Meet City Staff
We like to feature some of our own employees during this week, so that our neighbors can meet them and learn more about the jobs we all do to serve our Battle Creek Community.
Allow us to introduce some of the members of Team Battle Creek!
Ted Dearing, assistant city manager: ...it gives me a meaningful opportunity to help to improve our community.
Julie Pena, Fire Department secretary: ...I love my hometown!
Jessica VanderKolk, communications manager: ...I love telling our city's stories, and learning a lot in the process!
Holly Johnson, transit: ...I love to smile at everyone I meet! (But no photos please, haha.)
Marcie Gillette, community services director: ...I can help create positive change in our community!
Chris Dopp, public works director: ...I like making a difference helping shape the city infrastructure
Jacob Schacht, assistant to the city manager: ...just doing my civic duty
Larry Bowron, airport director: ...transportation connects people to commerce, which is essential to a thriving community!
Duska Brumm, recreation director: ...recreational opportunities are important for the well-being of the community
Brian Sturdivant, fire chief: ...it is my passion!
Donna Bryant, transit: ...I want to make a difference!
Vicki Houser, city clerk: ...every day presents new learning opportunities. Sometimes it involves research for a resident or public official, solving a problem for a resident or staff member, or helping people exercise their right to vote.
Sarah McGinnis, accounting clerk: ...I want to make a difference!
Perry Hart, utility administrator: ...our community is worth investing in!
Mallory Avis, public transit director: ...I love public transit!
Matt Miller, water distribution supervisor: ...our customers deserve safe drinking water!
Todd Gerber, field services superintendent: ...I enjoy keeping our city clean and safe
Battle Creek Transit -- Larry Eib: ...the need is there; Shannon Wedl: ...I love being a part of something bigger than myself; Victoria Miller: ...I don't need a reason to; Shannon Villanueva: ...of the relationship built in community; Debra Kerr: ...it's rewarding; Courtney Tatum: ...Do what you can to show you care about other people and you will make our world a better place
Battle Creek Transit -- Kristy Grestini: ...I want to help my community; Donna Hutchison: ...one person can make a difference and everyone should try (John F. Kennedy)
Katie Norton, reprographics (print shop) manager: ...our work culture is often more relaxed because the focus is on service rather than profit.
Rebecca Fleury, city manager: ...the people of Battle Creek matter and Battle Creek is an extraordinary community!
Linda Morrison, finance director: ...I believe I can make a difference! -in our community -as part of our team -in leaving things better than I found them
Jim Blocker, police chief: ...mission driven and want to make a difference!
Treasurer's Office team -- Jessica Clement, Scott Rubley, Tammy Giannunzio, Adrianna Wilbur, Jenise Furman: ...our team believes in Battle Creek
Sarah VanWormer, IT director: ...I like having an immediate impact on our local government and residents
City Commission proclamation - May 7, 2019
- DPW customer service
- CH/PD maintenance
- Fire training
- PD training
- Community Development
- Transit mechanic
- Transit driver
- PD Records
Meet Heather Davis! She's a customer service representative at our Department of Public Works. She generally works for Field Services, but says, "I don't like to be bored!" so helps with a variety of needs in all Public Works divisions.
You probably will speak to Heather on the phone, if you call about a pothole, your mailbox knocked over, or other issue. As her title indicates, Heather's main focus is helping neighbors with their public works-related needs.
She also handles payroll for many of our DPW divisions, helps with environmental/recycling events, handles uniform paperwork, orders office supplies, takes minutes for a couple boards, creates work orders for traffic signs, handles Fleet's fuel report, and more!
Heather has worked with us full-time since Halloween 2016, but temped for nearly a year prior, both at Transit and DPW.
Meet Darian Couturier! He's the maintenance and repair person for City Hall and the neighboring Police Department, and has worked with us for more than 18 years.
The two buildings share a wood chip boiler, installed in 2008. One of Darian's jobs is to fill it with wood chips, then later remove the ash and clean it out. He's removing ash in this photo, and will later deliver it to our compost site, Brice Pit.
Darian also paints, moves furniture, cleans out clogged drains and does outdoor maintenance as he can, including upkeep of PD's green roof. He also helps out at fire stations, when needed.
The boiler alone is a daily job, and Darian works with a computerized hub that controls heat, air flow and water in the two buildings.
Meet Jeff Slayton! (Far right, pointing to the Fire Department training house on Parrish Street.) He's our Fire Department training officer and has worked with us 21 years total, and in his current role since 2008. Jeff helps prepare our new firefighters for duty, including a tour around Battle Creek. He keeps the department training calendar, teaches training sessions, and recently was named the Calhoun County training coordinator, helping our 22 fire departments with training needs and requirements.
This day, he conducted ventilation training for Squad 6 and Engine 6 crews at the department's Parrish Street training house, blowing air into the smokey house and opening different windows and doors to help the group learn how to get smoke to go where needed when they fight a fire. All crews received the training.
Jeff said it's phenomenal to have the training house. "We never had one before. The guys watched me draw it on a blackboard for years."
Meet Jennifer Bright! And this lead word processor for the Police Department makes her basement office exactly that -- bright and cozy!
Jennifer handles payroll for the department, but perhaps her bigger job is to handle all the needs that come with training -- she's done this job for 11 years and been with the department nearly 16. She registers staff for training, sets them up with hotels, meals, and other needs, and keeps up-to-date online and physical training calendars, showing who's off when. The wall calendar is large enough to be called the "horse blanket."
"There's a lot of analysis and work to make sure there are not too many people off at once," she said. Plus, there's arranging who will fill in while that person is gone.
Jennifer also works with new police officers, who have a three-week orientation schedule, then several months of training alongside another officer. New recruits have mountain bike school, a dispatch tour, firearms training, policy training, and more.
She even gets to participate in some training sessions, serving as a driver that officers practice pulling over.
Working with her on this are Officer Erick Hegelmann and Sgt. Christof Klein, who made cameos this day. All three talked about the importance of training BCPD staff -- it's a department priority, and we often train members of outside agencies, too.
"It gives goodwill," Jen said. Erick added, "We're very fortunate."
Meet Matt Flanders! He's our housing rehabilitation coordinator, in the Community Development Division, and he's in his 17th year with the city. Matt heads our Minor Home Repair Program, which helps low-income neighbors improve their homes. Because we receive federal funding for programs like this, Matt spends a lot of time completing paperwork for each project -- the goal is to complete 60 per year.
The most common projects are furnace replacements in the fall, painting all summer, and roofs in the spring.
This day, Matt stopped by a house on North McKinley for a signature on some of that paperwork. This neighbor got a new roof last week and was quite happy with it.
Matt's phone rings a lot -- to find out more about our Minor Home Repair Program, check out battlecreekmi.gov/communitydevelopment. There are many challenges, but, "I like my job," Matt says.
Meet Gene Wiggins! He's a mechanic at Battle Creek Transit, and has worked with us for eight years.
Gene says the main goal of his team is to help provide good, safe public transportation around the city. He enjoys working with his small group of four mechanics, as well as interacting with the public. Since Gene grew up here, he often sees someone he knows on a road call for a bus fix.
Gene and the crew work hard to meet all necessary vehicle regulations, and to keep customers comfortable. This day, mechanic Eric was moving a heater for better air flow on the van.
"We're not hauling cargo; we're hauling people," Gene said. He feels good knowing that a neighbor will make it to work and back home safely on a Transit vehicle.
Gene has worked on "every mile" of this bus 619. It came to Transit with 2,000 miles on it eight years ago, and has around 375,000 now. He was prepping to do a brake job.
"I stay positive," he said. "If you reflect that to the customer, they reflect that back to you."
Meet Irene Boyd! She is a coach operator (bus driver) at Battle Creek Transit, and has worked with us almost 14 years. She spent the first 3.5 in maintenance, cleaning and fueling buses.
Irene said she likes both jobs -- she sees more people as a driver, but said cleaning buses was a "laid back" job.
Driving can be a bit hectic, trying to stay on the route schedule. Irene typically drives for the Columbia/Territorial route, which runs on the hour. While that doesn't require the rush of other routes, she's still constantly watching the clock.
Because routes start early in the morning, Irene stopped back at the Transit offices for lunch at 9:15 a.m. While that was weird at first, she said she's used to it now. "You get tired of breakfast food, so you have to start eating dinner food," she said.
Drivers assist riders with wheelchairs and walkers, work with dispatch to find a location they need to reach, and offer a listening ear.
Irene enjoys the people the most, and knowing who will be standing at the bus stops each day. "They really appreciate us," she said. "They thank you a lot; that makes you feel good."
Meet the Police Department Records team! From left, Necole Modert, Debbie Hunter, Shawnette Spicer, Cristina Losik, Michele Jayakar, Megan Root, and Ronda Burgess (and missing Kim Denney and Pam Pelfrey this day).
If you visit our police department, chances are good you'll start your business with one of these ladies, who each specialize in one of the many services they provide.
Those services include accident reports, gun permits, registering sex offenders, connecting neighbors with officers to make reports, registering guns, typing reports, handling tickets, Freedom of Information Act requests, background checks for adoption agencies, and warrant requests, to name a bunch.
This is a seven-day-per-week operation. While we aren't open to the public on weekends, Records staff are completing internal tasks.
Most of the ladies are notary publics (official witness for someone signing a document).
When you first enter the lobby, you'll probably meet Cristina, who provides customer service at the front desk.
"We're here to help people, and we help the officers, too," the team says.