Two veteran highway leaders square off in Shelby Primary

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 September 2015 at 12:00 am

SHELBY – Mike Fuller has worked 40 years plowing and building roads in the Town of Shelby, including the past 10 years as highway superintendent.

He has helped the town expand its water system, and wants to push for more public water access in Shelby.

Mike Fuller

Fuller, 61, also makes the town highway department available for clearing land and helping to make land more attractive for businesses being wooed by the Orleans Economic Development Agency.

Fuller, the fire chief for the East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company the past 12 years, said he is grateful for such an active role in the community. He is seeking another four-year term as highway superintendent.

“All of my men are very conscientious and don’t waste money,” Fuller said of the Highway Department, which incudes four motor equipment operators and three part-timers who mow cemeteries and town property.

Ed Houseknecht forced a Republican primary on Thursday with voting from noon to 9 p.m. at the Shelby Town Hall on Salt Works Road.

Houseknecht and Fuller are both 61. They were classmates as kids at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Medina.

Ed Houseknecht

Houseknecht was the superintendent of the Medina Department of Public Works for 23 years. He worked for the DPW for 30 years and then entered the private sector with Sergi Construction. He helped install the water and sewer mains in Albion and Medina with the major road reconstruction projects in those villages about a decade ago.

He returned to the public sector when he was appointed as the Orleans County highway superintendent, serving in the job for six years until retiring from the position in 2010.

Houseknecht has his own excavating company, Ed Houseknecht LLC. He installs water, sewer and septic – “any kind of digging,” he said.

Houseknecht said he is open to more shared services and cooperation with neighboring muncipalities, including the Village of Medina.

“I’m all for doing more with less,” he said.

He sees big potential with the vacant land for businesses in Shleby. He said his experience with infrastructure could pay off in developing that land for new companies. Houseknecht was the Medina DPW superindent when the orginal Medina Business Park was developed near Bates Road and Route 31A.

“I’m about doing some things that will move the town ahead,” Houseknecht said. “My entire life I’ve got my job based on my qualifications and what I can produce. If I’m the highway superintendent, I’ll be fully accessible.”

When he was Medina DPW superintendent, he was given a Paul Harris Fellow, the highest award by the Rotary Club, even though he isn’t a member. Houseknecht was recognized for helping to develop Rotary Park in downtown Medina.

When he was county highway superintendent, he was named employee of the year, an award that typically doesn’t go to a department head.

Houseknecht was instrumental in shifting major utilities as part of the nursing home renovation and addition project. The county didn’t contract that work out. Houseknecht and highway department tackled the job.

Houseknecht noted he has nearly 30 years of management experience, as well as his own skills in running heavy equipment.

“My whole purpose for wanting to do this is to make the town better,” Houseknecht said about seeking election as Shelby highway superintendent. “At this stage I have some talents that would behoove the taxpayer to have people come here and be involved.”

The highway department plows and maintains 46 miles of town roads, and also plows 18 miles of county roads and 14 miles of state roads.

Fuller said the town is utilizing computer technology in its sanders to “use just the right amount of salt to save taxpayers’ money.”

He said he is working to upgrade town roads, making them wider and stronger with more durable materials. That will allow the roads to better endure and handle bigger tractor trailers and farm equipment.

“The town roads weren’t built for that kind of equipment,” he said.

But the town needs to respond to the changes in agriculture and local industry, as more farms and companies utilize larger vehicles and equipment, Fuller said.

He is pleased the town is nearly done with Water District No. 11 and will open bids for Water District No. 10 later this month. The town is working on District No. 12 as well.

In addition, Fuller said he works with the Orleans County Soil and Water Conservation District to upgrade town culverts to help with drainage of farmland.