Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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March 17, 2013

YOU SHOULD KNOW Denny Long: City’s street commissioner proud of his staff’s work

GOSHEN — No two days are ever the same for Denny Long as commissioner at the Goshen City Street Department.

“There’s always something different or something pops up,” Long said. “We’re kind of the catchall department. If it’s something not specific, it comes to us. We pick up dead animals to furniture if it’s on the right of way. We’re just the worker ‘bees.’”

He spoke with pride about his staff.

“I have the most dedicated and experienced staff,” Long said. “They never complain. It’s the dedication of my staff that makes me look good. I just give them the tools and they are out there day in and day out.”

There are 16 workers at the street department, including himself.

When a snowstorm hits like it did last week, he said, “We can clean out the city quicker than any other city in the area. It comes back to their dedication. They go above and beyond. They’ll go 16 hours if need be.”

Long says he commutes from Plymouth, but if the snow blows, his office becomes his home away from home.

“We all plow snow,” he said. “I am out with them — plowing or working together.”

The street department does a lot for the First Fridays like being up at 4 a.m. to sweep the sidewalks and clean the streets, and they are kept busy during fair week, he added.

“We serve the community and take pride in the way the town looks. The guys clean their trucks till they shine. We are proud,” Long said. “We plan a lot since we have 16. We are the day shift and the night shift. We rotate. It can be a drain but these guys get the job done.”

And from March until December the two street sweepers are out every day, not only to keep the streets clean but to keep the drains clear and stuff from going into the storm water.

“Every street in the city is swept about five times a year and the downtown is done a lot more,” he said.

He’s appreciative of the current facility at 475 Steury Ave.

“I miss the location downtown but don’t miss the buildings,” he said, chuckling. “We have such a fine facility now. I can’t thank the city and taxpayers enough for their fine department and facility. We are able to have a GPS in every truck and put them in our portable vehicles.”

He was a police officer in Plymouth for 19 years before retiring due to on the job injuries. Long also worked for 26 years with the Stockberger Trucking Co. in Plymouth where he learned “to know the basics of what a street department is to do,” he said. “I ended up here in 2005 under Barb LaDow and I took over in 2010 when she retired.”

In his spare time, Long spends time being a chief starter for three Go-Kart Series in the eastern United States. He became involved with go-kart racing when his son, Matt, was younger.

“We went as family. Mom had the food, my daughter went to socialize and son and dad raced cars,” he said. “We officiate now after my son went off to college.”

Sometime in the future, he plans to retire again, for the second time.

“It’s a great bunch to work with,” Long said. “One of these days I’ll be leaving. I’m ready to retire. I’ll be ready to go but I’ll be sad. They’ve stuck with me through hard times. I wouldn’t trade these people for anything. I consider them a family. We have squabbles but what family doesn’t have?”

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