Rambling Around Town column by Jack Durham
From the Nov. 21. 2012 edition of the McKinleyville Press
Norman Shopay was only in town for a few years, but he made a real impact during his short tenure as the general manager of the McKinleyville Community Services District.
You can see it on the faces of MCSD employees, who clearly liked and respected their manager and were shocked and saddened to learn about his death from an apparent heart attack on Nov. 10.
Norman was calm, kind, diplomatic and had a sense of humor. He was exactly what the district needed when he was hired three years ago. As readers may recall, the situation at the MCSD had become toxic under the previous manager. There were petty battles waged against board members. There was in-fighting, distrust and instability. Things were weird, and not in a good way. The MCSD needed to be taken in a new direction.
Norman was the ideal candidate for the job. Without any ties to McKinleyville, he didn’t have any petty alliances that would steer him towards one political faction or another. He was neutral, which is how a manager should be.
He brought a fresh approach to the district. Rather than managing with a top-down leadership, Norman had employees work together, or pursue projects within their own departments. He seemed to hand over the reins to individual employees, some of whom worked harder because of it.
Norman also helped the district expand its vision of what McKinleyville can be, and how residents can take control of their own town. Norman nudged the board forward, encouraging it to take a leadership position and comment on issues like planning and land use.
Former MCSD board member Ron Coffman described it best last week during a special meeting of the MCSD Board of Directors. “His management style was a blueprint for collaborative decision making,” Coffman said. “The MCSD board should feel proud of choosing him, and continue the journey towards a more inclusive, open and visionary agency. You can honor Norman by continuing to build McKinleyville’s identity and maintaining an atmosphere that brings out the best in all of us.”
Norman will be missed.