Roads a top issue in Blackberry Township supervisor race

Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

BLACKBERRY TOWNSHIP – Two candidates feel they would be the best fit to fill the open Blackberry Township supervisor seat.

For Dennis Ryan and Fred Dornback, this is the first time they've run for the position, but both have been connected to the township for years.

Dornback, 73, said he has been the township's cemetery superintendent since 2007, and he said he hopes to make township government more efficient by working with other government entities.

He said his top priorities for the township include continuing to improve cemeteries without using taxpayer money and finding funds to address its crumbling roads.

Repaving roads also is a priority for Ryan, 66, who said road crews have only enough money to repave a little more than one mile of road each year. The township is responsible for the upkeep of 58 miles of roadway, and Ryan said he hopes a referendum to increase funding for repaving roads will pass in April.

"I think the job of the township supervisor is going to be to find money wherever we can find it," he said. "The roads aren't going to get any better. We may be riding on gravel roads without intent the way things are going."

Dornback and Ryan said if the referendum doesn't pass, they would seek grants to repave the roads.

Ryan said if elected, he plans to look into a establishing a garbage collection contract with one company to reduce the wear and tear on the roads. He said four or five different garbage companies drive along the same township roads, and eliminating that duplication may slow road deterioration.

Dornback said part of his campaign is based on listening to his constituents, adding he plans to hold public meetings to ask township residents what's important to them. He said he wants to gather all township officials to talk about how each department can support one another and reach out to officials in surrounding communities.

Ryan said he would reach out to other government entities, particularly the County Board.

Dornback said the township also has "done very little for youth groups and almost nothing for seniors," which he said he'd like to change if he's elected by introducing what he calls the Blackberry Caring Corps. That would be an organization of youth volunteers who help senior citizens complete projects around their home, such as mowing the grass or washing windows, he said.

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