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TOWN OF HOWARD — Gerald Eder will be on the ballot April 2 for chair in the Town of Howard and will be facing Vernon J. Schindler, incumbent town chair.
Eder, 59, has four children and four grandchildren, two of his own and two step-grandchildren.
The Colfax Messenger sent out questionnaires to the candidates.
Here are Eder’s answers to the questions.
• What is your occupation? Trucking/self-employed and drive for a trucking company.
• What is your educational background? High school diploma and one year CVTC as mechanic.
• What experience do you have as an elected official? I served three terms on the Howard Town Board in the 1990s.
• Why did you accept the nomination for chair of the town board? A lot of residents feel that change is needed. I have felt that way for several years.
• What about your background makes you particularly suited to serve on the town board? My background is very diverse. First I worked for the Town of Howard at the age of 10 years cutting grass at the old town hall located at 20th street and state Highway 40. Living next door, I usually went to the monthly meetings. At 18, I started as patrolman for the Town of Cooks Valley and worked there for about 15 years. I plowed snow with the truck and the Cat grader. I had three good teachers up there. Vernon Steinmetz, Ted Wolf and Lenard Swartz. They taught me the proper way to plow snow in a township! That is critical, especially in a year like we are in. Widen the roads out when you can. Don’t wait for a big storm and then try. Doesn’t work!
I have over 40 years of snowplowing experience with several different pieces of equipment from grader, truck, Cat, end-loaders and skid-steers. Self-employed for 20 years in the trucking and road building industry. I have worked on all types of roads and driveways. I worked on I-94 from Hudson to south of Black River Falls. We did mill and fills and complete reconstructions from Osseo to Eau Claire. I worked on town roads in four different counties. Different soils require strategies and changes.
The first time I was caucus chair was in 1976. I have only missed two or three caucuses and annual town meetings since that time.
Being self-employed, I met several people and had a lot of different opportunities first-hand on how driveways, town roads, county roads, state and federal roads are being repaired and maintained. I would put that knowledge to work for the Town of Howard. As I stated earlier, I was on the Town of Howard Board in the 90s. I was the person who found our first snow plow truck. I brought it to the town shop for 12-15 residents to look it over and pick it apart. They approved of it. When it comes to machinery, I am very well acquainted with most of it. I had good teachers there as well as when I was growing up.
When we were forced to do something about fire protection, I was on the building committee. I drew the original blueprint for our new town hall fire station and town shop, which is located on the intersection of County Road B and state Highway 40. My brother David, who owned C.M.S. Trucking, donated several thousand yards of fill and the trucking to increase our parking lot. I donated my skid-steer and time also during building the facility.
• What do you believe to be the biggest challenges for the Town of Howard? EMS and fire. Costs keep rising, and we are being required to maintain and take new training. The Legislators and insurance companies need to back off on training requirements. We are a volunteer EMS and fire department. We can’t get new recruits. Does no good to have a million dollars of equipment in our fire station if we can’t get people to operate it. Sand mines and town roads are next in line.
• What do you hope to accomplish serving as chair? Get more EMS and fire personnel. Not sure how, but it is critical that something gets done soon. Maintain the roads at least as good as they are if not better. Get our snowplowing back on track.
• Other comments? I was born and raised here in the Town of Howard. My dad had a large farm and had a truck and lime spreading business. Most of our neighbors were dairy farmers. They usually only left the farm on Saturday for a trip to town with the wife for groceries and feed. Then Sunday for church. Town of Howard is no longer a dairy farming community. Far more residents work out of the township and have to travel to and from work seven days a week. Some may work four 12-hour days Monday to Thursday. Some may work three 12-hour days Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Others work night shift or early day shift. If a person works the weekend shift and misses two days of work, that can add up to missing a mortgage payment. That is why the roads need to be as cleared of snow and passable for the residents as soon as possible. They need to get out to go to work. Years ago, milk trucks helped, and like I said, we didn’t really have to leave the farm on a daily basis.
In closing, the townships are on a very tight budget. We have to make sure we are getting the most out of our money spent. It is entirely up to the town residents. If you want to make a change, you will have to do that April 2.