Herald JournalHerald Journal, March 28, 2005

New town hall meeting needs for Woodland

By Jenni Sebora

From the top half of a schoolhouse, to a 3,600-square foot building built in 1972, to a recently completed 2,880-square foot meeting area and a 7,200-square foot shop area, Woodland Township hall has served its township.

Thirty-year veteran Township Treasurer Gene Janikula can remember back to 1935 when the Woodland town hall was situated in the top of a school building located on the corner of Wright County Roads 30 and 10. What's in it for YOU?

A one-car garage on a nearby farm served as the storage shed for the township equipment, which was a Caterpillar snowplow, and the granary on Wally Paschka’s farm contained the township safe.

“Each time I had to get to the safe, I had to climb into the granary,” Janikula said.

Eventually, limited access in the stairs that led upstairs to the township hall area instigated talk of a new township hall, and a new hall was built in 1972.

The stairs were the big issue. At voting time, if constituents could not manage the steps, the township board members helped them up the stairs. At township meetings, people who had difficulty with the steps could not attend the meetings, Janikula said.

After more than 30 years, the township outgrew the 1972-constructed township hall, and about 10 years ago, township officials began talk of a new township hall.

The 1972-built township hall consisted of a meeting room located in the shed, which was very small and could not hold many people, and it was a hazard for people to walk through the equipment area into the meeting area, Janikula said.

“We also needed more space for the township equipment, which by now was more than just the Caterpillar snowplow. For the last 10 years, we’ve had to rent storage during the winter months to house the equipment,” Janikula said.

In March 1999, a recommendation was made at the annual meeting that the township look into the construction of a new township hall.

Thus, a building committee was formed approximately a year after the initial recommendation and meeting.

The committee consisted of township constituents Natalie Paschka, Leighton Johnson, Charlie Borrell, Cynthia Wright, and township board members Ken Pawelk, Jim Trombley, Gene Janikula, and Gloria Janikula.

“It’s been a lengthy process,” Township Clerk Gloria Janikula said.

But the township voters overwhelmingly supported the construction of a new township hall, as the voting results were 32 in favor and five opposed to the building of a new hall.

The township board and the building committee did its homework and looked at other township halls such as Silver Creek’s.

It borrowed plans, and conducted several meetings with local contractors to determine the best building plan for Woodland Township.

Several Woodland township land owners came forward to discuss possible land sites for the new township hall, but wanted the hall centrally located.

The board approached Frank and Marilyn Schmidt, and negotiated the purchase of 17 acres from them for the site of the new town hall. Plans for the new town hall went forward from there, Gene explained.

“It (the building project) was bid out, and the first set of bids was rejected, and it was rebid, and on the second round, we took the lowest bid, which was Lyman, Post & Bean’s of Annandale. We broke ground in July of 2004,” Gene said.

Financing was acquired through Citizens State Bank of Waverly.

“We worked very closely with Citizens State Bank, and it was a good experience,” Gene said.

As the needs of the township and township hall changed over time, so did the price of construction.

The 1972 township building, which sat on six acres of land, cost approximately $20,000. The newly constructed township hall and shop, on 17 acres, cost about $480,000, the Janikulas said.

A corner of the shop area will showcase a Caterpillar 40 that was purchased in 1935 to plow the roads. This display area has windows for viewing the old-time Caterpillar, Gene said.

The township received its occupancy permit last month, and had its first meeting Feb. 14, – a “sweet” meeting.

“We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know where to sit or put things. The light was so bright – we could read. It was nice,” Gene said.

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