06/20/14 9:00am
06/20/2014 9:00 AM
Riverhead Highway Superintendent Gio Woodson in February. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Riverhead Highway Superintendent Gio Woodson in February. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The Riverhead Town Board voted 3-2 this week to allow Highway Superintendent George Woodson to purchase a Chevy Tahoe priced at $35,554 to use as his work vehicle, instead of a Ford Explorer that Supervisor Sean Walter says would cost $9,000 less. (more…)

04/17/13 1:00pm
04/17/2013 1:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Salt barns used by the Riverhead highway department. The GOP is set to screen one candidate for highway superintendent.

Riverhead Republicans plan to screen one candidate for highway superintendent, in addition to the Town Board seats, according to Republican chairman John Galla.

Mike Panchak of Riverhead is so far the only candidate seeking to screen for the party’s highway superintendent nomination, Mr. Galla said.

Mr. Panchak owns Eagle Asphalt Maintenance in Riverhead, and he is also a first lieutenant in the Riverhead Fire Department.

Mr. Panchak could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Republicans plan to screen prospective candidates for town offices tonight at the Hyatt Hotel on East Main Street, but have yet to set a date to nominate their choices, Mr. Galla said.

If nominated, Mr. Panchak would challenge incumbent Democrat George “Gio” Woodson, who has held the position since 2008.

Mr. Woodson, a former highway department employee, was elected to a two-year term in 2007 and was reelected to a four-year term in 2009. Riverhead voters voted to increase the term of the highway superintendent from two years to four in a 2009 proposition.

The only other town position up for reelection this fall is for assessor, where incumbent Republican Laverne Tennenburg is seeking reelection and doesn’t appear to have any challengers for the Republican nomination, Mr. Galla said.

Ms. Tennenburg was first elected in 1989, and has been the chair of the town Board of Assessors since 1997.

The Republicans plan to screen incumbent Sean Walter, Councilman Jim Wooten and Assessor Mason Haas for supervisor, Mr. Galla said. In addition, they plan to screen incumbents John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio for council, along with challenger Anthony Coates.

Greg Fischer, a registered Democrat, has asked to screen with both parties for a Town Board seat, although he has not specified if he’s seeking the supervisor post or a council seat.

tgannon@timesreview.com

02/15/13 2:00am
02/15/2013 2:00 AM
George Woodson of Riverhead

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Highway Superintendent George Woodson uses heavy equipment to clear Marcy Avenue at 4:30 Saturday.

Despite the unique challenges every big storm poses, Riverhead Town Highway Superintendent George “Gio” Woodson has pretty much seen it all. No career politician, Mr. Woodson is a career highway worker with over two decades of experience as a town employee.

His expertise and work ethic show during every major weather event, when he rolls up his sleeves and takes to the roads himself.

He leads by example, which motivates workers and, in the end, means safer roads for residents. Of course, we would be remiss if we did not tip our hats to all the highway workers, too. The department has been operating at historically low staffing levels in recent years, yet it continues to impress taxpayers with its performance every time.

As Mr. Woodson notes in our coverage of the road-clearing efforts, there are no alternating teams for Riverhead Town highway workers, as is the case with the state. They’re all out there, all the time, save for two or three hours’ sleep here and there overnight or during white-out conditions.

In contrast, the performance of the state Department of Transportation (though not its workers themselves) was disappointing at best. The state seems to have no ability to turn up the volume and beef up snow removal staffing when it comes to the largest storms.

On Friday and Saturday, officials said, the DOT had three trucks assigned to cover Route 25 from Riverhead all the way to Orient, and another two trucks assigned to Route 24 in Southampton Town. That might be enough for a regular snowfall, but not a historic blizzard.

The lack of state resources was evident on our state roads. Route 24 was a deathtrap into Saturday night. And Routes 25 and 25A in Calverton and Wading River remained largely impassable for more than 48 hours.

All the while, other main roads in Riverhead Town were mostly clear, save for some snow blowing from farm fields.

Town and county officials have been mostly polite in their public comments about the state DOT, while rightfully criticizing residents for leaving cars on roads and being out when they shouldn’t have been. But the time for delicacy with the DOT is over.

Highway superintendents from across the county should demand changes in the way state roads are cleared.

Otherwise, it’s just a matter of time before something tragic happens.

11/15/12 5:59am
11/15/2012 5:59 AM

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | A tree crushed a Honda during Hurricane Sandy.

To the Editor:

The Town of Riverhead Highway Department is doing a great job and is still busy cleaning up fallen trees on its roads due to Hurricane Sandy.

They still have a lot of work ahead of them to clean up trees left at curbsides by residential homeowners, which cannot be taken by our weekly scheduled refuse carter for removal. Now, people are dumping their leaves in the street for the town to take away. Another burden the town highway department has to wrestle with.

Why is it the town’s responsibility to incur costs of leaf removal from residential homeowners who dump leaves in the street? Is it town property? No! It’s private property owners’ debris, not the town’s financial burden. This is increasing the budgetary demand on our town, as well as paper bags to supply to homeowners to bag their own leaves.

I see our town going down the same road as Brookhaven Town, where the leaves stay in the road for months due to overwhelming demand upon their highway department. They cannot even plow the roads of snow due to a lack of room from leaves inhibiting the roads, creating dangerous situations.

Brookhaven Town has a high expense for leaf removal. Riverhead Town should stop this future spiraling expense, especially as our town grows with more residential homes.

It creates narrow roads for vehicles to pass and a danger when stopping, when leaves get wet. Not to mention our street sewers being inhibited for water drainage safety and icy roads due to back-up problems from leaves, as well as tempers flaring, as people have already incurred time and costs to remove leaves and have to incur additional time, money to clean up leaves blowing around from piles left in the street.

Again, it is not the town’s responsibility to pick up leaves and I should not pay an increase in taxes due to this expense. If a person dumps leaves in the street, creating a hazard, then those people should be billed directly by the town, to haul those leaves away at their expense, not at my expense with taxes.

James Irwin, Jamesport

Read more Letters to the Editor in this week’s Riverhead News-Review available on newsstands or by clicking for the E-Paper.