By Sue Moore
“I don’t always agree with you but at least you listen,” said a resident of Pavilion Township to township Supervisor Pat White at a meeting some time ago. After 36 years, White is handing the mantle of supervisor to John Streeter, who takes over full time December 1 who was appointed to fill out White’s term.
Pavilion Township has over 6,000 residents, with 1,000 or more at the northwest corner in a trailer park on Sprinkle Road next to the airport. Its south boundary touches Brady Township at the northeast corner of Long Lake. It contains parts of five school districts: Vicksburg, Climax-Scotts, Portage, Comstock and Galesburg-Augusta, all complicating taxation for the township treasurer and supervisor.
White cautions that the public needs to get involved at the township level before decisions are made. “Township government is as local as you can get, so it is easy to call or walk into the township hall on 33rd Street to make your views known,” Streeter said.
The five members of the township board make decisions that impact over 6,000 people. White is proudest of the township’s sound financial position upon his leaving. “We have a half million dollar fund balance, a full-time fire department, sewer systems around the three big lakes in the township, Long, Pickerel and Indian Lake.” They’re run by the South County Sewer and Water Authority, which is housed in the Pavilion Township hall.
Zoning ordinance compliance can cause the biggest headaches next to taxation questions, White said. “It’s not a fun thing. Probably the worst part of the job,” White acknowledged. “We try to keep the township looking good and pristine. Junk cars, chickens, barking dogs, litter and neighbor complaints all get to the township supervisor eventually. Zoning is necessary to protect each individual’s property,” Streeter said as he is learning on the job. He has been shadowing White and taking over some of the responsibilities to prepare for the handover.
White came on the township board as a trustee in 1981 to finish out a term, and quickly was appointed to fill Roger Overmeyer’s supervisor’s position when Overmeyer moved from the township. At that time, the supervisor had to be a certified assessor. White had three weeks to study for the exam and passed it with a lot of hard work. He had a slight edge because of his career as a life insurance salesman. But it is highly unusual to have that kind of success, according to Kevin O’Toole, the current property assessor. “My wife Marlene has been my sounding board. She is a calm influence on our family. I met her in high school in Shelby, Michigan where my dad had a restaurant, a motel and a fruit stand,” White said.
White has been active in the Michigan Townships Association, serving for a time as its president, and in the Kalamazoo County township association. “This is hands-on government where citizens can get their questions answered rather than having to go downtown and work within the bureaucracy. The community has done far more for me than I’ve done for it. If you are truthful and honest the rest will take care of itself.”
Streeter will have a hard act to follow, but his experience as president of the Long Lake Association for many years, pharmaceutical sales, marketing and public relations for a managed care agency will help him relate.
He has racked up 15 years with the number one blue grass band in West Michigan, Schlitz Creek, as a mandolin, banjo and guitar player and singer. Streeter played for 15 years in the Vicksburg Rotary Club Showboat. White took part as a dancing girl in several shows while a member of Rotary.