CROWN POINT - In nearly three decades as Crown Point highway superintendent, Eugene "Peanut" Ingleston has seen a lot of changes. One thing, though, remains the same.
"The price of everything keeps going up and we have to do more with less," Ingleston said. "It's all about trying to save money, living within your means."
That's something Ingleston, who has been in office 28 years, seems to have mastered.
Last summer when the town's 25-year-old grader died Ingleston started shopping for a replacement. New graders cost $165,000 and more - too much for Crown Point taxpayers.
"I started shopping around and got a good used one for $31,500," he said. "It took a lot of wheeling and dealing. We don't buy anything new here."
Ingleston is a long-time, active member of the New York State Highway Superintendents Association. He served as its president in 1996 and has connections throughout the state.
"A lot of big towns buy new equipment every 10 years; they have a lot of money," he explained. "We can get that equipment at a good price, clean it up, fix the problems and it's practically new."
The Crown Point highway department just bought a "new" tandem truck for $3,000. That truck could have cost $175,000 or more from a dealer.
Bethany Kosmider, Crown Point's new supervisor, appreciates Ingleston's frugal ways.
"I look forward to working with Peanut to provide the highway department with their needs while maintaining a tight rein on the budget during this difficult economic time," she said. "Crown Point has some old equipment that looks like new because Peanut is impeccable about the care his equipment receives, which in the end, saves money for the town."
Maintenance is a priority for Ingleston and his crew. Every truck is washed after every use. The department has its own mechanic and all repairs are done in-house.
Ingleston is also very conservative with the town garage. He heats the building with used motor oil. When bids for a needed lean-to came in at $150,000 Ingleston, a contactor in his previous life, built it for $7,500.
"I don't like to spend money," the highway chief said.
The Crown Point highway department has a budget of $670,000 this year, $570,000 of which comes from local taxpayers. That's a 2.5 percent increase from last year.
In the same period the cost of salt has increased from $48 a ton to $72, the cost of plow blades are up 10 percent and the costs for everything from parts, tools, fuel, insurance and labor have jumped.
"It's the same every year," Ingleston said.
The Crown Point highway department is responsible for 56 miles of town roads and 28 miles of county roads. It's a big job for Ingleston and his crew of five men.
"I've always found Crown Point roads to be the best," Kosmider said. "While folks are sleeping, the road crew is plowing and making roads passable in the winter."