Ward I incumbent touts experience, longevity

By: 
KATHLEEN GILLULY
Outlook managing editor
Doug Poehls

When not sitting in his official seat at a council meeting at City Hall, Doug Poehls can be personable and is open about his life in Laurel and being a Ward 1 alderman. After 38 years at the same address, he knows his neighborhood and the concerns of his neighbors pretty well. One of his pet peeves is the ear shattering whistles of trains at street crossings at all times of the day and night. He would like to get quiet zones implemented in Laurel, although he knows working with the railroad is difficult.
Poehls works at Pacific Metal, a specialty aluminum and stainless steel dealer as the assistant manager. In his ninth year with the company, he enjoys working in the small shop. He has spent time in collections and was a representative for Kraft Foods for 25 years.
While the councilman grew up in Billings he and his family are long-time residents of the south side. He and his wife Paula still live in the first house they purchased.
“We’d been married for three years and were looking at homes,” Poehls said. “One day coming home from Red Lodge in a rain storm we stopped at the A & W and then saw the house for sale. It was something we could afford, so we bought it.”
In the years since, the house has undergone numerous renovations including the addition of a second story. They enjoyed raising their two daughters here and they now have six grandchildren, as well.
Poehls serves on the budget and emergency services committees. He is also president of the council.
“I always wanted to volunteer in some capacity,” he said. “But for years I travelled too much for work. When that ended I wanted to find a way of trying to help the city, trying to improve life for the citizens.” He was already familiar with city government and many of Laurel’s elected officials. “I decided to run so I could help by working on behalf of the majority of residents,” he said. “I know we can’t please everyone.”
Poehls thought about running for mayor after Mark Mace declined to run for a second term, but he needs to be available for work. In addition to his regular duties he is filling in as the company’s substitute semi driver. Plus, he is pulling for another candidate.
“I support Tom Nelson for mayor,” he said of the Ward IV councilman who has thrown his hat in the ring. “He is tenacious like a bulldog.”
The alderman thinks Laurel’s biggest challenges are keeping the budget balanced and dealing with the state. “I don’t have enough hair to pull out,” he said about the frustration he feels over the city’s fight with the governor’s office over the $2 million the city has to fork over to cover the state’s share of the cost of the new water intake. “Now we’re behind the eight-ball with the sedimentation basins.”
Poehls is pleased with the performance of most upper-level city officials and is happy the police and fire chiefs are so good at finding volunteers and equipment. He said they know to look outside the box.
“We can only pay for what we have money for,” he said. “With all the infrastructure repairs we need, we have to be vigilant.” He thinks the city’s policy of not paving streets until they can fix what’s underneath is wise and he is proud of his role in that.
Poehls hopes to get a safety mill levy passed and make inroads towards implementing quiet zones during his next term, but the most pressing and immediate issue the council needs to tackle is the SED basins. “That’s what’s on my wish list for the city right now,” he said.

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