Township officer can be a thankless--but enjoyable job
Old township officers rarely just fade away; they quietly retire or, sometimes, they die while still in office.
That's how Albert Jorgenson ended up on the Pine Lake Township Board almost 33 years ago. He was appointed to fill a vacancy after Arlin Seiling died, another stalwart Pine Lake town board officer.
Albert didn't meet the same fate as Seiling. Jorgenson retired, and his final moments as a township officer were March 11.
Folks must have liked Jorgenson's job performance over the last three decades, because his town board reign has became something of a dynasty.
"Nobody ever ran against me, as long as I was on the board," said Jorgenson.
That changed after Jorgenson decided he wouldn't seek re-election. For the first time since the Nixon-Watergate years, there was a genuine election race for Jorgenson's seat.
After the votes were counted March 11, Russ Palubicki won the seat with 34 votes--to John Von Ruden's 22.
So, how much has changed over the past 33 years?
"Well, the budget has really increased. We now have $200,000 in the road and bridge fund," said Jorgenson.
As an illustration of how quickly costs can rise, Jorgenson noted that as recently as four years ago, the township was paying $20 a ton for tar. Last year, for the overlay job on Mosquito Heights Road, the price was up to $48.50.
"That's why we needed that state gas tax increase. There had been no increase since 1988--20 years ago," he said. "They complain about the cost of gas...but if you ask them if they would rather drive on a rough road, they say no."
And, for the most part, it was rough roads that Pine Lake Township residents drove when Jorgenson took the oath as an officer nearly 33 years ago. Almost every mile of road was gravel at that time, said Jorgenson.
Computers are another change in township government.
"Our treasurer, Kenny Guck, he's pretty good with the computer. As far as myself, I don't know how to run one," he said.
Jorgenson added how he will miss the township courses that are offered periodically. He will also miss the contract meetings with the Perham Fire Department and other area townships.
"Being a township officer is kind of a thankless job. A lot of people don't realize how much time it takes, and how much you do for nothing," said Jorgenson. "But, all in all, it was an enjoyable 32 years."