WARRENSBURG, N.Y. (NEWS10) – From Lake George north, parts of Warren County were forecast to get as much as four inches of snow by late Friday. That snow followed overnight freezing rain, which creates its own dangers. Both weather effects mean plenty of work for any county department of works.
On Friday, Warren County’s DPW was no different. At 19, James Binder – the department’s youngest crew member – has already put in a year and a half of hard work – so much so that he was called away from an interview with NEWS10 for this very story, in order to go handle a fallen tree.
“We’ve had a hard time lately – it’s not just us, everyone’s had a hard time bringing staff in,” said Warren County DPW Superintendent Kevin Hajos. “We’ve had a couple of younger people come in here, most of them eager to work, and James has done a significant amount in the year and a half he’s been here.”
On a day like Friday, Binder was busy helping to plow roads around Warrensburg, Bolton and Lake George. One of the certifications he’s received in his first 18 months with the county is as a “one-person plow” operator. While some plow drivers require a second person to operate the plow’s wing blade, Binder can do it all himself.
The driver isn’t the first person to join DPW staff straight out of high school, but he does come from a legacy of road service. His father is employed at the Town of Thurman Highway Department. In a post on Warren County’s Facebook page, Binder said coming up around the tools of the DPW trade was what got him interested.
“I like being around equipment so it’s a cool job,” Binder wrote. As far as the long hours, including late nights and early mornings? “You just do it.”
For Friday’s weather, the majority of the DPW crew came to the county’s Warrensburg headquarters early to do minor cleanup work. In the winter, DPW work on non-snowstorm days includes chipping and ditch work. In the summer, construction work alongside contractors becomes the name of the game.
The Warren County DPW had the manpower it needed to handle Friday’s weather – Hajos says that, if it was 30 inches of snow rather than three, it might be a different story. He’s hopeful that more young people like Binder will continue to take on an interest in learning the hands-on skills needed to help their communities.
“If they’re willing to work hard like James has done, and willing to learn to operate the equipment and drive the trucks, we’re happy to have them,” Hajos said. “There’s a lot of older guys that have already driven trucks or done something like this, so this might appeal to them, but there are also younger kids who are more interested in the trades and don’t want to go off to college. This is ideal.”