Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield is leaving his position as city manager of the City of Hastings in a couple of months. I think he is likely way undervalued for the work he’s done, for his foresight and years-long efforts for the future of growth in Barry County.
Your grandchildren can thank him and guys like Jim Carr for the natural beauty of the county that will still be here in 25 to 50 years.
But, there’s a big if in there. That’s if current and future officials recognize the groundwork put in place, working with others, and years of effort to control commercial and industrial development in a logical way and out of the natural areas in our county.
I’ve known Jeff since the late 1980s, but I don’t know anything about him. He never offers, I never ask. I know he’s a Yooper, and married, only because he mentioned his wife is from Delton a couple of months ago. And, I know he has at least one child, a son I met reporting on a science project at Hastings High School years ago.
Jeff will tell you he is open and transparent, but he is neither about anything outside of his position as city manager for Hastings. He will go into great detail to provide an accurate description of a city issue, some say too detailed, but for some reason it never gets personal, and he’ll go over it again if you don’t get it.
If you are a reporter and want to go up in the Freeport Fire department bucket to get an amazing photo of the first massive crowd at the Barry Roubaix, you can ask Jeff. He’ll say no. Liability.
You ask former Mayor Frank Campbell, he’ll help you onto the platform and push the button to send you up. And, you get the picture.
But, if you want a guy who will tell upset city higher ups that he said it was okay for me to take a photo of kids playing ice hockey on a Fish Hatchery pond, when they were angry and all ready to come after me, Jeff is your guy.
Jeff sees the humor in anything a little ahead of anyone else. I’m told he has a flaming temper, but all I’ve ever seen is a quick, deep reddening of his face once or twice and a really quick tightening of the jaw. I don’t think I’d want to see more, either.
He has always been more than fair with me, generous with information, makes fewer mistakes than I do, and is an incredibly hard worker. After 30 some years, it's going to be different with Jeff leaving the city for other pursuits.
The council cannot expect the next city manager to have the depth of knowledge Jeff has of the city, its inner workings, his expertise in planning and zoning, legal issues to do with city government and the command he has of the million small threads that keep a city sewn together.
He will be greatly missed by the city and I will miss him for the help he has given me for years. But, I still don’t know much about him. My best to you in whatever you decide to do next, Jeff.