Longtime firefighter appointed new Howard Township supervisor

Published 7:44 am Friday, April 12, 2019

NILES – Bill Kasprzak is no stranger to public service.

He began hanging out at the Niles Township Fire Department as a teen before becoming a firefighter for three local departments. He later served on the Niles Township Board and most recently on the Howard Township Board.

That’s why it’s no surprise that he has stepped up again to serve as the Howard Township supervisor. He was appointed to that post in mid-March, succeeding Craig Bradfield who died Feb. 20 after a battle with cancer, and will serve until the November 2020 election.

“The board appointed me deputy supervisor in February before Craig died and then asked me in March if I would take over,” he said.

Kasprzak said he wants to continue the efforts Bradfield made to better the lives of township residents.

“He coached sports and was very active in the community, and Howard Township oriented,” Kasprzak said. “He was a great friend and a great supervisor. His are mighty big shoes to fill. He definitely left a legacy.”

One of Bradfield’s most significant legacies is the completion of the new fire station. Kasprzak said he was proud to be on the board when Bradfield pushed through the township-wide assessment to pay for a new fire station on Barron Lake Road near M-60. The board approved the fire station levy in 2017, and it was completed in October 2018.

Kasprzak said it was his interest in firefighting that got him involved in serving the community.

“When I was young, I started hanging around the Niles Township fire station,” he said. “When I turned 21, Chief Keith Jackson said he had turnout equipment for me. I’m 69 now, and I’ve been involved in firefighting for nearly 50 years.”

He volunteered with the Niles Township fire department for several years before joining the Niles city department as a paid firefighter. When he was laid off from there, he began a career in trucking. Since moving to Howard Township more than 15 years ago, he has joined the Howard Township department as a volunteer firefighter.

His public service has also included 11 years as a Niles Township trustee and the last two years as a Howard Township Trustee. He’s been the township representative to the SMCAS Board the last few years and is currently the SMCAS Board chairman. In the community, he’s volunteered with the Four Flags Area Apple Festival throughout the years.

Public service also runs in his family. His wife, Denise, is the Niles Township Zoning Administrator and his father-in-law, Richard Cooper, is a Niles Township Trustee.

As for his own goals, Kasprzak said he wants to continue the work Bradfield was doing to keep the township running on an even keel as well as push for new efforts when it comes to projects like restoring the old township hall at Barron Lake and Huntley Roads.

“We’ve had many people request that we open it up again, and I want to challenge local organizations to raise money to repair it,” he said. “If it’s feasible to repair it, we could make it a community project. It’s just the right size for rentals for family parties and similar events.”

He also plans to challenge the rest of the township board to talk about what they want for the township.

“One of my objectives is to challenge the board about what their vision is for the township,” he said. “I’d like to see the township continue to flourish.”

For now, Kasprzak said he plans to continue Bradfield’s office hours schedule and be in the township office on Tuesday afternoons and Wednesday mornings and maybe more during the week.

Kasprzak said he will also be back to driving the township forward when he recovers from a broken ankle, which he suffered a few weeks ago at the scene of a traffic accident he was helping out at near Niles High School. While Kasprzak has not been able to get around as much as he would like, he said he has learned patience, lost a little weight and quit smoking.