By Desirée Taylor
Another winter blast before the official start of winter on the calendar has kept Essex County’s DPW staff busy.
“We have 10 trucks,” said salt truck driver Gerry Grande.
Grande started salting the roads at the crack of dawn. The long hours don’t seem to bother him.
“You gotta pay the bills right? I enjoy it. I’ve been doing it, it’s my 32nd year, so it’s kind of in my blood,” Grande said.
“We’re used to working 20, 30 hours, rest when we can. We just keep going,” said Essex County Director of Roads and Bridges Sal Macaluso.
The 1,800 tons of salt stored here should keep them going through the whole season. There’s also 36 pieces of equipment. The Essex County snow removal budget started at $3.5 million at the beginning of the year. Now that it’s December, funds are a bit low, but not depleted.
“We’re doing pretty good. It wasn’t bad in the beginning of the year. We always anticipate a few small ones and a big one so we’re doing good. We’re OK budget wise,” Macaluso said.
The county also started a snow bank, a sort of rainy day fund they can tap into if the snow removal budget gets low. And to help save money, the county and participating municipalities have a shared service agreement. They swap salt for other services.
But the heart of the operation is the staff. Troopers like salt truck driver Grande. So what keeps him going through a long shift?
A little holiday music and his high tech truck helps him to keep on truckin’ through it all.