Warrensburg Superintendent of Highways Ed Pennock was awarded recently as “Conservationist of the Year” by the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District.
Although highway construction and maintenance is often at odds with environmental protection, a local town highway superintendent has received a prestigious award from a regional organization dedicated to preserving the natural landscape.
Warrensburg Superintendent of Highways Ed Pennock received the Conservationist of the Year award recently From the Warren County Soil & Water Conservation District.
Conservation District Manager Jim Lieberum said Pennock had in recent years undertaken a wide variety of infrastructure reconstruction projects — rebuilding roadways and stream crossings — and accomplished the work with a commitment to protect natural resources.
“Ed is very pro-active in seeking assistance from us,” Leiberum said. “He may not always like what I have to say, but he’s willing to do things right the first time — while he protects the safety of area motorists.
Leiberum, who also serves as the Warren County Hazard Mitigation Coordinator, said Pennock was committed to protecting public safety, whether it was undertaking work to prevent flooding, wildfires, or washouts caused by breaching beaver dams. He noted that when culverts have been replaced, Pennock has been committed to having them rebuilt so they will withstand the more violent weather events the area has been experiencing.
Leiberum also said Pennock is diligent about preventing erosion, noting that he is conscientious about re-establishing roadside vegetation after a road reconstruction project is finished.
“Ed’s always thinking about these issues,” Leiberum said.
In addition, Pennock has been helpful in assisting the Conservation District when needed — including offering town labor to unload tons of material into the agency’s barn, Leiberum said.
“The Warrensburg Highway Department has a ghreat crew to work with,” Leiberum said. “We also have a great working relationship with the town of Warrensburg’s Water Department, the town Parks & Recreation Parks crew and the Code Enforcement office.”
For the Conservationist of 2013 award, Leiberum provided nominations to the Warren County Soil & Water Conservation District’s board of board of directors, and that panel made the final selection.
Board chairman Frank Thomas recently praised Pennock for his work.
“Ed’s work on numerous water-quality related projects and his interest in the protection of the area’s natural resources serves as an excellent example of getting conservation projects accomplished,” he said, noting that Pennock’s assistance to the agency had been outstanding.
Town of Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty also praised Pennock for his work.
“Ed’s been a good steward of our roads,” he said. “With all the major storms we’ve had, he’s made a lot of repairs at a reasonable cost to taxpayers — he maintains the roads very well and has a good paving plan in place.”
Geraghty added that Pennock has a reputation for cooperating well with other town and county highway officials and employees.
“Ed maintains a great working relationship with highway crews of surrounding communities as well as the county,” Geraghty said. “He’s a real team player.”
This is only the second time in recent history that a town highway superintendent has been named Conservationist of the Year by the agency. The last was former Queensbury Superintendent of Highways Mike Travis, awarded in 2011. Named for the award in 2012 was Bill Lupo, Regional Water Engineer for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Also awarded in recent years was the East Shore Schroon Lake Association which adopted a watershed management plan and took action to abate the spread of milfoil, a pernicious lakeweed, Leiberum said.
“They’ve been proactive in protecting water quality,” he said.
Jan. 13, Pennock said that in addition to reconstructing roads and culverts after major storms, his major accomplishments during his tenure have been his recent sidewalk replacement campaign on Sanford, James and Hudson streets, plus keeping equipment updated.
Local officials say he is committed to rebuilding infrastructure so it will last long. Pennock has been in office since he was appointed in 2007 by the town board, following the death of former highway superintendent Rick Hayes. Pennock has been re-elected to his post for every term since. His prior work was as an equipment operator for the highway crew, post he held since 1996. Before then, he worked in auto parts sales.
Pennock said he was pleased with receiving the award.
“I’m just trying to get things in good shape for the next highway superintendent,” he said with a smile. “And I try to protect taxpayers money by making wise decisions on expenditures.”