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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 29, 2009

Berne highway race
GOP’s Rapp and Dems’ Weaver vie for super

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — Highway Superintendent Ray Storm is not running for re-election, so Republican Randy Rapp, a union carpenter, and Democrat Kenneth Weaver, a longtime Berne highway worker, are running for the job.

This week, the candidates talked about their backgrounds, and commented on some of the issues facing the highway department.

Kenneth Weaver

Kenneth Weaver, 53, was born in the Bronx, and has lived in Berne since he was a young man.

“My family has owned property in Berne all my life,” Weaver said. “I went to school in Yonkers, and moved up to Berne permanently when I got the job in the highway department.”

Weaver has worked on town roads for 33 years, and he thinks that makes him a good candidate for superintendent.

“I just feel that I would be qualified for it,” Weaver told The Enterprise this week. “I’ve been there through three bosses. I know what works and what doesn’t. I’ve run every piece of equipment in the shop. I don’t know what else would really explain it, other than ‘I’m qualified for the job,’” he said.

Weaver added that, while he doesn’t have anything bad to say about Storm, the current superintendent, there are changes he would make to the department’s operation.

“There’re only six men down there,” Weaver began. “As far as a maintenance program, we should have one, but it’s hard to live by it, because, when you’re on a big job, the equipment’s running. We don’t have extra trucks that we could lay up for maintenance when the other ones are out on a job. I don’t think there’s an easy answer to any of it, unless the town somehow comes into a lot of money. But I do feel it could be a little better than it is,” he said.

Towns in Albany County have considered sharing services with the county’s department of public works, and the idea of merging has come up in some discussions. In Berne, this idea caused an upheaval in the highway department. Superintendent Storm and Supervisor Crosier were chastised by highway workers for considering a merger.

“I have no problem with a shared service — I’m all for it,” Weaver said. “As far as a merger, I am against that. I don’t feel that it would be in the town’s best interest. Why would I give the highway department in Berne to the county? I’d say, the county should sell out to the town, and they could give us more men and equipment, and we could maintain the county roads in the area. The shoe could be on the other foot. I just don’t believe in giving up our equipment and our manpower, and hoping that one entity is going to take care of everything, because I don’t believe it works.”

Randy Rapp

Randy Rapp, 50, has lived in Berne his whole life, as did his father, and his grandfather before him. He is a union carpenter by trade, he said.

“I work for different contractors,” Rapp said this week. “I’ve done a lot of roadwork for different companies.”

He has built bridges and roads, he said, as superintendent of projects through several of these contractors.

“The Menands bridges — that was for John DiGiulio. He’s out of business now; he died. I ran those jobs, across 787, across the railroad tracks and stuff,” Rapp said. “I’ve also run jobs for Malloy Construction Company, on the thruway.”

Much of the work done by the highway department is not being done properly, Rapp went on.

“A lot of things that are being done here are being done kind of cobbed up, and they could be fixed better,” said Rapp. “Just say a general pothole; if it’s a round hole, the materials you put in would roll out, you don’t have to box them out and do that.”

The biggest problem with town roads, according to Rapp, is the ditching.

“If the ditching is higher than the roads, you’re not doing nothing,” he said. “You’ve got to get rid of the water before you can fix the problem.”

On the other hand, the highway department has done “an excellent job” with the recent work on Woodstock Road.

“But, on Long Road, my God — they’re going to have to do something,” said Rapp.

At a recent town board meeting, Superintendent Storm told the board that he had miscalculated the cost of the work being done on Long Road.

Earlier this month, Councilman Peter Vance explained the situation to The Enterprise.

“He put the charge for hauling as the charge for the whole thing, then he discovered the price he’d been looking at was only for hauling and bringing materials down, and didn’t include the price of the materials,” Vance said of Storm. “Plus, he went beyond what he was authorized to do, and at no point did he consult an engineer or anyone else, so people are upset.”

Residents have reported that parts of the road are up to 18 inches above driveways.

“They started out right, but they never finished,” Rapp said of the work on Long Road. “You have no shoulders, you have no guiderail — it’s not done. It’s like they walked away.”

Storm declined to comment.

Rapp went on to say that he does not believe in sharing services with the county’s highway department.

“As a town resident, I notice the town roads are plowed, and the town trucks are out plowing the roads well before the county roads,” he said. “I live in South Berne, on the bad end of a county road. That road is never plowed. The town has it plowed before the county. The town is always out there faster than the county.”

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