"When we're doing a project, he knows the person to call."
Wayne Ford still lives on the same street corner that he did when coming to Galva in 1966. Ford was beginning a 52-year career with Grain Craft in McPherson, but made his home in the town where his wife, Naomi, would teach school. Six years later, he became a city council member.
In 1977, Ford became mayor of Galva when Bud Myers resigned the position to join the school board, and he has retained the office ever since.
"I would just run, every election, and was basically unopposed for most of the years," Ford said.
Those years of experience have translated into a wealth of knowledge for Ford.
"He's the mayor who knows everybody and everything," said Lori Tector, city clerk for Galva. "He's been here longer than anybody. When we're doing a project, he knows the person to call."
After 40 years, Ford has decided that this will be his last term as mayor.
"I've appreciated all these years, but 40 years is a long time," Ford said.
Looking back, he is proud of the people and projects that have made Galva the town it is today. Galva's population was around 575 people in 1977 and has grown to around 900 people currently.
"It's the leaders of the community and the community as a whole — I have to credit it to them," Ford said. "It was an effort of everybody."
The assistance of and camaraderie with the city staff is especially meaningful to him.
"Forty years has allowed me to go through lots of different people, and yet we've got some 20 or 25 year people on staff at this point, too," Ford said. "It's because we have a good staff that you're able to be that mayor figurehead, so to speak, but also have a good city."
There have been several notable projects completed by the city of Galva under Ford's leadership, including the construction of concrete streets beginning in 1995.
"The biggest thing that helped the city was the streets," Ford said. "We've pretty well covered the entire town in concrete streets."
In 2005, the city added a new building downtown.
"The city built on a large warehouse for storage of equipment, a museum, a meeting room and modernized our offices here at city hall," Ford said.
Maintaining Galva's ZIP code and post office became an issue in 2008.
"The city was challenged with either purchase the post office or lose it — they would close it and run everything out of McPherson," Ford recalled.
The city opted to buy the post office building, but were not allowed to tear it down and rebuild.
"We actually encased the old post office with a new building and added a lift in the back to receive the mail," Ford said. "You don't think about those little things. We would have lost the post office had we not expended those funds to purchase the post office and then lease it back to the government."
This year, the town's wastewater treatment reaches the end of its lifespan and will need to be rebuilt.
"We have a major renovation necessary for the wastewater treatment facility. We're just now working with the federal government for funding," Ford said. "Hopefully, by the end of the year, we can start to do the dirt work."
Keeping everything operating well — especially city equipment — has been a priority for Ford.
"Some of my philosophy has been to maintain a good mechanical fleet," Ford said. "That's really paid off."
Galva has seen some wild weather, but has escaped any major disasters during Ford's mayorship.
"That's the biggest thing you worry about, as a mayor," Ford said. "My biggest fear is that a tornado wipes you out. Just think of Greensburg or Andover. We're just very fortunate that we've escaped those situations."
Ford has also worked hard to ensure the city operated within its budget.
"We're a strong little community — financially sound — and that's probably one of the biggest steps for a small community, to be financially sound," Ford said.
That legacy is one he hopes will continue as younger generations take over.
"You're always going to need council members and people that serve publicly, and I realize that most aren't going to run a long length of time," Ford said, "but it's still necessary that people be involved."
Being mayor requires patience and empathy for fellow residents.
"You have to have an interest in the community and I think, as mayor, you try to represent the whole town from one end to the other — all individuals — and sometimes that has been a challenge," Ford said. "That's a big issue, to listen to everybody. Everybody's got a pothole they want to talk about."
Still, the role of mayor has been rewarding for Ford.
"In the evenings, it is gratifying to see people walking the streets with strollers, bicycles and kids, chatting," Ford said.