SKOWHEGAN — They don’t make ’em like Randy Gray any more.

Gray, Skowhegan’s longtime code enforcement officer, building and plumbing inspector and solid waste management supervisor, announced his retirement during Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen.

“After serving the town of Skowhegan for over 38 years, this has been one of  the most difficult decisions I have ever made,” Gray, 65, wrote in his retirement letter to the board. “However, I believe it is the right thing for my family and myself.”

His last day will be June 14.

“It is a regret, and I speak for the rest of the board, that Randy is resigning,” board Chairman Paul York said at the meeting. “Thank you for all your years of service to the town. Sorry to see you leave, but maybe you can go and enjoy yourself a little bit.”

Gray is old-school.

He learned as he went, using colorful expressions to explain what he was doing so everyone could understand the complexities of codes and inspections.

Asked once about the new toilets that had been installed in the Municipal Building, Gray said the new system was powerful — so powerful you could “flush a chicken” and not have to worry.

He was like that.

“I’ve been a hands-on guy all my life,” he said. “I like to explain things the way people understand things. Nobody is going to understand all this stuff if I don’t break it down. They just want to know what they need to do, and I’ll get them there in the quickest way I can.”

Born in Skowhegan in “nineteen hundred and fifty three,” Gray said he attended Skowhegan schools all the way through high school. He started out working in the local shoe shops, the way many in his family had made their living.

He later worked as rehabilitation technician for the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program’s weatherization program.

Besides an 11-month stint working for the city of Augusta, Gray has worked for the town of Skowhegan since 1980, including time as community development director.

“I just took college courses as I needed,” he said. “I made sure that I stayed on top of my certifications. That was crucial for me. I wanted to make sure the job that I was doing I was doing properly. Certification has been a big part of this job since the early ’90s.

“In fact, I’m good (certified) for the next six years right now. I wanted to make sure I was prepped and ready if I did change my mind, which I didn’t.”

Gray also has legal certifications, which he has needed if any land use, subdivision, town ordinances or shoreland zone cases end up in court. He also is the Municipal Building maintenance supervisor.

As solid waste management supervisor, Gray oversees a team of five people at the town landfill and award-winning recycling center.

Gray’s composting program in 2015 received an award for Compost Program of the Year from the Maine Resource Recovery Association. Gray’s operation previously won the award for Recycling Program of the Year in 2007.

The town’s “single sort” recycling method, Gray said, is superior to the “single stream” method, which sends all recycling material in one load, as opposed to being hand-sorted for efficiency.

“That has worked out wonderful for the town,” he said. “You keep your cardboards and your newspapers and mixed paper separately instead of putting them all in one bucket and dumping it into a machine.

“On the end results, you’ve got someone handling that material that’s going to keep it pristine. If you figure out the cost that you save, you’re doubling that because you’re not throwing it in the trash and, to not sound corny, it’s just the right thing to do.”

Gray said Skowhegan is also a state-certified Paint Care town, meaning its facility takes all types of paint to be recycled.

Skowhegan Town Manager Christine Almand said the town will miss Gray.

“As we begin our search for a new code enforcement officer, we know that we will not be fortunate enough to find another Randy,” Almand said Wednesday. “He exemplifies all of the qualities of an excellent team member. We all know that people don’t like to be told what they can and can’t do by the government, even if it is the law and what is in their best interest. Randy fulfills this enforcement role with experience and knowledge while being reasonable to gain cooperation.

“I receive more compliments than complaints for his service, and I believe that to be rare in his field. Randy will truly be missed.”

Cynthia Kirk, Gray’s administrative assistant for planning, code enforcement and solid waste management, said she has worked with Gray for seven years and considers him to be “the best boss I’ve ever had” because he does his job with integrity and shows respect for everyone he deals with.

“I have learned so much from him,” Kirk said. “Randy is the type of boss that leads and teaches you, but also listens to you. He values your ideas and input to help make the departments the best that they can be.

“I’m going to miss him and all his stories about things he has seen and dealt with over the years in his job.  It will be very hard to find someone to fill Randy’s shoes.”

So for Randy Gray, time is up, he said.

It’s time to spend time with his wife, Rose, and their grown children. He said he has a woodworking shop at his home that he hopes to get involved with, now that he will have the time to do so.

He also does some code enforcement work for the town of Canaan, which he said he will continue to do to keep busy.

“I think for the first summer, honestly, I’m just going to kind of relax,” he said. “I’ve worked since I’ve been a kid. I want to know what it’s like to really have some time off.”

 

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

 

 

 

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