Life as a plow truck driver

(Photo by Alen Fetahi)

(Photo by Alen Fetahi)

Dean Fabiano was born in Glasco and has lived there all his life. He has worked for the Saugerties Highway Department for 35 years. He also serves as an Ulster County Legislator.

Describe your job.

I’m a truck driver for the town of Saugerties. My job is blacktop and road repair in the summer months and snow removal during the winter. The snow removal operation alone is huge. The Saugerties area encompasses 165 square miles. Each driver has an individual plow route within that area.

What kind of training did you have for this job?


I learned on the job but I had some background for it because I had worked with contractors and I had certain skills; for example, I knew about installing drainage pipes and things like that.

What do you like most about the job?

There are 21 full-time employees and we work together well so I enjoy seeing them. I also really like being a public servant. I like helping people; that’s the real reward for me.

What is the hardest thing about the job?

The extremes in the elements are the hardest part of the job. It’s not always great getting called out of bed in the middle of the night during a snowstorm. In the summer it’s those extreme heat waves we sometimes get. That’s pretty rough.

In terms of benefits and working conditions do you feel that working for the town is a better choice than working for a private contractor?

It’s definitely been a better choice for me. Most private contractors are just not big enough to offer the benefits I have through my job with the town. They are just not in a position to offer health insurance, a retirement plan, or paid days off to their employees.

With all the advances in technology, how has your job changed over the last 35 years?

I’ve seen most of those changes take place in the office; for example, all the paperwork is computerized and computers do our entire inventory and ordering. In terms of my job specifically, not much has changed. In bigger places they do have trucks that are computerized to apply sand according to the temperature of the road and that kind of thing, but we don’t have the budget yet for anything like that.

If you hadn’t done this for a living what might you have done?

Well, I did apply to IBM before I went to work for the town but that didn’t pan out. I also always wanted to be a state trooper. I don’t know why, really, but I really like to help people. I’m a people person; that’s why I like being an Ulster County Legislator, too.

How’s the money?

You can make a living but you’ll never get rich. I make $22 an hour. I was able to raise two kids and put them through college, but, I will tell you, I’ve always worked a second job.