By DAVE MARTIN
SHIPSHEWANA — The Shipshewana Town Council hired Michael R. Sutter of Howe as Shipshewana’s new town manager, effective Nov. 12. He replaces Sheryl Kelly, who resigned on March 22.
Sutter, who currently serves as president of the LaGrange County Regional Utility District and treasurer of the LaGrange County Economic Development Corp., has held a variety of elected and appointed positions, many of them in neighboring Michigan.
At Wednesday’s special council meeting, he said that he is “looking forward to working with” the council and town employees in Shipshewana.
“(Shipshewana) is an extremely growing and vibrant community,” Sutter said after the announcement. “It’s a real pearl in LaGrange County.”
Council member Jerry Rice said that he is impressed with Sutter’s governmental and public affairs knowledge base, while councilman Nathan Jones noted that he likes Sutter’s management experience.
Most recently, Sutter served as chief executive officer of Michiana Laminated Products in Howe for over 22 years and county administrator for about four years in Wexford and Sanilac counties in Michigan.
He also served as a state president of Michigan Works and a Sturgis (Michigan) city commissioner. In St. Joseph County, Mich., he served as a county commissioner and road commissioner. He was co-founder of that county’s economic development corporation.
Sutter said that the community and its challenges attracted him to the town manager vacancy in Shipshewana.
“This community has tremendous potential, and it’s very diversified,” he said.
Council President Roger Yoder said one of those challenges will be overseeing the operation of the Shipshewana Town Center, which lost its management company some time ago.
Sutter, who signed a contract with the town following the meeting, said that he will resign this week from his position with the utility district to avoid a conflict of interest. He said he plans to hold discussions with town department heads right away, meet all town employees, and “get into strategic planning as soon as possible.”