|Lake Twp. candidates compete|
|Written by DEBBIE ROGERS Sentinel Staff Writer|
|Monday, 21 October 2013 10:42|
MILLBURY - Two Lake Township trustees want to extend their tenure, while a challenger hopes his third run for the office is the charm.
Businessman Jeff Pettit is running for trustee on Nov. 5 against incumbents Ron Sims and Richard Welling.
"I think just from residents that I've spoken to again, they definitely want to see a new person in there, new ideas, fresh faces," said Pettit, who owns Artistic Memorials in Perrysburg, with a newly-opened sales office in Lake Township.
"I really haven't come across anybody who wants to keep the same group of trustees." Pettit added, with a chuckle, "And maybe the third time will be the charm."
Pettit unsuccessfully challenged Sims and Welling four years ago, and Melanie Bowen two years ago.
Not surprisingly, Pettit said his top concern as trustee would be the Lake Township Cemetery. The cemetery budget has taken a beating over the last few years, with a decrease in burials forcing the trustees to cut back on part-time help.
He would like to see more workers at the cemetery, and he believes he could save money in that budget by outsourcing the mowing. The non-resident burial rate should also be increased, Pettit said.
He and his family have lived in Moline for 25 years, and Pettit is a lifelong township resident.
"What better person for the job than a small business owner? I've ridden out the recession. I opened up a branch location in Lake Township this summer. I'm fiscally responsible," said Pettit, who just wrapped up a term as president for the Perrysburg Kiwanis. "I think it's time for a change."
Sims, who is retiring at the end of December with 50 years in commercial tires sales and service, said his business experience also helps in his trustee role.
"I feel what I've done in the last 12 years, especially with the tornado, the people know me. They know what I can do. It's like my business. I do what I say I'm going to do," said Sims, referring to the June 2010 disaster that destroyed the township administration building and most of the police vehicle fleet.
Over his 19 years as trustee (with a four-year break in the late 1990s), Sims said he's had a hand in building two administration buildings, a new fire station in Millbury and three parks.
By participating in a University of Michigan program, the trustees were able to buy nine or 10 used vehicles for the price of three or four new cars, Sims said.
If re-elected, he wants to see the development of a regional dispatch center, continue working with the new fire chief and put the finishing touches on a new park in Moline.
"I've got a lot of things going. I enjoy helping the community, working for the people," he said. "I figure if we can get them through the tornado, we can get them through anything."
Welling, who has been a trustee for 16 years, said there's still more that he wants to accomplish.
He hopes the regional dispatch center will open by the end of next year. He would also like to see more tornado sirens added and more roads paved.
The road budget has been especially challenging, Welling said, with the rising price of asphalt. A few years ago, the trustees could pay $45,000 to get a mile paved, now it costs $65,000 a mile.
Just before the tornado hit, the trustees had started a jobs initiatives project, which Welling would like to see reinvigorated. He said the board is in some "very preliminary discussions" with two businesses that could locate in its JEDD area by the airport.
The trustees, along with Toledo, formed a Joint Economic Development District there a few years ago.
Welling said he got an education from the great recession, which included drastic cuts from the state.
"We tightened our fiscal belt and didn't cut back on essential services. I'm proud of that."
The people are the reason he wants to keep serving. He described an emotional voice-mail message left recently by a Moline man, thanking him for his role in creating the new park.
"That always makes my day. That's why I'm a trustee," Welling said.
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