2014-01-10 / People

When the snow falls, he flies into action

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK – Freshly fallen snow tends to illicit feelings of relaxation and calm. A time to stay indoors and refrain from venturing outside into the elements.

For Scott Wentworth, however, fresh snowfall energizes him, for it means one thing: work, and lots of it.

Wentworth, Kennebunk’s public works operations manager, was born in Kennebunk, and, in fact still lives on that same property.

He has worked for the town for 25 years, the first 12 of which he worked as the town’s equipment operator.

“I used to drive the big trucks and the plow,” Wentworth said. “I’ve done just about everything.”

In the summer, Wentworth oversees road construction to “make sure things are lined up to get the job done.”

In the winter Wentworth works to keep the roads passable; snow and ice don’t slow him down.

“The minute it starts snowing, I get out and keep checking until it looks like we have enough,” Wentworth said.

Then come the plows.

He manages anywhere from 14 to 16 employees, depending on the snowfall.

December’s big snowfall, said Wentworth, required all the help he could get.

“If the snow is like our last two storms, I have everyone in the equipment doing what they got to do.”

Work is divided between the town’s 13 plows, most of which weigh five tons, and sidewalk plows.

“Sidewalks, that’s where we get the big complaints,” Wentworth said. “I have to take the busy guys out of the trucks and put them on the sidewalk machines. One of my part-timers is the one who removed the snow on Main Street during the storm.”

This season Wentworth has swapped around a few people on different routes, something that requires getting used to.

“It takes a couple of storms to get that new routine under their belt,” Wentworth said. “Every now and then there’s a little bit of a challenge.”

He prefers his current position because it allows him to deal more with the public. “I enjoy it. You have days when you have a happy one (resident) and days when you have unhappy ones. And sometimes, even when you think you might not have an unhappy one, you’re wrong.”

Plowed snow is dumped at the rest area on Route 1 south and behind the Washington Hose Fire Station until there is time to transport it to Route 1, behind the town garage.

With significant snowfalls, Wentworth said he might be out managing and working for 24 to 36 hours at a time.

“I’m usually out there a couple hours before and an hour or two after they go home, to see what isn’t quite right and get ready for the next day,” he said. “I try to sneak through town without being noticed.

“I hope to keep the guys home long enough to have a good meal and get a bit of sleep. I have a good seasoned crew, even with my part-timers.”

Once everyone is in the right location, Wentworth said, “my life gets easier.”

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