Iron Mountain Lake, a city of about 700 people, is experiencing a “paradigm shift” in its culture, according to City Administrator Mark Wynes.
The community of Iron Mountain Lake, which was once a lake resort community, has reportedly had its issues and stumbling blocks in the past; however, it seems as if a change may be on the horizon for residents, according to current administration.
About four months ago, Wynes and Charlie Wiles, property standards enforcement officer, were approached by the city council to join the leadership of Iron Mountain Lake in order to install a different kind of order in the town.
Originally, the council only had intention of putting together a budget committee to have their finances in place for the upcoming year back in January.
“As a result of that budget committee, they [the council] started exploring other things to look into,” Wiles said. “The budget committee grew to a comprehensive planning committee, and the council then realized they needed consistent management within the city.”
“Leadership of the day-to-day operations was needed instead of talking about it one time a month,” Wiles continued. “They needed a group of people to make the day-to-day decisions and carry out the wishes of the board as it is laid out in ordinance.”
The group of individuals involved in the day-to-day operations is made up of City Clerk and Treasurer Julie Pearson, Mayor Roger Stodgell and Waste Water Treatment Superintendent Jeremy Brittin, in addition to Wynes and Wiles.
“Everyone knows the history of Iron Mountain Lake, and we aren’t trying get our sins of the past forgiven, but we have a core here that we have not had in decades,” said Wynes. “I give the board of the city credit for knowing they needed another way to move forward, and it is pretty much the group of us here keeping the city together and trying to move forward."
Some problems that the city faced before dealt with inconsistencies in ordinance keeping, budgeting and being a good steward of taxpayers’ dollars.
“These things have been a major change since we came on board,” commented Wynes.
The main focus of correction has been on property standards and infrastructure improvements.
“As far as property standards go, previously the enforcement of the ordinances was left to individual interpretation,” said Wiles. “Now it is more centralized, and I do the interpretation of the ordinance the way that it is written.”
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“Each time there is an action taken on that [an ordinance], if someone questions that interpretation then we have a housing board set up to clarify the confusion.”
Wiles went on to say that prior to the position he has taken on there has not been a single person answering complaints about property matters or making sure that the ordinances are being put in place.
“It is all about bringing the properties and bringing the housing up to minimum standard and improving the value of the properties and making the town look better,” Wiles explained.
Brittin came on board to help the sewer system of the town. Wynes said with the advancement that the town’s sewer system has seen since Brittin has been working with the town, Wynes believes the town may just be the envy of the county with the quality of services the town is now able to provide.
“More or less on the public works side of things, we are taking a more proactive approach to taking care of things and keeping things working properly,” said Brittin. “Instead of reacting when there is a problem we are trying to establish proactive habits.”
The turnover in leadership has encountered some pushback from certain citizens in the community.
“We have very good people who live out here and just want to do the best they can for themselves and their families, and we have some who do not. It is just about getting people 'unused' to what they are used to,” said Wynes. “These changes, or rather enforcements, of ignored ordinances in the past are for the betterment of the community."
“Change is something we have wanted for a long time, but we couldn’t find the people to stand up and take charge,” said Stodgell. “Charlie and Mark pulled us out of the dump that we have been fighting to get out of for a while, and it has been working out great.”
Pearson, who has been working for the city for five years, said, “I think it is a blessing. We all clicked in at the same time, and things just took off.”
“Like Julie said, it just seemed like we all clicked. One thing we have established has been a straight line of communication,” added Wynes. “Even if there is something that isn’t in our swim lane, we all sit down together and share ideas because they may come up with something that I may have never thought of.”
All members agreed on wanting viability, restoration, and unity for the city. Wynes said, “We want this to be the lake community that it was meant to be back in the day.”