Young has seen her share of changes from her perch at city hall
By Paul Wahl
Wallowa County Chieftain
Michele Young stepped through the doors of Enterprise City Hall 30 years ago this week and hasn’t looked back.
Young celebrated her three decades of service Friday. She has held several positions with the city most recently city administrator.
“I take care of all the financial aspects of the city, land use, economic development, grant projects and oversee all the routine things that happen in the office,” said Young, who moved to the area from Hillsboro with her husband, David.
“We moved here to take over his parents’ ranch,” Young added.
She worked for several years at Wallowa Memorial Hospital prior to moving to city hall.
Like nearly every job, municipal administration has seen its share of evolution, as has Enterprise. The city’s budget was less than a million dollars in 1987. Today it’s at $7.5 million.
“The job itself has changed dramatically,” said Young. “The regulations we have to be aware of and know are so much more than they used to be. It was a quite simple job back then ... you had a clean desk.”
Two things that haven’t changed –– the city’s population, which continues to hover around 2,000, and the number of city employees, 13.5 full-time equivalents.
“We used to be all about families,” Young said. “What we have now is more retirees, and the number of families has shrunk.”
Much of Young’s training has been on the job. She said she’s had excellent mentors along the way.
Dawson Neil, former public works director and uncle of Ronnie Neil, current public works director, taught about city infrastructure, while former mayor Irv Nuss left a life-long impression.
“He was a man who had a real passion for this community, and that was very important,” she said. “It impacted me.”
She has also benefitted from the tutelege of Larry Christman, current city council member, who is also a fan of Youngs.
“She’s done a great job,” said Christman, who was among the parade of people who stopped by Friday to congratulate Young. “She’s good with the public, and she knows the rules and regulations.”
“What she doesn’t know, she finds out,” added Christman, who has spent several terms on the council and as mayor.
Newly elected council member Micah Agnew said he has also benefitted from her experience.
“Even as a new resident, one of the things that stood out to me right away is how genuinely nice she was,” he said. “And now that I’m getting to work with her, I’ve discovered my first impression was accurate.”
Agnew said Young is a great person to be around, and she has “a deep love for this community.”
Looking back over her tenure, Young said she belives the city has done its job well.
“I’m most proud of the fact that we are proactive and keep our citizens informed,” she said. “The city council here has work hard over the years in keeping things moving forward.”
She pointed to a large water improvement project completed recently.
“I remember a day when we had to put people on water days because there was not enough water,” she said. “Today we have two reservoirs, we have twice the number of hydrants and good water pressure.”
With a price tag of around $5 million, the project wasn’t without its controversies. But Young says that’s part of the territory in municipal government.
Coming on the heels of a major sewer plant expansion, Young said the water project had its critics, most of whom were concerned about a hike in rates.
“But we played it out, and I think most people are happy with the result, especially those who had bad water pressure,” she said.
There was even an effort to recall the city council, she said.
Despite the controversies over 30 years, Young said she doesn’t have enemies and plans to keep it that way.
“It’s okay to disagree,” she added.
Enterprise City Administrator Michele Young said she has enjoyed her 30 years on the job.
A congratulatory sign for Enterprise City Administrator Michele Young appeared on the doorway to city hall Friday.