Plainwell public works head retires

Daniel Pepper, Staff Writer

Plainwell is saying goodbye to public works superintendent Rick Updike.

“I’ve had a pretty good run,” Updike said.

His last day will be May 1 after serving in the position for the last 13 years. Updike announced his retirement in January to give the city time to find a replacement.

“I’ve worked with a lot of great people, with the staff of the DPW and the people at city hall,” Updike said. “Erik and the council were great to work with.”

During his time with the city several large projects, including acquiring and partially redeveloping the former mill and the major repaving and infrastructure work on M-89 stuck out.

“There will be some that are coming and will be undertaken soon,” Updike said. “We’re getting better funding from the state now and can do a better job taking care of our streets.”

For instance, at his last city council meeting, Updike asked the council to apply for a federal grant to rehabilitate the North Main Street and East Bridge Street (M-89) bridges over the Kalamazoo River. If awarded by the federal government, the projects would involve the city spending about $100,000 for a local match on the project which would probably take place in 2020 or 2021 if the grant is approved.

Another major project upcoming would be a reconstruction of Sherwood Avenue.

At the council meeting, Updike was asked by the council for a speech and he offered, “I move we adjourn.”

Friends and co-workers planned to join with him for a retirement party.

Updike said he didn’t have any major plans for retirement yet.

“I’m gonna retire,” he said, putting the emphasis on “retire.”

Updike said he’d figure out what to spend his time on once he had time to consider it.

“I’ll spend time with my family and think about what I want to do,” he said.

In the effort to replace Updike, Wilson said the city had extended an offer to a candidate after interviewing five people for the position.

The position would be filled officially pending some paperwork to be finished up with the candidate, Wilson said.

Contact Dan Pepper at or at (269) 673-5534.


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