Csokasy and Krempec join Cass road commission

Published 12:25 pm Saturday, November 17, 2007

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS – Cass County commissioners appointed Louis R. Csokasy of 21198 Carlton Drive, Cassopolis, and LeRoy R. Krempec of 68373 George Smith Court, Edwardsburg, to the new Road Commission seats Thursday.
Csokasy, who garnered 12 of the 15 first-round votes, will serve a four-year term beginning Jan. 1.
Krempec, named in the second round of balloting, will serve a two-year term expiring Dec. 31, 2009.
Commissioners Nov. 1 interviewed eight finalists for the two new seats on what has been a three-member panel of Chairman Robert Powers, Clifford Poehlman and Roger Bowser.
Road commissioners otherwise serve six-year terms.
"In 2005, they were bringing in revenue of $710,000 a month. This year's budget has fallen to about $540,000 a month," creating a $1.2 million deficit, Commissioner David Taylor, D-Edwardsburg, told each candidate.
The gap will attempt to be closed by two millage questions commissioners voted 10-3 to place on the Jan. 15 presidential primary ballot.
Road Commission Engineer-Manager Joseph Bellina has spoken to five townships and Marcellus promoting the requests.
Each seeks a half mill, or 50 cents per $1,000 state equalized value for four years, 2008-2011, which would generate $828,400 the first year of the levy. One request is for primary road and major street improvements, the other for local bridge and street improvements.
Krempec, Mason Township Planning Commission chairman, lives on Juno Lake.
"I applied for the Road Commission position because I believe the southern part of the county needs to have local, on-hand representation for residents who can't afford to take off work to appear before the Road Commission with their problems or concerns," Krempec said. "Mason Township is a strategic place to have an individual" given its proximity to Porter, Milton and Ontwa townships.
"From a resident's point of view, I have concerns about its $1.2 million deficit and how it plans to get back to zero. I'm also concerned about how its request for road millage will be presented to the public," Krempec said. "I would like to be of help in researching and creating the type of presentation that will be needed to get public support. Another reason for seeking the appointment is the opportunity it would afford me to work with our parks. I'm an avid fly fisherman and belong to the St. Joe Valley association, Trout Unlimited and the Elkhart Conservation Club. I've been attending Road Commission meetings since last fall."
Krempec, who offers labor management experience, has been Edwardsburg Little League president, director of boy's coaching for the Junior Irish Soccer Program in South Bend, Ind., assistant varsity soccer coach at Clay High School in South Bend for six years and varsity soccer coach at South Bend St. Joseph High School for seven years, including state champions in 2003.
Csokasy, a Detroit native, attended Tri-State University in Angola, Ind., where he met his wife of 38 years and eventually became a trustee. Their two children live in Nashville, Tenn., and Seattle, Wash.
A Cass County homeowner for 29 years, he operates a small orchard in Calvin Township.
A graduate engineer, he has a master's degree in business. "I had a 28-year career in the automotive area," Csokasy said. "I call it my first career. I started off as a design engineer and finished up as president of the automotive group – a $700 million business with 4,000 employees working under me at eight manufacturing sites on four continents. After retiring from that, I started a second career with a private equity group out of Indianapolis." In that capacity he served as president and CEO of two smaller ($20 million to $30 million) companies.
"There's probably no aspect of business that I'm not intimately familiar with, including finance, engineering, operations and management," he said. "I've always been involved in community activities wherever I've lived. I feel a strong commitment to serving the area where I live…. But it appears to me that the organization (road commission) needs to be more responsive to taxpayers."