TYRONE - With his 85th birthday approaching in late March, Snyder Township Supervisor Charlie Diehl doesn't pull any punches about his nearly two decades as an elected official for the northern Blair County community that surrounds Tyrone Borough.
"It hasn't always been pleasant," he admitted of the 18 years he's served on the three-man Snyder Township Board of Supervisors. "I've stepped on a few toes, and I got called out for it."
Diehl has been elected to three six-year terms and one two-year term since he was elected in 1994, with a few years off in between. While a lot has changed in his time on the board, his philosophy on how to handle the challenges facing the township really hasn't.
Snyder Township supervisor Charlie Diehl, who will be 85 in late March, admitted his 18 years on the three-man board of
supervisors ‘hasn’t always been pleasant.’ But he said seeing the township’s roads in the shape they’re in is a source of pride, as is limiting
"I've learned you got to take a stand if you believe in something that's best for the entire township," Diehl said. "Not that it's been easy as a supervisor for the township of about 3,500 people.
"I've made some mistakes along the way," he admitted. "[But] I'm a firm believer if you don't make mistakes you're not doing anything."
Antis Township Supervisor Bob Smith said Diehl, whom he's known for 50 years, hasn't changed his approach on the job of supervisor, operating with solid ethics and a reckoning eye.
Smith said he first knew Diehl as a mechanic who kept his car humming as a teenager, even working for him one summer hauling shingles up to the roof of a two-and-a-half story house.
Smith, who also sits on the Northern Blair Regional Sewer Authority Board, where Diehl has served for 15 years, recalls Diehl quitting a job once because he didn't think the business was run ethically.
"I think the people of Snyder Township have really benefited over the years from Charlie's service," Smith said. "He does what he does, and he does it for the right reasons."
Fellow Supervisor Jim Burket said even though he doesn't see eye to eye with Diehl on some decisions that have to be made, Diehl is a "hell of a guy" who knows the township business and will be missed when he eventually retires.
"Sometimes we disagree and argue now and then," Burket said. "But I can't say anything bad about the guy."
Despite the disagreements, Burket said Diehl is committed to doing what he thinks is best for the community.
Burket noted Diehl has accomplished his goal of never raising taxes in the township during his terms and said he'd like to see another of Diehl's dreams for the township - a recreation park and baseball field - come to fruition before his term expires in two years.
"He's still sharp as a whip," Burket said. "He knows the township very, very well."
Diehl said a lot has changed over the years, with municipal government becoming more complex and state mandates and expanding responsibilities sometimes making it difficult. Seeing the township's roads in the best shape they've ever been is something he takes pride in, as is keeping spending in check.
"You can't spend money you don't have," Diehl said, summing up his fiscal view of managing the township's budget.
State Representative Mike Fleck (R-81) praised Diehl, calling him "a good friend and a tireless public servant. He works hard for the people of Snyder Township. They'd be lost without his leadership."
Diehl knows the township so well, one would be hard pressed to find a better reference for what has been done and when, said Ann Dillon, the township's secretary and treasurer.
"I can ask him when something was done, and he can give me the month and the meeting it was done," Dillon said, adding that Diehl is a fiscal hawk who makes sure there's a reason for every penny spent. "You can go to him about anything and he'll listen to what you have to say."
Diehl is enthusiastic as he talks of what is happening in the township, pointing out the supervisors are working on a new access road to Tyrone Hospital as well as seeking funds to hook Vail residents onto the Tyrone water system.
Diehl said he enjoys serving as supervisor, and he hopes younger residents will get involved, both with the township and in organizations like the Bald Eagle Volunteer Fire Department.
With a pay of $35 for each meeting, the job of supervisor is more like a volunteer position, one that comes with its share of grief. Still, Diehl said he'll do it as long as he can.
"Somebody's got to do it," he said.
Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.