Local official appointed to serve out unexpired vacancy as next Crawford County treasurer
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Like moving one budget line item to another in a ledger book, Kate Wagner was appointed to serve as the next treasurer for Crawford County following a short meeting held by county officials on Friday, March 1.
Chief Crawford County Probate and District Court Judge Monte J. Burmeister, County Clerk Sandra Moore, and Prosecuting Attorney Sierra R. Koch unanimously voted to appoint Kate Wagner, who has serve as Crawford County’s chief deputy treasurer for 15 years, to serve as the county’s next treasurer.
No one else applied for the position.
Crawford County Treasurer Joseph V. Wakeley submitted a letter to Crawford County elected officials on Wednesday, Feb. 6, giving them a formal notice for his retirement. His last day as treasurer will be Wednesday, April 30.
Wakeley has overseen the county coffers for over 46 years, and is the longest serving treasurer in the State of Michigan.
Wakeley began serving as the county treasurer on Jan. 1, 1973 after winning the primary and general elections in 1972. At the time, Wakeley was the youngest county treasurer in the state at the age of 24.
Following the meeting, Burmeister said Wagner has a proven track record serving residents and working with other county employees.
“She’s got 15 years of experience in office, and I think the residents of the county will be well served by her in the future,” he said. “They’ve been well served by her in the past.”
Wagner is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. She earned a bachelor’s of arts degree from Colorado University-Boulder in 1989.
Her first job was working with a non-profit energy think-tank called Rocky Mountain Institute. Wagner then went on to work as an assistant bookeeper for an architectural management firm.
Through a chance meeting, Wagner met her husband, Brad, who is from Utica, Michigan, in Aspen, Colorado. The couple married in August 2000 and moved to Grayling.
“I met my husband on a chairlift, who happened to live in Michigan,” Wagner said. “I said a town named after a fish can’t be that bad.”
After establishing their roots in the community, Brad, who was working as a teacher, was hired to teach at the Grayling Middle School. He is currently a physical education teacher.
Kate went to work at the Grayling Generating Station, LLC, as a bookeeper and scale house operator. She held that position from 2001 to Feb. 22, 2004.
Wagner started as chief deputy county treasurer for Crawford County the next day. She said she is pleased to be given the opportunity to move up the ladder as a county official. Wakeley has just under two years left on his unexpired term.
“I’m very excited.
Wagner said. “It’s going to be hard act to follow – most definitely. Joe has been here and he’s well known.”
Wagner pledged there would be no major changes in the treasurer’s office.
“Nothing in the office is going to change. My goal is to always treat everybody the way that Joe has treated them, including myself, with respect and dignity,” she said. “That’s my goal is treat everybody how they should be treated when they come to my office.”
The main focus will remain on helping people keep up on their tax bills, so that they can retain their homes and avoid foreclosure proceedings.
“I’ve known half the job,” she said. “I’m excited to know what the other half of the job is going to bring.”
The Wagner family is heavily involved in youth sports and community activities. Brad coaches skiing and boys soccer at Grayling High School.
Kate has served on the Graying Recreation Authority Board of Directors for two years, and has volunteered for running and ski races at Hanson Hills for the past 16 years. She has volunteered for the AuSable River Canoe Marathon on race day for 18 years. Kate and Brad also help organize and run the Mike Wieland Tribute ski race at Hanson Hills.
The couple have a daughter, Ellie, a sophomore at the Grayling High School, who just set the dig record for this past season for the Grayling High School volleyball team.
Kate assists when needed for the girls’ volleyball team and ski and soccer teams.
Besides sports activities and community events, Kate has been a member of the St. Mary’s Catholic Church since 2001, where she serves as Eucharist minister, assists with youth group activities, and is involved with church events.
Wakeley said he was satisfied that county officials followed his recommendation to promote Wagner to succeed him in his position.
“I’ve very pleased and excited that Kate will have this position,” he said. “She will serve the community well and her colleagues and fellow workers. This is a good thing for Crawford County.”
The Wakeley family are some of the earliest settlers of Crawford County. Joe said it is bittersweet to retire, but it is time to move on with personal and family projects.
“It’s been a great thing to work for the people of the county and the community,” he said. “I’m humbled that they’ve let me be here all of these years.”