Back in the late 1980s, you could not wave to Al Jones in passing without him crossing the street to ask whether you had signed the Southern Tier Expressway petition.
Alfred F. Jones of Mayville was a Chautauqua County legislator at the time and on a crusade to have the expressway completed so that the dangerous section of the two-lane Route 17 between Stow and the state line would become a safer four-lane highway.
Jones also saw completion of what would become Interstate 86 as a vital part of the infrastructure needed to help the economic growth of our area.
A bridge over the now completed I-86 in Sherman was named for Al Jones last week, a fitting tribute to the man who just did not know how to give up.
As state Sen. Catharine Young noted at the dedication, Jones also focused on improving the infrastructure throughout the county, and most especially bridges.
But his work on behalf of the community was so much more than that. When he retired from his job as buildings and grounds superintendent at Chautauqua Central School, Jones threw himself full time into it.
He had served as town justice and as a member of the Chautauqua Town Board before being elected to the County Legislature representing the towns of Chautauqua and Sherman. He was also a warden at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, a member of the Lions Club, VFW, American Legion, Peacock Lodge of Masons, the Mayville Conservation Club and had served as president of the Chautauqua Fire Department. He also was a member of the county Safety Committee, North Shore Sewer Board, Emergency Planning Committee and Sports Fishery Advisory Board.
Although it certainly was not his singular accomplishment in life, Jones' work to push for the completion of the Southern Tier Expressway was typical of his stubbornness - and of his belief that the hard work would pay off.
"Al knew what a danger the road was when it was two lanes,"said John Glenzer, former Chautauqua County executive who had served with Jones in the legislature. "He just pushed and pushed until it was completed. Once Al dug his heels in, he was tough to get off course."
Yes, and Jones always seemed to do everything with a cheerful optimism that not only took the edge off his fierce stubbornness, but it made you want to join his crusade.
We note the Jones family - Al's widow, Judy, and children Karyn Fahey, Carolyn Murray and William Jones - were at the dedication of the bridge in his memory.
"We were fortunate to have a father who was concerned not only for his family, but also for the community," said Fahey. "We couldn't be prouder of his accomplishments."
We agree. The Alfred F. Jones memorial bridge is a well-earned accolade from the community he loved so well.