ORANGE CITY—Earl Woudstra is still serving Orange City, but he has changed roles.
After 20 years on the city council, including serving as mayor pro tem, Woudstra began work as city administrator on Nov. 11. He will sit in a different chair at city meetings and have a new set of duties, but he still will work on behalf of his hometown.
“I am hopeful that my previous experience working for the city, serving as a council member and being a lifetime resident have prepared me to provide leadership to our outstanding staff of dedicated workers,” Woudstra said. “My wife and I have all of our children and grandchildren living in or near Orange City — my desire is to help provide them and all of our citizens a quality of life that allows them to thrive.”
Woudstra will be paid $110,000 annually. He said he has no contract and is listed as an “at-will” employee of the council.
He has no specific goals in mind. Instead, he plans to “listen well to our citizens and to equip our staff to focus on serving our community.”
Woudstra said he is stepping into big shoes, since Duane Feekes, who retired after 41 years on the job, was so well-respected for his work.
“Duane has done an exceptional job,” he said. “He has many gifts of leadership and has served our community extremely well. You simply do not replace someone who has made the kind of impact he has made. I will do the best to use the gifts God has given me to serve the best that I can.”
In September, Woudstra retired as Northwestern College’s athletic director. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from the Orange City college, a master of arts degree from the University of Iowa and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota.
At Northwestern, he served on the President’s Cabinet that has assisted in strategic planning and budget oversight of Northwestern’s $26 million operating budget. He has assisted in the completion of many projects around campus, including renovations of the DeWitt Fitness Center in the Rowenhorst Student Center and the planning and construction of the Juffer Athletic Fieldhouse.
Woudstra coached several sports but was best known for his success with the Red Raiders’ women’s basketball program, which claimed four national titles.
He was named NAIA Coach of the Year all four championship seasons — 2001, 2008, 2010 and 2011 — and was inducted into the NAIA Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Woudstra also was named the Great Plains Athletic Conference Athletic Director of the Year.
Mayor Deb De Haan, who has known Woudstra for decades, said he is widely respected and brings many assets to the position.
She said he has a “can-do spirit” that she admires.
Woudstra, 63, and his wife, Karen, have been married for 42 years and have four adult children and 12 grandchildren, all whom live in Sioux County. Karen works as a real estate agent with Northwest Realty.
He said he wants to continue to serve a place that has a special place in his heart.
“Orange City is simply home for me,” Woudstra said. “Home is a place that you can be real and transparent and build meaningful God-honoring relationships.”