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Wilson’s supervisor-elect brings a business sense to the job

WILSON – A new man will take the helm at Wilson Town Hall on Jan. 1 – recently elected Supervisor Doyle Phillips.

He succeeds current Supervisor Joseph Jastrzemski, who was elected to the Niagara County clerk’s post.

Born in Pennsylvania, Phillips grew up and married in Buffalo and chose Wilson to continue to raise his family and operate two businesses.

Now semiretired, he said he answered the call to throw his hat into the political ring for the first time this year because he has the time to devote to it now.

Jastrzemski said he’s known Phillips nearly 20 years and “he will do an outstanding job.”

“Good, strong common sense” is what Jastrzemski said bests serves the supervisor of a small rural town like Wilson.

“You have to be open-minded and able to work with people,” Jasztremski said. “Doyle is a businessman – he has owned his own business. And he understands life in a rural area. I think he has good, strong leadership qualities and his finger on the pulse of the community’s wants and needs.

“He’s got the town’s master plan, which we adopted, as a road map, to work with,” he added. “I’ve set the stage for him to continue to reach out to our state representatives, and he has an outstanding board and clerk’s office to work with.

“I’m proud of the shape we’re leaving the town in and we’re leaving it to the right man,” Jastrzemski added. “He’ll be able to build on the successes we’ve had in the past 10 years.”

Phillips recently took some time to discuss his life and what he expects the next two years in the supervisor’s seat will have in store.

First of all, I have to ask you about your unusual first name. Is it an old family name?

No. During the Depression, my dad went to work for the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps – part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal to boost the economy) and met a rancher in Arizona and I was told I was named after him. My family moved here from Pennsylvania in the 1950s, when the mines were closing, to the west side of Buffalo and my dad went to work for the General Motors stamping plant on River Road.

When did you move to Wilson?

Diana and I got married in 1961 and lived in North Buffalo and in 1973, we bought some farmland and built our house in Wilson. The area has changed considerably in 43 years, but the schools and the people are still fantastic.

How did you know about Wilson?

The welding company I was working for in Buffalo sent me to Wilson to do welding work at Pfeiffer Foods in 1969. I fell in love with the area. There were a lot of small farms back then and the people I met were very personable – my type of people.

So you had a career in welding?

I worked for Don’s Welding on Transit Road in Depew and I learned a lot from him; his son runs it now. I had a chance to buy a welder and started doing some side work while I was there and it just progressed. I opened Doyle’s Welding in 1971 and operated it until 1990.

In 1990, my son, Donald, who was in the gas line business, came to me and asked me to start a business doing gas line work.

I started D. Phillips Utilities, but then Donald was killed. Losing someone like that – well, you never get over it, but I guess it’s a part of life.

I guess the Good Lord needed him more than me then.

My two other sons, Daniel and Christopher, were also working in the business with me.

We had 10 to 15 employees. I gave them the option as to whether they wanted to continue and in 2000 they made the decision to go in different directions.

That’s OK. I’m very proud of them. They’re working and raising their own families in Wilson.

So did you retire then?

Case Borings Corp. and Babcock Utilities Inc. in Gasport heard about us closing the business and hired me in a supervisory and welding capacity, which I did until a few years ago. I’m semiretired now. They still call me in for technical help once in a while, but it’s all strictly local work now.

What lies ahead as supervisor the next two years?

The water tower needs repainting and they tell me it needs sandblasting, too. They had it checked out and it’s structurally sound.

I went on my own to the water board and asked if we needed this water tower and they told me we did, for irrigation for the farmers.

I don’t have any real agenda.

Things will proceed along and I know there will be bumps in the road, but we’ll smooth them out.

I’d like to enhance employment for the locals and there’s no bank in town.

I’d like to work with people to get even a small bank, it doesn’t have to be full service. These are some things that need to be done.

What are your political views?

I’m a lifelong Republican. I believe in small government, effective government. I don’t believe in handouts, but in hand-ups. Helping someone out is fine, but I don’t think you give a person a fish, you teach a person how to fish. Educate people – that’s my way.

Do you belong to any community groups?

I wanted to join the Wilson Fire Company, but I was on the road too much when I was working, so I told them, anytime you need any welding or anything, I’ll do it, so that’s how I volunteered my services. I belong to the Wilson Conservation Club, and volunteer my services there, too. I belong to the Fin, Feather, Fur Club, NRA and Niagara County Judges and Police Executive Conference.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like bow-hunting, but I’ve taken a deer with a shotgun or rifle, too.

But I just enjoy going out in the woods, whether I get something or not.

It’s just the pleasure of sitting in the woods and enjoying nature.

Know a Niagara County resident who would make an interesting question-and-answer column? Write to: Niagara Weekend Q&A, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, NY 14240, or email niagaranews@buffnews.com.