By Sue Moore
Wanted: someone to take complaints and compliments in the middle of the night for the village of Vicksburg. It probably isn’t quite that strong a job description for the new hire coming on. But the job will be to assist Manager Jim Mallery with communications and public relations, so it’s close enough.
And it’s been filled. Alex Lee was chosen to fill the role of public information and coordination with the streetscape project and many other village initiatives: the Mill renovations, the trail extension going north to Portage, sewer work beginning this fall and extending into 2020 – for starters.
Mallery is known for giving out his cell phone number and inviting residents to call him at all hours of the day and night. With so many projects on the horizon, he asked the Village Council some months ago to fund half of the proposed position and the Vicksburg Foundation to make up the other half for a three-year period. Lee’s acceptance was announced at a July 15 council meeting held in the Pavilion.
He comes from a long career with Kalamazoo Public Schools as executive director of communications for Superintendent Michael Rice. He has served the schools for 22 years and had planned his retirement for August 1. He will have eight days of soaking up the sun at his home on Indian Lake before he begins his next chapter with the village Aug. 9.
Lee began his career when he had long hair in college. He played guitar in a cover band at Grand Valley State University. His real calling was as a DJ for several radio stations spinning records. “I had a funny show and dropped out of college to bounce up and down the dial, then got fired by an obnoxious program director who didn’t appreciate my humor. I joined the Navy where my experience as a radio announcer got me to Tokyo to do a morning show for the military. I finished my B.A. and M.A. while serving in the Navy.
“I wanted to be a city manager, so I came back to Kalamazoo as a single dad with two older kids. That’s when Superintendent Kay Royster asked me if I could salvage the [school’s outreach with the public] in 1997. One good thing that we did was create the Excelsior, the school newspaper, which I think will outlive me.”
“I’ve always loved the water and lived on various lakes in the area. My wife Kim and I were looking for a retirement home for our family of four and our rescue dog, Freckle. The Indian Lake location last summer looked ideal for my two youngest, MacNeal, who loves to fish, and daughter Hana, who is a bit of a water rat. My two oldest children are Jason, who works as controller for the Instrument Division of Stryker Corp., and daughter Ashley who works for a legal firm in Washington D.C. that specializes in trademark law,” Lee said.
“I don’t really have a title as Jim and I have gone back and forth on that. I just want to be involved with everything going on in the village. I’m coming in to tell the story and perform duties as assigned,” Lee explained.