County Comment: Wolford Retires, Florida Bound
Wolford Retires, Florida Bound
by Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer
Washington County Director of Highways Ted Wolford retired from County service, effective February 10, 2006.
An employee of the County for 37 years, Wolford held the Director's post for 30 of those years, and said that changes he's seen over that tenure have been positive for our citizens
"There have been many improvements over the past thirty years. Our equipment today is newer equipment, we have a good fleet manager who has a good maintenance program and keeps our equipment in good shape," Wolford said.
"If we have a problem they're right on it, they correct it and we can get the trucks back out on the road. That makes a difference because when you have a lot of down time, that costs you. With the shop that we have out here, we do not have a lot of down time. Our equipment has been maintained very well and it makes a big difference," he said.
Support from the elected Boards of County Commissioners has also made a real difference in how the department has been able to function, Wolford said.
"The County Commissioners have always had money there for us for road improvements, or overlay. This year they're putting 5 million dollars into the road management program, and I hope they will continue that for at least the next four years. People are going to see a lot of improvement in our County roads." Wolford said.
"We also have a good work force at the Highway Department. The individuals know their jobs, they do their jobs well and I think, over the last 30 years, each year it seems like we improved just a little bit," he said.
Improvements in equipment and top-notch personnel have also helped, especially during snow season, Wolford said. The County fleet has enough snowplows, large and small, to plow a "round" of the entire system of roads in about half the time it took years ago.
"We have 32 big dump trucks with plows and spreaders on them, we have 6 big loaders, 6 back hoes, a couple of graders, sweepers, bucket trucks to cut high limbs, and we have 18 contractors on Board for snow removal. When I first came here it took us 24 to 30 hours after the snow had stopped to make a round on everything and have our roads open. Now, with the equipment we have and the contractors we have we can do that in 10 to 12 hours," he said.
When there is a major snow event, Supervisors and the Director bear a share of the load as well. "Our Supervisors' pickup trucks are also equipped with plows, and they're out there with the rest of them. We'd go in and do the subdivisions that are tough for our big trucks to get through, and dead-end roads, things like that. Everyone working together is the reason Highways has been able to cut that plowing time," Wolford said.
Although snow hasn't been a major problem yet this winter, there could still be weather incidents into early spring.
"February and March can still be pretty nasty, Wolford said. "In February and March you know we will have warm days and the snows will melt, but when you get the big storms in November and December, it makes for a long winter. So far it has been a good winter, thank goodness."
Wolford has been regarded as County Government's weather forecaster over the years. "Indications are it's going to be a pretty good winter for the rest of the season, but really, to forecast beyond five days is tough because it can change daily."
Weather systems from the Northwest will often break up when they hit the mountains west of us, Wolford said. "But when we get the moisture from the South and the cold air from the North, then that's when we get our biggest snow problem," he said.
Wolford stresses the support of the Commissioners and coworkers in his decision to stay on the job for 37 years.
"Washington County has been good to me, the County Commissioners have been good to me and this department. They have always seen that we had the money to do what we needed to do. Even though money was tight a few times, we were able to perform that service for the citizens," he said.
"If I have been successful it is because of the Highway Department employees and all the other County employees working with us. They have always been there for us."
No more pushing snow for Wolford. Ted and Wife Pat have retired to Ocala, Florida.