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3 vie for 2 seats on Knox Township board

KNOX TOWNSHIP – Residents will see three candidates on the Nov. 2 ballot for two seats on the Knox Township Board of Trustees.

Incumbents Gregory Carver and Matthew Johnston are joined by Michael Estock.

John Ed Barnhart is running unopposed for the unexpired term.

Gregory R. Carver

Carver has served four terms as trustee. He is currently employed with the Ohio Department of Transportation, Columbiana County since 2005, with previous experience with Vasco Asphalt in Massillon from 2002 to 2005, Park Farms in Canton from 2001 to 2002, McQuilkin Lumber in Homeworth from 1986 to 1994 and 2000 to 2001 and American Steel Foundries in Alliance from 1974 to 2000.

A West Branch graduate, Carver holds a Bachelors of Art from the University of Mount Union and master’s degree in Public Administration from Kent State University as well as numerous certificates that pertain to his occupation including Highway Technician III C/M at Ohio Department of Transportation. State of Ohio E.M.S./ Firefighter Certificate, for emergency situations, current C.P.R., and certificates of training as a public elected official from Secretary of State, Ohio.

Carver is currently a member of the Homeworth Volunteer Fire Department and a West Branch Booster Club sponsor and has previously been named to Appalachian Broadband Initiative Task Force as a community leader representative.

Citing his work experience, Carver said he is qualified for the trustee position since roads, bridges and infrastructure are the major components that make up townships in Ohio.

“My experience at Vasco as well as the Ohio Department of Transportation promotes teamwork, advice and cooperation with other trustees and road department staff to make decisions on current maintenance problems, or preventative maintenance situations for the future,” he said. “Working at O.D.O.T. I face many of the same problems encountered in the township, and can help solve those problems with a positive solution. My experience as a supervisor at American Steel Foundries has

allowed me to guide, listen, communicate, mentor and monitor the employees that work for Knox Township.

“All of these qualifications also assist the residents of Knox Township and surrounding communities by listening to problems and looking into particular situations, which the board can discuss and come to agreement to overcome any objectives.

“In my 16 years serving as trustee, I have worked with federal, state, county and other local officials to support my township and residents. With a watchful eye on resources, funding, budgets, grants, facilities, equipment and overall production to be a good steward of the residents and their taxpaying dollars.”

Growing up with a mother, Eleanor Carver, and many other family members as educators, Carver said public service has played a significant role in his upbringing in the community.

“Since 1983, as a member of the Homeworth Volunteer Fire Department, I have worked hard to serve the public in emergency response situations and public relations. As a trustee, to see many projects that aid Knox Township residents, and the community, which will enhance their quality of life, sustainability and enjoyment of living in a rural setting makes me very proud,” he said. “I have stated many times, the greatest resource in Knox Township are the residents who make up this awesome community. We have a great, proud, hardworking core of individuals that continue to permeate not only Knox Township, but surrounding communities with their unselfishness to preserve our future for a brighter tomorrow.”

As an incumbent, Carver said the biggest accomplishments of which he has been a part include the MARCS tower that was erected on Knox Township property to enhance the communication of the state patrol, sheriff, both North Georgetown and Homewoth fire departments along with the ability to broaden the internet, broadband service has to be one of my favorite projects.

“Communication is the life-blood of any organization, and the building of the tower established a positive service to all first responders in our area, communities and also the State of Ohio.”

He also cited the salt storage facility erected on the township property which was a “huge asset in storage for not only pipe, catch basins, and equipment, but offers protection from the weather for our winter salt storage, which is so vital to residents in the winter months, and it also becomes a safety issue. Prior to the building being constructed, salt would be outside in the elements, with the possibility of freezing. When this product freezes and is loaded into a truck, it can become a possible emergency situation if it becomes lodged in the salt spreader, and an employee needs to break or dislodge this free. Salt and winter prevention materials work better if not out in the elements of the winter months. This in turn assists the road department to use less material to clear the roads because the salt is working at a higher percentage, and in turn can create dependable travel on Knox Township roads during a snow, or ice event.”

Additionally, he noted the establishment of a severe weather system in Knox Township.

“From the early days of the older sirens and lots of hard work by many township residents, to the new state of the art 40-year maintenance free, early warning sirens that are in service now, the five sirens are able to warn residents of inclement weather if it approaches any time of the year,” he said. “It also provides a sense of security knowing that communications from one of the five sirens specifically placed in the township will aid in mitigation, and risk for the residents and neighboring communities in Columbiana and Mahoning counties. With the installation of these sirens, we were able to provide all locations with a generator back up in case of a power outage. This can be very helpful as both North Georgetown, and Homeworth Fire Stations have a generator to support their efforts if power does go out.

“I do understand that in today’s technology there are also devices that can alert individuals of severe weather, but in a rural community where so many residents, work, play, or relax outside, and the sometimes-complicated areas of no service to those devices, the sirens can and will alert in case severe weather is imminent.

“While I may have played a huge role in seeing all three projects from beginning to end, it took the assistance of former fellow trustees, and many hard-working residents to make it all a reality. That makes me very proud to say we were able provide these benefits to the residents of Knox Township.”

As a trustee, Carver said he has worked hard and always strived for the best interests of the residents of Knox Township and the surrounding communities for the past 16 years.

“I have had six fellow board members during that period, and continue to apply my working and educational experience with those members to the best decisions on behalf of residents,” he said. “I enjoy seeing projects start small and become a reality, especially when it is a very positive influence to the residents I serve. Making things happen for the residents in a proactive manner, while being a great public steward of the tax dollars they pay, I have strived to be an asset to Knox Township and will continue to do so.

“I may be an elected official in Knox Township, but everyone who resides in our community has a stake, and together we can make a positive difference for the future.”

Carver lives with his wife Phyllis on Homeworth Road in Homeworth. They have three daughters, Carrie Carver, Megan Windham and Jessica Carver; and grandchildren Reece, Kennedy, Ashtyn, Ameila, Henry and Johnny.

Michael Estock

Recently retired from a 40-year career in agribusiness finance, Estock has served as president of the North Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department for the past 30 years, with duties including fire fighting, first responder and business matters as president. He has also served 10 years on his church’s finance committee.

Although he has never been elected to public office, Estock, who holds a B.S. In Agricultural Business – major economics from The Ohio State University, Leadership College, Management courses at Purdue University, Conflict Resolution, Interpersonal Skills Training and Coaching, First Responder and Basic Fire Training, pointed to his work experience as his qualification for the position.

“Along with strong people skills, I have a long experience working with the public and a very broad base of expertise with management, budgeting, administration and business,” he said. “My experience working in business with the public sector would present a different perspective which would be helpful in moving the township forward.”

Estock said he is seeking office to give back to the community.

“Recently retiring allows me to devote 100 percent to this position as opposed to part time,” he said. “I’m open minded, have no agendas and hopefully will bring in some new thinking versus business as usual. It is critical that the board of trustees work closely together and communicate clearly with each other to manage the township affairs. The board members need to work closely together as a team to get projects completed and not just talked about for years.”

Coming in with no prior experience allows for a fresh approach to township business, Estock said.

“I offer a choice versus same-old, some-old practices. I’m very approachable and a good listener, straightforward and honest, tell it like it is, and am not into political smoke and mirrors,” he said. “It’s important at this point in time that funds from the federal government for various federal programs be used wisely and appropriated in a timely manner.”

Estock also noted he has been a Knox Township resident for over 30 years and owns and operates a small cattle and crop farm. In 2001 he was awarded the Conservation Farmer of the Year Award and received two national awards for soil and water management.

Estock is married with three adult children. He lives on Georgetown-Damascus Road in Beloit.

Matthew Johnston

Johnston has served on term as township trustee. He is a volunteer Firefighter for Homeworth and North Georgetown fire departments, serves on the Mile Branch Grange Arena Committee, is a National Weather Service Trained Skywarn Spotter at Columbiana County Career & Technical Center and Columbiana County Farm Bureau member for over 30 years.

A 1987 graduate of West Branch High School, Johnston is a John Deere trained technician, firefighter II and first responder for Homeworth and North Georgetown fire departments, instructor’s assistant for Firefighter Training at Columbiana County Career & Technical Center and 2020 Graduate of Ohio Township Association of Leadership Academy. He has worked on the family farm, Willow View Farms, since 1970 alongside his father, Albert (A.J.), and brother, Ben. They previously operated a 200-acre dairy farm, however, the three now have a 60-head beef cow/calf herd and have increased to over 600 acres of land. In addition to working the family farm, he has owned and operated Willow View Custom Harvest and Machine for the past 18 years. He also has work experience with Fryfogle Farms for five years and Cope Farm Equipment for 14 years.

Johnston noted his career as a public servant plus his work experience as qualifications for the position, citing his work on several projects with the Columbiana County Soil and Water Conservation District; his mechanical background of equipment, which helps with evaluating repair/replacement of Township equipment; and being a three-year attendee of the Ohio Township Associations’ annual conference held in Columbus, which provides education with over 90 educational workshops, including the Leadership courses, to choose from and networking opportunities to meet fellow township officials from all across Ohio.

Johnston said he is seeking office because after serving the past four years as trustee he has “learned an immense amount about local government and have worked with and built many positive relations with county officials from the Commissioner’s Office, Engineer’s Office, Prosecutor’s Office, other Township Trustees, etc. I would like to continue my work as a Trustee to make a positive impact on my community and continue the projects that have been started during my term. It has been challenging at times but very rewarding and I take pride in serving my community to the best of my ability.”

As an incumbent, Johnston said the most significant accomplishments of which he has been a part include bringing the township back to 7 to 8 miles of roadway with the county chip and seal program.

“Since the township has 62 miles of road and 49 miles of chip and seal, this has enabled us to be on a seven-year rotation from the levy passed in 2017 by the voters,” he said.

Johnston also noted the purchase of two new dump trucks in 2018 and a new John Deere Mini Excavator in 2020, which has saved the township hours of labor in ditching and culvert installation, as well as his participation in negotiations with Nexus Pipeline for several months to reach a settlement for the damage that occurred to township roads during their construction and being instrumental in distributing funds awarded to the township from the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic (CARES) Act to the two fire departments in the township for much needed equipment and supplies during the pandemic.

Johnston said voters should re-elect him because he has learned the value of hard work, responsibility and how to budget and spend money wisely by starting work as a very young age and running his own business.

“In addition to the positive relationships I have built with the county in the past four years, I have built many positive relationships through my years of serving the public with the fire department and the many customers I have served through my employment and my personal business,” he said. “I know the importance of providing the best service possible and listening to people.

He also said being self-employed allows him to be readily available for township residents and the road crew, in needed situations and that he believes he has the skills and compassion to fill the need for township residents.

Johnston also noted there are approximately 3,300 trustees in the State of Ohio and in 2020 he was one of 30 graduates, the first from Knox Township, from the Ohio Township Association Leadership Academy, which was created by the OTA, OSU Extension: Office of Community Development, and the Center for Public Management and Regional Affairs at Miami University for the purpose of enhancing the leadership and decision-making skills of the township leadership.

Johnston and his wife Melissa live on Hartley Road, Alliance. They have two daughters, Heather (Jake) Carter and April (Mike) Thorne and four grandchildren, Ethan, Eva, Klayten and Addyson.

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