First Posted: 3/18/2013
When Alvin Cragle began his job as secretary-treasurer of Lehman Twp. 35 years ago, his office technology consisted of a calculator. He used handwritten ledgers and disbursements and all checks were written by hand.
Today, he serves Lehman Twp. as treasurer and works from a fully-equipped home office, equipped by the township with a personal computer and all the peripherals and software he needs. The township also has a full-time secretary now.
But whether low-tech or high-tech, the job is one Cragle feels he does well. “I invite anyone to audit my books at any time,” he said.
Cragle, 77, has lived in Lehman Twp. for 57 years. He and his wife, Phyllis, both graduated from Lake-Lehman High School. When they married, they settled in the township.
“We built our own house,” Cragle said of the house on the same road his wife grew up that the couple has lived in since they were married. Cragle grew up in Hunlock Creek.
The Cragles raised two sons in the township. Kevin, and his wife, Debbie, live in the Falls area. Todd and his wife, Wanda, live in Lehman with their two daughters, Cassandra, a sophomore at Wilkes University, and Taylor, a sixth-grader at Lake-Lehman Middle School.
Cragle was in the steel business when the position of Lehman Twp. treasurer opened. His boss at the time was council president in Clarks Summit and told him, “Anytime you have the opportunity to do community service, take it.”
When that boss, the president of McGregor Architectural Iron Company, became ill, he turned his company over to Cragle to run. For Cragle, it was a case of being in the right place at the right time. But he points out that it was the wrong time, too, because of the illness and subsequent death of his employer, a man he greatly admired.
While Cragle pursued his career, he worked as secretary-treasurer of Lehman Twp. for 15 years before pleading for help. Then, the late Jon Rogers took over the secretarial duties.
Cragle was quick to point out his valued relationship with Rogers and with township supervisors David Sutton, Raymond Iwanowski and Douglas W. Ide.
“These guys are the best three supervisors I’ve worked with,” he said. “I don’t want this article to shine on Alvin. I don’t want to take credit for the successes of the township.”
He said that working with the supervisors has been a pleasure. “Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time they tell me to proceed when I come to them with a plan,” he said. “I have to give them credit for allowing me to do my job.”
Cragle also believes that politics has little to do with his work. “You have to put the politics in the background when serving the public.”
One of Cragle’s biggest challenges in the last 35 years was the lack of property reassessment. Before reassessment, the township’s tax schedule was set at 16 mills for 15 to 20 years. Cragle said that, without a current reassessment, funds were very limited. “We could only do paving and patch work.”
When township properties were reassessed four years ago, property values went from $10 million to $300 million and millage dropped to .57. Current millage in the township is 1.45.
With more funds available, more projects were possible. “We’re attempting to do more paving,” Cragle said.
He also cited a recent upgrade of the municipal building. “We had an energy-efficiency grant from the federal government. The municipal building was redone inside and out.”
Cragle is also pleased with the township’s new six-bay building for the transportation department. The building features amenities for road workers, including a kitchenette and storage room. He pointed out that, after it was done, the building was almost debt-free. And, he said, the building would save the township money in the long run.
“We get four to six years of additional life out of equipment by getting it out of the weather,” he said.
In Cragle’s view, the future of Lehman Twp. as a great place to live is both secure and bright. “We have our own zoning and planning commission,” he said. “We’ve put in our regulations so that we don’t get a whole lot of population in one area.”
He enjoys his work for the township and cites no hobbies, saying his township work takes up his time.
“It has kept my mind going and keeps me busy.”
The secretary, road department and police department members recently threw a party for Cragle to celebrate his 35th anniversary with the township. “It was nice to be with them,” he said.
And the township treasurer isn’t done yet as he would like to continue working for the township.
“There’s a couple of years left in me.”