To the Editor,

Photo of Ernie with Handtrux toy he invented
Photo of Ernie with Handtrux toy he invented

This is about the article printed in RCT last week from Highway Super Ballard and Malone, another Highway Dept. guy. I am shocked they would have the brass to write what they did pertaining to road and highway equipment and the specialty machine the Menzi Muck. I have four photos of this “thing,” it is a useless PIECE of GARBAGE and they speak of how they have to have it repaired now and that the taxpayers better be ready, because it will be expensive!

I saw this junker machine when they bought it a couple years ago. Why did they buy it, they couldn’t rent or lease it saving us money? They had it in Haverstraw by the DMV. After 40 years in heavy excavation and construction, I have never seen such a waste of taxpayers dollars, $400,000 I think the guy said! The one highway guy said to me, “I’m the only one trained enough to run this.” I laughed out loud and asked what the heck kind of job would they use this on? He said “Oh, you’d be surprised.”

A baby excavator machine with a decent operator could outwork that thing easily and the Highway Dept. even has that excavator, yet felt they needed this too? Who requested this machine? Who broke this machine? Why was it purchased, for what specific procedure? And how much exactly did it cost taxpayers?

I saw the road workers a few weeks later on Rt. 304 with several trucks and this machine, they were obstructing commerce by blocking traffic along Rt. 304 making like real men at work. There were several men watching the “trained guy” go down into the water ditch along Rt. 304 and it looked to me that he was not running it that well.

Was the “operator” picking litter out of the ditch as per his job description? He certainly wasn’t maintaining any roadways that’s for sure. These fellows are not qualified nor mandated to do excavation jobs per se, yet they buy machines that are a waste of our precious tax dollars, beat them, break them or let them rust, and just keep buying more machines and trucks while the roads are crumbling under our car tires destroying our vehicles daily.

This is a disgrace and I wonder who is awake to any of it? We dump money into useless machines and equipment for these men. And yet the roads fall apart without proper maintenance while we keep paying and paying.

Ballard speaks of “shipping equipment upstate to have it checked out properly,” when the article is all about mechanics and equipment and nothing whatsoever about the actual shoddy condition of the roads in Rockland and what they do all day. What do they do all day but be unqualified and break expensive pieces of junk? Please explain the waste of time and money to the good taxpayers. And please explain if Ballard/Malone has the bonding in place to request these capital expenditures, I think not.

We need to disband all these so-called highway departments. Sell all this useless equipment, and get several men who know how to maintain, read MAINTAIN A ROADWAY PROPERLY.

Hire a qualified local contractor who is bonded (to do the work properly) and let’s get busy fixing things for a change, the right way, the first time. I would like to say to all road and highway supers of all towns in Rockland, you are useless, wasteful and immediately fired. Have a nice day, you all deserve it.

Ernest Autumn van den Heuvel
Stony Point
Professional heavy equipment operator 40 years

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