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New District 10 supervisor carries on a family legacy of public service

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Tom Winters, a fourth-generation Armenia resident, currently serves as the vice president of the Necedah School Board.

The District 10 supervisor vacancy has been officially filled as the Juneau County Board unanimously confirmed Thomas Winters, of Armenia, to the position.

District 10 encompasses much of northern Juneau County, including Cutler, Finley, Kingston and part of the Town of Necedah. The position became open after the former District 10 supervisor and Town of Armenia chairperson James Parrett died in August.

Parrett, who was also one of two vice chairs on the county board, was 60.

Winters is well aware that he has big shoes to fill. Parrett was a member of nine county committees during his four years as a supervisor.

“You see the responsibilities you may have,” Winters said. “But I grew up knowing to always be familiar with your townspeople. I log, so I do deal with all the town chairmen.”

Winters was born and raised in northern Juneau County; his family has lived in the area for four generations. As he said, Winters works in logging and runs his family’s cranberry farm.

His grandmother was the town treasurer of Armenia for over 40 years and his father had served on the county board and as the Town of Finley chairperson. Winters currently serves as the vice president of the Necedah School Board.

“This was the next step of public service,” he said.

Winters will carry out the remainder of Parrett’s current term. He was unable to say whether or not he would be interested in running for re-election.

The new supervisor isn’t a stranger to the board. He was appointed to the role by Chairperson Timothy Cottingham after being recommended by other representatives. Dist. 13 Supervisor Ray Zipperer was employed by Winters when he was a high school student.

Winters said that the offer to serve on the board came as a surprise. He was approached by Cottingham, who said the position was his if he was willing to take it on.

“If a few members thought I was decent enough to represent District 10, then I’m honored. They must have felt that I could handle the task,” he said.

Winters has already begun to make his mark. He was one of just three representatives who voted against the 2023 budget, which notably came with a hefty short-term debt to cover costs until revenue from the debt levy arrives in the spring. Seventeen voted in favor. He was also the only nay vote for a resolution supporting an increase in county child support funding.

However, Winters said he didn’t vote against the items on principle.

“It was a large amount of dollars being spent,” he said. “My first vote on the board was for $3.7 million. I just didn’t have the proper information to make that decision.”

Going forward, Winters hopes to represent all of District 10’s interests on the board. As the geographically largest district in the county, the region supports a diverse mix of residential properties, extensive public lands and agriculture. The supervisor noted that there have been big changes to the district even in his own lifetime, and he’s committed to keeping the peace.

“Sure, people come and go and things change,” Winters said. “What happens in between, well, I’d like to make sure everybody works together and gets along.”

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