Sheldon Morgan (right) hugs his wife Judy after she and Dee Chitty (center) presented Morgan with a Proclimation form Governor John Lynch; left is Master of Ceremonies Geoff Ruggles and Kirk Young. (Jeff Ferland) (click for larger version)
April 18, 2012Town employees, friends and family gathered by the Tannery Hill Covered Bridge Friday, April 13 to honor Department of Public Works Director Sheldon Morgan as he marks his 40th year of service to the Gilford community.
"It's been one hell of a ride, and I'm not planning to get off just yet," said Morgan, addressing the crowd gathered to celebrate his achievements, and reminding everyone he has no plans to retire any time soon.
According to Morgan, his time with the DPW has gone by in a flash. He recalled the beginning, but said it didn't seem like 40 years had passed.
"I don't think about the time, really. Then to now is all a blur," said Morgan, adding that he would not have spent the time anywhere else. "It feels like home. I couldn't imagine doing anything else."
Everyone kept the gathering, organized in large part by Dee Chitty of the DPW, a secret from Morgan, who admitted he was very surprised when he returned from a morning meeting in Laconia.
"I was surprised. I had no clue whatsoever, and that is unusual," said Morgan.
"Don't scare me like this again," he added jokingly.
"I think that was an afternoon Sheldon will always remember," said Chitty later that afternoon.
According to Town Administrator Scott Dunn, Morgan is the only 40-year town employee. For this achievement, Selectman John O'Brien presented Morgan with a plaque and certificate.
"We appreciate your service to the town, and everyone else does, as well," said O'Brien, thanking Morgan for 40 years of dedication and sharing his "wealth of knowledge."
Chitty and Morgan's wife Judy read a proclamation from Gov. John Lynch congratulating Morgan for his 40 years serving to people of Gilford.
Financial Director and Master of Ceremonies Geoff Ruggles invited Morgan's friends and coworkers to share some stories of experiences with Morgan over the past 40 years.
Dave Andrade, Gilford code enforcement officer, said his one word to describe Morgan was "relic," as he was an "object from the past," but also a prized "keepsake" for the town of Gilford and "cherished by all."
Firefighter Scott Mooney recalled the time Morgan became lost walking the Gilford and Gilmanton boundary one year, a practice Mooney said must be done every 10 years or so. Mooney said he received a call from Morgan which spurred on a four-hour rescue mission concluding just before dark.
Officer Kris Kelley reminded everyone that Morgan began his career with the DPW two years before Kelley was born.
Kelley recalled standing up for Morgan and the DPW crew during a selectmen's meeting in the face of some calls to reduce the budget. According to Kelley, he cited the excellent work the DPW crew did plowing certain roads in town. Once Kelley finished his comment in the meeting, Morgan stood up and reminded Kelley that the afore-mentioned roads were under the care of state crews.
After a few more stories and much praise for Morgan's long career, everyone settled down for a barbecue lunch with food from many people involved in the planning, and a huge DPW traffic cone-shaped cake from Bill and Sally Bickford from Kitchen Cravings.
"I never knew what I wanted to be," said Morgan, recalling his days in school. "Public Works was not even on the list, but if I had to do it over again, I would not change a thing."