New Yates Township clerk hopes to promote positive change

"I want us to be prosperous," McGregory said.

Newly elected Yates Township clerk, Barbara McGregory said will work to make positive changes in Idlewild and to move the community forward.

Newly elected Yates Township clerk, Barbara McGregory said will work to make positive changes in Idlewild and to move the community forward.

Photo courtesy of the McGregory campaign

YATES TOWNSHIP — Newly elected Yates Township clerk, Barbara McGregory, wants to try to help the township move forward.

“The greatest need, to me, right now, is for the township to come together so that we can move forward,” McGregory told the Star. “We have had such a divide. The previous clerk had been there for years. I told them, ‘I didn’t elect myself,’ and it wasn’t personal, it was business. As a township, we need to communicate better, and it is getting there.”

McGregory said she didn’t choose to run for township clerk, it chose her, and at first, she was hesitant to do so.

“I had become very vocal at the township board meetings because I felt something just wasn’t right,” she said. “The people that did the recall asked me if I would be willing to run. At first, I said ‘no,’ but then I decided I had to put my money where my mouth is. If I am complaining about things needing changed, then they only way to change that is to be the change. That is why I decided to run.”

One area she would like to make a difference is in finding a way to take advantage of grants and other funding that is available to support projects in Idlewild.

“The Fremont Community Foundation offered money, and things didn’t get done to take advantage of that,” McGregory said. “The Ford Foundation offered money, and things weren’t getting done that needed to get done for us to get the money. I am not saying it was on purpose, but it did happen, and we need every penny we can get.”

She added that the township needs to be taking advantage of the many grants that are out there, but to do that they will need to develop a Master Plan.

“We will need to work on developing that, and I am looking forward to see what we can accomplish once we have that foundation that we need to build on,” she said. “We need to get back to the business of advancing our township and not just being idle, so that was one of the things I wanted to do. It is going to take some time, but I am looking forward to some positive changes.”

There are other areas McGregory would like to see some changes in, as well, she said, including more small businesses, stand-alone restaurants and tourist attractions.

“We have Idlewild Eats — that is inside the hotel,” she said. “He (the owner) just bought the party store and he has good ideas for that, and he also owns the Roadrunner grocery store but that isn’t opened yet. We have other people wanting to do other things that would be seasonal. We have a lot of younger people buying in Idlewild, and they are doing more events year-round. One resident, Chris Grier, is an historian and is working on establishing a museum in the former library." 

Because Idlewild is now nationally known, she said, the township needs to step up its game as far as bringing tourism to the community, including improved lighting, paved streets and improvements on the beach area.

“Maybe Broadway could be lit up so when you are riding through it looks more like a tourist attraction,” she said. “We are working on the beach, we are getting rid of blight areas, but it is a work in progress.”

BETTER BUDGETING

Another area that McGregory wants to see changes is in the township’s budget. Formerly, the township has used Quick Books for the budget, which she said does not give an accurate accounting for township budgeting purposes.

“As of the end of this fiscal year, all townships have to change from Quick Books,” she said. “Since we are just a couple of months in, it would be a good time to get that done so we don’t have to input a years’ worth of information at once. So, I am hoping we can come to an agreement with the board to start the new system sooner rather than later. It will be in a better format for budgeting. It is going to be pricey, but in the end, it will be very beneficial. We need to get the budget correct, and it has not been correct.”

McGregory said she would also like to start summer hours at the township office for those who come to the area seasonally. Many, who don’t live in the area have to wait for Monday to do business at the township, she said, because they are only open Monday through Thursday.

“I want to open up starting in June until September, at least one weekend a month — a Friday and Saturday for two or three hours so people know they don’t have to stay over till Monday to take care of their business,” McGregory said. “There may be somebody that needs to get a permit before they head back to Detroit or Chicago and then the builder can get started on the work. That is my goal for next year, that is one of the things I would like to do.”

Although she is very busy right now learning her new role and preparing for the upcoming August election, McGregory said she is looking forward to being able to help the township whenever and wherever there is a need.

“I want to help the township, not hurt the township,” she said. “There is a lot of change that is happening, and I know for a lot of people, change is difficult. My hope is that they can see I tried to do things the right way. I want us to be prosperous, but I don’t want things that will disrupt the quiet nature of Idlewild.”

McGregory has been a seasonal visitor to Idlewild since before her birth. Her mother, who was pregnant at the time, was introduced to the area by her grandmother and her aunt.

She and her parents have sent their summers here throughout her childhood. 

More recently, she has been spending six months in Idlewild and six months in Tennessee. In 2020 she registered to vote in Idlewild, and in January 2022, she moved here as a full-time resident.