Josh Karels was sworn in as the newest member of the Milbank City Council on July 13. Karels was appointed by Milbank Mayor Pat Raffety to fill in a one-year vacancy created when Evan Grong resigned in April.
Mayor Raffety says, “I chose Josh because I have worked with him on a professional level and know him as a problem solver and thorough thinker. His career in construction gives him a builder’s approach to completing tasks. When I first met him 15 or 20 years ago, he was working on a project for an acquaintance of mine, and I was impressed by the young man’s meticulousness. It said a lot about his character and the quality of his work.”
Karels describes himself as hardworking, dependable, and fair. He says, ” I’ve always been interested in learning more about the process and all the pieces of city government. However, I did not consider it seriously until I was approached. I thought maybe with my construction background, I could bring a different view to the table.”
Raffety says, “Josh is not afraid to speak up or ask questions. This was evident by his “no” vote on a motion brought before the council at his first meeting. Most new council members are uncertain until they become more comfortable in their role. Josh just voted the way he felt he should.”
Raffety says the upcoming year will be a challenging one for the council. “Our fiscal year has been uncertain because of the impact Covid-19 has had on our sales tax funds. The money is used primarily to fund capital improvements, so, our plan has been thrown off course a little. We have pushed a few projects back and now need to get them rescheduled. We are in a good position financially, but skipping projects shoves the schedule out. Planning will be our focus so we can continue to complete the improvements our citizens come to expect.”
Karels agrees the effect of Covid -19 on local businesses is the toughest issue the council will face this year. He compares the situation to what he knows best — construction projects. He says, “Sometimes unknown conditions arise that don’t allow you to stick to your plan. I enjoy finding solutions to these problems. I like working with other professionals to come up with the best solution to overcome any obstacle and keep things running as smoothly as possible. Part of doing this is to lead with a positive attitude and not dwell on the difficulties — to brainstorm and bring solutions to the table.”
When Karels isn’t working as the construction manager at Milbank House Movers, he enjoys spending time on the family farm working on food plots and developing habitat for wildlife. He also enjoys hunting, fishing, and being with family and friends.
His wife Karissa is employed as the HR manager at Valley Queen Cheese Factory. They have two children Andrew, 10 and Isabelle, 7.