County Leg approves making highway, buildings and grounds a “DPW”

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 November 2019 at 11:19 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Highway Department, which includes Buildings and Grounds, is now a Department of Public Works.

The County Legislature had a public hearing on the name change last week and on Thursday approved forming a DPW, with the combined highway and buildings and grounds workers.

John Papponetti, the highway superintendent, advocated for the change, saying a DPW better describes the work of the department, which is more than caring for 200 miles of county-owned roadways. Highway workers also maintain other publicly owned lands, including the Orleans County Marine Park. Buildings and Grounds employees take care of county properties, including cleaning the inside of the buildings, clearing sidewalks and maintaining the buildings.

Highway and buildings and grounds used to be separate with their own superintendent. They were combined about a decade ago with the highway superintendent leading both. Together, there are about 30 county employees in those departments.

Papponetti was appointed as highway superintendent on March 27, following the retirement of Jerry Gray. He said the change to DPW should eliminate any confusion in the public, and reflect a streamlined chain of command.

The highway staffs in the local villages are known as DPWs. The towns in Orleans County all call them “Highway Departments.”

With the town highway departments, the superintendents are all elected. The DPW leaders are all appointed by the Village Boards. At the county level, the position is made by appointment of the County Legislature.

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