Revered town worker moves on

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

Jeffrey D. Alexander, far right, poses with a group of students on summer break in 2009. A town parks worker, he cleaned Berne’s abandoned cemeteries with them and resigned this month.

BERNE — A man who spent his childhood finding treasures in town dumps grew up to run this town’s transfer station with such skill that the supervisor said he didn’t want to accept his resignation.

On Aug. 13, the Berne Town Board accepted Jeff Alexander’s resignation as transfer station operator and parks employee to work for the New York Naval Militia.

“Working for the town has been a dream job for me,” Supervisor Kevin Crosier read from the letter by Alexander.

Alexander has maintained many of the abandoned cemeteries in the town and overseen its parks and transfer station. He started working for the town around 2006, Crosier said.

The transfer station under Alexander, Crosier said, is “more efficient than it’s ever been.” Frequently, the supervisor jokingly referred to Alexander as the “commissioner of parks and recreation” in the town of 2,800 people.

Alexander, 61, said he has worked for the naval militia over 15 years, sometimes in tandem with his town job. This time he was given a nine-month position guarding the Indian Point nuclear power plant near Peekskill in Westchester County. He will remain a Berne resident.

The militia pays well, he explained, and he has paid for two weddings.

When he enlisted in the Navy, working as a Seabee, that is, in the Construction Battalion (CB), Alexander was enrolled in the state’s naval militia, as well. The militia is part of the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs.

Growing up across north and central Vermont, Alexander played in town dumps with his brothers and friends. He has kept some of his favorite finds, like Boy Scout belts and military helmets.

“I can remember bringing home a waffle iron my parents used for years from the dump,” said Alexander. Putting his hands into garbage doesn’t bother him, but, as an adult, he has been vaccinated for hepatitis.

He said his biggest accomplishment was his maintenance of the cemeteries.

“Whoever I was working with, our goal was just to make every cemetery as easy to mow as possible,” said Alexander. For two cemeteries, he and teenage workers rebuilt their stone walls. Stray stones and stumps in the cemeteries were picked out when found, gravestones were righted, and sunken graves were filled with soil instead of weed-whacking around them.

“It’s just a gift that keeps on giving,” he said.

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