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Wert saw a need and filled it

Jim Wert Jim Wert

Jim Wert's neighbor, Cy Highlander, recruited him to get involved in work for the Village of Flat Rock. The first elected mayor of the village, Highlander knew a good volunteer when he saw one.

A retired human resources executive with DuPont, Wert had lived in the community in the 1970s. When he and his wife retired to Flat Rock in 1997, he became a deputy zoning administrator. After serving on the Planning Board for eight years, the last six as chair, he won a seat on the council in 2005. He was handy to have around Village Hall, where he made minor repairs, painted and changed light bulbs.
"He built houses for Habitat," said Mayor Bob Staton. "He and Joe Carpenter (the retired dentist) were the electricians for Habitat houses. Building and construction was something of interest to him and that's how it happened that he came to be appointed deputy zoning administrator."
At the Village Hall, "He'd come in and put in insulation and do all the stuff an older structure needs," said Town Administrator Judy Boleman. "He'd change light bulbs and patch paint. He knew we could call a handyman but he saw that it would save the village money. Nobody asked him to do it. He saw a need so he just did it."
Wert, 76, used his corporate experience to improve workflow.
"I had a role in creating the first subdivision ordinance," he said. "As deputy zoning administrator, I helped to establish some of the early process-flow diagrams in how things ought to work."
As worked in the volunteer zoning role three days a week for two hours analyzing and writing reports on zoning applications.
"I've enjoyed the challenge," he said. "I think it's been a good run of 15 years giving back to the community. I have no regrets. It's time for others to get engaged and get involved. I think Flat Rock is going to move forward."
Among the few controversies during his two terms was the failed effort by the county Board of Commissioners to buy the Highland Lake Golf Course for development as a soccer complex.
"That was one of the larger sources of irritation in my experience we had to deal with," he said. Once the commissioners learned that the village had zoning authority, the project, which neighbors strongly opposed, was doomed. "That's something the county had overlooked."
Wert also serves on the Pardee Hospital Foundation.
"One of his fellow board members said that Jim Wert has never turned a job down and that anything they ask him to do he does it and does it well," Staton said, "and from our experience here I'm not surprised because anything we've asked him to do, he does it and does it well and with a smile."