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Letter: Vote For Write-In Candidate for Brookhaven Highway Super

Sound Beach resident looking for write-in votes at special election for Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent.

Editor's Note: The following is an original letter sent in to Patch by reader Erin Versheck.

Some of you may, or may not, know, Jon Versheck. He is an 'average Joe' who does what he has to, to get by day by day. After the recent blizzard on February 8-9, 2013, and the lack of response from the Town of Brookhaven, we all want answers. Jon plowed our street in Sound Beach and a neighboring dead end after the storm. Not because he was paid to by the town. But because he felt it was the 'right' thing to do.

Yes, we live in New York and it is February. We do get some big snow storms here this time of year. The lack of supervisory positions, from being on vacation, toothaches, and family emergencies, is no excuse. Nor is the excuse that the town did not have a master map of the town, to know which streets had or had not been plowed, acceptable. Another one of the many excuses was that no one had the right equipment. We needed pay loaders and bobcats and big trucks to get the job done.

Then how is it, that Jon, with his 15 year old, half ton pick up, and a 40 year old, medium duty plow, plowed our two streets, with 30 inches of snow and even higher drifts, without major damage to his truck? He had both streets down to pavement, without the packed down ice and snow left on the street. He also helped numerous neighbors who were stuck on local streets get moving, and plowed a little parking spot on another local street for the neighbors who could not get up our block to park safely. If he had the equipment, capabilities, and knowledge to do it, there is no reason why the town and their sub-contractors could not.

Jon is looking for help to get a write in vote for the special election for Town of Brookhaven Superintendent of Highways on Tuesday March 5, 2013. He does not expect to get elected, but if enough people write him in, he is hoping to get recognized. Jon has no political background or affiliations. He is just another hard working citizen of Brookhaven who wants to try to make a difference. If you could help him out and vote on March 5, 2013 and write his name in and spread the word to other aggravated Brookhaven residents, maybe we won't have to deal with this when the next major snowstorm comes. Please visit his website: http://brookhavensuper.com/. Thank you!

- Erin Versheck

Jon Versheck February 21, 2013 at 10:33 PM
Qualifications. I would love to see someone who has the proper qualifications to be on the ballot for the job. Not just a career politician. If you know of someone, write them in. The write in does show that people are thinking, and showing they are fed up with the way things are right now, and are willing to go outside "the parties" to get things done.
Captain Howard Hawrey February 21, 2013 at 11:55 PM
Has to be someone with a professional engineering license with a management background, a maintenance background, and a equipment logistics background.
ss February 22, 2013 at 11:04 AM
Just to get an idea on the the time frame what day/time and streets were you plowing? The reason I ask is because some of my plow trucks assisted SCPD. There were downed wires, trees, stuck cars making some roads impossible to plow. Also not to mention that everyone who panicked "had to have a full tank" did not think that plow trucks need fuel. When my trucks were called out to plow at 2pm Friday the last weather report was up to 14". We had more than double that amount.
Wlodek February 22, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Plow, Why does it matter? We know that the job by the Highway Department was totally inadequate in the whole town of Brookhaven. Instead of asking those questions we should thank Jon for what he did and just leave it alone.
Jon Versheck February 22, 2013 at 01:08 PM
I don't mind answering, but thank you Wlodek. I had woken up Sat morning, about 8am, and had seen that no plows had come through the neighborhood. I took a walk down the road to check if there was any progress on the roads leading to mine. Down Malverne road, checked Manhasset, To Hewlitt, and decided, since no plows had gone through, passage by vehicle onto Malverne and the spur of Manhasset, I'd do it myself. Got the truck chained up, and did it.
Jon Versheck February 22, 2013 at 01:42 PM
I am curious, has anyone been to any of the local debates? Has anyone asked the candidates, "What are your qualifications for the position at hand? Then if they start answering by stating, "I have...." Questioned again, that is not what was asked. Please answer. What are your qualifications? Any Highway Dept experience? Engineering degrees? Do you have a CDL license? Have you ever driven a truck? Are you familiar at all, realistically with any Highway Dept operations? I am sure I am not the only one to wonder these things......
Jon Versheck February 22, 2013 at 01:53 PM
Just thinking. . . Was a subcontractor(s) paid to take care of our roads, with services not provided?
ss February 23, 2013 at 10:13 AM
wlodek I'll tell you why it matters. While everyone was in their cozy warm bed we were out plowing. If you happened to look outside your window @ 4am I guarantee you wouldn't see your driveway. Do you know what its like to be driving with zero visibility just to come up to a downed tree or wire not knowing if its cable or voltage? Then backing up the road the road you have just attempted to plow?
ss February 23, 2013 at 10:26 AM
Jon I have a respectable amount of trucks on with town. As my some of my trucks were flagged by SCPD, we were able to assist them to their emergencies outside my assigned streets. I was happy we helped.
ss February 23, 2013 at 10:55 AM
Jon So after a good nights sleep kudo's for helping out. TOB and yes subcontractors were responsible for plowing these streets. As with the LIPA bashing for Sandy I see the same happening here. Unlike Sandy this storm called for 14" but more than doubled that amount...how would you have prepared for this differently? By late Saturday early Sunday the perimeter roads were down to pavement but the county and state roads were not. Both subs and TOB trucks were out continuously with 2-3 hours of sleep until Tuesday @ 5pm. The expressway did not officially open till 7pm that night.
Wlodek February 23, 2013 at 12:58 PM
Plow, Thanks for explaining. I clearly misunderstood your statements and questions, which I admit sounded to me like questioning Jon's motives. So I apologize. Regarding other issues you are raising in your posts. I think all residents do appreciate and are grateful to the hard working personnel who were dealing with the snow. What is being discussed is the incompetence and lack of leadership of those in charge. In particular in view of the fact that we have two people, Mr. Losquadro and Mrs Walsh, running for the position of the Superintendent of Highways who have not demonstrated the experience and qualifications needed for that job. Regarding the 14" expected and few times more that fell, tells me again that the planning and response were inadequate. You must know that in this kind of situation "count for the best and plan for the worst" principle must apply. Finally, could you tell me and us who was responsible for plowing rte 25A, 347 for example. Was it town or state? Also roads Suffolk 83 or 97? Maybe it was not only the town which failed. Thank you again for your comments and the discussion.
ss February 23, 2013 at 01:26 PM
Wlodek Apology accepted...thanks for understanding. As some personal background I have been involved in all aspects of transportation for 35 years & have been plowing for 30. You can only gear up to the expectations that are predicted. However as an insider looking out I'll give all some insight on TOB's fault. Sub's were plentiful and have dropped dramatically in the last several years. Increased insurance requirements,rates the same as fuel has doubled & lack of work. Prior to this storm the town would have at least called in salters this season but never happened. Last year 1 measly storm barely to cover expenses. Also the pay schedule for reimbursement. We do not receive our time vouchers until the 1st the following month. Payment usually takes 60+ days. Interest for cc's accumulate from expenses. So how much are sub's making after all of this not to mention the toll it takes on a truck.
Captain Howard Hawrey February 23, 2013 at 04:17 PM
Thanks "Jon", "Plow" and "Wlodek" for providing the most intelligent, most productive, and most respectful set up posts I've seen here on the Patch. Kudo's to you all. I've enjoyed reading your comments. The frustrations of the residents and the frustration of Town Sub Contractors was stated in a honest manner. It is still quite apparent to me that we need a real hands on leader as Highway Supervisor with a management background in this type of work. If not we will be having this discussion again during the next heavy snow storm,
Jon Versheck February 24, 2013 at 04:27 AM
Trust me,I know what its like out there doing it,no visibilty all the hours,hazards and such.Been there done that I've plowed for some years myself, and after fuel costs and insurance costs got out of hand in my opinion to plow as a sub for TOB, I gave it up.The last year I really was "hardcore" into it if you will was 2003 I think, the "Presidents Day storm" year, and I was taught a few valuable lessons that year by my elder plowmate. First, always assume, it's going to be worse than they say, it usually is. Second, 24+ inches of snow is not that bad, so long as you can plow it as often as you need to to treat it like 4,6, or even 8 inches at a time. Third, "Get good tires on that truck!" Fourth, weight, and chains. Never run light always carry tire chains (which most of the TOB trucks did have some years back, which I have verified.) I've had them darn chains sitting in my shed, since that storm that my plowmate and I were driving two wheel drive trucks in and he said "we will be fine, less on truck to break, just use your head", and we were fine (had to chain up once)Anyhow, how does this tie in? If leadership from the top,kept everyone going like they should have,"doing their rounds",and multiple passes were completed,it would not have been as bad.You know what I mean when I say as a former commercial plower,"That was evil snow on the bottom but the top was not so bad."Also kudos to you sir for providing your services,and assisting to the SCPD,and making road passable.
Jon Versheck February 24, 2013 at 04:34 AM
Thank you sir, please see my above reply to plow. What I could not mention, because of being long winded there, which I do when I'm tired, if there was some sort of "union slowdown," that kept the snow from being treated as 6 to 8 or even less inches at a time, that means that there was a huge failure on the supervisory level down. I tell you what, even supervisor of highways, or a foreman job looks good from my window here, because if that is the case, they failed also.
Jon Versheck February 24, 2013 at 05:45 AM
The job description for a highway general supervisor is straightforward and to the point. A general supervisor oversees a number of crews responsible for reconstructing, resurfacing or doing general maintenance work on town highways. In order to fill this post, one must have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent and served at least three years as a highway maintenance supervisor. Do any of these candidates meet these criteria?
Robin Senholzi February 25, 2013 at 01:52 AM
I realize that you want him to have recognition. This should be done by the town board and not at the time of an election. Write in votes are a nightmare for those on the voting board. They must put in extra non-paid hours recording each and every one of those votes. This is not fair to them . He had every opportunity to run for the office of highway superintendent by following the procedures to get on the ballot. If you want him to have recognition petition the town board to do so. Give the voting board a break!
ss February 25, 2013 at 08:37 AM
"union slowdown"???? Are you kidding me? So plowing 5 days straight with a couple hours of sleep is a union slowdown? I can tell everyone this is NOT the case, a lot of speculation here. Jon if you were still a SC for the TOB you would have saw the exhaustion in every ones eyes, both hwy workers and SC's. As far as the foreman in your area he went above and beyond his call of duty. God strike me dead if I'm lying....what is say is the truth and the facts I had witnessed behind the scenes. The problem here was lack of subcontractors that were driven away from the previous regime. NOT at all a "union slowdown" Jon, please clarify a "plow-mate". Is that someone that sits in the passenger seat with you?
ss February 25, 2013 at 09:00 AM
"Finally, could you tell me and us who was responsible for plowing rte 25A, 347 for example. Was it town or state? Also roads Suffolk 83 or 97? Maybe it was not only the town which failed". NYS and County is the answer to your question. If you notice the signs aka CR83 means County Road 83. NYS has a distinct symbol with the numbered hwy in the middle of it. So if you look at 25a you will see that symbol
Wlodek February 25, 2013 at 01:13 PM
Are you telling people that they should not exercise their constitutional rights for the convenience of "those on the voting board"? If so, you totally missed the spirit of the discussion here. The two official candidates are not qualified in the eyes of many voters. Those two candidates are the ones who behave irresponsibly by putting their names forward. The voters want a different choice.
Wlodek February 25, 2013 at 01:19 PM
Plow, You never commented on my questions to you. Why, with al the experience, there was no plan to deal with a snow fall bigger than 14"? Why there Who is responsible for plowing Rte 25A and 347 or Suffolk 83, 97 for example?
Jon Versheck February 25, 2013 at 06:12 PM
plow "plow-mate" was how I was referring to the older gentleman who got me into to plowing, showed me the ropes, and used to SC with. Anyhow to further clarify, there are many people such as myself who do not have all the facts, that is what needs to be investigated. In our "neck of the woods" nary a TOB or SC truck was seen for days. I by no means am making any criticism toward any hard working person that was out there, trust me that is not the case. If the problem was the lack of SC's out there then that is one of the problems that needs to be addressed.
Jon Versheck February 25, 2013 at 06:30 PM
The peeple who were out there busting their hump, for days without sleep deserve recognition, not criticism. I am actually surprised that you would think I would take that position. I believe there was a failure at the management level, higher up. I still believe there may have been a slow down to some extent in some form in the higher levels of command, but let me be clear, NOT on the lower, level, who were trying to do the best they could. One day when this is sorted out, one way or another, I would like to invite you regulars here for a beer, or at least a coffee, and shoot the breeze.
ss February 25, 2013 at 08:17 PM
Wlodek Sorry. I may have answered above 25a state, 83 county, 347 county, 97 not sure. State road signs are black and white. County blue sign will say Suffolk County on them. Interstates as in 495 is state. As far as snowfall over 14" tob and subs can usually handle that. But as I mentioned the number of subs have decreased a considerable amount. My employer was contacted on Saturday. He had 3 loaders available nearby. A Komatsu 500,480, & volvo 110. The rates were not there so the loaders sat. That's over a million dollar investment of iron in those machines. If you had that much invested I'm sure you would want a decent rate. As I was plowing the perimeter of sound bch/rocky pt...by the time I got back to point "a" it looked as nothing was ever done. As Jon said as long as you stay on top of it, its not a problem. So in a nutshell Wlodek it bit the politicians in the butt. In my opinion they had a plan but not the resources.
ss February 25, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Wlodek Correction 347 is State as well with 25 and 25A , 97 & 83 county maintained
ss February 26, 2013 at 09:37 AM
Agreed Jon, Thanks! Personally had I known the severity of the storm before I walked out the door, I would have geared up differently for it. From what I have researched the snow fell at a rate on an inch+ an hour.
Anton February 26, 2013 at 04:51 PM
Wow...this is a great attitude. Dont' vote...it's inconvenient for us. Well sorry, it's not our fault the system doesn't make it convenient for you. Why don't you fix the problem instead of telling people not to vote? If it's not "fair" to them, maybe they should be paid for their time? And what exactly was "every opportunity to run?" The incompetence of the current regime was not fully realized until a couple of weeks ago, which is what prompted his wanting to run for this position. I just can't believe the cajones on this person to come here and say this..."Give the voting board a break and don't vote." Classic Brookhaven.
Anton February 26, 2013 at 04:57 PM
It's also silly that two people, neither of which have ever operated a plow (or probably any type of power tool) are running for a position that they are clearly not qualified for. I will be writing in his name. Of the three candidates, I really don't see another choice.
MP resident March 05, 2013 at 01:56 AM
Your are absolutely correct, Jon. Neither of the candidates has any qualifications for this position, so they are no more qualified than you, and, in fact, you are clearly more qualified than they at the very least because you did the job that none of them could do! I've read this string of comments and will say with confidence that you have my vote. I'm writing your name down and bringing it with me tomorrow. I wish you luck and hope others will do the same. I wish we had known this earlier so more of us could write your name in. Thank you very much for your help and good intentions!
Jon Versheck March 05, 2013 at 03:47 AM
Thank you, MP. Just trying to get the word out, and get done what is right. I myself wished I had more time to devote to this, but like many, I have to work to try to keep what I have. Thank you for the support.

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