by Lynn Meredith
With Virgil Township calling for a referendum to help repair and maintain its 30 miles of roads, it’s not surprising that the main issue on the minds of candidates for Township Board is how to get funding. Of the five candidates vying for four seats, four are incumbents.
With 16 years on the Township Board, and 12 years as supervisor before that, James Diehl makes keeping up with the changes that occur in local government a priority. By attending classes, conferences and special meetings, Diehl knows one thing for sure: There’s more paperwork than ever.
â€œI keep up on all the changes, so I know exactly what’s supposed to be done to keep things legal,â€ Diehl said. â€œThe paperwork has increased immensely.â€
Diehl would like to see the township buy some land and build a new facility for meetings, offices and equipment. When he was supervisor, he had been setting aside money for a township hall.
â€œSo many things are make-shift. Some of the equipment is stored outside. We’re renting meeting space from Maple Park,â€ he said. â€œWe’d like to have it all in one place.â€
He envisions offices for the clerk and assessor and a meeting room for the board, along with indoor space to store the road equipment.
Getting increased revenue for the roads is another priority for Diehl. He said water drainage problems have come about in the last two or three years and need to be dealt with. He plans to attend Kane County Water Resource meetings as often as possible and find out about available resources.
â€œThere’s not much the township can do. This way when people come to the township about their water problems, we will know where to send them,â€ Diehl said.
Diehl commends Highway Commissioner Larry Peterson for his work maintaining the roads with limited funds. He fears that if the road referendum does not pass, the only recourse will be to tear up hard surface roads and return them to gravel. He wants the board to keep trying until the referendum passes.
â€œI hope the referendum will go through. If (the board) quits trying to get it passed, then (the public) thinks (the board) is getting tired, so therefore it doesn’t need the money,â€ Diehl said.
With 16 years bringing his business experience and community involvement to serving on the Township Board, Pete Fabrizius has a vision of what the township needs now and what it will need in the future.
â€œI would like to see us get out of maintenance mode and start moving forward,â€ Fabrizius said.
But first he would like to stabilize the roads.
â€œWe are in dire straits. We need to pass this road referendum,â€ he said.
Fabrizius said that the people who live on those roads want the referendum to pass, but a bigger proportion of the voters live in the villages of Virgil and Maple Park, some of whom feel it doesn’t affect them.
Another concern for Fabrizius is fiscal responsibility to the people of the community.
â€œI want to make sure we get the best bang for the buck and that we’re spending the taxpayers’ money wisely,â€ Fabrizius said.
In the future, Fabrizius would like to see equipment and buildings updated and work done on the roads and bridges.
â€œWe have aging equipment and aging buildings. I’d like us to keep them up-to-date,â€ he said.
He also envisions a township building not only to store equipment, but to serve as a center for the community.
â€œIn the big picture, I’d like to see us put up a township building. In the long-term vision we could offer a park and a community center,â€ Fabrizius said.
A lifetime community member, Ted Janecek is looking forward to getting involved in local government and bringing a fresh outlook, he said. He has been self-employed in the construction business for the last 15 years, building and remodeling houses. He thinks it’s time for the younger members of the community to step up.
â€œI’m 35 years old and I’ve lived 31 of those years in the township,â€ Janecek said. â€œI’d like to get the younger people involved in the government.â€
The roads are the biggest issue for Janecek. He recognizes the difficulty of maintaining them without enough money.
â€œThe township is so large. It has lots of miles of roads. I’d like to see improvement on the roads, but it’s a hard time with limited funds to work with,â€ Janecek said.
He said that with the majority of the voting public living in Virgil and Maple Park, rural residents are at a disadvantage.
â€œThe people who live in the country are hung out to dry,â€ he said.
With water drainage issues also at hand, Janecek is in favor of passing the road referendum.
He hopes that by getting involved now, he is paving the way for a time when current board members retire or go off the board.
â€œI want to help the future of the community. I want to bring in younger people on the board. When the older people retire, who are we going to get in there? They need to be in for a period of time; otherwise you’re throwing fresh people in without experience,â€ Janecek said.
For 20 years, Mary Kahl has been using her skills of prioritizing and scheduling to do the best with what the township has to offer. She wants to continue to work on the projects that the board has been tackling during the last four years.
â€œWe’ve been trying to get a building up to put plows and equipment and offices into. The garage we have is right in the middle of Maple Park, and we’re using the Civic Center for offices,â€ Kahl said.
Kahl also supports the road referendum, even in a tight economy.
â€œWe have to get the roads in order,â€ she said. â€œI hope the referendum will pass, but the way the economy is, I’m not counting on it. People can’t pay their mortgages.â€
She added that where she lives in Maple Park, the people who do not use the country roads do not think the referendum affects them. Not many attend the town meetings on the subject of roads, she said.
During the last term, Kahl said they were able to obtain catastrophic insurance for general assistance, a program required by the state for people who have no home and no income. Each request for assistance must be proved and is only a last resort when all other services are exhausted. The township needed to protect itself if an extreme case arose, she said.
â€œIn case someone got really sick, and we were found to be responsible, it could bankrupt us,â€ Kahl said. â€œWe have some money but with medical costs the way they are, it would be too much.â€
Kahl said they obtained the catastrophic insurance after watching developments in other places.
As a current trustee, David Stewart is seeking re-election to the Virgil Township Board. He has 26 years experience as a building contractor and six years experience in municipal construction with a local engineering firm. He considers it a privilege to continue to serve the community as it faces the challenges in its future.
â€œI will continue to seek effective and responsible solutions to the numerous township issues,â€ Stewart said.
Stewart said that because the township uses its funds efficiently, it is able to respond to the needs of the community.
â€œWe maintain a level of service and response which truly symbolizes the spirit of the most representative form of local government,â€ Stewart said.
The issue of biggest concern to Stewart is the roads. He said that even without money to maintain the roads, the township provides adequate service.
â€œThe township continues to operate with limited funds for the Road District, while maintaining service and efficiency throughout the township,â€ Stewart said.
He said the board has been instrumental in addressing drainage issues with Kane County officials and township residents. In addition, it administers General Assistance funds and services to senior citizens that provide valuable services to the community, he said.
â€œ(I want to) thank (the community) for the opportunity to address these township issues,â€ Stewart said.