Showing posts with label public works. Show all posts
Showing posts with label public works. Show all posts

Friday, April 26, 2024

Community continues to grapple with aftermath from nor’easter

By Kendra Raymond

Even though winter has officially passed, area property owners are still dealing with the repercussions of several extreme weather events that ravaged the area. Both the late December windstorm and the surprise late-winter nor’easter on April 4 inflicted damage on many parts of the Windham/Raymond area and knocked out power for more than 48 hours.

Storm clean-up is continuing at Sebago Lake State Park. The
damage left by the April 4 nor'easter is extreme and clean-up
efforts are slow but steady across the Lakes Region.
While some ambitious homeowners are brave enough to tackle property cleanup on their own, others are unable to safely restore their site to pre-storm conditions. A lot of locals are finding a sense of community, sharing, and assistance through various social media outlets.

Raymond resident Bruce Small recently visited Sebago Lake State Park and was astounded by the damage he saw.

“The lake is very high with lots of erosion from the winter and spring storms,” Small said in a social media post. “The last big snowstorm devastated the area. There are trees and big limbs down everywhere! It’s really sad! It’s going to take an enormous amount of work to clean things up!”

Other property owners report more branches down than normal and are looking for recommendations for arborists or other landscape professionals to hire. Community members are coming together to share resources and support.

In another social media post Heather Fontaine-Doyle, a Raymond resident, said that her yard looked downright apocalyptic.

“The road in has a bunch of broken and bent trees and limbs down as well,” she said. “Still contemplating having someone come in for a spring cleanup since it was already a mess before the last storm, but at least we have the big limbs in piles now.”

Both Windham and Raymond Public Works Departments are working to remove tree limbs and other debris posing hazards to motorists, but the damage to private property across the area is beyond the scope of their duties.

Do I need a permit?

It is always best to check with the Code Enforcement Officer in your town if there is a question about permits. In general, anything considered “storm cleanup” is fine to remove, especially for safety reasons. An arborist can be a great resource since they are licensed and trained in the proper rules in your community. If they are performing work on your property, an arborist will obtain all necessary permits.

Small steps make progress

While it can seem daunting to face your post-storm yard damage, it is important not to become overwhelmed or attempt too much at once. Some broken trees can be quite dangerous to deal with and are best left to a professional with the proper training and equipment. For smaller jobs, a “brush clean up party” where everyone lends a hand could be helpful, then reward everyone with some burgers on the grill afterward? Another method may be to inquire with the local schools to see if students may be looking for volunteer hours.

Disposal options

For those brave souls ambitious enough to dig in and tackle the mess, there are a few great options right in the area. It would be helpful to have a pickup truck or trailer to move the debris off-site. Trailers can be rented on a daily or weekly basis.

The Town of Windham opens its leaf and brush disposal area twice a year in the spring and fall for a limited period. Its website asks that leaves be kept separate from the brush and disposed of in the appropriate areas as the posted signs indicate. If you transport your leaves in bags, please remove them from the bags and take the bags with you upon leaving. Brush being disposed there can be no larger than 12 inches in diameter.

The Windham Bush Disposal Site is located at the end of Enterprise Drive, off Route 302 in North Windham. It will close at 6 p.m. Sunday, May 12 and not reopen again until the fall.

The Casco/Naples Bulky Waste and Transfer Station is available to residents of Casco and Naples with a sticker. It is available to non-residents to pay with cash. Brush up to 6 inches is accepted and the cost depends on weight. The Transfer Station is located at 425 Leach Hill Road in Casco. Hours are from 7 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Businesses that process mulch can also be another worthwhile option to consider as home and property owners search for disposal options. This “green” solution helps the environment and puts that pesky brush to good use. <

Friday, January 31, 2020

Windham’s new public works building is cost-effectively increasing safety, efficiency and morale

Aaron Gant, Michael Constantine, Doug Fortier, Brian Morin, Nate Johnson, Mike Doucette and Ethan Gladish (sitting)
By Lorraine Glowczak

Public facilities are important to municipalities and their citizens as they ensure basic needs are met with the goal that it is done so in the most affordable manner. The new public works building, located on 185 Windham Center Road, officially opened its doors in April 2019, and is already demonstrating the positive economic impacts to the Town of Windham. With that comes other important contributions to both the residents and its employees.

“Since we’ve been in this new building, we’ve seen an increase in efficiency, safety – and even morale,” stated Doug Fortier, Public Works Director.

Fortier further explained that with the 30,000 square foot building which includes, but is not limited to, the wash bay, maintenance garage, men and women’s locker room, RSU14 and Public Works offices have improved productivity in more ways than one. example, Highway Supervisor, Michael Constantine’s major focus for the winter is the plow trucks. He explained how the addition of the garage has contributed to quicker response time during the start of snowstorms.

“Before the new building, we had to first load the trucks with salt, let the truck idle to warm up and defrost the windows and clean the snow off the truck,” began Constantine. “With the new building, we can have the salt loaded and parked in the bay. As soon as we get in to work, all we need to do is start the truck and leave. It could take up to or over an hour before the new building, but now we can get on the road much more quickly and do so without wasting diesel fuel by idling the trucks or damaging cold hydraulic systems. It’s a win-win situation.”

Another positive contributing factor is the large fuel tanks. “We now have a 10,000-gallon fuel pump on site,” began Constantine. “Before, we only had a 3,000-gallon tank. With larger fuel tanks, the chance of running out of fuel has been eliminated.”

The cost-savings in this upgrade has made a big difference. “Now the town is able to purchase a larger quantity of fuel at a cheaper rate,” said Fortier. “The cost-savings in just this area alone has been substantial.”

Safety is another profitable and efficiency factor as a result of the new facility. The garage is large enough to not only house a crane that moves heavy equipment but there has been the addition of vehicle lifts. “We used to crawl under the vehicles with a ‘creeper’ and lay on our backs for hours,” explained Nate Johnson, Fleet Maintenance Supervisor. “Working on a creeper underneath the vehicles was not as efficient as having a vehicle up on a lift.”

Johnson went on to say that now the maintenance crew can easily access needed tools immediately and are able to assist one another when met with challenges. “There is so much to know about mechanical repair that not one person can have all the knowledge,” Johnson said. “Now, the RSU14 and town mechanics can collaborate our expertise in a certain area and share specialty tools, which is another cost-savings to both the school and the town.”

As for the crane that has been added to the garage area, it comes with many benefits besides safety. “The most important benefit with the addition of the crane is that it only takes one person to move a heavy object,” began Johnson. “Before, we had to use either a forklift or a bobcat, which would require between three or four people to help guide the driver. Now, we can move heavy equipment quickly and safely.”

Another time and cost-saving addition to the new facility is the indoor vehicle wash. Since the public works building sits next to a waterway, the runoff from washing vehicles outside is environmentally detrimental and is against DEP standards. Therefore, the town made arrangements with the Town of Gorham Public Works to occasionally wash vehicles in their wash bays.

“Now that we have our own wash bays, we able to clean the vehicles much more frequently, thus potentially extending the life of the vehicle and helping to eliminate premature repairs due to rust and corrosion.” Stated Fortier. Gant, Assistant Transportation Director for RSU14 added that the mechanics for both the RSU14 and public works are able to do more inhouse repairs on the buses due to having more workspace, relying less on outside vendors. Some outside vendors can charge up to $120 per hour.
The Building and Grounds Department is also seeing the benefits of the new facility. “The town is able to purchase product in bulk due to the fact there is more storage space, leading to a better price” stated Building and Grounds Supervisor, Brian Morin.

Perhaps the most unexpected positive outcome of the public works building is increased morale among the employees. “There are so many ‘little’ things that have contributed to increase self-esteem and optimism,” began Constantine. “There are now male and female bathrooms, the addition of locker rooms that come with mesh lockers that will help dry our clothes when they get wet – and most of all – we now have showers. During long duration snow storms of up to 20 to 40 hours, crewmembers can take showers and change into fresh clothes. Mechanics can also shower when they are exposed to contaminants, such as oil and gas, during repairs. 

Constantine added that even having a breakroom has increased morale. “We actually get to communicate with one another and help each other out when there are work challenges. No one feels isolated. We’ve become almost like a family and this has made a lot of difference in our working lives.”

Nadeau continued, “We are investing in our future, creating a blueprint of success for the town and those who live here.”

Friday, January 29, 2016

Plows take a break and save on budgets - By Michelle Libby

In January, residents expect to see their town trucks with plows keeping the roads safe and clear, but this year the plow trucks aren’t as busy as in past years, saving money in the budget and wear and tear on the trucks. 
In Raymond, most of the plowing is contracted out to P&K Sand and Gravel. P&K plows 40 miles of Raymond’s 50 plus miles of road. 

The town has a $180,000 contract with P&K for winter plowing. Public works director Nathan White estimates that he spends $40,000 on winter sand, $60,000 on salt and $15,000 on over time and fuel most winters. 

“We’d be happy if it didn’t snow,” White said. With a cold winter, they’re not heating as much and it helps the whole public works budget. 

Although Raymond doesn’t break out its winter budget from the year long budget, the amount of supplies and money that will roll into other items is substantial. White estimates his budget on a winter like last year. When he plans for a harsh winter, and there is less ice and snow, he is able to have money to even out the heavy winters that have more overtime or higher fuel costs.

“Fuel and overtime are the only wildcards. I have to budget every year for fuel,” he said. 

White runs a staff of four fulltime employees and two additional part-timers in the summer for grounds and maintenance. When it’s not snowing, the crew works on maintenance of buildings and equipment, especially summer equipment. They do some brush cutting and sign repairs. Although the vehicles at public works are relatively new, the small equipment needs constant repairs. “The town’s been very generous in the last year or two,” said White.  

The public works crew is also busy with sign maintenance. People keep stealing the town’s stop and street signs, he said. It cost approximately $100 each to replace the stolen stop signs. 

The challenges in public works are to “try to get done everything that everyone wants us to do with the small stuff to keep everybody happy and satisfied,” White said. “My guys do an outstanding job getting done what has to be done in a timely manner. We always have work.” 

The trend in public works is to contract out the plowing, said White. Twenty-five years ago, Raymond contracted out all of the plowing. In 1997, the town started plowing to keep the staff busy during the winter. They now plow parking lots and other town sites. RSU14 set the plowing of Jordan-Small Middle School and Raymond Elementary School out to bid recently. community is very supportive of the work Raymond Public Works does. “They respect what we do and work with us. People in town are great to work with,” White said. “My whole staff appreciates the support from the town. I’m happy to serve the town.” 

Raymond is getting ready to pave roads with a paving bond that was approved by voters. The paving is subcontracted out with Raymond Public Works doing the ditching and culverts, according to White. For the last two years the town has been doing aggressive paving, he added. 

“There’s nothing good about winter as it relates to the roads,” White said, making the need for road work more pressing.