CATSKILL — Greene County Highway Superintendent Robert Van Valkenburg finished his last day Monday after nearly 20 years with the department.
Van Valkenburg announced his retirement at the Public Works Committee meeting on June 8. Deputy Highway Superintendent Scott Templeton was named as Van Valkenburg’s successor.
“I’m planning to enjoy a much lower stress lifestyle,” Van Valkenburg said. “Play a lot of golf, work around my house and spend some time with my bride.”
Van Valkenburg had planned to retire in April but the pandemic put his plans on hold, he said.
“I wanted to leave at a time when the department was in good shape,” he said. “We have a lot of good people there and things are running smoothly. My original plan was to retire at 62. I wanted to make sure things were squared away and running smoothly.
I’ll be 65 in September. I wanted to enjoy my retirement for awhile.”
Van Valkenburg said he feels confident leaving the department in Templeton’s hands.
“He’s in good shape — he’s good to go,” Van Valkenburg said. “It was a great job and I’ve enjoyed it. Now it’s time for Scott to pick up the reins.”
Templeton was appointed deputy superintendent in October 2018.
County lawmakers recently debated allowing highway employees to change their work week from five eight-hour days to four 10-hour days.
Documentation provided by Templeton regarding how employees would be monitored to ensure they worked a full 10-hour day caused Legislator Charles Martinez, R-Coxsackie, to change his vote from no during the Public Works meeting to supporting the resolution for the full board meeting.
The resolution passed with dissenting votes from legislators Michael Bulich, R-Catskill, Thomas Hobart, R-Coxsackie, William Lawrence, R-Cairo, and Matthew Luvera, R-Catskill.
Public Works Chairman Jim Thorington, R-Windham, wished Van Valkenburg well.
“It was a pleasure working with him,” Thorington said. “I definitely appreciate all the time he put into the county and [his] doing a great job for us. I wish him well in his retirement and hope he enjoys it.”
Van Valkenburg followed in his predecessor Gary Harvey footsteps on Monday by opting to walk home, he said.
“I want to congratulate him — it’s well-earned,” Harvey said. “We had a good relationship and made a great team. We got a lot accomplished. He has a lot to be proud of and it’s nice to end things on a good note.”
Harvey and Van Valkenburg were at the helm of the department during Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, a tornado in 2003, a fire at the Catskill transfer station in 2005 and a record-breaking winter storm in 2010 that set new marks for snowfall totals, Harvey said.
“On our watch, we had a lot of different catastrophes,” Harvey said, although he admitted with a chuckle that Van Valkenburg was in Florida on vacation for the 2010 snowstorm.
“I wish him a long, healthy and happy retirement,” Harvey said.
Van Valkenburg served as deputy superintendent under Harvey for 16 years before becoming superintendent in 2016.
“It’s been a tremendous ride and a journey,” Van Valkenburg said. “I tremendously enjoyed the job but it’s time for me to step back.”