was lucky to have so many qualified candidates for the position.
Dietrich was sworn in Sept. 1 and will attend his first meeting at the Sept. 6 workshop. He will serve through the November 2024 election. He could decide to run in that election for the seat he now occupies.
Dietrich was an officer with the U.S. Coast Guard and was a consultant and chairperson of the Holland chapter of SCORE, a volunteer organization of entrepreneurs and executives that provides free mentoring services to local businesses. He now works at Five Star Machine LLC building production machining for manufacturing clients.
He told the board at Wednesday’s meeting that he wants to preserve the current atmosphere of the township by making sure growth is controlled to keep the rural feel of the community. He said he will work to protect farmland from being sold to developers and will “hold the line against variances” so they don’t get out of control.
He said the proposed plan for the Huyser House appears to be “a solution looking for a problem” and that the house has been vacant for so long that the $125,000 estimate to update the house may not be practical.
The township Building Authority on Aug. 17 accepted a 34-page plan that envisions renovating the structure into a Living Legacy Center, a building for multiple uses such as a parks office, history site or gallery.
At Wednesday’s meeting, township board members asked each candidate what the top requirements are for hiring a new township manager. Current Manager Al Meshkin plans to retire in March 2025.
Dietrich said a new manager must have experience and appreciate that Laketown is unique.
The board voted 3-1 to appoint Dietrich. Trustee Jim Delaney opposed Dietrich’s appointment. He supported LeFevre for the position.