When town clerk Jackie Savage gave the oath of office to Susie Steckel on April 4, 2012, it was a moment for the history books on two counts. Number one, it meant that Mayor Jim Crook had ended the longest time of service for a Crawford mayor, 24 years. And number two, Susie Steckel became the first woman to attain the mayoral office in Crawford.
Crook beat the previous longest serving mayor by a full decade. Clarence Drexel served 14 years from 1934 to 1948. Local historian Chuck Farmer confirmed these facts.
After the new mayor and trustees had been sworn in by Savage on Wednesday, April 4, Steckel said she didn't know if she could fill Jim's sandals, but she was going to try. Trustee Christie Young asked if those present could give Jim an ovation, and all those in the chamber gave him a rousing round of applause.
Steckel told Crook at the end of the council meeting, "Jim we're going to miss you."
Crook responded, "It's really been great being on the council." He always planned his schedule around the town's meetings on the first and third Wednesdays. He noted, "Television is pretty lousy on Wednesday night. I don't know what I'll do on Wednesday nights."
A few days later on Saturday, former and current members of the Crawford Town Council and staff as well as people from the town and surrounding area joined in honoring Crook at his retirement party. Former town clerks Susan Hansen and Margaret Pearce came and spoke. Pearcesaid, "He was good to work for." Former public works director Gabby George was present. He worked for the town 26 years. Former trustee Nathan Sponseller attended. Current staff Jackie Savage, Bruce Bair and Don Ludwig were present.
That event was held in the Crawford Town Hall Community Room. Folks brought their favorite potluck fare to share.
Mayor Steckel noted Crook had served Crawford a quarter of a century. "There's been a lot of subtle changes and good changes since Jim has been here. I think we all need to appreciate him," Steckel said.
Crook was given a plaque that recognized his service to the Town of Crawford as mayor. "It's really kind of funny. I appreciate everybody and everything, and I always tried to do what was right for the town," Crook said. When trustee Gil Saunders moved out of state, Crook took his place. "Uneducated in government, I never took it in school. But I loved the town," Crook said. R.D. Round was mayor at that time. After serving one year as a trustee, Crook was encouraged by then town clerk Susan Hansen to run for mayor "because no one else is going to." Crook was not interested. He didn't want to lead a meeting, but he ran unopposed and, naturally, won. "I found it quite rewarding."
In the next election, he had an opponent and wanted to find out if the people thought he had done a good job. They did and he won again.
In his fourth election and those following, the late Dick Steckel always told Crook, "One more time."
In the 24 years Crook was mayor, he never felt like he was in control. "I never felt like I ran the town. I always felt there were seven people you had to deal with. You really need to bring it to the council and the council decides," Crook said.
Crook said Crawford is the only town in Delta County that plows it's streets when there's just two inches of snow. He noted Crawford has one of the best water and sewer systems in the state. "For a small town we have a heck of a lot going for us," he concluded. "I'm glad Susie's going to do it now. Thank you."
Mayor Steckel noted that she once heard someone complain that Crook was not doing his job as mayor because he wasn't shooting stray dogs. That 1906 ordinance was not enforced by the former mayor.
Susan Hansen thanked Crook for his support and leadership over the last four years on the Crawford Town Hall renovation project. She said it is a part of his legacy to the town as mayor.
Donna Spencer, friend and business partner, said Crook lacked confidence when she first met him. "I gave him a lot of encouragement," she said. He blossomed. "I'm really proud of you, Jim," she said. "You've done a good job."
Bruce Bair, public works director said, "I've really enjoyed working with you as a mayor. You've been a great boss."
Jim Crook's daughter Sandi Shaffet, who lives in China, wrote a letter which was read at the party by Deb Imlah.
"[My dad] was the most honest mayor you could have, especially for someone who is a Crook." Everyone laughed.
"I have always been proud to tell people that 'He's my dad, the mayor of Crawford.'"
Well mayors retire, but fathers never do.blog comments powered by Disqus