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Wissing faces challenger Abts for Geneva Township highway commissioner

Published: Saturday, March 2, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 2:00 p.m. CDT

GENEVA TOWNSHIP – Geneva Township Highway Commissioner incumbent Mark Wissing is facing challenger Michael Abts in a race for his second term in the April 9 consolidated election.

Wissing is seeking re-election to continue the work he already started in the past four years. For Abts, serving as highway commissioner is a way to give back to the community by doing things he thought could be done better.

“I was on the park board 18 years, from president all the way down,” Abts said. “I served on Fox Valley Special Recreation for 10 years, Community Chest for a couple of years. … I want to give back to the community.”

Abts, 60, had owned a home-decorating business in Geneva, sold it and now has Mike’s Home Services, where he does electrical and handyman work, he said.

“I did work as a contractor for the township, doing different things, mowing grass and snow removal,” Abts said. “I know there are a couple things I thought could be done better or [that I] didn’t like.”

Specifically, Abts said he would pledge to sell off the highway department’s unused equipment, including a truck “that has not been used for four years and is costing $18,000 to $20,000 a year to store that. Let’s get out of that lease and save taxpayers money.”

Wissing, 60, a former township trustee who served from 2005 to 2009, said as the road commissioner in the past four years, he has overseen road maintenance, trimmed trees, replaced culverts and re-dug ditches.

His biggest accomplishment, Wissing said, was replacing the Wenmoth Road Bridge. The project costs more than $400,000 but the township paid less because Wissing said he got $266,000 from the state’s road and bridge fund and $50,000 from stimulus money.

Wissing said he applied for stimulus funds three years ago, but the highway department received it in December 2012.

“It was at the end of its serviceable life and deteriorating rapidly,” Wissing said of the bridge.

As to Abts’ plan to sell off the township’s equipment, Wissing said he already did that.

“With the exception of one big truck and a pickup truck,” Wissing said. “When I took over, I contracted everything out, and the contractors had to use their own equipment.”

The big truck Abts is referring to is one Wissing said he wanted the roads department to keep in the event of a major snowstorm. But even in the storm Feb. 2, 2011, the truck did not get used, Wissing said, because contractors took care of the plowing.

“I did get an OK from the township board to have it sold as surplus, and it can be sold now,” Wissing said. “The lease is $1,650 a month for four years, without an increase. … This is a great deal for having industrial property.”

With the lease expiring in August, Wissing said that would be a good time to look elsewhere for a smaller space to store needed equipment, such as signs and barricades.

“Running a road district – you can’t do it from an office building. There is still a need for a facility to store things,” Wissing said.

Wissing said his next plan is to develop a bike path along Wenmoth Road and McKee Street to connect Geneva and Batavia’s trail systems.

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