A key cog for township moves onSituated in Douglas County, Moe Township has run smoothly for the past few decades due to the strong leadership of its board, comprised of three voting supervisors, a treasurer and a clerk. But most would say the township’s success is primarily due to the flawless work of its long-time clerk, Wayne Becker.
By: Caroline Roers, contributing writer, Alexandria Echo Press
Minnesota is broken up into 87 counties, which are then subdivided into 1,784 organized townships. One of those is Moe Township.
Situated in Douglas County, Moe Township has run smoothly for the past few decades due to the strong leadership of its board, comprised of three voting supervisors, a treasurer and a clerk. But most would say the township’s success is primarily due to the flawless work of its long-time clerk, Wayne Becker.
After 26 years of faithful service, however, Becker is planning to retire this month during the annual elections.
“I am going to miss working with the rest of the board, and the camaraderie between officers of other townships. It’s a mixed bag of reasons why I’m retiring, though,” he said. “I can probably count on one hand how many meetings I have missed. But 26 years is long enough.”
Becker started in township government in 1986, after the previous clerk moved out of the township.
“There is a rule in township [government] that says in order to be on the council, you have to reside in the township. Because the seat was open, some of the residents in the area told me I should run,” Becker noted. “I guess they thought I would be a good choice – or maybe they just needed a warm body! When I asked what the clerk did, they told me, ‘Oh, all you have to do is show up and take a few notes’.”
However, over the past 26 years, Becker has found that the clerk’s duties involve much more than that, and have increased through the years, especially with the use of the Internet. Presently, all state reporting and most of the federal reporting are done online.
“I give kudos to the Minnesota Association of Townships who holds regular training sessions for township officials many times a year,” he said. “Without these sessions, we would all be lost!”
On the contrary, Becker picked up on this new technology and expanded duties quite easily.
Bruce Strandskov, a member of the Moe Township board, regards Becker as the “cornerstone for the township when it comes to getting information.”
Though Becker does not have a vote in the board decisions, he does compile information and take notes during meetings. He also had the opportunity to take part in important legislation, such as the Central Lakes Region Sanitary Commission. This commission was created by the state in 2003 because of the strong interest to build a central sewer between six townships.
“We were encouraged to move forward, but, eventually, those who did not want the central sewer came forward and protested because of the projected cost,” he recalled.
The Legislator listened to the protesters and the commission was de-legislated by the state.
“Though the project did not follow through, being a part of this legislation was one of the highlights of my career,” he noted.
Along with state commissions, township boards are also charged with maintaining roads, road right-of-ways, and providing protection and first responders.
“We are the voice of the residents,” Becker said. “What we do is grass-roots politics; this is where it all starts.”
Aside from the township board, Becker was employed as an electrical contractor, but has since retired. However, he still works on the electrical instruments in numerous churches around the area.
“At the time I was first elected, it was a very hectic time in my life, with raising a family and my job, but I’m glad it happened. Township has helped me form my character with the crisis’s we deal with,” he said.
Though Becker never technically ran for a position on the township board, but instead won as a write-in candidate, his work and presence has become an irreplaceable aspect of Moe Township.
“The Minnesota Association of Township once told me that we do township because of our love for the community and our wanting to help,” noted Becker. “Having been a part of township and meeting other township officials – I realized that they were right. The people in township, do this not for the money, but because of a desire to see their community flourish and be as great as it can be.”