Herald Journal, April 18, 2005
Keeping busy in Winsted Township
By Jenni Sebora
Regular township business is what keeps the Winsted Township board busy.
Annexations, road maintenance and upkeep, including obtaining gravel, granting permits, such as, conditional use permits, large group gathering permits for events, such as Winstock, and authorizing building activity are some of the issues that keep the township board busy.
The township board consists of a clerk, treasurer, and supervisors, including a chair person. The township supervisors and the chairperson are the voting members on the board.
One of the main jobs of the supervisors and the chairperson is road, signage, bridge, and culvert inspection and the chairperson also leads the township meetings.
Mike Laxen, who is on his third term serving on the Winsted Township board, noted that supervisors do a major road inspection in April to determine what roads need gravel and repair and prioritize the needs based on money available for that year. Signage, bridges and culverts are also inspected to determine if any repairs are needed.
“We try and rotate the roads that will get new gravel, but some roads are more heavily traveled than others and need gravel more often,” Laxen said.
Because Winsted Township does not have its own building or equipment, road maintenance duties are contracted out.
In addition to a building and equipment, a township would also have to have liability and insurance if it would hire its own road maintenance employee, Laxen said.
“In the past, the county has always done the road maintenance work for Winsted Township, but because of the county’s busy schedule and the need to plow and grade the county roads first, our township roads were not getting plowed and graded as soon as they needed to, he said. Winsted Township Clerk Sue Goebel concurred.
The best time to grade roads is right after if rains, and that needed to get done, Goebel explained.
Last year, the township hired Bill Piersen of MDT of Silver Lake to do the road maintenance work for Winsted Township.
The clerk and the treasurer are non-voting members on the township board and assist the supervisors. The main job of the treasurer is to take care of the payroll and to pay any expenses.
The duties of the clerk include, taking minutes at the meetings, organizing and filing paperwork, researching information for the supervisors and running the elections and the annual township meeting.
“I am pretty much a secretary on the board,” Goebel said.
Regarding Winsted Township board positions, Laxen noted that the township has had a hard time finding people to run for board positions.
“I’ve had to call people personally and ask if they would be interested in running or filling a position,” Laxen said.
The annual and reorganization meetings
The annual meeting is conducted in March and is the meeting when township constituents vote.
“Levy amounts are proposed and township members present at the meeting can vote. Usually a voice vote is taken, yea or nay. If it (the vote) is close, a hand count will be done just like the Legislature in session,” Laxen said.
“The rest of the year’s issues are voted upon by the township supervisors. The township entrusts us to take care of business,” Laxen said.
Goebel and Laxen both encourage township residents to attend the annual meetings and the regular monthly meetings to voice their concerns and give input.
There are not a lot of township residents that attend the meetings, Goebel and Laxen said.
Besides monthly meetings and the annual meeting, a reorganization meeting is conducted for Winsted Township at its April meeting at 7 p.m., which is one hour prior to its regularly scheduled monthly meeting.
There are a number of organizational matters that are addressed for the upcoming year at this meeting.
Among the matters addressed include, designating an official newspaper, bank and posting places where legal notices are posted, setting compensation for township officers, selecting a township board chairperson, and adopting a schedule of the board’s regular meeting, Gobel said.
“We are kind of boring. We don’t have our own building, equipment, or maintenance person it’s business as usual,” Goebel said.
And it’s business that keeps Winsted Township busy.