PROFILE: Niven reflects on 20 years as Chelsea’s first, only mayor

Published 4:19 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2016

In last four years, Chelsea has averaged 150 building permits. In 2006 alone, the city issued 650 permits for new homes.

Over the years, the city has given more than $2.5 million to education or educational projects in the city.

The city is currently donating $125,000 to the five schools in Chelsea.

“We have young married couples with children moving into our city,” Earl said. “The future is before us. Our intent was to lay a foundation to establish Chelsea as a family city (and) to encourage families to move here.”

Chelsea Mayor Earl Niven was recognized by Forest Oaks Elementary School students as an American hero during a Super Citizen Program assembly Nov. 12. (File)

Chelsea Mayor Earl Niven was recognized by Forest Oaks Elementary School students as an American hero during a Super Citizen Program assembly Nov. 12. (File)

Chelsea Fire Chief Wayne Shirley has worked for Earl and the community for 15 years.

“I’ve known the mayor for around 35 years, but didn’t really ‘get to know him’ until I interviewed for the fire chief position. Working with Mayor Niven has been a challenging and educational experience. We may not always agree on each budget priority, but I do firmly believe he has always kept the best interest of Chelsea as the basis of each issue I have brought for his consideration.”

Shirley said Earl is a “numbers” man and has served the community well.

“Mayor Niven gave me an opportunity to serve as fire chief, in my home community, and for that I am grateful,” Shirley said.

Earl cited the relationship between him and each council as a reason Chelsea is a strong city.

“We have worked together in what is best for city in decisions we make,” Earl said. “Chelsea has always been a close community. It was always connected to our schools and churches.”

Councilwoman Juanita Champion will have served three terms (12 years) with Earl when the current term is finished in October 2016.

“I have known the mayor since 2003 and have worked closely with him since 2004,” Champion said. “During this time I have found him to be a man who loves the city of Chelsea with all his heart and who is willing to do whatever it takes to manage the city.¬†Under his guidance, our city has grown from a small country town to a city with a population close to 12,000 citizens, and he has absorbed all the inherent problems of this growth with dignity and a good sense of humor.”