Profile Q & A: Steve Miller, Coleman Mayor

Steve Miller has served as the mayor of the City of Coleman for seven years. He’s lived in the community for 45 years, since 1977.
Steve Miller has served as Coleman's mayor for seven years.
He was born and raised in Midland and graduated from Midland High School. He and his wife, Vickie, who’s from Coleman,  have owned Pizza Man’s, located downtown for 31 years. 

Coleman, with a population of 1,262, celebrated its sesquicentennial (150 years)  last year. The city now covers one square mile.  The community added 25 persons from the 2010 to the 2020 census. Miller says, “We gained a little bit. We were pleased about that.” Coleman is the only other city in Midland County besides the city of Midland. Sanford is a village.


Features of the community include the Pere Marquette Rail Trail, the Coleman Area Library,  the Coleman Veterans Memorial, the Pere Marquette Senior Estates (senior living community), the Coleman Community Schools which includes the high school’s Agriscience program, and the downtown with several businesses including a hardware, pharmacy, and three restaurants.

One of the community's assets is the Coleman Area Library. Gale Nelson is the director.Q: What are some of the challenges facing Coleman right now?

A: People ask about the grocery store and the bank.  Well, we don’t have that. That hurts.  (Supermarket closed several years ago, bank closed last fall, the non-profit
Coleman Family Center has a small market, open several hours per week). Everybody shops at Walmart and Meijer’s. People drive. Some stores here have challenges, some are in good shape. You hope the products you sell are good enough to keep people here to support you. 50% of our business (at Pizza Man’s) is from in town, 50% is from out of town. We’re a taste of home when people come back to visit…

We’re always open to new businesses. We have our hands up just like everybody else. Pick us.
City Council meetings are held the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month at 6:30pm.
Q: What about the city government?

A: Money is always a thing, because the price of everything is going up. We just had to raise our water rates for the first time in forever…Nobody stretches a dollar more than the City of Coleman. We have grants that we’ve applied for and received. We’re thrifty. The council, we're like minded…they all understand that you have to have tools to run the city. Our department heads and employees, we’re just so fortunate to have them...all-stars.

We have to be careful of unfunded liabilities (pension, medical care) for employees. The state watches that. We’re on the good side of that fund.

Our infrastructure is very strong here, what’s underneath our roads. We’ve also redone a third of our roads….The city has good bones. We’ve also got some good recreational facilities in town, too. People would love to have a splash park. It’s in our master plan. So, someday, maybe it will happen…My main goal is to make sure the city is properly and correctly managed. We have good people in those positions. They like working here and they live here.

Q: What are some of the benefits of living in Coleman?

A:  I live here because I want to, not because I have to. It’s quiet, a small town. Everybody knows everybody. Slow-paced, it’s nice…We have good schools. My kids all graduated from here, all are extremely successful…People who live here have got great hearts. If you need help, you’ll get it.

Coleman Family Pharmacy and Bass Hardware anchor downtown Coleman.
Q: How have the foundations and other organizations in Midland benefited Coleman?

A:  We appreciate them so much. They’re in our corner, looking for opportunities. They’ve sold (the Midland Business Alliance) a couple of lots in our industrial park, one site is Quality Door’s wholesale operation. They’re going to update the road out there and the electrical. We appreciate what they send our way and do for us. 
The senior apartments have been an important addition to Coleman.
They (foundations) pretty much built the senior housing (Pere Marquette Senior Estates), a total of about 60 apartments. They also supported the library…They just really want us to succeed. They paid for the gazebo. Cliff Miles was always very, very helpful to me and to Coleman. (Miles served as Midland’s city manager and, in retirement, was a consultant for Midland Tomorrow, often advocating for Coleman. He passed away in 2021). The Coleman Veterans Memorial has also received support from Midland.

We have all these great things. We have to attract people to see them.

Q: Give me your pitch for someone to visit Coleman.

A: Take a 20-minute drive up Saginaw Road and check out a truly great small town. Midland’s busy, I always love to visit but I’m glad to come back to my small, little town. It’s nice and we love it here.

 

Read more articles by Ron Beacom.

Ron Beacom has served as the managing editor of Catalyst Midland since October 2020. He's also a freelance writer for the Midland Daily News and the producer/host of "Second Act: Life at 50 Plus" for WDCQ-Delta College Public Media (PBS). He's the co-producer of two WDCQ documentaries about the Tittabawassee River Disaster in 2020, "Breached! and Breached!2-The Recovery."