It’s been a long goodbye for outgoing Crawford mayor James Crook. Since announcing in 2011 that he would be stepping aside after 24 years, he and the town have been moving slowly but steadily toward the change in command.
The official transition took place on April 4 with the swearing-in of new mayor Susie Steckel. But the real closure happened on Saturday, April 9, when Crook’s friends and colleagues came together to appreciate and thank him for his service. It was (what else?) a potluck.
The long table upstairs in Crawford Town Hall offered everything from pizza, lasagna, and spaghetti to elegant salads. For dessert, new mayor Susie Steckel brought a marble sheet cake with best wishes to Jim inscribed in blue icing.
Former town trustee Nathan Sponseller, Town Clerk Margaret Pierce, and Director of Public Works – Dale “Gabby” George came to chat and pay their respects. “You were a good boss,” George told Crook.
Current Public Works Director Bruce Bair said “I’ll miss you as a boss and as a friend. But I’m not totally going to say goodbye because I know I’ll be seeing you around.”
Crook, sitting at the head table with companion Deb Imlah and Steckel and looking a little uneasy being the center of attention, listened as longtime friend and business partner Donna Spencer described Crook’s evolution from a fledgling mayor who “didn’t have any confidence at all” to an able and respected town administrator. “I’m so proud of you, Jim,” she said.
Delta County Administrator Susan Hansen, who served as Crawford’s Town Clerk when Crook first took office (and who, although she doesn’t remember doing so, reportedly encouraged him to throw his hat in the ring) commended Crook’s integrity and commitment to his job.
Steckel presented Crook with a plaque commemorating his service. “I thought we weren’t doing plaques,” groused Crook. “Well, nobody told me!” retorted Steckel. “I think 24 years deserves a plaque, at least.”
Imlah read letters from Crook’s daughter, Sandy, and her husband, who sent their best wishes from their home in China. “I remember going to Town Hall with my dad and feeling so proud that he was the mayor,” said Sandy. “But to me, he was always just my dad.”
Recalled her husband about his first visit to Crawford: “When Sandy told me her dad was the mayor, I was a little apprehensive. But he turned out to be just the most down-to-earth, nice guy.” Still is. The best of everything to you, Jim. And thanks!