By Barbara Sides
From Issue 23: Summer 2014
There were a few essential comforts that got us all through the infamous winter of 2013/2014—perhaps some quality time with family, a warm fire, the inevitable comfort food, a few great books, time to clean out a long neglected closet, a stack of good movies. But if we wanted to leave the house—and who didn’t?—a little-recognized but absolutely essential group made it possible for us to get to the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, meetings and school. I’m referring here to the action heroes of Gardiner’s Highway Department.
Last winter, aided by the timely acquisition of three badly needed new trucks, the department cleared and maintained 56 miles of roads in Gardiner. That’s a lot of snow to move. Despite having to add $12,300 to the snow budget allocation of $75,000 for overtime and material—an allocation which must also cover November and December of this year—the department budget is in very good shape.
Brian Stiscia, elected to the position of Highway Superintendent last November, is working with a total highway budget of $1.1 million. Half of that number covers the salary and benefits of eight full time workers and part time Secretary, Robin Kaufman whom Brian describes as “outstanding.” To make it all work, Brian has had to be a good steward of our tax money. He is enthusiastic about the Shared Services program Gardiner participates in with Ulster County. “Shared services with Ulster County Highways has been working very well,” Brian asserts. “Our town receives $24,000 from the county for winter maintenance of two county roads, McKinstry and Sand Hill. It’s a good deal,” Brian adds, “and it’s taken some pressure off of the budget.”
To further supplement the budget, Brian, who is also the Assistant Chief of the Gardiner Fire Department, has sold surplus trucks and recycled old steel guardrails, steel pipes and plow edges. 36,000 pounds of steel has been recycled tying in with Gardiner’s new recycling efforts and netting the town $2,903. The Department site on South Mountain has been cleaned up and re-organized and in Brian’s words, “we’ve done a lot of revamping. The department is functioning very well and how we do our job matters.”
Speaking with obvious pride about the men (and woman) who got the town through a very difficult winter, Brian states, “We’ve come a long way in a short period of time. We’ve had a very tough winter. It’s the commitment of the guys out there who do the job and make it come out right. They’re dedicated and they’re good.” And it shows.
To reach the Gardiner Highway Department located at 630 South Mountain Road, call 255-1381. You can also email Brian