OTTAWA — After 17 years of serving on the Ottawa Village Council, today marks Tim Macke’s last day serving the residents of the Putnam County village.
“It was fulfilling for me,” Macke said. “It’s just part of me, to be involved in the community.”
Macke’s family has a long history of serving Ottawa on council: A grandfather of his was on council, as was an uncle who later became mayor, he said. He served from 1992 to 1999 and 2008 to 2017.
“I guess it’s a little bit in the blood with being involved in the community,” Macke said.
Before Macke ran for an open council seat in 1991, he was serving on the park board as president, he said. As president, he dealt with council on occasions when the board needed to request funding for different projects, Macke said. At this time Dick Edelbrock, someone Macke knew on council, approached him about soon-to-be-vacant council seats and asked if he would be interested in running for one, Macke said.
Macke said he knew a little about what council did from his dealings with them through the park board but “not as much as you do when you get into it and learn the biz.”
Macke opted to run for council, as did current Ottawa Mayor Dean Meyer, and they both began serving on council in 1992, Macke said.
Macke said the village faced many of the same issues back in ‘92 when he first started on council. Flooding was still an issue back then, but it wasn’t as intense as it is now, he said.
“Flood has always been an issue in this community,” Macke said. “But not the frequency of the flooding. It was not as radical as it has been the last 15 years.”
Macke said one of the major differences between his first eight years on Ottawa council, 1992-1999, and his most current time on council was finding money to fund village projects.
“We weren’t as concerned about where the money was going to come from,” he said. “The whole nature of local government has changed.”
He said part of the problem stems from cuts in state government budgets. How earnings are calculated on the money council has in the bank has changed over the last two decades as well, Macke said. Federal and state regulations have become more costly to meet when working on projects, he said.
“Typically the biggest funding issue is when regulations come out and you have to figure out where the money is going to come from to meet those regulations,” Macke said.
He said Ottawa has a well-maintained budget, and that is because of the quality work put in by the members of past and present village councils.
Macke said he rejoined council in 2008 after a council member died. Council asked for volunteers to choose from, and Macke was one such volunteer. He was chosen to take the seat, he said.
Macke said the biggest difference between serving the community in a group such as the park board and council is the scope of the vision that is required.
“As a council, you’re making decisions for the whole community,” Macke said. “As a member of park board, you’re making decissions on how to make the park good for the community.”
There will be times when council members know their decissions will impact one group negatively and another positively, but personal feelings must be put aside for the good of the entire community, Macke said.
“Every decision has a consequence,” he said.
While serving on council, Macke also served on committees including the planning commission, the 175th anniversary committee in 2009, personnel committee and the tree commission.
“Hey, it’s like they say, busy people get things done,” Macke said, smiling.
“Tim has an awful lot of good ideas,” Meyer said. “When he wants to get something done, he goes after it.”
In 2011 Meyer, who was president of village council, became acting mayor after the previous mayor, Ken Maag, stepped down from the position. Shortly afterward, Macke became president of council.
“I didn’t have a clue what I was doing as mayor,” Meyer said. “I never knew what all the responsibilities of being mayor were, and he was in the same situation as the new president.”
Meyer said they provided each other with support, advice and encouragement through the learning curve of their new positions. When they didn’t know what to do, they just asked questions and worked it out, he said.
While he has the utmost confidence the new council president will do a good job, Meyer said Ottawa is losing a valuable asset with Macke retiring.
While retiring from council, Macke is not retiring from serving the community. He is a member of the committee that is working on plans for the flood property the village has been purchasing, he said. He will also continue to be a part of the Blanchard River Watershed Partnership, a group dedicated to cleaning the waters of the local watershed, Macke said.
“The 17 years were good,” Macke said. “I’m certainly not leaving because they’re bad, but this was a decision Phyllis (Macke’s wife) and I made years ago. It was the plan all along.”
Macke said the plan now is to spend some more time with the grandchildren. He has some grandchildren locally but also some in Dayton and Bryan. He and is wife want to do some more middle-of-the-week travelling to spend more time with them without worrying about making it back for village council meetings.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362