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MC Police Chief accepted dual role to help out the city

Photo by Barb Pert Templeton for Blue Water Healthy Living Marine City Commission meets on the first and third Thursdays of the month at 7 p.m.

Commission to consider his city manager’s contract on Feb. 2 

By Barb Pert Templeton

When Marine City Police Chief James Heaslip agreed to serve as the city’s interim city manager it wasn’t because he was looking for a career change. 

Not at all, in fact, the 23-year veteran of the local police department simply took on the task to help out his city.

“This was just something to step up for and help out and I’m proud to be here,’ Heaslip said, noting that he means that in regards to his role as police chief and also this short- term post as city manager.

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A 4-3 decision, that had a majority of the Marine City Commission ousting City Manager Holly Tatman on Jan. 16, prompted the appointment of Heaslip to serve as acting city manager until a new one can be found.

Now officials will be voting on an employment agreement with Heaslip at its upcoming meeting on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. at the Guy Community Center off Parker Street. 

Details of the agreement were published at the city’s website as part of the agenda packet for the upcoming meeting. They state that Heaslip’s employment is “at will and therefore may be terminated at any time by either party upon written notice.”

Photo courtesy of CMT Community Television
Marine City Police Chief James Heaslip

The agreement also states, in several areas, that regardless of the status of the city manager post Heaslip will continue to serve as the city’s chief of police going forward. 

The compensation proposed for the position as interim city manger is listed as a bi-weekly rate of $2,500. Under Section IV – Hours of Work the contract states “employee agrees to devote that amount of time that is reasonably necessary to faithfully perform his duties as both Acting City Manager and Chief of Police.” 

The turn of events that led to Heaslip’s appointment as interim city manager weren’t something he anticipated but it was very clear to him that if the city he’s called home, well for all of his life, needed him, he was ready.

So far, wearing two hats is something that’s definitely keeping Heaslip busy as he splits his day between the police department and the city offices. 

Heaslip said as city manager he’s signing lots of bills and just trying to keep things moving forward including existing projects and new ones that come up.

“I have good people I can lean on at the city and they are a good team that really works well together over there,” he said. 

Other current duties falling to him at the city include conducting contract negotiations, hiring a new DPW Supervisor and he’ll also serve on the hiring committee for a new city manager. 

Heaslip, who was hired as a city police officer in 2000 and named chief of the department in 2015, also just concluded a 14-year stint as a local football coach. He lives in the city with his wife and has two children, one a college junior and another is a member of the 2023 graduating class at the local high school.

Heaslip said while conducting the business of the city manager he will be in close contact and readily available to his officers at all times. The Marine City Police Department currently boasts five full-time officers and is in fact looking to hire a sixth officer in the near future. 

The actions which sent City Manager Holly Tatman packing after just 18 months as the lead administrator for the city, was led by Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Hendrick who shared a list of areas where Tatman was allegedly lacking on the job. Her motion at the Jan. 16 meeting was seconded by Commissioner Michael Hilferink and Commissioners William Klaassen and Rita Roehrig voted for the termination. Mayor Jennifer Vandenbossche and Commissioners Brian Ross and Jacob Bryson opposed the firing. 

A committee is being formed to conduct interviews with new city manager candidates.  

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