Long-time city manager retires.

July 18, 2018

Stan Rickard

Long-time city manager retires.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART — After a nearly 47-year career in public service, Hart City Manager Stan Rickard is retiring.

Rickard has been at the helm of city hall for 14 years. Taking his place is Lynne Ladner of South Lyon who began her duties as city manager Monday, July 16. Rickard’s last day is Thursday, Aug. 2. City staff have arranged a retirement party for him Aug. 2 from 4-7 p.m. in the Hart Community Center, located in the back of city hall. The public is invited to attend.

Rickard has always taken an active role in the many projects the city has undertaken during his tenure. He said he will miss the “hands-on” aspect of the job. “It’s more than just sitting behind a desk.”

He’s enjoyed being able to oversee projects from the conceptual stage to completion.

The recently-completed disc golf course at the Hart Dam has been one of many projects that Rickard has been heavily involved with since the very beginning. “I’ve really enjoyed watching it evolve and come to life,” he said. The project-driven city manager walked through the property with the landscape architect to design the best lay out for the course and researched to find the best baskets for the course.

“It’s very special to watch projects born and to coordinate to get them done. There is a lot of satisfaction.”

The disc golf course is small in comparison to other projects the manager has overseen, such as major street improvement projects, and water and sewer projects. A “massive investigation of the city’s sewer system” is currently taking place. “It was born over four years ago, and won’t be completed until next year,” he said.

“This job is more than paying bills,” Rickard said.

“I love to see the downtown projects,” he said. “There is so much more enthusiasm.” The annual Hart Sparks fireworks show over Hart Lake, July 2, has grown by leaps and bounds, drawing more and more spectators every year.

Successful projects “create a very good first impression of your community,” he added. A “pocket park” downtown between Christy & Greg’s Bakery on the Corner and the Lakeside Rehab Family Fitness Center creates a “versatile piece of recreation” in a once vacant space, allowing for more foot traffic downtown and drawing in more visitors. Musical performances, portable playground equipment and art exhibits are some of the many opportunities the pocket park can offer.

“There is a lot of confidence in the community now,” he said. With so many recreational opportunities in the city, “it generates a lot of community and family time.”

A huge contribution that Rickard provided the city is financial stability. “In 2004, the city was carrying a lot of debt. The cash flow wasn’t there. I had the benefit of time and saw it turn around dramatically.”

Under his leadership, the city has rebuilt a lot of basic infrastructure, improving water, sewer and street systems. “The reliability of utilities is much improved,” he said.

Rickard feels confident for his successor, Ladner, because she takes over the reins of a city in good financial standing. Part of the job is managing a staff of 24 full-time employees and half a dozen part-time workers, including a police department, electrical department and department of public works.

The city manager has performed his job during an exciting time as the area has seen tremendous growth. “Hart is part of that,” he said.

The recent addition of Big Hart Brewing Company, owned by Leslie Hansen of Hansen Foods, offers an additional dining opportunity for visitors and locals.

The city has also benefitted from recent industrial growth with factories such as Gray & Company establishing in Hart.

He feels that he accomplished his goal as city manager, which is to “leave the place in a better condition that how you found it.”

With his roots in farming, Rickard is a fifth generation resident of Oceana County and lives in Hart with his wife, Christine. After graduating from Hart High School in 1966, he left for Marion, Indiana, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Working part-time at a local municipal water treatment plant, he began what became a nearly 47-year career of service in various local government utilities. Moving to the Chicago area after college and earning a master of arts degree in public administration from Northern Illinois University, his service in Illinois local government extended for 26 years.

Always hoping to live in Oceana County again one day, Rickard happily returned in 2004 as Hart’s city manager. He and Christine will continue to make their permanent home in Hart, but have plans to travel in their RV to the Chicago suburbs to visit their three sons, their wives and six grandchildren and then out West to visit more family in Northern California.

Rickard served as the grand marshall of the National Asparagus Festival Joan Glover Royale Parade last month during the annual event in Hart.

An outdoor enthusiast, Rickard plans to enjoy more time outside during his retirement, playing on the Silver Lake Sand Dunes, bicycle riding and playing disc golf.

Rickard said his success on the job could not have been possible without the “tremendous amount of effort of the city staff and the devotion of the city council. They’ve been excellent.”

This story is copyrighted © 2018, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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