The Road Worriers are citizens (mostly retirees) who are worried about the continual deterioration of our roads. They are tired of the bumps and holes. They are also, I suspect, the kids who played with Tonka toys in their formative years.
At the recent inaugural meeting of the local Chapter of the Road Worriers Association (ROWass) seventeen men and three women addressed a number of issues, including a draft constitution, by-laws, membership and funding. A retired Nip U professor who wants to run the backhoe presented a mission statement. The majority finally approved after it was pared down to acceptable length: “To fix roads.”
The Road Worriers is a volunteer association, tailored after the Heritage Gardeners, which was formed when it became clear that the City could not afford to keep the flower beds at the new Waterfront in decent repair. It appears the City is having fiscal problems again, hence ROWass. People worried about Police Services could form POWass, although Vigilantes are not normally welcomed in a community; Sewers (sanitary and storm) worriers could form SEWass (but who wants to climb into a sewer?). A Volunteer Fire brigade has already been discussed and the idea was immediately dashed with cold water.
A deal has been struck with the Public Works department in which the Road Worriers Association will only work on small projects that are costly for the City due to timing, crewing, and travel – the economy of scale. ROWass will not work on the main thoroughfares. Essentially, they will only patch potholes (up to 20 cm in diameter) and do crack filling on back streets. Maybe a little ditching and shouldering, a few signs straightened, personnel access portals to the sewers ( a.k.a. manhole covers) leveled . . .
The preamble to the constitution reads, in part: “Whereas several score of roads in the City are in dire need of repair, and it being in the community interest to gainfully employ, at no wage, those many skilled retired workers, having a desire to work with road-building equipment; therefore ROWass will effect minor repairs to the city’s lesser used streets, avenues, crescents, lanes, cul de sacs, etc”. It rambles on for a least another page, but in essence, we will have a group of people repairing some streets much as the Heritage Gardeners tend the flowers in the city.
ROWass will acquire old, discarded equipment from the City, repair it and put it to use, much like the volunteer railway men did with the trains at the waterfront. They have already purchased, at auction, a 5 tonne orange 1984 International dump truck, a 1978 backhoe / loader, two compactors, a jack hammer and an asphalt roller. They almost acquired a 6-year-old grader last year, one that was reportedly ‘worn out’.
The members will do all the refurbishing without public funding. Money is raised through raffles, bake sales and a grant from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (pending). Watch for the ‘Donate a Pylon’ advertising opportunity soon. Two members have volunteered to take the ‘flag person’ training course and another is attending the cold mix school this November in Kapuskasing.
All the city has to provide is the cold mix. Widdifield Station Road has already been designated as a training area for ROWass. This road has many opportunities for training. It was chosen in reverse alphabetical order from a long list (the retired professor, again).
Charlie is taking one of the compactors home to work on in his basement. He said he told his wife he was bringing home a vibrator and she approved. Dennis reported the motor on the backhoe only needs a ring job and he can make room for the work in his garage. Helene has taken over the asphalt roller and has permission to paint it neon green with a black trim as well as stenciling its new name on the front: “ The Holey Roller”. Creativity will be encouraged.
The dress code was discussed and it as agreed that all pants must be pulled up and held up so no ‘cracks’ were showing. This did not appear to be much of an issue as most members wear their trousers in the ‘high’ position, often using both belt and suspenders. ROWass ball caps must be worn with the peak forward - unanimously passed.
A web site will soon be available giving citizens the ability to report potholes on line. The logo, an orange circle with a broad black stripe with yellow dotted line, crossing diagonally, and backhoe symbol rampant right, will be introduced at the web launch. All ROWass equipment and clothing will have the logo clearly shown so the public can acknowledge the members at work and not mistake them for Public Works crews.
It is encouraging to see these dedicated retirees volunteering their skills for the betterment of the community. There may be a large pool of retirees out there who have always wanted to drive a dump truck, work a backhoe or bounce around on a compactor – things they never got to do in their former jobs.
You too, can be a Road Worrier. All you have to do is worry about our City infrastructure.