Caro City Manager Jared Olson resigned Monday effective immediately, leaving stunned city council members asking him to “take some time” and reconsider before he walked out of the meeting.
The resignation came after Olson ran through his regular manager’s report at Monday’s meeting, during which he updated councilmembers on various projects within the city of Caro, including street repairs and when leaf pickup is set to begin for the fall season.
Olson, hired in 2013, then dropped a bombshell on council.
“I would also ask the board to entertain my resignation effective immediately,” Olson said. “If someone would make that motion I will submit it to the city clerk.”
Several seconds of silence filled the room as councilmembers looked to each other in disbelief.
Caro Mayor Dick Pouliot broke the silence.
“Mr. Olson’s requested that one of the council…make the motion to accept his resignation,” Pouliot said.
Councilmembers remained silent for several more seconds before Mike Henry, Caro councilmember, spoke.
“I refuse,” he said.
Another several moments of silence followed until Caro Council Member Richard Lipan spoke up.
“Is it something we can table?” Lipan asked. “It’s the worst thing that can happen in my opinion.” (Story continue below video link)
Henry asked Olson if the matter was up for discussion to which Olson replied it was.
“Are we able to talk to you about this?” Pouliot said.
“I don’t think so,” Olson said. “I’m looking for a motion right now.”
Still, no motion came and Henry once again spoke up.
“Personally, I think it’s a mistake to make an emotional decision,” Henry said. “I’d like to see you take some time, think about it before you do.”
Olson’s only response was “OK.”
Monday’s meeting was jam-packed with area residents and business men and women who had come to speak in favor of a planned $1.2 million rum microdistillery/restaurant in downtown Caro.
Caro City Council voted 5-2 on Sept. 19 against recommending the project receive necessary licenses from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. The official reason given to the state was because of close proximity to churches.
Caro City Council members have been heavily criticized since, mostly for not doing whatever they could to support such a large investment in downtown Caro – an area many have said in the last several weeks is dying.
Brian Rickwalt – appointed to fill a vacant city council seat earlier this year – said he “was excited to become part of city council with a city manager that we were excited to have as part of our community.
“I served on the planning commission, he was in attendance at every meeting,” Rickwalt said. “There was a city manager prior to him that made things not as easy as Jared. When he asked me to consider joining city council, having Jared here was one of the reasons I chose to step up.”
Olson was hired in 2013 and previously worked as a project coordinator with Ottawa County Parks and Recreation and assistant to the assessor in the city of Clare. He received a bachelor’s degree from Alma College in 2010 and earned a master’s degree in public administration from Central Michigan University in 2011.
“From my first visit in Caro, the community has been incredibly inviting and is already beginning to feel like home,” said Olson in a press release issued upon his hiring. “What excites me the most with the community is the dedication and involvement shown not only by the City Council, but by the citizens of Caro.
“I am very excited to become part of the Caro community and look forward to begin working with the council and city.”
On Monday, Lipan asked Olson if his resignation was a decision that he had made within the last month.
“It’s been longer than a month,” Olson said. “It’s definitely a family decision. My wife has accepted a new job on the other side of the state so I’ve been gone from her for several months.
“It’s time,” he said.
Karen Snider, Caro city clerk, became emotional during the meeting, while Pouliot told Olson “it will be a great loss.”
Henry once again asked Olson if there was anything that could be done.
“And this decision was made prior to this meeting?” he asked Olson.
“It has been in the works for a while,” Olson said.
Councilmember Joe Greene suggested the possibility of Olson giving the city more time, but Olson did not say anything.
“Mr. Olson has been very, very good for the city of Caro,” Pouliot said. “He’s always stepped up in every area…if this is what he’s desiring, then it should come to a vote…as much as I don’t like it, as much as he’ll be immensely missed.”
A general voice vote was taken but because someone said “no,” Pouliot called for a roll-call vote.
Snider took the roll-call vote, but had to stop several times due to being upset. Lipan voted “no” meaning the motion passed 6-1.
“Thank you, this has been an incredible four years,” Olson said as Snider left the room. “Karen and the employees have become my family here and this is not taken lightly, but it is something I need to do.
“I thank you all. This community has some great momentum moving forward, awesome things, unbelievable projects coming up, great support from the community, which is good to see…moving forward I hope it snowballs into further good things.
“Thank you all for the opportunity to serve you. This has been an excellent, excellent experience and I thank you all.”
The crowd applauded after Olson spoke, but because Snider had left the room, council activity was halted as Pouliot said everyone waited “for the clerk to compose herself.”
When council moved on, Greene asked what would happen next.
Pouliot said “personnel is probably going to have to come up with some names.”
It’s unclear what the timeline is for filling Olson’s position. The council scheduled a personnel committee meeting for Oct. 10.
A phone number provided to The Advertiser for Pouliot continued ringing and was not answered Tuesday.
Andrew Dietderich is editor of The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org