Midwinter seems as good a time as any to introduce Columbia County’s new Director of Highways, Anthony “Tony” DeMarco. He replaced longtime Director Bernie Kelleher, who retired from the position on April 1, 2019.
DeMarco, 50, grew up in Beacon and graduated from Beacon High School and Dutchess County Community College, and attended the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook. He and wife, Jennifer, reside in Hudson. They are the parents of daughter Kaylee.
Coincidentally, DeMarco serves as the City of Hudson’s fire chief. All in all, he has been involved with the fire service for 31 years, having begun with the Millbrook Fire Department.
After many years as an over-the-road truck driver, DeMarco decided he needed more home time, and applied to Columbia County Highway Department. He was hired in 2003 as a Motor Equipment Operator 1, then promoted to MEO 2 three years later.
In 2009, DeMarco was named road foreman of the Copake highway outpost. “I enjoyed that,” he said. “I had a crew of 10 and one of the things I was responsible for was planning the daily work schedule, and snow and ice removal in my area.”
He held that position for three years before being promoted to assistant general foreman, where his duties were focused on bridge maintenance and repairs (the county has 132 bridges), handling insurance issues, overseeing the snow and ice crews, and running the county drug testing program.
DeMarco said he felt fortunate stepping into his new position, I pretty much knew what the job was about. Since I’ve been Hudson fire chief and in other supervisor positions, and had handled personnel matters, the personnel issues were not a big surprise.”
“It is a different feeling, though” he added. “Now it’s all my responsibility. I felt that as soon as I took over.”
“A frustrating part of my job is that people call and wonder why we’re not doing something about a particular situation. It’s not because I don’t want to. But we have a schedule for what we’re doing and we need to stick to it.”
The big challenge, he said, “is trying to balance the amount of road work with the amount of money we have to do it with. With the cost of blacktop, oil, and other materials these days, the money gets chewed up pretty quickly.”
With 26 plow trucks, seven front end loaders and other heavy equipment, the number two issue is equipment, he added. “Everything is computerized, of course, and that adds to the cost.”
“Road work never ends,” DeMarco said.
The county highway department can be reached at 518-828-7011.
Reach Matt Murell at email@example.com.