Originally published in the Manchester Journal, Nov. 15, 2017.
MANCHESTER — Looking back on his 40 years in town government, Director of Public Works Jeff Williams has no regrets.
Williams was recently honored with a proclamation at the Nov. 7 meeting of the Manchester Selectboard for his years of service to the town, and was surprised to learn that a road would be named in his honor.
“I was pretty shocked actually, but really humbled,” Williams said. “I told the Town Manager that I thought he was kidding. I had no idea that was coming.”
In the proclamation, presented by Selectboard Vice Chair Wayne Bell, the “loyal and proud native son of Manchester” was honored as the “longest-serving and most experienced Town Employee, having started work for the town in 1977.”
In honor of Williams’ service, the road formerly known as “Town Shed Road” will be renamed “Jeff Williams Way,” after the proper steps are taken by the Selectboard.
“Providing some extra embarrassment for a modest man, it will be your job to put that sign up,” said Selectboard Chair Ivan Beattie jokingly. “The other piece of this is to notify the residents on the street of the change.”
“Jeff has now been with the town for 40 years,” said Town Manager John O’Keefe. “He’s led the department for about 35 of those years. It’s not only longevity, but also quality.”
In his work as the Director of Public Works Williams is responsible for supervising all road and bridge construction and maintenance, as well as maintaining and improving upon Town owned parks, buildings, and grounds including the Factory Point Cemetery.
It’s a duty that William’s has carried “with common sense, practical wisdom and diligence,” according to the Selectboard’s proclamation.
“I’ve worked with thousands of people in the public sector, and I would say that Jeff is one of the very best,” O’Keefe added. “I can’t think of a better employee to be honored by the Selectboard.”
While Williams has reveled in his work over the last 40 years, he came into the position “more by chance than anything,” he said.
“Back in the 70’s it was hard to even find a job, but when this one came up I felt pretty fortunate to be employed by the local government,” Williams said. “One thing led to another, and 40 years later here I am.”
The job is not without its challenges however — many of which aren’t visible to the larger community according to Williams.
“We work an incredible amount of hours, especially in the winter,” Williams said, adding that he’s essentially `on-call’ 24/7. “There’s a lot of sacrifice, and a lot of times that we miss out on holidays or other family events.”
Though his work often leaves him to combat wind, snow, and rain, Williams is grateful to have found a vocation that fulfills him.
“I’ve been fortunate to wake up every day and enjoy going to work,” he said. “Not everybody has that luxury.”
In retrospect, the Director of Public Works says that he wouldn’t change a thing about his years as a Town employee.
“Looking back on these last 40 years, I wouldn’t have done anything differently,” Williams said. “I think I made the right choice.”
Reach Cherise Madigan at email@example.com, or by phone at 802-490-6471.