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Press Release


Matt Bach
Director of Media Relations
Michigan Municipal League
(734) 669-6317; C: (810) 874-1073;


Alpena, Paw Paw Officials Receive Honorary Life Memberships

Michigan Municipal League Celebrates Carol Shafto and Larry Nielsen

LANSING, Michigan — The Michigan Municipal League honored two long-time League supporters with Honorary Life Memberships during the League’s annual Capital Conference Awards Gala March 21 in Lansing.

The Honorary Life Membership is the League’s most prestigious individual honor, and this year it was awarded to Paw Paw Village Manager Larry Nielsen and former Alpena Mayor Carol Shafto.

“This is an honor that often goes to just one person each year, but this year we had two people who were both so deserving it was decided two is better than one,” said League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin. “Carol and Larry have both been outstanding members and advocates for the League for many years now.”

Nielsen has been the Paw Paw Village manager since 2007 and was previously the village manager in Bangor and village coordinator in Berrien Springs. He is a past member of the Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees and he’s been a long-time member of the Michigan Municipal Executives.

“Larry has worked in a variety of roles serving Michigan municipal government since the mid-1980s and is a long-time supporter of the Michigan Municipal League and its programs,” said Lathrup Village Mayor Frank Brock Jr., who presented Nielsen with the honor and serves on a League program board with Nielsen. “Larry’s wealth of experience and knowledge of local government is immense and he’s also a pillar of his local community.”

True to his tireless dedication to his profession, in 2013, Nielsen agreed to help the city of Bangor by serving as its temporary manager while the community searched for a permanent manager. During this time, he simultaneously served both Paw Paw and Bangor. In 2014, he received the League’s Special Award of Merit and the Excellence in Local Government Award from MLGMA, now known as MME. On a personal level, Nielsen is very involved in his local area, particularly in the community theatre scene, and specifically with the Twin City Players. He is a veteran actor, director and playwright. He recently won the excellence in original writing award at the 2017 AACTFest in Bay City for his creation of the original stage play called Make it Home, about real-life stories of men and women who lived through World War II.

Shafto served Alpena for 24 years, including being elected to multiple terms on the Alpena City Council. She ended service with Alpena as mayor, retiring in 2011, said Fenton Mayor Pro Tem Patricia Lockwood, a previous Honorary Life Membership recipient who presented Shafto with the honor Tuesday.

“Carol was raised with seven siblings in the remote Northern Michigan community of Onaway in extreme poverty. But she had the foresight to know that education was her ticket to a better life. So she enrolled at Alpena Community College and while she initially thought her time in Alpena would be short-term, she has made it her home for nearly 50 years,” Lockwood said.

Shafto served in the U.S. Air Force and became a nationally certified planner (AICP). She is the Planning and Evaluation Director of Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency Inc. (NEMCSA)—an 11-county regional Community Action Agency.

Shafto began her public service career with eight years on the Alpena Planning Commission. She has been very involved with the Michigan Municipal League since the mid-1990s and was appointed to the League Board of Trustees in 2008.  She was elected the board vice president and then became president in 2011. She served on numerous League-related groups, including the League’s Nominating Committee, Legal Defense Fund Board of Directors, Legislative Governance Committee, and the Land Use and Economic Development Committee. She was also a member of the Michigan Association of Mayors and Michigan Women in Municipal Government.

Shafto attributed her desire to get involved with the League to former Rogers City Councilmember and past League President Jim Sinclair.

“Former League President Jim Sinclair was my mentor,” Shafto said. “Jim Sinclair always believed in me. He pushed me to be a better public servant and a better person.”

About the award: The Honorary Life Membership, first awarded in 1932, is the League’s highest individual honor, reserved for the most active and inspiring leaders dedicated to the League and its mission.

For photos of Shafto and Nielsen receiving the awards, go to this Michigan Municipal League “Award Recipients” album on flickr: Photos can be downloaded from the League’s flickr page for free. We just ask that the following photo credit be given: Flickr Photo Michigan Municipal League/

For additional information contact the League’s Matt Bach, director of media relations, at (734) 669-6317 (office) and

Michigan Municipal League is dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. Learn more at




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