Election to decide Cass Township leadershipOctober 30, 2018
By BILL POWELL
The Cass Township advisory board could have a bit of a different look following this November’s general election.
The three current advisory board members — Democrats Lee Bilderback, Steve Eckert and Lisa Matthews — are running to maintain their seats. Also vying to be on the advisory board is Republican Randy Boehm.
Voters will select three of the four under consideration.
Dubois County is broken into 12 townships, with Cass, at the southwest corner, consisting of the Holland and St. Henry areas.
A township board has responsibilities within the township that the Indiana Chamber’s “Here is Your Indiana Government” says are similar to those exercised by a county council, including:
Adopting an annual budget.
Fixing the tax rate for various funds and imposing property tax levies, subject to review.
Authorizing the incurring of indebtedness.
Approving township contracts.
Overseeing bonds and warrants.
Serving as a township board of finance to select depositories for township funds.
Fixing the salaries of elected and appointed officers and employees of the townships.
Matthews, 59, has the longest tenure on the township board: 27 years. The office administrator at Woods Printing, Holland, says this is the first time in her memory that there has been a race to get on the township body.
Fire protection, including Cass Township’s unique standing agreement involving fire trucks, has always been a focus for Matthews.
“If you even need them,” she says, “that is going to be one of the most important things. I can’t say enough for the St. Henry and Holland fire departments.”
Every 10 years, Cass Township works to purchase a new fire truck. The standing agreement sends a new truck Holland’s way and, in the process, that department donates its old truck to the St. Henry Volunteer Fire Department.
A fire truck title transfer ceremony last year showed how the process works.
Cass Township Trustee Jim Meyer and the advisory board selected Ferrara Fire Apparatus, of Holden, Louisiana., to build a 2017 Freightliner pumper for $264,000. Adam Chambers, the chief of the Holland Volunteer Fire Department, and Eckert, the chief of the St. Henry Volunteer Fire Department, put together the specifications.
The cost of the new truck was shared between a donation from Clem and Mary C. Lange and the rest of the family that owns Best Home Furnishings in Ferdinand, Cass Township residents and a loan through the Indiana Bond Bank.
Matthews thinks she has been involved with the purchase of three fire trucks. She has been active in the community and at her church, Augustana United Church of Christ, where she is the women’s guild president.
Bilderback, 52, a sixth-grade teacher at Cedar Crest Intermediate School, has served on the board the last seven years, taking the seat of Dennis Balsmeyer when he moved from the township.
Bilderback enjoys doing his part to help growth in the Cass Township area.
“You see a lot of new homes surrounding Holland and over toward St. Henry,” he says. “I think it’s important that we work together to support that growth.”
That means seeing to it that park, fire and emergency medical services are constantly maintained and upgraded “within your budget, which we have done.”
The Indiana Historical Society named Bilderback the winner of the 2016 Willard C. Heiss Family History/Genealogy Award and he says he enjoys the fascinating history of the entire county.
“I enjoy researching it and promoting it,” he says.
Eckert, 51, was appointed to the Cass advisory board earlier this year to fill the term of long-serving board member Dennis A. Schaeffer, who died in January.
He is chief of the St. Henry Volunteer Fire Department and the floor manager at OFS Brands Plant No. 9 in Huntingburg.
Eckert says the township trustee had originally asked if he knew anyone in the St. Henry area who would be a good successor to Schaeffer.
“I thought about it for a couple of days, called him back and said, ‘Jim, how about me?’” Eckert says. “I love St. Henry. I love the community. I want to keep being involved.”
He says the township’s poor relief program helped 13 families “that were just in a tight spot” last year.
Working with the trustee to administer that helping hand while “keeping on the right track” and staying in the black is one of the advisory board’s biggest responsibilities, according to Eckert.
The fire chief says he is not a politician.
“I’m simply a guy who wants to do good for our local community,” he says. “That’s the same reason I’ve been in the fire service for 28-some years now.”
Boehm, 61, is a semi-retired property claims adjustor for Mutual Insurance Association of Southern Indiana. He is a lifelong county resident who has resided in the Holland area for 20-plus years. He and his family, including his late wife of more than 34 years, the former Virginia Heitz, owned and operated a business for many years: Randy’s Reconditioning, a vehicle detailing business.
He says he has always been active in the community and his run for the advisory board centers on continuing that. The man who attends St. James Lutheran Church in Holland is president of the Holland Medical Clinic board of directors and has served on the Dubois County Solid Waste Board since its inception in 1991.
To be ready to serve on the advisory board, he extensively researched everything about the township. He can recite everything from its total area (38.87 miles) to its number of recognized cemeteries (11).
“The county is a pretty complex and difficult operation at times,” Boehm says, and there are a lot of people elected to serve in it for the good of the community.
“I listen to people and I talk to a lot of people,” he says. “I’m out every day of the week with my job. I’m fortunate my job gets me out and about and I talk to people. Listen to people.
“I try to bring a lot to the table and try to represent the best I can with everybody in mind.”
Other local races include:
• U.S. Senate (Mike Braun / Lucy Brenton / Joe Donnelly)
• District 8 U.S. Representative (Larry Bucshon / William Tanoos)
• Indiana Senate 47 (Erin Houchin / Nick Siler)
• Indiana House 63 (Joe Lannan / Shane Lindauer)
• Indiana House 74 (Steve Bartels / Larry Kleeman)
• Dubois County Sheriff (Tom Kleinhelter / Tim Lampert)
• Dubois County Clerk (Amy Kippenbrock / Kiersten Knies)
• Dubois County Recorder (Jackie McPherron / Gail Reutman)
• Dubois County Assessor (Eve Drew / Angie Giesler)
• Dubois County Council District 2 (Becky Beckman / Darren Patterson)
• Dubois County Council District 3 (Charmain Klem / Deborah Major)
• Cass Township Advisory Board (Lee Bilderback / Randy Boehm / Steve Eckert / Lisa Matthews)
• Patoka Township Trustee (Don Astrike / Jeff Summers)
• Madison Township Trustee (Scott Blazey / Brett Collignon)
• Southwest Dubois School Board (Jason Heile / Belinda Lange)
• Greater Jasper School Board (Jimmy Corbin / Ken Schnaus)
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