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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Both incumbent Greenwood supervisors facing challengers

Jodi Summit
Posted 2/21/24

GREENWOOD TWP- Voters in the upcoming Greenwood Township election have some choices to make with two supervisor seats and one clerk seat on the ballot for the March 12 township election. Craig …

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Both incumbent Greenwood supervisors facing challengers


GREENWOOD TWP- Voters in the upcoming Greenwood Township election have some choices to make with two supervisor seats and one clerk seat on the ballot for the March 12 township election. Craig Gilbert has filed to challenge incumbent Barbara Lofquist, who is seeking re-election to her seat, while Lois Roskoski has filed to unseat Sue Drobac, who is also seeking re-election.
JoAnn Bassing has filed for the clerk seat, which she currently holds. Deb Spicer, who served as clerk previous to JoAnn Bassing, has also filed for the position. The Timberjay will have interviews with the clerk candidates in next week’s paper.
The township has faced a host of controversies in recent years, with almost a full turnover of elected officers. The 2022 removal of the fire chief and assistant chief, which led to a majority of department members leaving the department in 2023 is certainly one issue on the minds of both candidates and incumbents. Incumbents Lofquist and Drobac both point to the increased training, accountability for township equipment, and active membership of the department, while Roskoski is questioning the board’s actions and its impact on township residents. Gilbert, who has not, as of press time, responded to both telephone and email messages for an interview, is a fire department member, but he has not participated in enough trainings and 911-calls to qualify for pension credit in the last two years, according to Fire Chief Jeff Maus.
Other major changes have been the elimination of the township’s two full-time positions (maintenance and assessor), which has led to lower township spending and a subsequent reduction in the local levy.
The current board’s reluctance to fund the Tower Ambulance Service is being questioned by Roskoski.
Both Lofquist and Roskoski have voiced strong support for the current volunteer-led effort to build pickleball courts at the town hall. Drobac pointed out that the township had donated land for the effort. The question of whether to raise the levy to help fund the project is certain to come up at the annual meeting on March 12. Volunteers have already raised over $30,000, which is enough to qualify for a $30,000 matching grant from the IRRR, but more funding will be needed to complete the project.
Both incumbents are also proud of the board’s recent actions to address a water quality issue at the town hall well, as well as working on securing broadband internet access in the township.

Lois Roskoski
Lois Roskoski is a newcomer to Greenwood Township politics, but has 35 years of experience, working for the city of Virginia. “With my knowledge of small-town government, and my personality traits of being open, honest, and transparent, I feel I am very qualified to serve on the Greenwood Town Board,” she said.
Roskoski pointed to the township’s levy, which will be voted on at the annual meeting on March 12, as an important issue facing the township.
“Greenwood Township had a reserve balance of $1.3 million, but the town board has dipped into the reserves of an average of $100,00 per year since 2015. If that trend continues, Greenwood Township residents will face significant levy increases in a few years,” she said. Roskoski said she didn’t feel the board’s recommended levy of $175,000 for 2025, which would leave a reserve balance of a little over $327,000 at the end of that year as advisable.
“In future years, the levy should be set at an amount so the annual expenditures equal revenues. I feel the reserve balance should be 1 ½ to 2 times the annual budget amount,” she said.
The town board also needs to take responsibility for the maintenance of Birch Point Extension, she said. “I contacted St. Louis County and obtained confirmation that Greenwood Township is responsible for maintaining 1.54 miles of township road (Birch Point Road Extension), and has been receiving Town Road Aid for several years,” she said, noting this aid can only be used for the construction, reconstruction and gravel maintenance of town roads.
Roskoski breaks with the current position of the town board regarding funding for the Tower Ambulance subsidy. “I think it is appalling that the Greenwood Township officials have been unable to renegotiate with the city of Tower to renew the ambulance vehicle replacement aid agreement. Greenwood Township is the only one of seven entities serviced by the agreement that has not paid their fees for the years 2022 and 2023, but continues to utilize the ambulance service,” she said.
Roskoski did have concerns about the Greenwood Fire Department.
“The significant reduction of the Fire Department staff was the reason I became interested in Greenwood Township. I find it unbelievable that there is so much dysfunction between the leadership and the fire department members. The residents are the ones that are losing in this unfortunate situation, and we need to work at increasing the staffing levels within the Greenwood Fire Department in a professional manner. We live in a very remote location and response time can be a life-or-death situation for the people that live here,” she said.
She is a supporter of the pickleball court project. “I wholeheartedly support the fundraising efforts by the volunteers working to construct three additional pickleball courts at the Greenwood Township recreation area and personally donated to the cause,” she said.

Barb Lofquist
Incumbent Barb Lofquist says she is proud that the township, and town board politics, have become “more peaceful” over the last three years.
She is also a town board member who is willing to take action on problems, some longstanding, and figure out solutions. “I knew that water was bad for 18 years,” she said. “It had a smell.” The township has long provided drinking water for residents who have lakewater systems and residents routinely used an outdoor spigot at the town hall for their water.
“I’ve been using that water for almost 20 years,” she said.
Lofquist got the board to agree to do water testing, beyond the basic tests done by the state for bacterial contamination and nitrates. The results showed sky high levels of arsenic, a naturally-occurring mineral found in the bedrock. She then researched options for removing the arsenic from the water to make it safer for residents to drink, and the board agreed to spend the funds needed. She has also followed up on maintenance and regular testing, which has involved some back and forth with the filtration manufacturer.
“It was quite an achievement to get it fixed,” she said.
As far as the fire department, Lofquist sees the changes this past year as positive.
“I am proud of being part of making our fire department efficient, responsible, and taking care of the maintenance of their equipment,” she said.
“We now have a fire chief who goes on calls, which the previous chief did not regularly do,” she said. She said Chief Maus is doing an incredible job, not constantly asking for more pension money, and increasing the training requirements for department members.
“I’d rather have 10 people who are active instead of 20 who are not,” she said. “The pension club is over.”
Lofquist said there is no reason for the township to have more than a million dollars in reserve, as it did in years past. “We have adequate funding to replace anything we need that is not insured,” she said. She added that it took the new treasurer and clerk months and months to get the township’s books back in order.
“Now we know where we stand,” she said.
Lofquist said that she, along with fellow Supervisor Sue Drobac, organized the township’s survey of residents to determine interest in getting broadband/high-speed internet in the township. The results of that survey are important for securing grant funding for future broadband expansion.
For the future, Lofquist would like to see the township work on attracting housing for moderate-income families on non-lakeshore lots, since most lakeshore property is not affordable for working families. She noted there are hardly any families with school-age children in the township anymore.
Lofquist, who does own property on Birch Point Extension, and therefore has not been participating in town board actions on the issue, does feel it is the township’s responsibility to keep the road maintained and in good repair. “It’s a dangerous road,” she said.
Lofquist would like to see the state Legislature step up and help solve the funding crisis with rural ambulance services. “It should be financed just like solid waste with a per parcel fee,” she said.
Lofquist is also a fan of the pickleball court project.
“It’s creating a community,” she said. “I’ve changed my mind about enhancing recreational opportunities at the town hall.” Lofquist said she is hoping to take up the sport and heard there was going to be beginner’s classes offered.
Sue Drobac
Sue Drobac brings some added experience to the role of supervisor, since she formerly served as the town clerk. After she was re-elected to that role in 2020, she quit several months later after the town board approved a large reduction in the job’s hours and salary. She ran and won a seat on the town board the following year. She has also served as board chair.
“I am hoping to have the township support and retain my seat for another three years,” she said. “I’m very happy to say that the current board has accomplished quite a few things that continue to improve the township.”
Drobac sees herself as a team player, working together with other township officials on projects.
A major project has been working on bringing broadband service for most of the township. While initial township grant applications were still in process, she notes that the township was included, luckily, in a successful grant request from Bois Forte.
“This will cover the majority of the township,” she said. The board is still working on securing funding, along with township funds that have been set-aside for this purpose, to expand broadband to the areas not covered by the Bois Forte grant.
Drobac also pointed out the board’s work to improve ambulance coverage, and the work being done to improve the Greenwood Fire Department.
“Our firefighters and EMRs are working at keeping the department running well,” she said, noting the department is seeing a slow but steady increase in the number of members, after the majority of department members quit after the leadership shakeup.
On the budget front, Drobac said, “We’ve kept the reserve funding for the township at a reasonable dollar amount. While there are no hard or fast rules for the size of a township’s reserve, our board has set the goal of having approximately equal to a year’s spending. The township has insurance on its buildings and equipment, so if there was any need for replacement.”
Drobac also commended the town board for their unanimous and generous support of the pickleball project by donating the land for the effort.

Craig Gilbert
Craig Gilbert has yet to respond to the Timberjay’s request for an interview. We hope to hear back from him soon, and if so, will include his remarks in next week’s paper.