Harry Balz of Adirondack, 78 — volunteer overseer of various construction projects in northern Warren County — watches as workmen place and set granite memorials June 15 on the soon-to-be-completed Veterans Memorial Plaza in front of the Chester Municipal Center. Balz has been hailed for his work in assuring top quality construction work on many municipal projects, and saving taxpayers a lot of money in the process. The Chester Veterans Memorial Plaza is to be dedicated in a ceremony at 5 p.m. Saturday July 7.
For years, a 78-year-old local man has been making a considerable difference in area citizens’ lives, whether they know it or not.
Harry Balz of the hamlet of Adirondack has saved area taxpayers a considerable sum money, while he’s helped improve the quality of life in northern Warren County.
Serving as volunteer overseer or coordinator for a variety of construction projects, Balz has nurtured various landmarks from concept to reality.
He’s accomplished the many projects with profound dedication, Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe said last week at a town board meeting.
Monroe reported that Balz had been hospitalized with a blood infection, but within hours of his discharge, he was on site coordinating construction of the Chester Veterans Memorial plaza — wearing his pajamas.
“Harry is such a dedicated volunteer and a great asset to the community,” Monroe said. “His expertise has saved local citizens tens of thousands of dollars.”
While Balz was actually oversaw the project in his sweat pants, he did get get a blood sample taken by a nurse on site.
Friday, area veteran Harry Bollback talked of Balz’s superlative work ethic.
“When Harry was in the hospital, he was coordinating the project by phone,” he said. “Harry Balz has stood up and taken over —Without him, we would not be where we are today.”
Balz retired in 1998, having worked for 30 years as a vice president of engineering for a heavy construction company in Long Island. His work in construction had totaled 45 years.
Having been a volunteer firefighter for decades, Balz was drafted in 2004 by Chestertown Volunteer Fire Department officers to serve as Clerk of the Works to oversee the construction of the fire company’s new $2.8 million firehouse. Balz took on the job for a modest stipend.
About a year later, he was asked to oversee the construction of the Town of Horicon’s $1.2 million highway garage.
During this time, Balz was serving as member of the regional BOCES Board of Education, during which time he served as North Warren School District’s construction consultant for $1 per year.
In this role, he oversaw major upgrades and alterations to the North Warren campus, including the district’s wastewater treatment plant. His work included preparing specifications for the demolition of the old Horicon school.
Future work lined up for Balz includes the installation of a standby generator for North Warren Central schools, as well as soundproofing and roof work.
Even the design and construction of the fountain in the middle of the Mill Pond at Brant Lake was overseen by Balz, who serves on the Town of Horicon Planning Board.
In these various projects, he’s been preparing bid specifications, reviewing bids, scrutinizing change orders, as well as overseeing the work.
Prompted with a passion for his career, he’s arranged field trips for area pre-engineering students to visit state Department of Transportation construction projects. Balz sets these up with a mission to ignite a similar work dedication in their lives, he said.
Before Balz retired, he served on the planning board in his hometown, Rockville Centre, where he had been the fire chief for five years. Balz has been active in fire service for a total of 60 years.
Late last week, Balz revealed his motivation in volunteering to oversee various projects in northern Warren County.
”I just love construction work — I just can’t get enough of it,” he said. “My wife keeps asking me when I’m going to retire.”