PLATTSBURGH -- Plattsburgh Town Highway Superintendent Wayne Gonyea will not seek re-election this fall.

Gonyea, a Republican, said job-associated stress led to the decision.

"The town's growing a lot. The stress level is starting to have some effect on my family life."

Gonyea said that goes against what he always preaches to his Highway Department crew: that there's nothing more important than family.

"When it (the job) starts to have a negative impact, it's time to change," he said.

His father's death when Gonyea was 13 caused him to miss out on many years of a father-son relationship. Working for the town rather than at various locations on contracting jobs gave Gonyea the time to put an extra emphasis on his relationship with his 17-year-old son, Joshua.

Town Supervisor Bernie Bassett said Gonyea's experience and knowledge will be missed.

"Anytime someone that's been part of an organization moves on, they take a lot of history and background with them," Bassett said. "I wish him the best and respect his decision."

AREA EXPANDED

Gonyea, 49, was elected in 1999, when he defeated incumbent Nelson Tamer. He was unopposed for re-election in 2003.

There were 73 miles of town road when Gonyea took office in 2000, a figure that has increased to 91.4 miles as a result of town acquisition of roads on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base, the Cumberland Head perimeter road and more.

Increased maintenance responsibilities, combined with rising costs of equipment, fuel, materials and insurance, all add stress to the job, he said.

"It's not one operation or department that stresses you out. It's the year-round operations," Gonyea said.

He worked for Luck Bros. for 24 years before election, which served him well while running the Highway Department. The flip side is he will now bring eight years of experience on the administrative side to his next job.

TOP TEAM

Gonyea said he's been blessed with a great team of co-workers. That includes Deputy Superintendent Fred Lavene, who has more than 20 years experience at the town.

"He's my key, my right-hand man. Fred's a tremendous asset," Gonyea said.

He said his secretary, Nikki Martin, is taking the announcement hard.

"She is a pleasure to work with. She makes the days go smoothly," Gonyea said. "She'll be the one I miss the most."

Gonyea said he promoted James Woods to crew supervisor two years ago.

"He's another very strong asset for the department and myself. He's someone you can rely on."

There's been a strong rapport with his 15-employee department, based on respect that flows both ways, Gonyea said.

"We've accomplished a great number of things as a group."

WORKING TOGETHER

Gonyea said his biggest accomplishment is the increase in cooperation between his department and the Water and Sewer and Recreation departments. As an example, he said, some employees in the other two departments are cross-trained as snowplow drivers if needed.

He is also proud of the shared-services agreements with the Village of Dannemora and the towns of Schuyler Falls, Chazy and Dannemora to use the town's paver, roller and four-person crew to pave roads.

In exchange, those municipalities provide asphalt-hauling equipment and manpower for use in the town, which allows town crews to continue work such as ditching, repairing signs or cutting brush.

"It's a win-win for us and the towns," Gonyea said said.

He has worked under two supervisors, Andrew Abdallah and Bernie Bassett, and said he hasn't noticed a big difference under either administration.

"I think decisions are being driven by financial considerations," Gonyea said.

WILL HELP OUT

He is committed to finishing his term and pledged to help whoever wins the upcoming election.

He said he would even be around in early 2008 to make sure the transition is a smooth one, then plans to return to the private sector.

"It's not my intention to leave that person high and dry."

Bassett said that will be a big help.

"There's a lot going on in the town, and infrastructure is a big part of the picture," he said. "We're looking to take advantage of keeping him in the loop."



dheath@pressrepublican.com

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