The work of Public Works
When the temperature drops and a storm moves in, the local public works department staff are often the first on the scene no matter the time of day or night, preparing the salt spreader and climbing into their city plow trucks.
A team of six men from around the local area make up the staff at Shepherdstown’s Public Works Department.
On any weekday morning one can observe two crew members picking up your trash and recyclables.
When a water line breaks on public property, a team of four or more staff members may assemble to work the many hours it can take to get the leak under control.
“We just fixed four water leaks in the four days,” said Public Works Director Frank Welch.
Water leaks and frozen lines can be plentiful in Shepherdstown. Welch said the movement of the earth can affect lines that are more than 80 years old in some places here.
He called the last two winters some of the worst he’s seen weather-wise and therefore some of the busiest for his staff.
“It’s been a rough two years,.” he said in an interview Tuesday.
Welch said that winter storm prep begins early and with vigilance for the four member snow removal team.
“They monitor the weather really really close,” he said.
Whether a storm starts at 5 p.m. or 5 a.m. the public works team members arrive to work year after year to meet the challenge.
“I don’t know if the guys sleep or what, but they’ll get up and come in here,” Welch said.
“The main objective is to keep the streets open.”
Welch explained that this is a vitally important service not simply for public convenience, but also because emergency vehicles need cleared roads for travel.
This part year, Welch said the crew has also begun hand loading plowed snow with bobcats and dumping in the public works yard for better clearance.
This labor intensive work helps keep the sides of roads, intersections and parking spaces clearer for local residents and drivers.
“Sometimes that stretches 24 hours,” Welch said.
Though shifts that run all day and night are special cases, you’ll still catch the staff hard at work around Shepherdstown everyday.
Public works staff lay new asphalt on city streets, repair parking meters, unclog sewer lines, maintain town parks, mow grass and so on.
“We do everything.” Welch said.
“It can be a tough job.”
The Shepherdstown Public Works staff includes Supervisor Billy Grove, David Staubs, Ernie Mose, Brian Welch, George Schoppert and David Newell.
To find out more information about Shepherdstown Public Works Department visit the corporation web site at www.shepherdstown.us or attend a Public Works Committee meeting held monthly, on the fourth Monday, at 9:45 a.m. at Town Hall.