As school buildings, town hall and the police station have received upgrades and improvements over the years, the crew at the Monroe Highway Department Garage have patiently waited their turn. This year's budget proposal includes two new trucks for its aging fleet, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.
A mechanic at the garage says the oldest plow truck is from 1995 and the newest from 2008, adding the average age of the trucks is well over 10 years. The garage also has a dump truck from 1991 and a backhoe from 1995.
Frames of a number of Department of Public Works' vehicles and plows are rusting out.
Highway Superintendent Jim Robinson said the facilities do not promote longer lives for the trucks and equipment. A cold barn annex, where trucks are "packed in like sardines", has a dirt floor and no generator.
"It's harder to start them during power outages," Robinson said.
The main building, built in 1966, has bay doors made for older model trucks and of the six doors, Robinson said three must be manually pulled up by chains.
When a truck is brought in to be fitted with a plow during a storm, Robinson said it's a three-man-operation. One crew member opens the door, while another directs the driver into the tight space, where there is just enough room for the truck to squeeze in.
"If a plow needs a blade, we change it in here," said David "Rocky" Davin, a Highway Department crew leader. "There's always something to do. We call it down time, but there is no down time."
Stuck in Time
The office has old used furniture that was donated and a small TV sits on a shelf. Robinson said it's there to watch the weather forecasts.
The staff of 18 men have one bathroom with no shower.
Davin unlocked a shed on the grounds, which serves as the tool room. "Pumps in here should be in a heated building," he said.
The Sign Department is in the former animal shelter building, which still has a strong odor of dog urine on hot summer days. There are no computers and when the old machines breakdown, the department can't get parts anymore, according to Ken Wildman, a highway maintainer.
A construction trailer in the back of the property has one bathroom and small donated couches and chairs.
"We put in our own money to buy a refrigerator," Davin said, adding one employee brought in an old microwave after getting a new one at home.
Though some drivers sleep in their trucks when pulling overnight shifts during snowstorms, Davin said some can try to sleep in the trailer.
Davin looked at one of the couches with two cushions. "There's no actual place to sleep," he said. "How can you sleep on that?"