Sylvan Township's Citizen of the Year for 2020

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photo by Wendy Reinhardt

In thinking about the honor of Sylvan Township’s Citizen of the Year for 2020, David Reinhardt couldn’t help but cite others who are also doing good things to help move the township forward.

Much of what motivates him to volunteer his time to the township are the examples of others.

“The longer I remain involved, the more I see how hard our board members and members of the various auxiliary boards work,” Reinhardt to the Sun Times News. “I also continue to be amazed by how many people step up to help. Even when I get phone calls from residents asking, or complaining about, their utility bills, the people are just genuinely nice to speak with. We've got a lot of great people in this township if we take the time to stop and listen.”

This past year was a challenging one at times for everyone, including at township hall. Community involvement and help played an important part, and that’s part of the reason why the township selected Reinhardt.

Calling it well deserved, the township board announced Reinhardt as the Citizen of the Year at its Jan. 5 meeting.

Township supervisor David Brooks said Reinhardt has been a stabilizing and mature influence in all of the places he’s stepped up to help. As a citizen and volunteer, he said Reinhardt has done a true service for Sylvan.

Reinhardt has lived in Sylvan Township for the past 35 years with his family. It is where he and his wife, Wendy, raised their two daughters.

In his professional career, he is an engineer by degree, but said he gravitated towards operational issues while working with several small companies in the area. Since officially retiring several years ago, he's continued to stay busy by getting his builders license and working on small projects.

Through the years he and his wife had been involved in a number of community groups, but he said they didn't really attend any township board meetings until 2018, when some issues of interest arose.

“As I attended more meetings I saw a lot of people, both board members and citizens, putting forth a lot of time and effort for Sylvan,” he said.

So when an opening on the Sylvan Township Water and Sewer Board appeared in 2019, he volunteered to be the Treasurer.

When the pandemic hit, he said he was able to set up a home office and conduct business from home, although without as much day-to-day accessible support as before.

“It was definitely a struggle at times,” he said. “I have to give a shout out to Wendy who helped fold, stuff, and mail hundreds of utility bills every three months during the pandemic.”

In early 2020, he stepped up again when Sylvan's assessor asked if he could be an alternate on the Board of Review, which is where residents ask for impartial feedback on decisions made by the Assessor. He said that has been a really interesting experience and it's been fun learning about the work that goes into making the tax bills fair and consistent.

“I've learned a lot!” he said.

In detailing what he has meant to the township, Kathleen Kennedy, township clerk, said when Reinhardt stepped into the role of treasurer of the water and sewer authority he over time took on increasing responsibilities and he always did it with a  smile on his face.

“I know personally, when a voter notified me that our drop box had a ledge that had caught some voters absentee ballots, Dave offered to help out that day,” Kennedy said. “He took a break from what he was doing and fashioned a curved ramp and installed it in the drop box that would ensure ballots would fall the way down. He is just always willing to help out.”

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