Board interviewing 5 finalists for open trustee seat

Meeting is 5 p.m. Aug. 30.

Interviews of the five finalists to fill an open trustee seat on the Laketown Township Board of Trustees will start at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 30, at the township hall, 4338 Beeline Road.

After the interviews, the board could choose the new trustee or decide to delay the decision.

Finalists are Ray Buursma, Jay Cravens, Patrick Dietrich, Stacey Lefevre and Mike Van Putten.

Thirteen applications were received.

The trustee position opened after Treasurer Gary Dewey announced his retirement effective July 31. The board appointed Trustee Jim Johnson on July 12 to the treasurer position, thus opening the trustee seat.

The new trustee will serve through the November 2024 election.

The Aug. 30 interviews are open to the public.

Times for each person are: 5 p.m. — Buursma; 5:30 p.m. — LeFevre; 6 p.m. — Cravens; 6:30 p.m. — Dietrich; 7 p.m. — Van Putten.

The finalists

More about the five finalists:

Ray Buursma

Buursma was a public school teacher for 29 years and a corrections officer for eight years, according to his resume. He writes a column for The Holland Sentinel newspaper.

“I am a long-time resident who loves Laketown and seeks, by serving, to not only maintain the high quality of life for township residents, but enhance that quality when possible,” he said in his cover letter to the board. “I love Laketown Township. It’s a beautiful, wonderful place. I desire to keep it so and, if possible, make it even better.”

He added that teamwork is necessary and that disagreements occur, but differences should be accepted as an important part of the decision-making process.

Jay Cravens

Cravens was director of development for the Town of Collierville in Tennessee from 2016 until his retirement in 2022. He was city manager of Bloomfield Hills and township manager of Cascade Charter Township.

“While I am a recent resident within the township, I have over 41 years of local government experience in leadership positions,” he wrote in his cover letter to board members. “I think I can provide the township board new insight on issues that appear before you on an agenda. With my experience in township government, I feel I can contribute quickly and without much training.”

He said he is not affiliated with any group or special interest.

“I pride myself on being independent but well informed,” he wrote.

Patrick Dietrich

Dietrich was an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, chairperson of the Holland chapter of SCORE, a volunteer organization of entrepreneurs and executives that provides free mentoring services to local businesses, and he worked with Deloitte & Touche as a business consultant and Northrup Grumman/TRC Security on the Homeland Security Assessment Team.

“As a resident of Laketown Township, I greatly appreciate the peaceful, rural nature of the area, having lived and worked in large cities for most of my life,” he wrote in his application. He wants to enhance the area’s quality of life by helping to develop plans, strategies, and solutions for future development.

Stacey Lefevre

Lefevre is assistant controller – financial assurance at Grand Valley State University and is a certified public accountant with experience in accounting, budgeting, audit preparation and grant reporting, according to her application.

She said she would represent “conservative financial values and transparency” if appointed. She said he wants to serve, “to use my 33 years of finance experience as a CPA to serve the residents of Laketown.”

Mike Van Putten

Van Putten said he would do his best to represent all of the community but would connect best with people with families and “fellow outdoor enthusiasts.”

“I have lived in four different states and know firsthand how special this area is and I would like to help ensure that it stays that way for generations to come,” he wrote in his application.

He did not provide a resume, though said he works for a Michigan manufacturer that specializes in storm and sewer water quality.

“A big portion of my job is working with the state, county and local municipalities to educate and provide guidance on best practices and procedures,” he said.

Other applications

Those applicants who did not make the final interview are Larry Aldrink, Alyce Doss, Thomas Hoekman, Cindy Kane, Marcia Perry, Steven Ringleberg, James Rosset and Robert Sarachman.

Township Manager Al Meshkin thanked all the applicants for their interest.

To choose the five finalists, each board member reviewed the documents then selected three candidates they recommended to be interviewed by the whole board. Board members did not discuss their choices among themselves because that would have been a violation of the Open Meetings Act.

The Laketown Township board normally meets twice a month – a 5 p.m. workshop on the first Wednesday of each month and the 6 p.m. regular meeting on the second Wednesday of the month. Trustees serve on other boards or commissions, such as the planning commission, zoning board of appeals or other body as appointed by the supervisor or board.

A trustee is paid $5,000 a year.

The board is made up of five people – supervisor, clerk, treasurer and two trustees.