City Manager Gets Warm Ferndale Welcome

City Manager Gets Warm Ferndale Welcome

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Ferndale 115 News Wire, 9/13/2011)


Like many in the room at the reception, Jeannie Davis wasn’t there to give new Ferndale City Manager April McGrath a hard time.  “I came because I wanted to make sure the new City Manager got a good showing so she really feels welcome.  Sometimes these things don’t always have the best turnout, but look how many people are here to welcome her on board!”

Sure enough nearly two dozen people gathered at the Library for a City Manager’s reception to meet the person whose new job it is to orchestrate the day-to-day operations of the City.  While the Mayor and Councilmembers make the major decisions, it’s the job of the City Manager to keep things running smoothly.

Though she’s only been at the helm less than two months, McGrath has already faced some interesting challenges – including damaging storms with power outages and navigating the State of Michigan’s new policies for revenue sharing.

“It’s good to get those big firsts out of the way,” she said.  “It’s been awesome.  We have a great team and everyone worked well together.  I couldn’t have asked for a better response.”

In addition to fielding those two major issues, McGrath has been busy meeting residents and staff.  “Lots of meetings.  Board meetings.  DDA meetings.  Lots of events. Lots of people to meet,” she said cheerfully.  “And so far everybody has been very welcoming.  Ferndale is a special place.”

Davis said she and McGrath had a chance to talk when the new City Manager visited with the Ferndale Seniors group.  “She was very honest and forthcoming,” Davis said.  “And you know how tough we [Ferndale] Seniors can be.”

Resident Barbara Green, who recently moved to Ferndale after 30 years traveling with the military, said coming to the City Manager’s Reception seemed like a good way to feel even more connected to her new community.  She said that in other places she’s lived it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. “I love this place.  People are nice to you. People offer you rides if you’re out walking.  Everywhere you go people say hi and want to know how you’re doing.”

It’s because of Ferndale’s spirit that Green has come out to book club meetings, a forum hosted by Senator Vincent Gregory last week, and now the City Manager’s reception.

“I want to know who it is I can talk to face to face if I have a question or a problem,” she said.  “It’s good to see you can do that here.  There are a lot of places you can’t talk to people like that.  You can to a certain degree.  But then you’re just one of so many that’s talking.”

Before being hired as City Manager for Ferndale, McGrath was the Assistant City Manager in Ypsilanti.  To read more about Council’s hiring decision, please see our June 17th article.

To learn more about the role of a City Manager, please read our interview with Interim City Manager Mark Wollenwebber who had the job temporarily before McGrath (

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