Township supervisor hosts ‘coffee hours’ with citizens

By: Brad D. Bates | Shelby - Utica News | Published January 23, 2013

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Whether citizens want to vent about municipal issues, share ideas for future projects or simply enjoy a hot beverage, they can now do so after hours at the Shelby Township municipal building.

Shelby Township Supervisor Richard Stathakis will hold “coffee hours” from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month through March, and he hopes it will expand opportunities for citizens to bring concerns and ideas to him in a one-on-one conversational setting.

“In addition to being available to residents in my daytime hours, I am now offering some time for you during evening hours,” Stathakis said at the Jan. 15 Board of Trustees meeting.

“If you want to speak with me about business that is relevant to the operation of our terrific township, no appointment is necessary.”

The program started Jan. 22, after press time. The next session will be held Feb. 12, with regular meetings running until March 26.

The idea to start the program came from Stathakis’s desire to open government to people who are unable to make trips to the municipal building at 52700 Van Dyke Ave. during normal business hours. 

“All you need to do is show up in my office on any second or fourth Tuesday through March between 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.,” Stathakis said. “I’ll be there to listen; you can come in and simply tell me. And please be sure to use our after-hours door for entrance, if you decide to drop in.”

Besides coffee hours, another way for citizens to take an active role in local government will resume when Clerk Stanley Grot renews his Citizens Advisory Committee and Sounding Board meetings in March.

Unlike the coffee hours, Grot’s meetings featured a group of citizens discussing agenda items among themselves, as well as with specific township officials.

“I’m actually planning to have them back, and improve the Citizens Advisory Committee and Sounding Board,” Grot said.

“I thought the program worked well. We had an agenda, what we wanted to discuss, so I brought some experts to address issues we’re addressing. And I will continue to do that.”

Grot said he was happy with the response to his meetings, which kicked off April 24, 2012, but he decided to cancel the meetings during the winter.

“We got very busy with the elections,” Grot said. “And we had a lot of seniors attend that leave town for the winter. We had a lot of snowbirds, so we wanted to make sure that our schedule accommodated them.”

The advisory committee’s overall agenda of  “problems, ideas and solutions” will remain unchanged, but Grot said that when the meetings renew after the winter hiatus, they will follow specific agendas pertaining to current and topical issues.

“We’ll pick topics, as we move forward, every couple of months that are very timely,” Grot said. The first meetings likely will address election issues, such as no-reason absentee voting and voter registration. “There’s a lot to talk about.”