Grand dames of town council step down

Published 11:00 pm Friday, August 24, 2012

Two of the grand dames of town councils are stepping aside to let “somebody else have a turn.”

Norma McLeod

Norma McLeod has served on the Goshen Town Council for 20 years. Her counterpart Wilda Steele has served on the Banks Town Council 14 years.

They say, “It’s time.”

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Both octogenarians said “a fall” was a contributing factor, along with their age, to their decision to step down.

“A cat threw me down on the brick patio and knocked my teeth out,” McLeod said, with a laugh. “That told me something.”

Wilda Steele

Steele also tumbled and had to miss a few town meetings. And that got her thinking.

But neither of the grand dames cited the stress and strain of a political campaign as a contributing factor to their retirement.

McLeod said she has never campaigned.

“If I saw somebody out, I’d ask them to vote for me, if they saw where they could,” she said.

The Goshen town council members run at-large and, in one election, McLeod got more than 75 percent of the votes.

“That made me feel kind of good. But some of the other people running didn’t feel all that good about it,” she said with a chuckle.

Steele knows nothing about running a campaign. Banks has not had an election in about 30 years.

“I don’t know how we do it,” Steele said, laughing. “Somebody retires or quits and we appoint a new council member. When it comes election time, we’ve got a mayor and council and nobody wants our jobs.”

McLeod and Steele said they “got on” their town councils because they believed they could make contributions to their communities.

“I started out with the town keeping books and along the line somebody retired and I was asked to come on the council,” McLeod said. “I thought I could do some good.”

Most of the time McLeod served, she was mayor pro tem.

“I never wanted to be mayor,” she said. “I was too busy for that. I worked in Troy for 30 years, 23 of them with OCAP, and I had three children so I didn’t have time to try to be mayor.”

Steele never aspired to be mayor either. She was content to just serve on the council.

“I’ve lived in Banks all my life and I felt like I could make a contribution so that’s what I should do,” Steele said.

“I surely didn’t do it for the money. Every three months, we get a check for $60. Nobody’s doing it for the money.”

Steele said hopes that she has made a contribution to the town and that she has been a contributing member of the council.

“We’ve done some good things – some things that I’ve been proud of,” she said. “We put in a water tower without the price of water going up. And, we’ve got a new water meter reading system so Larry (Messick) doesn’t have to get down on his knees to read the meters. Technology can be a blessing.”

Steele said the cemetery is kept clean and the town’s right of ways.

“We’ve got a good fire department and we really appreciate our firefighters,” she said. “We don’t have a police department. We don’t have much crime because we look after each other.”

Steele said her hope for Banks is that the spirit of community will always be its hallmark.

McLeod said that she, too, takes pride in the many good things that she has been a part of as a member of the town council.

“Our town hall was almost rotting down and we got a grant/loan to build a new one,” she said. “We bought the building down from town hall and fixed it up. It’s got a kitchen and it’s a nice place for family reunions, things like that.”

The paving of Main Street is another accomplishment that McLeod cites.

“One big thing was the half million dollar grant and low interest low that the town got to get houses fixed up,” she said. “Some of the houses got new roofs and some got air conditioning. That was a big help to a lot of people.”

Steele and McLeod said they are stepping aside as town council members but they plan to stay involved.

They don’t plan to just sit on the porch and let the world go by. Every now and then, they are going to rock.