Two Trenton highway retirees note changes

BARNEVELD — Two longtime employees, Chub Lichtenberger and Mark Hughes, retired March 31 from the Town of Trenton Highway Department.

Town officials said, Lichtenberger began his career on Nov. 6, 1976 at a rate of $3.46 per hour and Mark Hughes began Dec. 13, 1977 at a rate of $3.75 per hour.

Litchtenberger and Hughes remarked that when they both began as "laborers,"those in that job used a lot of shovels and brooms. Mixing the sand-salt mixture for the roads in winter consisted of one shovel salt and one bucket load of sand. The Highway Department used to drive out to get the sand in the Highway trucks. Street sweeping was done with brooms and shovels as well. The Town did not have access to a street sweeper. There were sweepers with brooms, loaders with shovels and of course the trucks to remove the surplus sand from the streets. Brush and trees were also removed with manual labor.

Snow removal was accomplished with trucks that required two operators, a driver and a wing man. Mark Hughes and Chub Lictenberger noted that a third of the town roads were gravel back in the day. Over the years improvements to the town roads have produced wider roads that now consist of "hot patch" instead of only oil and stone or "cold patch." The "hot patch," or hot paved roads last longer and provide smoother roads. They said it used to take three and a half to four hours to plow their route. With improved roads and improved equipment this task can now be completed in under two hours. They also noted that the winters were more severe than we have seen recently.

Other changes noted were the increased regulations. There were no random drug and alcohol tests, a lot less environmental issues, and the permitting process has changed with new state laws. Highway employees are required to complete a number of safety courses and the department is a safer place to work today than it was over 30 years ago.