A lifetime of volunteering

Receives Mary B. Haase Lifetime Award from the township

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  • Photo by Linda Smith Hancharick Mayor Bettina Bieri, left, listens as Steve Sangle, the 2013 Mary B. Haase Lifetime Volunteer Award winner, talks to the public after receiving his award.

  • Photo by Linda Smith Hancharick Steve Sangle, second from left, was honored Wednesday night with the township's 2013 Mary B. Haase Lifetime VolunteerAward. He is seen here getting the award from Mayor Bettina Bieri. His family, including his wife, Janice, three of his grandchildren and his daughter and son-in-law, joined him as he received his plaque.

WEST MILFORD — He’s been a member of West Milford’s Environmental Commission for 30 years and currently serves as chairperson. Wednesday night, Steve Sangle was recognized by the township with the 2013 Mary B. Haase Lifetime Award. Chosen by a panel of former West Milford mayors, Sangle’s years of volunteer work have been directed toward protecting the town’s natural resources.

Sangle, 64, was raised in Wanaque. He studied psychology at Farleigh Dickenson University, graduating in 1971. Looking down the financial road of four more years of school to get a doctorate, he decided to put it off for a while and he became an ironworker, like his father and grandfather before him. He never went back to school.

Today he is the owner of Sangle Consultants, Inc., operating the business from his home. Apparently his college education still comes into play.

“Being in business, I use psychology every day,” he said.

Sangle Consultants, Inc. is a union ironworker contractor business servicing New York and New Jersey. Sangle also serves as vice president of the New Jersey Steel Association and as a trustee for the New Jersey Steel Association Scholarship Fund.

The move to West Milford
Sangle moved to the Pinecliff Lake area in 1971, at first living in a log cabin. Eventually he built four different homes, all on Bearfort Road. He and Janice, his wife of 39 years, raised their two children in the lake community and now have five grandchildren.

Sangle’s property borders on 2,000 acres of Wawayanda State Park, a perfect spot for an avid environmentalist. He has great appreciation of the natural beauty of the town: the lakes, mountains and the woods.

He has also spent time on the Hudson River, enjoying that busy waterway and becoming the captain of his own ship. He studied from home, wanting to learn all the safety regulations and, after a test administered by the United States Coast Guard, he was awarded his captain’s license.

Getting involved

Sangle started his volunteer work in 1982 at Pinecliff Lake and by 1984 he was named to the Environmental Commission. The interests of the commission are varied.

“The bottom line is that we watch over any environmental concern that could affect West Milford. That includes reviewing plans given to the planning board and the board of adjustment, any upcoming plans, to make sure there is no negative environmental impact,” Sangle said.

The commission is also responsible for educating the residents on such topics as environmental pollution, storm water management and the use of environmentally friendly products such as non-phosphate detergents.

The Environmental Commission has been successful in banning the use of phosphate fertilizers and bringing about an ordinance that mandates that septic systems must be pumped out every three years.

“The inspection of your septic that goes along with the pumping allows residents to know if there’s a problem and if corrections are needed,” he said, often saving the homeowner a significant amount of money.

The Environmental Commission applies for and receives grants that go a long way in protecting and improving the town. From the oversight of the lakes to the re-forestation of the Tennessee Pipeline tract, the work is on-going.

“Obtaining grants is an important factor of the Environmental Commission,” Sangle said.

Dual winners

Sangle conceded that if he didn’t work from home he probably couldn’t dedicate as much time as he does. He has an understanding wife, too, who also happens to be an award winner – the town’s 1999 Volunteer of the Year.

“Janice came down with multiple sclerosis in 1994 and it hit her pretty hard, putting her in a wheel chair,” Sangle said.

As a result, she became an advocate for those with disabilities. She has worked tirelessly with the Multiple Sclerosis Society and was chosen as the national “MS Champion of the Year.” She has worked diligently on the local level, starting the “Squeaky Wheels” support group and she counsels other women afflicted with the ailment.

Thank you and you’re welcome

The Environmental Commission meets at town hall on the first Monday of the month and resident participation is encouraged. Detailed information on the commission is available on the town’s Web site.

“Anybody who has the desire to learn more about the environment, or possibly would like to help, should attend the meetings. We welcome any questions.”

Sangle sang the praises of the town’s mayors and councils, past and present, for their support, saying that the success of the commission relies heavily on their backing.

When asked how he felt about being recognized for his volunteerism, he said that he could not be more honored, especially receiving an award named after Mary Haase, a commission member in the early years, who was an inspiration to him.

“I also need to thank those who made this award possible and for associating my years of volunteer work in the same league as Mary,” he concluded.

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