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Crowder Takes On Culbertson Mayor Position

Between being Culbertson’s superintendent of schools, a volunteer firefighter and a member of the community’s Lion’s Club, it would seem that Larry Crowder has enough on his plate.
Crowder, who is serving in his 21st year as Culbertson’s superintendent of schools, however, added another commitment when he took on the responsibility of being the town’s mayor.
“Being 20 years in a community, you want to make sure you’re doing your part in giving back,” Crowder said. “I’m just filling the role, doing the best I can.”
He admits that he received a little teasing from fellow school superintendents when they found out that he was becoming mayor of Culbertson.
“Most of them joked and laughed at me,” Crowder said. “I maybe got some pity thrown my way.”
The mayoral position became open when longtime mayor Gordon Oelkers was elected as a Roosevelt County commissioner. Abe Rumsey, a longtime city council member, served as mayor until the next election took over. “Abe faithfully filled the role, but he only wanted to do it one year,” Crowder said.
When no one filed for the mayoral election, Crowder became the only write-in candidate and begin serving in the position at the start of this year. He noted there’s a lot of difference between school and city government.
“It’s been really interesting. I’ve learned a lot,” Crowder said. “I’ve barely gotten to the point of scratching the surface.”
He explained that he has been interested to serve in city government since watching his father work on the city council in Malta for more than 20 years.
“I guess I’ve always missed the deadline for elections, because the timing wasn’t right,” Crowder said.
He noted that Culbertson is solid financially, but it’s a balancing act to provide needed services and keep taxation under control. City leaders are hopeful to add a community center and a new fire hall.
Crowder thanks city council members, employees and other mayors for helping him during the transition.
“I’ve been fortunate to have really good people to work with — both employees and the council,” Crowder said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about learning. It’s good for a superintendent to be learning.”
At the school, Culbertson is enjoying an enrollment increase with 25 new students between grades 1-12. The school district has increased from one to two kindergarten classes. Crowder has been able to manage his time well with the two leadership positions.
“It’s a little more time, but the biggest thing is to make sure I am available for either, especially after hours,” he noted.
He is thankful to be able to play a positive part of Culbertson’s community.
“The big thing for me is that public service is a great thing to be doing,” Crowder said. “That’s where the real commitment to the community comes at. It’s really a lot of fun and where we do our finest work. That’s where we get to connect with the people and help out a little bit on the side.”
(Publisher’s Note: This article is reprinted by permission.)